The Henry Girls

The Henry Girls are sisters Karen, Lorna and Joleen McLaughlin from the Inishowen peninsula in Donegal. Their musical sound, described as “full bodied and powerfully dynamic”, is infused with the rich cultural heritage of their native county with a transatlantic flavour.

Their ability to interweave traditional elements with contemporary influences has gained them critical acclaim and their signature three part harmony sets them apart.

The Henry Girls tour regularly and have performed at some major festivals and venues such as Glastonbury; Celtic Connections and Milwaukee Irish Festival.

They remain deeply connected to their roots and continue to draw inspiration from the natural beauty of the area they grew up in.

Luisa Omielan: God Is A Woman – The Musical

Do you ever wish you were in the room when magic happens? In the room for when Beethoven wrote his symphonies. when Shakespeare wrote his classics, When Cher sings anything. Well now is your chance (kinda) I gave you Politics for Bitches and What Would Beyonce Do?!

Now brace yourself for my female Book of Mormon. I can’t sing or play music. But I did grow up on Sister Act 1 and 2. This is a rough and ready idea, a pitch for a musical, and you can help me develop it! It’s all about Mary Magdalene. An epic one-woman experiment.

She should be a household name’ **** (Evening Standard). 

‘She wrote the stand-up hit of the decade’ (Guardian). 

‘A trailblazer’ (Scotsman).

Aja – The Music of Steely Dan

Never has the phrase ‘back by popular demand been so apt...

Aja, taken from the classic and iconic Steely Dan album, is an 8-piece musical powerhouse of a band whose members have over 40 years’ experience in the business.

They replicate in incredible detail the original recordings of the legendary Steely Dan.  Aja have been performing these classic songs for 15 years and have grown accustomed to packed houses of music lovers of all ages and genres.

Original guitar, brass, keyboard solos and vocal harmonies are as true as can be to the original album recordings.  Their 2-hour set generally consists of the entire Aja album in the first half and is a sight and sound to behold.

Aja are: Gerard Farrelly – Keyboards, Alan Cunningham – Drums and Percussion, Colm Lindsey – Guitars, Mark Wilde – Saxes, Serge Stavilla – Saxes, Tommy Moore – Bass and Vocals, Sinead Stone – Vocals, John Graham – Lead Vocals.

Historic Pubs of the Cathedral Quarter

Take a leisurely stroll on a Sunday afternoon to find out a little more about some of the historic pubs of the Cathedral Quarter area of Belfast.

Each pub, from Kelly’s Cellars to the Dirty Onion, The Duke of York to White’s Tavern, and The Morning Star to McHugh’s has fascinating tales and links to our city’s history that will be teased out. You’ll learn why several establishments claim the city’s ‘oldest pub’ title, which of them is in fact the oldest tavern, and what precisely the ‘oldest’ claims of some of the others relate to!

Exploring the oldest part of Belfast town before it became a city in 1888, you’ll hear about early merchants and importers, where secret societies met, the pick-up points for mail coaches, old jails, former whiskey warehouses, newspapers of long ago, and more.

The tour will start from outside Kelly’s Cellars at 2.00pm. The tour will end at 3.30pm outside McHugh’s, where you may choose to stay on to enjoy a drink or coffee and perhaps an afternoon traditional music session.

The tour will cover up to 1.5 miles and will take place whatever the weather, so please come prepared. No refreshments are included as part of the tour ticket.

The Sailortown Sessions feat. King Cedar, Ferna & Ciaran Lavery


Due to illness King Cedar won’t be well enough to perform on Sunday.  Wilfie will perform instead.


(MC Joe Lindsay plus spoken word)

Today’s show is the launch of The Sailortown Sessions ‘In the Round’ on the 1st Sunday of every month. 

On a mission to amplify quiet sentiments and shift focus to background characters, ferna delivers a remarkable sound that merges the organic and the electronic, filled with mixed emotions, fragile beauty and powerful hooks.

The musical alias of composer & singer-songwriter Hannah McPhillimy, ferna took home the NI Music Prize for Single of the year 2022 for her first official release Wasting and has already performed alongside Saint Sister, JC Stewart and Foy Vance.

Her debut album understudy was released in May 2023 to a packed-out Belfast Empire Music Hall and has received multiple rave reviews including four stars in The Irish Times.

‘10 songs that blend indie sensibilities, confident pop music and tender folksiness.’ – THE IRISH TIMES *****

‘Understudy is nothing less than a hugely impressive debut album…as Ferna, Hannah McPhillimy is now displaying the confidence & poise of a bona fide star.’ – THE IRISH NEWS

Ciaran Lavery 
Ciaran Lavery is an Irish award winning & multi-nominated singer-songwriter and musician that has released four albums with over 150 million streams to date.  He is currently signed to Nettwerk Music Group and has previously released music with All Points Records (formally Believe Records) and Kartel Music Group.

Lavery’s music has been nominated four times at the NI Music Prize, winning album of the year in 2016, as well as being nominated for the Hot Press Magazine ‘album of the year’ and ‘single of the year’.  Previously, he has been named as the Hot Press magazine ‘One to Watch’.

He has toured extensively worldwide, with performances at festivals such as Glastonbury, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Zermatt Unplugged, SXSW, M for Montreal, with a particular highlight of being handpicked to play Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion Festival in Texas.

Super talented’ – CLIVE ANDERSON

The sound of a songwriter that is very comfortable in his own skin.’ – ZANE LOWE



‘Wilfie’s song writing and sense of melody makes you stop and pay attention. Add to that a voice that sounds like he’s been walking the road for a 1,000 years, it makes for an intoxicating combination’.  Alistar McMillan – U2
Hailing from Belfast, Wilfie has been around a corner or two bringing his music to faithful fans. The last three years have seen him release two EPs and his first full album, MINERS GOLD, produced by Gareth Dunlop. Having already performed in the Legendary Bluebird Cafe, Nashville, on the Music City Roots show, and played to packed houses throughout Ireland and Europe, he continues bringing his own brand of music and his gravelly voice invariably earns him comparisons with the late Joe Cocker.

Mark Watson: Search

Mark Watson’s 12-year-old son has just got a phone. His 70-year-old dad has been through the most frightening experience of his life. Both a dad and a kid himself, around the midpoint of his life, the Taskmaster star and multiple award-winner – now also famous as one-third of YouTube cult sensation No More Jockeys – returns.

He’ll consider the search for meaning that we’re all on, with or without Google. There’ll be a lot of jokes, and a show that’s different every night.

‘A genius-level comic doing what he does best… it’s magical to watch and just so funny’  ★★★★★ Time Out Melbourne 

‘Quite unlike anything else I’ve seen in almost 20 years of covering the Fringe…witty, warm, perfectly judged’ ★★★★★ Telegraph

‘An hour or two of our limited span on Earth in his uplifting, witty company is time excellently spent’ ★★★★ ½ Chortle

‘A master at letting us in on his vulnerability’ ★★★★ The Times

‘This is a stand-up operating at the very top of his game’ ★★★★ Independent

‘Feeling Good’: Victoria Geelan Sings the Songs of Nina Simone

Victoria and her band of superlative musicians perform a carefully-selected set of songs made famous by the ‘High Priestess of Soul’, Nina Simone. An award-winning artist, Victoria is best known for her passionate and powerful vocals, evinced by her most recent album, 2020’s Sophisticated Lady.

Victoria is complimented by the supremely talented pianist and composer Dr. Neil Burns, himself a classically-trained, genre-defying musician. The band is completed by in-demand virtuoso players Rohan Armstrong (double bass) and Andrew McCoubrey (drums) who, together, capture how exceptionally affecting this music is live, moving effortlessly through Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Soul, Classical, Folk and beyond.

Interweaving Nina Simone’s life story from classical pianist to ‘Freedom Singer’, Victoria celebrates and interprets how she used music to profoundly connect with her audiences, offering community and comfort to those fighting for their basic rights. Come and enjoy a musical celebration of an extraordinary life lived in song.


Niamh O’Reilly is still a ‘fridget’ – she’s never been kissed – and at 14, she’d want to hurry up.

Tonight at the local teenage disco, her friends are on a mission to change that – whether she wants to or not. Set in Dublin in 2007, Niamh takes you on her journey through the “innocence and discovery and fun – and mortification and terror” (★★★★, Irish Times) of Irish adolescence.

Fresh off a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2023 and winner of Bewley’s Little Gem Award at the Dublin Fringe Festival 2022, Frigid is a coming of age comedy about frenemies, first times and figuring it out.

Written and performed by Rosa Bowden with live DJ Ciarán Gallagher and directed by Hildegard Ryan.

Tickets: 1.00pm – £10.00 (Including Lunch), 8.00pm – £10.00

‘A funny, nostalgic ode to teenage girlhood and all its awkwardness” ★★★★★The Student

‘An amazing comedy, with heart wrenching and tender moments’ ★★★★★

‘A one woman performance of utter charm’ ★★★★The Arts Review

‘Packed with jokes, great storytelling, and a healthy dose of nostalgia’ ★★★★The Independent

‘A sharp picture of Dublin teen life’ Irish Independent

‘A blisteringly witty show’ Euronews

‘A first-class performance’ Fest Mag

Donal Ryan in Conversation

OTL is delighted to welcome Donal Ryan to the festival to talk about his work. Show includes Lunch.

Donal Ryan’s work has been published in over 20 languages to major critical acclaim.

The Spinning Heart won the Guardian First Book Award, the EU Prize for Literature and Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards; it was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize, and was voted ‘Irish Book of the Decade’. His fourth novel, From a Low and Quiet Sea, was longl-isted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2018, and won the Jean Monnet Prize for European Literature.

His novel, Strange Flowers, was voted Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, and was a number one bestseller.

His seventh book, The Queen of Dirt Island, was published by Doubleday in August 2022 and was an instant number one bestseller.It is an uplifting celebration of fierce, loyal family love and the powerful stories that last generations.

‘A life-enhancing talent’ – Sebastian Barry

Selena Mersey: Madonna/Whore

Musical comedian and professional overthinker Selena Mersey is in a long-term relationship for the first time in her life. Unfortunately, she’s also been reading about Freud. Can Selena’s straight-passing relationship survive the weight of anxiety, progressive politics, and an incredibly impactful psychology A Level?

Presenting Madonna/Whore: a filthy, Freudian, feminist odyssey into the desire to be both and neither a mother and a slut. After a sellout run at Brighton Fringe, Mersey returns with a souped-up redux of the psychodynamic sensation, featuring songs, stand-up, burlesque, and a live birth. Let this shambolic chanteuse enchant you out of your Freudian slip and show you what relationship counselling really looks like. Sex dolls go free.

WINNER: Lamb Queer Comedy Award 2023 | WINNER: Brighton Seagull ‘Best Concept’ 2023

“Heartfelt and hilarious […] Mersey is a star of the Fringe”★★★★★ (The Reviews Hub)

“She will dazzle and charm you” ★★★★ (Broadway Baby)

“A welcome jolt” (Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke)

Musical Comedy Awards finalist 2023 | Burlesque Idol semi-finalist 2022 3 million views on TikTok

The Swingtime Starlets

The Swingtime Starlets are an all-professional close harmony trio, who perform songs from the 40’s Wartime Era, Hollywood’s Golden Age and Retro Pop!

Get your toes tapping, your sweetheart swaying, your jitterbug jiving and become entranced in the romance as this dynamic trio transport you through the eras of Swing, Jazz and Blues.

Let their renditions of the Great American Songbook and Hollywood’s Golden Era transport you through the years with their beguiling voices, close harmonies & vintage style!

Ania Magliano: I Can’t Believe You’ve Done This

Nominated: Best Show – Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2023

To the hairdresser at [redacted] Salon: You can take my money. You can take my dignity. You can take too much off the ends. But you cannot take my right to talk about it on stage. This is a show about the worst haircut of Ania Magliano’s life. Winner of Best New Show at Leicester Comedy Festival 2022, Ania sold-out both runs of her critically acclaimed shows at the 2022 and 2023 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her second show ‘I Can’t Believe You’ve Done This’ was ranked #1 in Time Out’s The 11 best comedy shows at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023 list.

Ania has previously supported Marc Maron, Cat Cohen and Ed Gamble on tour, and writes for Amelia Dimoldenberg’s Chicken Shop Date.

‘Will have you crying with laughter’ ★★★★ Guardian

★★★★ Times

★★★★ Time Out


John Francis Flynn

John Francis Flynn will release a new album Look Over the Wall, See the Sky on Nov. 10th, following on from his critically acclaimed debut album and accompanying live performances.

Look Over the Wall, See the Sky picks up where I Would Not Live Always left off. John masterfully unpicks traditional songs and rearranges them with an emotional force. They float in a surreal space between the past and the present, the analog and the digital, between love and tragedy.

The unconventional use of instruments and jagged arrangements gives the work a magnetism by drawing you into its curious orbit of experimental folk. Look Over The Wall, See The Sky is a re-imagining of traditional Irish music: powerful, hopeful and free.

John Francis Flynn is a singer and multi-instrumentalist who creates contemporary music using traditional and folk material. His debut album I Would Not Live Always was released on Rough Trade imprint River Lea Records in 2020, earning rave reviews and winning 2 awards at the RTE Folk Awards.

‘I Would Not Live Always offers a singular and striking clarity of vision.’ **** UNCUT

‘John Francis Flynn’s ‘My Son Tim’ Is An Extraordinary Piece Of Music’ CLASH

‘like a threatening thunderhead perforated with golden shafts of sunlight: lysergic synth lines, intermittent bursts of overdriven guitar, a clarinet saturated in tape delay and a treated tin whistle disrupt the atmosphere of these old songs without ever diminishing their power.’ **** THE GUARDIAN

Mary Dillon, Dónal O’Connor & Neil Martin

“When three traditional music comets collide, sparks will surely follow”

Together, Mary Dillon, Dónal O’Connor, and Neil Martin create a spellbinding fusion of traditional and contemporary sounds. Their collaborative efforts promise to breathe new life into timeless Ulster songs and tunes, marrying Mary’s evocative vocals with the expressive interplay of fiddle, cello, harmonium & uilleann pipes.

This musical union is not only a celebration of Ireland’s rich musical heritage but also a testament to the enduring vitality of traditional music in the hands of these critically acclaimed and visionary artists.

Few singers are as cherished and revered as Mary DillonWith a voice as pure as crystal and as deep as a spring well this two-time All-Ireland singing champion hails from Dungiven in County Derry. The ‘voice of Déanta’, she has captivated audiences with her emotive vocals and passionate delivery for decades.

Born into a family with a strong musical tradition, Mary’s voice possesses a timeless quality that effortlessly weaves together the past and present. Her ability to interpret traditional songs with authenticity and sensitivity has garnered her a dedicated following, making her a highly respected figure in the Irish folk & traditional music scene.

Dónal O’Connor comes from a long and distinguished line of Irish fiddlers and singers and his collaborations have variously included membership of Ulaid and At First Light, Lá Lugh and RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh’s touring ensemble.

He has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading producers and musicians, having played and recorded with the likes of John McSherry, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Duke Special, Davy Spillane, Ríoghnach Connolly, Steve Cooney, Bob Brozman & Karen Matheson to name but a few! He has composed music for theatre, television and film and has presented music shows for BBC ALBA, BBC NI, TG4, BBC Radio Ulster and Raidió na Gaeltachta.

Hailing from Belfast, Neil Martin is a highly accomplished cellist and composer who has left an indelible mark on the world of classical and traditional music in Ireland. Born with a passion for both genres, Neil’s journey has been defined by his ability to seamlessly traverse the boundaries between them, creating a unique and captivating musical identity. His work has been performed across the world from Ground Zero to Mostar Bridge and the Royal Albert Hall, as well as being played on the International Space Station.

As a producer, arranger and musician, Neil has contributed to over 100 albums and has performed in international venues, such as Carnegie Hall and Palazzo Vecchio.

Audiences can expect a rich tapestry of sound that transcends genres and resonates with the soul-stirring essence of Irish folk & traditional music.

Dave Arcari

Slide guitarist and songwriter Dave Arcari’s alt.blues sound owes as much to trash country, punk and rockabilly as it does to pre-war Delta blues and has been showcased via seven internationally-acclaimed solo album releases on labels including Buzz (UK), Dixiefrog (France) and Blue North (Finland).

After a successful Kickstarter campaign his latest album Devil May Care is set for release on red vinyl in November 2023.

A top three finalist in UK Blues Federation’s UK Blues Awards 2023 Arcari’s music features in numerous BBC TV programmes as well as  popular USA series The Deadliest Catch. While continuing to build his audience in the USA with annual tours since 2013 – including official showcases at SxSW in Austin, Texas – Arcari maintains his presence on the UK and European touring and festival circuits with regular live shows throughout the year.

The ultimate validation for Arcari’s music and performance came in 2019 when National Reso-Phonic Guitars launched the ‘Dave Arcari signature model’ guitar. Arcari joins an elite and exclusive group of players who have signature models and is the first – and only – musician outside the USA to be honoured by the iconic instrument maker whose name is synonymous with the development of the blues genre.

Beyond Skin 20

‘We invite you to join us as we celebrate our 20th birthday with a kaleidoscopic casserole of music, art, dance, food, comedy and conversation reflecting over two decades of making and creating a difference in Northern Ireland and across the world with our global neighbours. Expect some surprise guests. Fabulous prizes to be won!’ – Beyond Skin

All ages welcome.


Northern Irish / Dutch duo Fräulein are one of the most exciting new live acts on the circuit. Cathartic 90’s flavoured alt-rock influenced by the likes of The Breeders, PJ Harvey and Big Thief, whilst incorporating cavernous grooves and sharply observational lyrics. 

The band’s early singles such as ‘Pretty People’, ‘Belly’ and ‘By The Water’ were championed by the likes of Spotify, CLASH, DIY Magazine, The Line Of Best Fit, KEXP, BBC Radio 1 & 6 Music.

The latest release ‘The Last Drop’ hears the fearsome pair double down on their shoegazed, grunge aesthetic which was deftly showcased earlier this year via their ‘Pedestal’ EP. Fräulein gathered top support from the likes of Clash, DIY Mag, The Line Of Best Fit, So Young, The Independent, Gigwise, Loud & Quiet, Radio 1 & 6 Music,all shining a light on the band.

Over 2023 the band toured with ARXX, Be Your Own Pet, Big Joanie and NovaTwins as well as their own debut headline tour – watch out for the debut album coming soon.

Smoove & Turrell DJ/PA Set

Superfly Funk & Soul Belfast are delighted to welcome Smoove & Turrell back to Belfast for rip-snorting DJ Set.

Smoove had met keyboardist Mike Porter through the local music scene in Newcastle and recruited him for his ‘Smoove Live’ project for the label Acid Jazz. Around Mike’s house one day they overheard a neighbour singing sublime melodies in his garage with friends which turned out to be none other than a young John Turrell practicing in a band called ‘The Stevies’. After a couple of further sessions ‘scouting’ him they finally knocked on the door and had a chat and hit it off straight away.

A man of many facets, John Turrell was a skilled carpenter, working and teaching the trade to apprentices at a local college as well as his musical endeavours. After the trio performed several gigs together with various other guest musicians it was agreed they would create some new material and so they started to write and arrange a clutch of tracks that Smoove would record and produce.

As always though with Smoove & Turrell the highs and the lows of life are represented and the hard times realism of some of the lyrics is tempered by the irrepressible dancefloor euphoria of others.

2018 saw the Georgie soul crew return with a stunning fifth album Mount Pleasant, after the success of Crown Posada, which gave the band multiple BBC Radio 2 playlists and 6 music spins.2019 then saw the band celebrating 10 years in the business with the release of “Solid Brass – 10 Years of Northern Funk” a retrospective of the biggest tracks from their blistering live shows with the added bonus of two new tracks – “I’m A Man” and “Give It Back”. A sell out Solid Brass tour saw them delivering a set of strictly the hits to rapturous reception.

The band returned in 2020 with “Stratos Bleu” their 6th studio album which went to No1 in the official U.K Dance Chart! Keyboard player Mike Porter’s collection of analogue synths came to the fore on the new album with a nod to the heady days of early 90’s clubbing which may be a surprise to some but in the context of this band as dancefloor favourites makes perfect sense.

The Magic of Terry Pratchett

Join author and comedian Marc Burrows on a journey through the life and work of Sir Terry Pratchett, based on his Locus Award-winning biography and officially endorsed by the author’s estate.

Explore Pratchett’s life, influences, impact, wit and wisdom, from his days as a school librarian to his time as a trainee journalist to his untimely death from Alzheimers in 2015.

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Discworld and discover the joy, anger, and delicious cock‘n’ bull stories of one of the greatest storytellers of all time. Warning: includes bad puns and unnecessary footnotes.

“Burrows does a fantastic job of navigating both the super-fan and the novice through the story of Pratchett’s life, work and legacy. He also explores the impact of good storytelling, and how Pratchett – as a genius storyteller – used that to good effect. As does Burrows in this show.”
★★★★★ Three Weeks

“Funny, clever and profound, The Magic of Terry Pratchett is a strong and intelligent show for fans of fantasy, puns and good stories. Unmissable.”
★★★★★ Starburst Magazine

“The Magic of Terry Pratchett is a slam dunk must for any reader of Pratchett. Furthermore, you can and should bring your non-Pratchett-savvy friends. The show is surprisingly poignant, with difficult subjects tackled with sensitivity and controversial choices made for, I think, the better.”
★★★★★ (4.8) Edinburgh Reviews

Remembering Mairtin

For over 20 years until his untimely death in January 2004, Mairtin Crawford was at the centre of a Belfast literary culture that was passionate, provocative and politically engaged.

Lyrically gifted, his passing robbed us of a great talent who, as an editor and teacher, was also a great nurturer of talent in others.

Today’s event will mark Mairtin’s 20th anniversary and be an opportunity for friends to remember Mairtin in poetry and song.

Sooz Kempner: Y2K Woman

The award-winning, viral sensation returns with a brand-new hour following her sell-out 2022 run.

As the year 2000 approached, Sooz was about to turn 15 and the PlayStation 2 was about to launch… it was a new beginning for the world. But with the Millennium Bug, was the world also about to end!?

Now, almost a quarter of a century later, things feel eerily similar… New millennium, video games, Alanis Morissette… a show for anyone who remembers the year 2000 or had big dreams as a kid.

‘Kempner has funny bones’ **** (Scotsman). 

‘Brilliant’ (LA Times).

Classics for Lunch with The Ulster Orchestra

Mozart String Quartet No.23 Prussian

Elgar Sea Pictures

Danish trad. Peat Dance

Musicians from the Ulster Orchestra’s string section are joined by mezzo soprano Cicely Hé for a programme with emotional warmth and good humour – just what’s needed to transform a Tuesday lunchtime into something very special.

Mozart’s String Quartet No. 23 is full of wit, charm and almost operatic verve, it gives each instrument its time in the spotlight and it is famous for its strange silences and dissonance in the last movement, which invoke a premonition of an unknown future.

Elgar’s Sea Pictures tell an epic emotional story with the assurance that throughout life’s storms – and whatever lies ahead in that unknown future – love will win through. The composer specifically selected five poems written in response to the ocean, including one by his wife Alice, to inspire his ravishing and expressive writing.

The programme finishes with a Nordic ‘Peat Dance’, which is a type of Danish reel where men traditionally danced around pieces of peat. It is full of energy and originates from the Roskilde area of Denmark and nowadays, it is more common to see folks dance the ‘peat dance’ around their dance partners rather than turf… what better way to send you ‘reeling’ out into the afternoon?!

Hung Up on a Dream – The Zombies (Irish premiere)

In their first-ever feature documentary nearly sixty years after they met as teenagers before the British Invasion music scene, THE ZOMBIES tell their story of navigating the tumultuous music industry over the decades and making one of the most influential albums of all time, Odessey and Oracle. “She’s Not There” made them the first British band after The Beatles to reach #1 in the US.

After years of touring and many missteps in the 60s, sadly the band missed out on their biggest moment yet, when “Time of the Season” hit #1 and became a global success, inspiring new generations each year. The band looks back on their journey, where true friendship led them to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Dir. Robert Schwartzman, US, 2023, 116 mins


Bluegrass for Lunch feat. The Broken String Band

For 20 years, the Broken String Band have been our leading purveyors of great bluegrass, roots and string band music.

Local musicians Michael Ashe (banjo and vocals), Ivan Muirhead (guitar and vocals), Philip Steele (bass and vocals), John Fitzpatrick (fiddle) and Adrian Muirhead (mandolin) all play with a totally infectious  energy, enthusiasm and feeling.

The band have played at many major events and festivals, in Belfast and beyond, from private parties to ‘The One Show’. An eclectic repertoire – from Doc Watson to Aerosmith – keeps ears interested and feet tapping. An unmissable afternoon of great food and quality music.

Tenx9: In the Beginning

Tenx9 is teaming up with Out to Lunch Festival again for our first event of 2024 and our theme is In the Beginning.

Get in touch with your true stories at and join us in the Black Box on January 17 2024.

Tenx9 is a storytelling evening where nine people have up to ten minutes each to tell a true story from their own life. It was created in 2011 by Pádraig Ó Tuama & Paul Doran in the Black Box in Belfast. It aims to strip away the barriers that prevent people from sharing their experiences. It is always free of charge.

First come, first served!

Classic Country for Lunch featuring The Boondocks

Featuring Anthony Toner, Mark Crockard and Marcus McAuley.

Hank Williams, Glen Campbell, Don Gibson, Kris Kristofferson, Gram Parsons, Willie Nelson…

I’m so Lonesome I could Cry, Galveston, Sea of Heartbreak, Love Hurts, Always on my Mind, ….

Just some of the names and songs that have built the foundations of country music and the craft of great songwriting. Lyrics and music that have survived and will continue to survive because they speak to the heart.

Beautiful melodies, touching words, soaring harmonies and intricate solos are the core of great country music. Anthony Toner, Mark Crockard and Marcus McAuley have come together as ‘The Boondocks’ to play the old school country songs they love and hope you do too.

Why not join them as we go out to the Country for Lunch?

Louder Than You Think (N Irish Premiere)

(dir. Jed I. Rosenberg 2023)

Out to Lunch is thrilled to present the Irish premiere of Louder Than You Think (2023 SXSW Audience Award winner) about original Pavement drummer Gary Young.

When teenage guitarists Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg approached the older Gary Young to record an album in his DIY recording studio (from which the film takes its name), Young helped them out and played drums for the recording.

Little did any of them know that the noise they made would end up defining the low-fi indie music scene for a generation. Louder Than You Think tells not only the story of Gary Young (who sadly died in August) but is a celebration of the band itself as well as a gripping rumination human frailty, creativity, and the sh*t life throws at us.

Mixing never before seen archival footage and audio with interviews and even stop-motion animation – plus marionette puppet reconstructions! – he recounts Young’s story from before, during and after Pavement. Prepare to be slanted and enchanted.

“A shattering exploration of destiny, creativity, and existence … Essential viewing.” – No Film School

Wild Child

Formed in Austin, Texas by main songwriters and lead vocalists Alexander Beggins and Kelsey Wilson, Wild Child emerged with their first album, Pillow Talk, in October 2011. The band quickly earned a reputation for spirited live shows and won multiple awards at the SXSW Festival in March of 2013.

Their second LP, October 2013’s The Runaround, featured the viral hit Crazy Bird, which led to U.S. television appearances on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and CBS This Morning.

Wild Child released their third album, Fools, in October 2015. It spent a week at number 14 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart. The following June, they drew a crowd of 25,000 at a local radio station’s outdoor music series.

Another album, Expectations, appeared in February 2018 and reached as high as number six on the Heatseekers chart as well as landing in the Top 20 of the Billboard Independent and Vinyl Albums charts.

During the five years between Expectations and their next album, End of the World, Wild Child were sidelined from touring with the rest of the music industry due to the pandemic, endured the Texas ice storm of 2021 (the inspiration for the title track) and established their own label, Reba’s Ranch Records.

End of the World arrived on the label in March 2023 and has been met with widespread critical acclaim. A live act not to be missed.


Got the January Blues?

Where else to come down after the rampant joys of late-capitalist consumer Christmas with an evening of hard-sell commercials?

Infomercials is a legendary, hilarious series of specials that aired on Adult Swim. Unlike actual infomercials, all Infomercials specials are factual and actually promote real products. For the most part, there’s no continuity between these specials.

Watch… A hot young tech wizard, Alan Resnick, takes you through his 4-step program for creating your own digital avatar. He shares his personal experiences of popularity, immortality, and having it all.

Check out…Icelandic Ultra Blue – Learn about a revolutionary new drug (not to mention Nazi gold and chest rashes) in this informative infomercial.

Inventor Kent Ross introduces his newest dietary supplement that increases muscle growth, sex drive and intelligence — in dogs!

Just some of the products on offer…

With added ‘Too many Cooks’ and some ‘Unedited Footage of a Bear’.

The Scott Flanigan Trio plays The Beatles

From the mid-1960s until the present day, the Beatles have held a fascination for jazz musicians, with jazz greats such as Count Basie, Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau all recording numerous songs by the Fab Four.

Belfast pianist Scott Flanigan continued this tradition in 2022 with a special one-off concert celebrating 60 years since the Beatles’ debut single, Love Me Do.

Scott is delighted to bring this concert to the Out to Lunch Festival, and has arranged an hour of great music by the Beatles for a piano trio, focusing on some of the well-known classics but the lesser-known songs as well. Scott will be joined by Andrew McCoubrey on drums and Rohan Armstrong on bass.

A Belfast native, Scott Flanigan is one of the foremost keyboard players on the Irish jazz scene. He performs regularly across the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Germany, and has recently performed with Van Morrison, the Ulster Orchestra, Larry Coryell, Jean Toussaint, Jim Mullen and Linley Hamilton.

As a leader, Scott successfully tours his own contemporary piano trio, as well as a hard-swinging organ quartet and runs the popular Scott’s Jazz Club, an internationally-recognised jazz club in East Belfast bringing the best in national and international jazz to local audiences.

Scott is also in demand as a teacher of jazz harmony, improvisation and concert preparation, lecturing in jazz piano at Cork School of Music, Dublin City University and at Queens University Belfast, alongside a busy teaching schedule both online and at home in Belfast.

Mud Morganfield Band

Over the last few years, Mud Morganfield, eldest son of the undisputed king of the Blues Muddy Waters, has been delivering his charismatic Chicago blues of the highest order to audiences around the world.

Stunned audiences from Russia, Sweden, Australia, Denmark, Brazil, Argentina, Denmark Spain, Mexico and the UK have experienced the Mud effect. He looks and sounds strikingly like his old man, so much so the one of his dad’s former sidemen said “It’s like watching a ghost in the flesh!” Mud, however also has his own very individual mojo working and will be coming to the UK & Europe to tour with the UK’s very own top blues talent.

This son and proud heir of the King of Chicago blues is blessed with a big and powerful voice that can manage to convey deep emotional resonance on the slow numbers and good old fashioned testosterone laden strut on those classic shuffles.

He’s also blessed with a natural sense of showmanship that ensures that audiences fall right into the palm of his hand. He mixes up the sets with his dad’s classic songs and his own original material. As Mud puts it “I started to sing to show the world that dad left me here. I love and am proud to sing his songs just like I love and will always be proud of him. I’m not Muddy Waters and I’m certainly not trying to be Muddy Waters. I’m Mud Morganfield but when I’m up on stage I always feel pops is there with me and it means so much that I can get on stage and keep his music alive around the world.”

“More than a pastiche … a genuine artist who happens to sound like his daddy” – Blues and Rhythm Magazine

‘Mud Morganfield, son of the pioneering Muddy Waters, was clearly the main attraction for most London Blues Week attendees … He has a knack of communicating the most sorrowful of lyrics, while still showing his infectious excitement to be on stage. He uncannily channels his father’s prowess.’ – Editor The House that Soul Built

“All the way from Chicago, Mud Morganfield! All eyes went to the stairs from the balcony, as Mud made his triumphal entrance, got up on stage and began to sing. Instantly, you were transported back to the Electric Blues of Chicago, maybe 40 years ago and the sound, reminiscent of all the classic Electric Blues greats.” – Paul Stewart, Daily Express

Dreamgun Film Reads present: Titanic

The Titanic was the ship of dreams but it was also a nightmare ship where everyone died. Dreaming presents their parody Film Read of James Cameron’s Titanic the film based on Titanic the boat. With Gavin Drea, Stephen Colfer, Hannah Mamalis, Ronan Carey and guests!

Rewritten by Dreamgun and performed by actors and comedians who haven’t rehearsed but have seen the movie at least once. “Hilarious live read-throughs of brilliantly rewritten film classics, a joy” – Dara Ó Briain

★★★★★- “Merciless, hilarious. Consistently sharp, rapid-fire funny writing and crackling performances” – The Irish Times

★★★★★- “Kept us in stitches and potentially destroyed a host of childhood memories.” – Broadway Baby

★★★★★ – The Wee Review

★★★★★ – Rule of Three

★★★★★ -FreshAir

Tom Holland In Conversation

Tom Holland joins us to talk about his latest book ‘PAX: War and Peace in Rome’s Golden Age’. From the award-winning, bestselling historian, and co-presenter of the podcast The Rest is History.

‘Pax’ is the definitive history of Rome’s golden age, antiquity’s ultimate superpower at the pinnacle of its greatness, and the third in the epic trilogy narrating the history of the Roman Empire that began with Rubicon, continued with Dynasty, and now arrives at the period which marks the apogée of the pax Romana.

At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Scotland to Arabia, and contained perhaps a quarter of humanity. It was the wealthiest and most formidable state the world had yet seen.

Beginning in 69AD, a year that saw four Caesars in succession rule the empire, and ending some seven decades later with the death of Hadrian, Pax presents a dazzling history of Rome at the height of its power, covering events such as the destruction of Jerusalem and Pompeii, the building of the Colosseum and Hadrian’s Wall, and the conquests of Trajan. Vividly sketching the lives of Romans both ordinary and spectacular, from slaves to emperors, Holland demonstrates how Roman peace was the fruit of unprecedented military violence.

Tom Holland is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster. His bestselling books include Rubicon which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History; Persian Fire, which won the Anglo-Hellenic League’s Runciman Award; Millennium; In the Shadow of the Sword; Dynasty and Dominion. Holland co-hosts the hugely popular podcast, The Rest is History. In 2007, he was the winner of the Classical Association prize, awarded to ‘the individual who has done most to promote the study of the language, literature and civilisation of Ancient Greece and Rome’.

He has written and presented a number of TV documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4, on subjects ranging from religion to dinosaurs. He served two years as the Chair of the Society of Authors; as Chair of the PLR Advisory Committee and was on the committee of the Classical Association.

In The Bad Books. Vol 2

In the Bad Books – S.E.X. edition

Welcome to another edition of In The Bad Books – the evening that celebrates the worst of the printed word from the best among us – celebrities.
For this one, we’re bringing Sexy (paper)back – as we lustily grapple with some of the bluest purple prose ever committed to the page.
Exhibit A: Shire Hell by Rachel Johnson
“As he nibbles and pulls with his mouth, his hands find my bush, and with light fingers he flutters about there, as if he is a moth caught inside a lampshade. Almost screaming after five agonizingly pleasurable minutes, I make a grab, to put him, now angrily slapping against both our bellies, inside, but he holds both my arms down, and puts his tongue to my core, like a cat lapping up a dish of cream so as not to miss a single drop.”
The prosecution rests, m’lud…

This Flight Tonight: The Songs of Joni Mitchell by Zervas and Pepper

An intimate acoustic Tribute to the music of JONI MITCHELL. Featuring songs ‘California’, ‘Blue’, ‘Woodstock’ ‘Both Sides Now’, ‘Coyote’, ‘Big Yellow Taxi’, ‘A Case Of You’.

UK singer/songwriters Zervas & Pepper present what they consider to be the nucleus of Mitchell’s work, that pivotal break-out period 1968-1976 with the voice, guitar and piano front and centre.

An intimate acoustic evening that should feel like the audience is having a private listening session at Joni’s house in Laurel Canyon during the summer of love.

Zervas & Pepper are Welsh Singer/Songwriters Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper that have been creating and performing original music for over a decade professionally.

The duo and their recording/touring band enjoy cult success on the UK and European Folk/Americana scene and have released five critically-acclaimed studio albums and undertaken countless live headline and support tours, receiving strong national and international network radio support throughout their career and their original music garnering praise and accolades from the likes of CSN&Y legend David Crosby, BBC DJ’s Mark Radcliffe, Bob Harris, Lauren Laverne and Don Letts.

‘This Flight Tonight’ is a celebration of Joni Mitchell’s music that the duo have had in the making for many years, and now 2023 will see them finally take this show on the road for the first time. The carefully-crafted set list will feature songs from Joni’s million-selling albums such as Clouds, Ladies of the Canyon, For The Roses, Court and Spark, featuring many cuts from her 1972 landmark release ‘Blue’.

Band Line up – Kathryn Pepper – Lead Vocals/ Dulcimer/ Percussion, Paul Zervas – Acoustic Guitar, Andrew Brown – Bass Guitar, Laurie Rich/Charlie Herbert– Piano, Sam Andrews – Electric guitar/ Congas, Percussion.



We want to do Nothing

Nothing as pause and possibility.

And Possibly Protest.

We want to create a space where Nothing happens.

Curate a conversation about Nothing.

We will advertise and invite

See if anyone shows up

And then see what happens…

We are serious and playful about doing Nothing.

Nothing really matters.

Nothing will happen at the Black Box

you’d be very welcome

unless you have nothing better to do

A Daisy Chain Inc production

Opera For Lunch – Cabaret de la Boîte Noire

Northern Ireland Opera presents ‘ Cabaret de la Boîte Noire’.   After a sold-out presentation last year we return to the Black Box for another fabulous hour of glamour and sparkle, taking you into the worlds of Bernstein, Sondheim, Weill and Kander and Ebb.

Join us as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival’s ‘Out To Lunch’ programme, with captivating performances featuring cabaret classics staged by Northern Ireland’s award-winning national opera company. Lunch is included in the ticket price.

Art is Long…Life is Short: An Evening of the Music of Ryuichi Sakamoto by Ruth McGinley

“As a music maker and curious explorer of the inner human experience, Sakamoto’s life and work offers the gift of limitless inspiration. Playing his music is like looking deeply into your own soul…a profound experience.”

Contemplating his mortality in 2017, Sakamoto said he wanted to make “music I won’t be ashamed to leave behind – meaningful work”. By any metric, he already had. His view of himself was perpetually in flux. He had become interested in human playing through this circuitous route of the sampler: “I discovered something new about the piano.”

The significance of this return to the piano became increasingly apparent as his career moved from youthful pop star to chameleonic mature artist; the piano became an instrument at the centre of personal freedom, rather than an archaic evolutionary stage leading to the synthesiser.

And now, what can we say, he showed us music is never really about certainty, only possibility, and in possibility there is a way to live, a positivity that Ryuichi Sakamoto never abandoned.

Derry-born Ruth McGinley is widely recognised as one of Ireland’s leading pianists. Her career has been wide-ranging and daring, collaborating with some of the most acclaimed musicians working today, and straying from the typical classical-pianist journey.

But it is perhaps the spaces between where Ruth’s interests really lie. A determination to walk her own path, Ruth’s love of music goes far beyond the classical world.

A highly sought-after collaborator, Ruth loves to cross musical boundaries and work with musicians from a diverse range of backgrounds including jazz, folk, electronic and film.

Becoming Marvellous by Cathy Carson

The story begins in 1970’s Belfast, where life for young Danielle is as troubled at home as it is on the streets.  Mistreated at home, expelled from school at fifteen and homeless at twenty, Danielle feels like she is drowning.

But there are lifeboats around her, people who will save her if only she can trust them enough to take their hand. Be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotion, a stunningly crafted script and a powerhouse performance.

About the Author
Cathy Carson is a writer and spoken word artist who combines poetry and storytelling to explore human connection and condition.  She has performed for radio, television, festivals, podcasts and theatre.  In 2022 Cathy was shortlisted for the Saboteur award for Best Spoken Word Artist and in the same year ‘ Becoming Marvellous’ won the Saboteur award for Best Spoken Word Show.

Sam Baker

Sam Baker is a lyric writer, artist, and survivor. His songs are stories of everyday people facing everyday challenges: a young Mennonite welder who finds love, a ditch digger supporting his family, a veteran grappling with post-war life, a single mother driving around with a car full of baby junk, a widower writing ‘her’ name in the sand, and a straight-haired orphan in a house full of curls. They are survivors. Like Sam.

In 1986 Sam was on a train for Machu Picchu when a bomb exploded in the carriage he was riding in. Seven died. Through a series of miracles, and the help of everyday people doing their best–his angels–he survived.

Physical recovery was hard.  Emotional recovery harder. Melody came to him–compelled him to turn an old guitar upside down so his gnarled hands could play.

Slowly, the words came–one true line–“Sitting on the train to Machu Picchu, the passenger car explodes.”  He made a record. Then another. There were glowing reviews, more records, awards in Rolling Stone; sold-out shows in Europe, Canada, and the US and songs in TV shows; and an hour with Terry Gross on Fresh Air.

Sam uses his art to tell his story–whether from a symphony in Oregon, an art gallery in Santa Fe, a large theatre in Kansas City, a small room in The Netherlands, or a song-writer retreat with soldiers. He travels the world sharing his songs, grateful for each day, helping us see the beauty in little things and hope for things to come.

Simultaneously beautiful and broken…Sam Baker is an artist worth waiting for.’ – NPR

‘The Bard of the Workaday World’ – WALL STREET JOURNAL

‘Maybe the most captivating songwriter in America.’ – LONE STAR MUSIC

Sam Baker is an island of warmth and hope in dangerous times.’ – NEON FILLER


In partnership with Out to Lunch, the 14th iteration of this popular, intimate event will be hosted by Belfast-born photographer Philip Arneill, and offers a unique opportunity to join an immersive listening experience inspired by the spirit of the incredible world of Japanese jazzkissa –coffee shops created as dedicated listening spaces for jazz records.

(Doors open at 7.00pm and close at 7.30pm so be on time please!)

Duke Special: Blood For Ghosts

Duke Special released his latest album, Blood for Ghosts, in November. This album is a unique and captivating interpretation of 10 song sheets dating back to 1850 – 1949, which were discovered in the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco.

Going beyond the traditional release, “Blood for Ghosts” is available as a book, complete with extended sleeve notes that delve into the journey of the songs, the recording process, and Duke’s perspective on translating these timeless pieces for a contemporary audience.

In a world where music is often undervalued, this innovative approach of presenting “the book is the album” is a significant response.

To celebrate this groundbreaking release, Out to Lunch audiences will be treated to live performances of selected tracks from Blood for Ghosts, accompanied by insightful discussions about the concept behind the album, the origins of the songs, and his creative process.

Join us for an extraordinary experience that combines music and literature, as Duke Special presents “Blood for Ghosts – The Book Is The Album.”

Jeremy Deller In Conversation ‘Art is Magic’

Jeremy Deller talks about his new publication ‘Art is Magic’

A holistic and revealing account of the inspirations, passions and practices of one of the country’s foremost contemporary artists.

In work that is playful, political and provocative, borrowing from many forms and produced over many mediums, Jeremy Deller enjoys critical acclaim in the UK and across the world.

Art is Magic is the first book in which the artist reflects on the entirety of his career, his life and his art. Published by Cheerio

About the author

Jeremy Deller studied Art History at the Courtauld Institute and at Sussex University. He won the Turner Prize in 2004 for his work Memory Bucket and represented Britain in the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.

His projects over the past two decades, such as Battle of Orgreave (2001), We’re Here Because We’re Here (2016) as well as the documentary Everybody in the Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 (2019) have influenced the conventional map of contemporary art.


Alison Brown

One of the most multi-faceted minds in roots music, Alison Brown is a GRAMMY-winning musician, GRAMMY-nominated producer, former investment banker, and co-founder of The Compass Records Group which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2023.

Although Alison began her musical career as a teenager in the Southern California bluegrass scene, she has built a reputation as one of today’s most forward thinking and innovative banjo players. She is known for taking the instrument far beyond its Appalachian roots by blending bluegrass and jazz influences into a sonic tapestry that has earned praise and recognition from a variety of national tastemakers including The Wall Street Journal, CBS Sunday Morning, NPR, and USA Today.

On her new release, aptly titled On Banjo, Alison continues her musical explorations on a set of original compositions that explore the range of the banjo.The album features an eclectic cast of collaborators including Steve Martin, Kronos Quartet, Sharon Isbin, Anat Cohen, Sierra Hull, Stuart Duncan and members of the Alison Brown Quintet.

Alison is the recipient of the USA Artists Fellowship in Music and the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association. In 2019, she was inducted into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame. Alison serves on the Board of Governors of the Recording Academy and as co-chair of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize.

“Like James Taylor’s voice or B.B. King’s guitar, Alison Brown’s banjo is an instrument possessed of a unique sonic signature and an inescapable beauty….an artist who never ceases to delight.” Billboard Magazine

“Alison Brown left a career in investment banking for a life as a banjo musician. Anyone who thinks this was a foolish move hasn’t heard her play.”The New Yorker

Brigid Mae Power

Recognised as a purveyor of dreamier pop with folky leanings, Brigid Mae Power is set to release her new album this summer.

‘Dream From The Deep Well’ is a departure; a unique marriage of traditional stylings and very modern melodies; a breathtaking soundtrack which underpins her gorgeous vocal.

“The Irish singer-songwriter flits between past and present; between traditional and modern forms; between the heaven in her voice and the earthbound epiphanies of her words.”  Pitchfork

Filled with personal tales of offspring and grandparents, the lovelorn and the lost, it’s the essence of re-imagined folk music. Brigid’s evocative vocals alongside strings, steel guitar, horns and mellotron adds to the baroque loveliness whilst waving back at her rootsy past, daubing new colours on a much-loved canvas.

Brigid’s fourth album is a new visionary beginning for the gifted songwriter and her most complete album to date. After two lauded albums for Tompkins Square, Power signed to Fire Records releasing her autobiographical, highly acclaimed album ‘Head Above The Water’ in 2020. Her last record was a coming of age opus that featured a ground-breaking amalgamation of traditional folk and country.

★★★★ Pitchfork ★★★★½ Uncut ★★★★ Mojo ★★★★ The Line Of Best Fit ★★★★ The Guardian ★★★★ Irish Times

Skilfully interpretating songs from ‘Didn’t It Rain’ (Songs: Ohia), Aretha Franklin and Patsy Cline on her 2021 EP ‘Burning Your Light’; Brigid brings hope and reverence to classic songs that unquestionably exhibit her love of the art of song writing which is perfectly illustrated. Politically primed and socially aware, the Irish musician has found power in her extraordinary voice and been able to embroider into a musical tapestry that’s melancholy and wonderfully consuming.

An Elvis Gospel Brunch

As our finale of our lunchtime shows, we’ve an extended 90 minute Elvis Gospel show and it’s going to be very special.

Before Elvis Presley was a rock and roller, he was a fan of gospel music, watching such groups as the Blackwood Brothers and the Stamps Quartet perform in Memphis churches.

Jim ‘The King’ Brown will pay tribute to Presley’s religious roots with a gospel brunch, accompanied by a full band, a modern incarnation of the group that inspired and sang with Elvis.


Cahiers du Cinéma called it “the worst film ever committed to celluloid”, while Movies Movies Movies described watching it as “akin to having a fever dream when consuming a full block of mature cheddar after a bad day”.It’s undeniable that 2019’s Cats (based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of the same name), left an indelible mark on anyone who had cause to watch it the first time around.

Join us for a cinematic evening of confrontation therapy as we face this star-studded big-budget monstrosity together in the Black Box.

Roar as James Corden wobbles and chunters in a giant cat outfit, cheer as he falls into a bin, gasp as venerable puss Dame Judy Dench deftly attends to her intimate personal hygiene.

We’ll be having a drink every time Idris Elba flashes his rippling cat-abs, or Sir Ian McKellen gingerly licks his milk, and you can take part in our contented purring contest, if you’re feline groovy.

All together now: ”Memory, all alone in the moonlight…”.

“Wait..what?” Screen International

“ of those rare cinematic events that feels like a collective hallucination – improbable and entirely indescribable.”The Independent

John Craigie

Portland, OR-based singer, songwriter, and producer John Craigie adapts moments of solitude into stories perfectly suited for old Americana fiction anthologies.

Instead of leaving them on dog-eared pages, he projects them widescreen in flashes of simmering soul and folk eloquence. On his 2022 full-length album, Mermaid Salt, we witness revenge unfurled in flames, watch a landlocked mermaid’s escape, and fall asleep under a meteor shower.

After selling out shows consistently coast-to-coast and earning acclaim from Rolling Stone, Glide Magazine, No Depression, and many more, his unflinching honesty ties these ten tracks together.

The album comes from the solitude and loneliness of lockdown in the Northwest. Someone whose life was touring, traveling, and having lots of human interaction is faced with an undefinable amount of time without those things.

So, he began writing new songs and envisioning an album that was different from his past records. The sound of everyone playing live in a room together was traded for the sound of song construction with an unknown amount of instruments and musicians—a quiet symphony.

During this period, he explored the environment around him “from the Oregon coasts to the waterfalls” and read books about Levon Helm, Billie Holiday, and Ani DiFranco. “I got time to silence all the noise and chaos of touring and look inward,” he observes.

Craigie had reached a series of watershed moments in tandem with Mermaid Salt. Beyond headlining venues such as The Fillmore and gracing the stage of Red Rocks Amphitheater, his 2020 offering Asterisk The Universe earned unanimous tastemaker applause.

Rolling Stone noted, “tracks like ‘Don’t Deny’ and ‘Climb Up’ bridge a Sixties and Seventies songwriter vibe with the laid-back cool of Jack Johnson, an early supporter of Craigie,” while Glide Magazine hailed it as “one of his best records.”

Perhaps, No Depression put it best, “For many weary and heavy- listeners hearted, the album might be exactly what they need.” Along the way, he generated over 40 million total streams and counting, speaking to his unassuming impact. In the end, Craigie offers a sense of peace on Mermaid Salt.

Lumiere & The Wilderness Way Book Launch

The story and songs of Irish emigration & the American Civil War

Lumiere brought together two distinct voices cut from the same geographic cloth. One is Éilís Kennedy, whose sound has ready access to the soul without need for scaffolding or spotlights. The other is Pauline Scanlon, an award- winning singer from the same Kerry town of Dingle.

Since their debut launch, the duo has toured their distinctive sound from the cosy snugs of their native Dingle to international concert halls, and a worldwide audience has connected with their offering of real music, by real singers, communicating real emotions.

As a duo, Lumiere takes something that is sacred and age old and re-imagines it simply and beautifully, reclaiming beauty, truth and trust for the modern age. The big themes of love and loss, of place and people, of longing and lament, are present in both records Lumiere and My Dearest Dear.

The Duo’s immersion in the west Kerry singing tradition, and their ability to communicate it’s beauty remains a steadfast trait of their live performances. In the past decade both singers have produced a huge body of work in solo albums, but the draw to sing together has always been there. Lumiere are re-emerging in new light, with fresh stories to tell and old songs to reveal and awaken.

The Wilderness Way is a cross-Atlantic historical fiction set in Donegal and the US during the American Civil War. Inspired by true events, it tells the harrowing tale of a family evicted by Glenveagh landlord John Adair in 1861. To escape the workhouse two brothers emigrate to New York where they are drafted into the Union Army.

Set against the wild landscapes of Ireland and the battlefields of the American Civil War, this sweeping narrative takes us on an epic journey to understand the strength and endurance of the human spirit.

 Debut novelist Anne Madden, from Belfast, has teamed up with Lumiere to highlight through song the big themes of the book – eviction, emigration and the fate of so many Irish in the Civil War (1861-65).

 “I’m delighted to launch my novel with the tremendously talented Lumiere whose haunting harmonies and musical repertoire of this period will really bring the story to life. I think this will be a very special event for anyone interested in Ireland’s recent past and the eternal human struggle of emigration.”

The Wilderness Way, is published by HarperCollins, and will be available to buy along with Lumiere music at the event.


Presented by Ulster Orchestra, QFT, Oh Yeah Centre, Out To Lunch and Red Wolf Films.

We are delighted to welcome Director Maggie Contreras to Belfast to talk about her film.

Following the buzz of Tár, Maggie Contreras’ documentary Maestra follows several women from around the world as they compete in the only all-women competition for conductors. This ultra-competitive field is riddled with long-standing issues of sexism, and each participant is approaching the contest with fierce tenacity.

Through her efforts in profiling these women, Contreras reveals how childhood abuse, maternity discrimination, and gendered expectations have moulded them as individuals. These disparate experiences paradoxically unite them in a common cause while distinguishing their priorities. One woman wonders whether she should start having children, while another wants to prove herself after being fired for being pregnant.

In contrast to the wild gesticulations required of the competitors, Maestra is relatively laid back in its approach, taking time to familiarise us with each woman before the competition starts. Yet a palpable tension starts to build as the competitors are eliminated one by one, despite everyone being a champion.

While Maestra focuses on women conducting orchestras, the film speaks to a bigger issue about gender equality. – Danielle Solzman

Watching people dear to us not make it can be heartbreaking, but by the end, the movie proves a paean to the resilience and hard work of this vibrant collection of brilliant musicians. 

They all deserve a standing ovation. – Christopher Llewellyn Reed- Film Festival Today

Greensleeves Hi-Fi X Explosion Sound System

Greensleeves Records was founded in 1977 in Shepherd’s Bush, London, to release the latest dancehall and Reggae hits from Jamaica.

The label became synonymous with Caribbean-influenced black British music and defined a genre. Many artists and prominent producers released on the label, including Dr. Alimantado, Wailing Souls, and Shabba Ranks.

Greensleeves Hi-Fi has taken the music from the label directly to the people through a series of DJ sets from Geneva to London to Berlin and beyond.

Oxman is a legendary DJ who specializes in Rocksteady, Ska, and Roots. Adam Prescott has produced original songs featuring various artists and his productions are often heard on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, Rinse FM and Worldwide FM.

Kaia Kater

Montreal-born Grenadian-Canadian Kaia Kater’s jazz-fueled voice and deft songcraft have garnered acclaim from NPR’s Tiny DeskThe GuardianRolling Stone and No Depression.

Through her artful banjo playing and lush songwriting, Kaia draws on influences rooted in Quebec, the Caribbean, and Appalachia, all of which reflect the diversity of her background; her family’s deep ties to the Canadian folk music scene; her college years spent soaking up Appalachian music in West Virginia and her father’s experience growing up in Grenada, arriving in Canada in 1986, after the U.S. invasion.

Kaia released her first EP Old Soul (2013) when she was just out of high school. Since then, she’s gone on to release three more albums, Sorrow Bound (2015), Nine Pin (2016) and Grenades (2018).

For the JUNO-nominated and Polaris Music Prize long-listed Grenades, Kaia leaned into a wide array of sounds and styles in order to convey a broad range of emotions and topics, most notably her Caribbean ancestry and her father’s experience as a refugee in Canada.

In 2020, Kaia took part in the Slaight Music Residency at the Canadian Film Center, released a new single, and wrote original music for The Porter (BET+ 2022), for which she garnered a Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Song in a Drama Series.  Her next album, recorded in Montreal with Joe Grass as co-producer, will land in late 2023.

…plaintive, mesmerizing…writes and performs with the skill of a folk-circuit veteran…”-Rolling Stone

“You want some authenticity in your folk music or bluegrass – I give you Kaia Kater.” No Depression

A star in the making...Folk Alley

Sign Crushes Motorist

Sign Crushes Motorist is a slowcore-influenced project of artist Liam McCay, who is 18 years-old and just finished secondary school.

The music is inspired by slacker and lo-fi alt-rock music with a particular nod to Duster, the San Jose, California band who released three main albums in the slowcore genre in the 90s before taking a near 20 year hiatus that they ended in 2019 to release once more. The project name, Sign Crushes Motorist, is the title of a Duster song. McCay has also cited the late Apistat Commander as an influence.

Sign Crushes Motorist is just one of McCay’s pseudonyms which also includes Take CareBirth Day, Make His Ribs ShowMantaHoldMiserable Teens ClubRoamingDeath TrapMoon Water to name some.

Sign Crushes Motorist is the McCay’s main project and has garnered over 1.4 million monthly listeners on Spotify, though his other aliases like Birth Day and Take Care are also doing good listening numbers on various platforms.

Sign Crushes Motorist has two albums to date – 2022’s I’ll Be Ok and the most recently album releases last month – Hurting.

Campbell Jensen

Ashley Campbell and Thor Jensen form a unique meeting of musical genres as the duo Campbell/Jensen. With Ashley coming from the world of country and Americana and Thor having a diverse background from rock to gypsy jazz, they create a fresh sound as a duo.

Ashley Campbell, daughter of country legend Glen Campbell, began her career playing in her father’s band on several world tours and has found success as a solo artist in the country music scene; most notably with her debut single “Remembering” which she wrote for her father.

Her original music has taken her all over the world, from China to Japan, to the mainstage at London’s O2 Arena to opening for Kris Kristofferson and the Bellamy Brothers. She has also been spotlighted for her banjo playing with Rascal Flatts in the music video for their hit single “Banjo”.

Thor Jensen, a virtuoso guitarist and songwriter from New York has travelled many different roads. From touring the world with Hazmat Modine, playing Americana with Quiet Life opening for the likes of Dr. Dog and Shovels and Rope, then onto joining the Stephane Wrembel Band, playing the music of Django Reinhardt and performing at Carnegie Hall and all over the world.

Ashley and Thor met in late 2021 and have been playing music together ever since. Both being strong instrumentalists in addition to the combination of Thor’s deep baritone and Ashley’s clear as a bell vocals, together they make a one of a kind blend. Ashley and Thor released a cover of the Tom Waits song ‘Long Way Home’ in June 2022.

In January 2023 Campbell/Jensen hired a cottage off the Northern Irish coast, Turtle Cottage. There they brought in a portable Studio and engineers and recorded the Campbell/Jensen debut album which is due to be released 2023.

Mark O Connell : A Thread of Violence

Mark O’Connell in conversation with Joe Nawaz

From the award-winning author comes the gripping tale of one of the most scandalous murderers in modern Irish history, at once a propulsive work of true crime and an act of literary subversion.

Malcolm Macarthur was a well-known Dublin socialite and heir.  Suave and urbane, he passed his days mingling with artists and aristocrats, reading philosophy, and living a life of the mind. But by 1982, his inheritance had dwindled to almost nothing, a desperate threat to his lifestyle.

Macarthur hastily conceived a plan: He would commit bank robbery, of the kind that had become frightfully common in Dublin at the time. But his plan spun swiftly out of control, and he needlessly killed two innocent people. The ensuing manhunt, arrest, and conviction amounted to one of the most infamous political scandals in modern Irish history, contributing to the eventual collapse of the government.

Mark O’Connell is a writer from Dublin. He is the author of Notes from an Apocalypse (2020) and To Be a Machine (2017), which was awarded the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, the 2019 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, and was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and The Guardian.

“A masterpiece”— The Observer

“Disturbing [and] compelling”— Colm Toíbín

“Superb and unforgettable”— Sally Rooney 

“A masterly work”— John Banville 

“Morally complex and mesmerizing”— Fintan O’Toole

Michael & Michelle

‘Michael and Michelle’ is actor and musician duo Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey, Anatomy of a Scandal, The Gentlemen) and Michael Fox (Downton Abbey, Dunkirk.)

It took a single evening for the pair to bond over a shared passion. What started as a casual jam – in between shooting scenes and encouraged by a friend – quickly turned into something distinct. Until then, Michael and Michelle had been preoccupied by various professional distractions – most notably the hugely popular TV show Downton Abbey, which brought them together.

Both were looking for a new way of expressing themselves – and music runs in their blood. Growing up, Michael had always been in bands, cutting his teeth through a range of styles from indie to folktronica while writing his own songs.

Michelle grew up in a noisy household on a diet of Joni Mitchell, Alison Krauss and Indigo Girls – she sang on various London stages including Ronnie Scott’s before acting took the front seat. After that first jam, they hustled a recording studio in Downtown LA and got to work.

Now, six years later, they are exclusively signed to Decca UMG and in May 2022 released their first EP, The Watching Silence – four self-penned songs produced by Iain Grimble (Mumford and Sons, Daughter, Catfish And The Bottlemen) recorded last year in Crouch End’s Church Studios.

The tracks were mixed by Danton Supple (Coldplay, Elbow, Morrissey) and the duo are joined across the EP by Chris Mass (Mumford and Sons) on percussion and Tommy Heap (Willy Mason) on piano and bass. Critical acclaim and media support include The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show, BBC Radio 2 and BBC local playlisting.

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