KEVIN MAGEE spoke to some of the sizable Derry contingent en route to Ireland's longest running music TV series, which was filmed in Kerry at the weekend.

Other Voices is upon us again, well, it happened over last weekend…it’s the festival that keeps getting bigger, having started as a broadcast from a disused church in Dingle to a weekend-long festival attracting the biggest names in the music industry to the tiny village in Kerry.

It’s a great weekend in one of the most beautiful corners of Ireland, if not the galaxy far, far away. You may remember the absolute saturation of music when Derry hosted the event, the first and only time away from Dingle, during the fateful 2013 City Of Culture. There is music all day every day for the public and it’s a great opportunity for bands from all over Ireland to interact with each other and various industry insiders.

Aside from the broadcast from St James’s Church in the town there is a music trail of gigs that take place in the bars on the main street. Our Krypton Son, Roe, Waldorf & Cannon, Rosborough and Touts are flying the flag for Derry this year.

Wally, the Waldorf of Waldorf & Cannon, was telling me it was “a great end to the year, we have four live shows including a live video stream with Paul McLoone for Today FM and we’re looking forward to checking out loads of live music”.

Luke McLaughlin from Touts said the band were “buzzing and looking forward to it because it’s our first time there and we’ve heard such great things”. Touts had two gigs at the weekend and were looking forward to meeting other bands and seeing live acts on the music trail.

Chris McConaghy, Our Krypton Son, had two live shows he was “really looking forward to it”. He played there before, noting how well the artists are treated and couldn't wait to get back.

Glenn Rosborough ditched the Christian name, and Derry, to play the Other Room this year. His single “Burn Blue” is available on streaming platforms now with his debut album to follow next year. He told me he was “looking forward to playing the Other Room and staring, hungover, at the beautiful scenery”.

Roe rounds up the local contingent, the moniker of Roisin Donald, and she was “very excited to be playing Other Voices”.

I’m sure they had a ball in Dingle.

New album for Keith Harkin

Meanwhile, in America Keith Harkin is on what seems to be a Dylanesque never-ending tour.  He made a name for himself as a member of Celtic Thunder but has since embarked on a solo career that proves that the Rock’n’Roll (well country) lifestyle is much more hard work than most people believe. He says people look at him and see Celtic Thunder but he wants his music to be a fairer representation of himself.

He’s a master of social media and has nurtured a devoted fan base the old fashioned way…he earned it through consistent touring and self-promotion. His debut album On Mercy Street was fine-tuned from live recordings of original material.

When I speak to him he’s traveling from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Kansas City, Missouri, just over 4000 miles from home and four shows into a run of 30, stuck in a tour van with three other fellas with only one day off between now and Christmas Eve…a testament to the man’s work ethic. And he explains, “I’ve toured America for over ten years now and that’s where my audience is, most people back home don’t know what I do."

What he does is his own brand of country, he’s been a solo act for six years, in which time he’s worked with some big names, most recently Jack Tempchin, a friend of Glenn Fray from The Eagles who wrote 'Peaceful Easy Feeling' as well as Chrissie Hynde’s bass player, Bezio Bacci, who has notably worked with Peter Gabriel. It all seems a bit star studded but Keith insists it’s hard work and he misses his friends and family. But, he adds, he does hope to make it home for a gig to show everyone what he does.

Recorded in an old church live in Venice and produced by Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Jorge Vivo, Harkin's new album, 'In The Round', is out on Dec 8 on Blue Elan Records. It can be ordered through Amazon and iTunes.

All of the bands albums and singles are available to stream from the usual platforms and buy at Cool Discs.

* Kevin Magee works in Cool Discs and is a Derry-based music promoter and DJ

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