Paddy and Monica Nixon, legenderry local entertainers
The ancients said 'all good things come in threes,' and that is certainly true for well-known Derry musician, Paddy Nixon and his eclectic collective of singers, songwriters and performers.
Paddy and the abundance of talent he brought together have just released the final album in a trilogy which first hit the airwaves in February 2020.
Speaking to Derry Now, a relieved but an obviously contented Paddy said the order in which the albums were released was: Notes From Derry: the acoustic sessions; Stories of the Land: the seanchaí sessions; and finally, Heritage: the legacy sessions.
“The three albums were produced and mastered at the Disc Shack in Derry and the executive producer was Ronan McDonald, who remained with us for all three albums and we have Ursula Coyle to thank for the artwork on Heritage.”
Smiling ruefully, Paddy said: “The first album, Notes From Derry: the Acoustic Sessions, was released at the end of February 2020 and two weeks later covid hit.
“It did very well on the launch night but obviously things went a little flat after that. The album was done in memory of Ronan’s father who had been a musician in the town for 40 years. It was comprised entirely of old and new local artists, performing new songs and old songs.
“With the second album the good thing, if anything good came out of Covid, was that all of the musicians were available because they weren’t away playing in different arts and parts, in different countries.
"I was able to get them all together. They stayed with me. And they stayed with me for the third and final album too.
“Apart from the fundraising, which was the important thing with the first album, was the fact we wanted to tell stories about Ireland. Initially we were going to focus on a specific period in Irish history but we realised fairly quickly, if we did that, all the songs would be the same.
"They would be about emigration or fighting. So, we took a lot of time deciding on what songs we wanted to record. I have three songs on the albums. I wrote the Bloody Sunday song, The City Cried, which was sung by Thomas Quigley. Dougie Breslin was another big original music contributor.
"We also had Brian McFadden and Monica McGuigan, who has subsequently recorded an album of her own,” said Paddy.
Paddy named Monica (McGuigan) and his wife Monica (Nixon née Coyle) who also performed on the albums the ‘HarMonicas’
“Gabby Fitzgerald, a talented local uilleann piper, wrote and sang a song called Clew Bay to New England on this album. We also have a few standards like Lakes of Pontchartrain, which is introducing a young fellow called Ryan Ward, a local singer here around the bars
“Everybody knows Lakes of Pontchartrain, which is by Paul Brady, so Ryan’s version is going to be Marmite. You're either really going to like or hate it. He is a young fella and he did a modern version with an acoustic guitar. I quite liked it. It grew on me.
“My brother, Damien, sang another original, Kitty Brown. All in all, there is quite an eclectic mix of both singers and songs, epitomised by Ursula’s photograph on the front showing items which belonged to her father, Jack Coyle, quite reminiscent, I think, of things we would see in Ireland in days gone by,” said Paddy.
The three albums are available to download on all the major digital platforms.
“Everybody has different favourites on every album,” said Paddy, “and sometimes when I listen to them, I really like a particular arrangement. Every single song has something that I really like.
“I am glad to say too, that a couple of radio stations have reached out to us now that they know the third album has been released.
“The albums are a snapshot of this time in our history, in Derry and Donegal, more than 20 musicians who have now come together and grown in confidence. We have Stephen O’Carolan playing with Sailor Bill.
“We could not even remember the last time an album of local artists was brought out. Folk artists tend to be independent individuals and usually don't have the opportunity to be part of a bigger community, which this now is. When are you ever going to get original songs from artists such as Gerry Breslin, Gabby Fitzgerald, Paddy Nixon, Edana Barrett, Shaun McCafferty and Damian Nixon, again?” said Paddy.
Paddy can be contacted via his Facebook page: Sue Nami by anyone who wants to purchase any of the albums on CD.
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