GIGS / LIVE

 

 


 

Looking forward to this gig with the guys
in DUBLIN on Sunday 23rd April !

 

 

 

 

 


Looking forward to playing with HATS in 
the fantastic MATT MOLLOYS for this very
worthy cause.  

 

2017 Sees the start of a new project "HATS"
As well as doing my own solo gigs I will be
working with two other singer songwriters,
David Dee Moore and Derek McGowan.
We will be doing some Irish Tour dates 
in February and March 2017 and hope to
write and record together...

 

Delighted to have been nominated for the
Singer Songwriter of the year Award 2016
by THE ACOUSTIC YARD FESTIVAL & EVENTS
        and BLUES & ROOTS RADIO.   



 


 

 

 

 

Looking forward to returning to headline at

the renowned Sunflower Folk Club in Belfast 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 




The BelfastFolk Interviews

 

We have begun a series of interviews with participants in the Belfast folk scene over the years. 

We wish to show the extraordinary range of people who made up the scene in Belfast and to gain their perpectives at this stage in their lives.  We plan to add new interviews at fairly regular intervals in this section of the site.  We hope these will generate feedback on the messageboard.

In the newest section of the site our fifth interview is with Gerry Creen, who is a stalwart of the Folk Scene in Ireland and one of the our most distinctive song writers. He is a regular performer of his own material at the new Sunflower Folk Club in Union St Belfast and shows his versatility and his mastery of the folk and traditional repertoire at the Fountain Bar most Fridays. Here he shares some thoughts on his career to date and of his approach to creating songs. See a sampler of his song writing and performance. 
 

 

What are you doing now musically or otherwise?
Since 2008 I've been playing mainly solo gigs based on CD's like ‘Hindsight’ 2009, my re-released album from 1986 ‘A Rose By Any Other Name’ and my overall song catologue.

I've had a prominent place in the most recent Belfast Nashville Singer Songwriter Festivals – sharing the stage with Nanci Griffith, Kim Richey, Tia Sillers and Mark Selby, Mick Hanley, Dougie Maclean, Declan O’Rourke , Benita Hill, Colin Raye, Eleanor McEvoy and Kevin Doherty.

My song Lucky Star is part of the festival’s promotional CD "Voices of Belfast".

I've toured in Ireland with John Gorka, Madison Violet, David Olney and Sergio Webb and the Carolina Chocolate Drops and in Scotland with Allan Taylor and shared billings and stages with Ian Matthews, Eddie Reader, Brian Kennedy, Juliet Turner, Ben Reel, Eilidh Patterson, Joe Echo, Ben Glover, Anthony Toner, John Spillane, Colum Sands, Paul Casey, Janet Holmes and Colin Henry. 

Solo gigs include Stormont, Edinburgh Folk Club, Stirling Folk Club, The Marquee Club Moniaive, The Star Folk Club Glasgow, Glenfarg Folk Club and Folk Feast, Biggar Folk Club, Leith Folk Club, Sanquhar Arts Centre, Dunfermline Folk Club, The Seamus Ennis Centre Dublin, New Music Club Clonmell, Rua Red Theatre Dublin, The Strule Arts Centre Omagh, The Bronte Music Club, The Real Music Club Belfast, The Empire Music Hall Belfast, The Black Box Belfast, The Spirit Store Dundalk and Queens Festival Belfast, Festival of the Peninsula, Fiddlers Green Festival, Feile An Phobail, Cathedral Quarter Festival, Gig’n The Bann Festival, Open House Festival, Belfast Night of Culture, and The Atlantic Sessions The Sunflower Folk Club Belfast, Matt Molloy's Westport, Town Hall Newtownards.

At several of its events the David Ervine Foundation invited me to perform my peace anthem A Rose By Any Other Name which was written in 1977 during some of the darkest times of the Troubles.

I was invited to perform at events by Healing Through Remembering and Wave Trauma Organisation– singing to audiences which included republicans, loyalists, politicians, members of the security forces and young people from different parts of a divided community.

My recent song "My Shoes" which is about how we label each other has also been used by Healing Through Remembering.

In 2007 I wrote and performed the title track Tuesday’s Child on a double album for the children’s charity of the same name featuring the very best in Irish music – including Mary Black, Brian Kennedy, Duke Special, Foy Vance, Snow Patrol.

I continue to write songs about current issues including ecology, social issues and songs based on stories from history.

I am a regular contributor to BELFASTFOLK SESSIONS at the Fountain Bar Belfast on Friday nights and at the re-established Sunflower Folk Club in Union Street Belfast.

I continue to play solo and tours in Ireland and Scotland.

My music is available from iTunes, Amazon etc as well as on CD.

See www.gerrycreen.com and you can also check out my videos on www.youtube.com/user/gerrycreen

 
What has been your involvement with the folk music scene?
I am Belfast born and bred and I've lived all my life in the north of the city. Musically I've emerged from the vibrant Belfast folk scene of the 1960s and 70s.

I've been singing for as long as I can remember. Encouraged by my family and teachers at primary school I performed solo, in choral groups and choirs at every opportunity. In my early teens I began playing mandolin, tenor banjo and guitar to accompany my singing in youth club groups and folk bands, such as…

Under the name of the Gleaners Dessie Friel (father of Anna Friel) and I played in school concerts and coffee houses such as The Hobbit, The Ferryboat and The Boundary Bar, where we rubbed shoulders with musicians and singers such as David McWilliams, Den Warrick, Patsy Melarkey, Gillian McPherson, Sam Bracken and Dave Shannon and a host of traditional musicians, all part of the vibrant traditional and contemporary Belfast folk scene. Dessie and I supported The Dubliners and Johnny McEvoy at the Ulster Hall.

At the beginning of the 1970s influenced by New-Wave world folk music and in particular bands such as Fairport Convention and Pentangle, Rock and Blues guitarist Hugh Fearon was added to an increasingly experimental mix and Dessie and I took our first tentative steps as songwriters. 

When Dessie left Belfast for college in England, I headed off to The College of Art at the University of Ulster. Hugh and I joined Peter Millar and Sam Bateman to form Rumplestiltskin. Rump was influenced by a very wide range of music including, World folk music, Blues and Rock. From The Cream and Hendrix to Fairport Convention, Crosby/Stills/Nash and The Incredible String Band. Rump was very experimental, using as many as 14 instruments, including, sitar and Indian harmonium, during a gig. Peter, Sam and I wrote songs as individuals and occasionally collaborated on original songs.

I was increasingly drawn into my career in Art but found some time to make guest appearances with Patsy Melarkey, Colin Higgins, Louis Gordon, Hugh Fearon and Peter McNally.

Armed with a growing reputation as a singer/songwriter, honed in folk clubs associated with The Ulster Federation of Folk clubs such as The Sunflower, The Walnut Belfast, Downpatrick Folk club, The Copper Kettle (Enniskillen) etc, I embarked on a part-time solo career playing the “Folk Circuit” of clubs and festivals around Ireland.

In 1976 I was awarded the prize for “Best Vocalist” at the Letterkenny International Folk Festival, and in 1979 my song “A Rose By Any Other Name” won best song at The Bass Ireland Song Festival. That same year I played the North Coast Folk Festival alongside Tom Paxton, Paul Brady, Loudon Wainright, Christy Moore and The Strawbs. In 1980 I was invited to play at the Boys of Ballisodare Festival in a lineup that included Sonny Terry & Brownie Magee, Donovan, Don Everly and Planxty. Over the years I've shared stages and billings with Nanci Griffith, Paul Brady, Ralph McTell, Tom Paxton, Donovan, Loudon Wainwright, the Dubliners John Martyn, Danny Thompson, Lindisfarne, Pierre Bensusan, Stefan Grossman, Mary Coughlan, Alan Taylor, Freddie White, the Battlefield Band, Ossian, Stocktons Wing, Scullion, Eddie Reader, Ian Matthews, The Strawbs, Henry McCullough …

I played at The Belfast Festival at Queens, five years in succession, culminating in the launch of my album, “A Rose by any other Name” at The Harp folk club in November 1986. My band on the night included Enda Walsh on piano, Paddy Walsh keyboards, Dave Early R.I.P. (ex Shadé) on drums and percussion, Dee Moore on bass and Trevor Stewart on uillean pipes. The album which was produced by myself, aided by Shaun Wallace and Enda Walsh, was recorded at Shaun Wallace’s Homestead Studios in Randalstown.

The album featured the highly respected musicians Shaun Wallace electric guitar, Enda Walsh keyboards, Jane Cassidy vocals, Frank Cassidy bouzouki, Trevor Stewart uillean pipes, Billy Moll concertina and bodhran, Neil Martin whistle, Anthony McQuillan bass and Brendan McGarrity and Colin Bell on drums plus myself on vocals, acoustic and electric guitars and harmonica.

Much of my time was dedicated to my career as a teacher and my family life. 

For 30 years I taught art at St. Louise's Comprehensive College on the Falls Road in west Belfast. I did find time to play occasionally with bands such as Breaking Ice with, Robert Morrison, Denise Kelly-Brown, and Stevie Murtagh, and The Sads with Jack Kennedy, John Leadbetter, Denis Graham, Alex Robinson, Paul Cole and Philip Simpson and some two-piece gigs with John Leadbetter.

www.gerrycreen.com

 
What were your musical influences?
My first musical influence was my father playing the fiddle and tin whistle. He played in the Ard Scoil Ceilí Band but died when I was five.

The next influences included all the usual suspects, Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, The Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners, Bob Dylan, Ewan McCall and The Watersons. I met Desi Friel around 1967 at St Mary's on the Hill Youth Club Glengormley, and almost immediately started sharing music and working mainly on new interpretations of songs such as Joan Baez's 1962 version of GEORDIE (traditional). Other local influences included David McWilliams, Den Warwick, Sam Bracken, Dave Shannon, City Folk (Peter McNally, Patsy Melarkey, Colin Higgins and Martin Cahir), and Gillian McPherson etc. Internationally my biggest influences would be Richard Thompson, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Paul Brady, Sandy Denny, singer songwriting at it's best.

 
Your favourite song/tune
An impossible task but if I had to pick a favourite song within the "Folk" Genre it would probably be Richard Thompson's Bees Wing. 

Traditional songs would include, The Lakes of Ponchartrain, Sliabh Gallion Braes and Arthur McBride.

 
Your funniest memory of the scene
One of my funniest memories of the scene, only seems funny looking back on it. I think the date was around November 1984 when Eileen and I often had visiting folk musicians to stay when they were playing in Belfast. 

On the night in question I was playing a solo gig at Downpatrick Folk Club and on the same night Geoff Harden had arranged for Martin Carthy to stay with us after his gig in Belfast. 

Geoff left Martin off after his gig and Eileen had supper ready and a roaring fire on that cold November night. I would be home later from Downpatrick. Our 18 month old son Conor was asleep in bed. 

After supper Eileen slacked up the fire before heading to bed. As Eileen and Martin were leaving the sitting room a huge roar went up the chimney and it was obvious that it was on fire. Martin immediately said to ring the fire brigade which she did. When she came back into the room Martin had emptied the coal bucket and was filling it with the burning coals from the fire, flames leaping up around his hands as he ran to the front door to empty it. He kept doing this against the soundtrack of the roaring chimney and Eileen screaming “Your hands Martin Your hands” ! 

Thankfully the fire brigade arrived promptly and put the hose down the chimney to put the fire out. They checked the whole house and roof space and cleared up after the water that came down the chimney wiping all surfaces, leaving the house cleaner than when they’d arrived. 

Conor sleeping far away from the fire at the back of the house remained unaware of the drama, he would have loved to have seen the fireman in full regalia who waited in his room until they were certain there was no danger. 

Before leaving a bright spark of a fireman asked Eileen if she had a tent because we would be wise to sleep in the garden for the night to be sure we were safe. Eileen turned to find Martin doubled in two with laughter. He’d probably helped save our house from serious damage and was still able to laugh. Thankfully his hands were fine. 

I was blissfully unaware of the goings on and arrived home within minutes to find the fire irons and coal bucket on the front step, the only sign that something was amiss!
 
How do you go about your song writing?
I’ve never had a formula for my songwriting. I’m not the most prolific of song writers, 

I have occasional windows of energy and inspiration. 

Song writing is a very precious form of creative expression for me. For the most part it is not a commercial venture as I don’t confine myself to the rules of popular song making. My songs are generally aimed at live performance. When I’m writing I visualise the song in a live performance rather the someone listening to a recording. 

In most cases introducing the context of the song is almost as important as the song itself.

Song writing is a marriage of music and lyrics and like most song writers for me the melody will evolve first. I play the guitar every day and almost always have a new melody in my head. At any stage during the process of a chord progression or melody line a footnote or spark may coincide with a theme or topic. The rhythm or the melody will suggest a mood or scenario which will then become a platform for the lyrics. Hook lines and choruses, go through a process of metamorphosis, repetition and refinement, until at some seminal stage in the process, I suddenly feel a moment of magic when I know it will work as a song.

On some occasions the story line will be there first as with my songs Galloper Thompson, Marina Jane and Tuesday’s Child. The mood of the accompanying music is then dictated by the style, mood and setting of the storyline. 

For the most part my songs are concerned with the issues that challenge us in life and generally I will only try to write a song if I feel I have something I to say. 

 
What do you regard as your most important song?
All my songs are important to me but perhaps my song A Rose By Any Other Name written in 1977 would be considered by many to be my most important song. 

The song was a reaction to my situation living in north Belfast at the height of The Troubles. This type of song is a one off and it is unlikely that I will write a song like this again. Watching at first hand the devastation, A Rose By Any Other Name was a cry for help. 

Even though it won first prize in the Bass Ireland Song Competition in 1979 a song writer cannot ask much more than for people to respond to their songs and over the years a number of people have reacted to the messages in A Rose By Any Other Name.

 
What responses to 'A Rose by Any Other Name' do you feel to be most significant to you?
"Let's hope we never choose, 

Between our children and the land we love so well,

Cause either way we're bound to lose.........."

This quote from A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME is used by Professor Bill Rolston on the flyleaf at the start of his book CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION (The lives of sons and daughters of activists in Northern Ireland, Guildhall Press 2011). 

Commenting on A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME, Rev Harold Good – a church witness to IRA decommissioning – said: “Like a prophet he gives us a timely reminder of where we have been, where we are now, and to where we must not return.” 

Following in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and President Jimmy Carter, Rev Good has been honoured with the World Methodist Peace Award

"Gerry's best known song refers again in lyrical fashion to the so called Troubles. He shows concern in particular for the effects on our children. The melody is exceptionally strong."

Geoff Harden (Cavehill Music November 1986)