NI Photographic Association Exhibition 2nd December at Alley Theatre

New exhibition launch open to the public.

The Northern Ireland Photographic Association are delighted to see their new photography exhibition being displayed at the Alley Theatre from December 2nd and have offered a public invitation to the local community to come along on December 2nd at 7 p.m. and see the grand opening.

The Northern Ireland Photographic Association is the organising body for club photography within Northern Ireland and this will be their first exhibition in the award winning Alley Theatre. The current exhibition contains over 75 images which have been carefully selected by a top photographic judge from the UK and features works ranging from street scenes, nature, sporting events and theatrical shots.  For further information contact the Alley Theatre information line on 028 7138 4444.

Street Walkers - Viscri.  By Kieran Murray
Street Walkers - Viscri. By Kieran Murray

Fast Water.  By Malachy Connollyy
Fast Water. By Malachy Connolly

Iain Archer to play the Black Box 10th Dec.

IainArcher.jpgIain Archer

plus guests

The Black Box

2009 has seen Iain Archer release the stripped back album To The Pine Roots, as well as touring with Athlete, Foy Vance and Snow Patrol, and playing Oxygen, V, T In The Park and Great Escape. Between times he has been producing and writing in London and Berlin.

Iain will be playing with Snow Patrol on their upcoming ‘Reworked’ tour which finishes in Belfast on the night before this Black Box appearance. He will then be spending early 2010 in Portland, Oregon recording an album as a member of Gary Lightbody’s new project ‘Tired Pony’.

Archer moved from Belfast to Glasgow in the mid 90’s where he made two albums, which led to him being invited to tour as support act to legends such as Nils Lofgren and John Martyn. Moving to London he fell into working with a number of other artists including Athlete, Fionn Regan, Juliet Turner, Jacob Golden, Reindeer Section, and Snow Patrol.

Asked to join forces with Snow Patrol he spent time on the road and in the studio co-writing key tracks on their breakthrough album ‘Final Straw’, which would earn him an Ivor Novello Award.

His own third album ‘Flood The Tanks’ was a spectral album of hushed melodies and yearning; follow up ‘Magnetic North’, an album of extremes – much of it a reflection on Archer’s home of Northern Ireland.

With ‘To The Pine Roots’ Archer has made his barest and most heartfelt work to date, full of woody tones, distant birdsong and and an uncommon sense of hope. The album was made a world away and it sounds like it. The breath of an old harmonium, the ring of an ancient autoharp, poetry in word and note.

Doors 8pm.
This is a cabaret style event, with some unreserved seating.
Tickets are £8.00 inc bkg fee from The Black Box, 18-22 Hill Street, Belfast, BT1 2LA Tel: 028 9024 4400

for more information or a press pass
please email or contact Sarah at the Black Box on (028) 90 244400

Is Irish Family life changing?

Home Boy Home, a new contemporary drama exploring how Irish family life is changing will be performed at Strabanes Alley Theatre on December 10th. Written by celebrated playwright and drama festival adjudicator Scott Marshall, local theatre critics are already hailing its arrival as “one of the most eagerly awaited plays this season at the Alley.”

Home Boy Home explores the legacy of the past, our shared community history and the road to reconciliation in the North West. “The play is based in a prosperous Derry catholic home, the father has just died and his family – two daughters and one son – return home for the funeral. “commented John Kerr from the Alley Theatre. “The family is then disrupted by the son of their former neighbour, a man they have not seen for more than twenty years.”

“The play explores themes of friendship and loyalty as the experiences of the characters is examined in both childhood flashbacks and present day scenes to reveal how the past has impacted upon their lives forever. The play is a mixture of comedy and tragedy, so be prepared to be howling with laughter and brought to tears within seconds of each other” concluded the Alley’s manager, John Kerr.

Writer Scott Marshall has spent his life in theatre, as director, performer, writer, critic, tutor, lecturer and adjudicator, Marshall is also a long standing member of the Guild of Dramatic Adjudicators and The Association of Drama Adjudicators he has adjudicated at the prestigious British All-Winners Final, the All Ireland Final and the World Festival of Amateur Theatre in Monte Carlo. Tickets are now on sale at the Alley Box office (tel: 028 7138 4444), priced at £9, £7 (con) or book online at

Magherafelt Speciality Christmas Food Market and Switching on of Christmas Lights.

Sean Owens and Robert Ditty Presenting the Magherafelt Signature Dish.
Sean Owens and Robert Ditty Presenting the Magherafelt Signature Dish.

You will be in for a treat when you visit the Magherafelt Speciality Christmas Food Market on Saturday 28 November between 12 noon and 6pm, as it is playing host to some exciting, first time food experiences never before sampled in Northern Ireland.

Charmain Bell, Tourism Officer with Magherafelt District Council explains, “We are really excited about the market as it has a distinctly local flavour to it. Bringing together farmers, producers, growers, buyers and chefs from our community, they will be selling specially prepared seasonal produce.”

Charmain continues, “What makes the day so unique is that two of our local foodies, Robert Ditty of Ditty’s Bakery, suppliers to world renowned stores such as Fortnum and Mason in London and chef Sean Owens of Gardiner’s Restaurant in Magherafelt, have come up with something original especially for the market, which will be unveiled on the day.  Robert has created a yeast from his own bee colonies, which he will use for the first time to produce the bread.  Sean will invent a unique winter warmer soup using traditional methods and locally produced ingredients.  Those lucky enough to be there on the day will have the opportunity to taste and purchase these two signature dishes.”

Charmain concludes, “The food demonstrations organised by Food & Drink Northern Ireland, which incorporates Taste of Ulster and Food Promotion Northern Ireland Ltd, will reinforce the message of quality food in Northern Ireland.  They will help endorse authentic Northern Ireland cuisine and illustrate the provenance of the food from the gate to the plate. We know that once visitors taste local, they will want to buy local.”

So come along and bring the family to absorb the delightful tastes and aromas of the seasonal food and drink on offer, including a hog roast, soak up the festive atmosphere and join in with the carol singers.

This event is part funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Northern Ireland regional food programme.

For media enquiries contact Charmain Bell, Magherafelt Tourist Information Centre on 028 7963 1510 M: 07811349014

Demonstrators will prepare recipes, illustrating the provenance of local food, which includes an educational element for children.

The event also coincides with the annual switching on of the Christmas Lights in Magherafelt.

Dr Hook Theatre Royal Castlebar Review by Kathleen Barclay

Jeff Tuttle and Dr Hook
Jeff Tuttle and Dr Hook

Dr Hook

Venue : Theatre Royal Castlebarr

Date: Thursday 29th October 2009

Having travelled 4 hours to get to this part of the 32 counties I was hoping the show in hand would not disappoint.

A massive crowd of over 1600 were in attendance to see the opening night of this the Irish Tour by American Music Icons Dr Hook.  The show kicked off with Jeff Tuttle and his band who were from Co. Mayo. Jeff is a very good country singer with a nice deep rich voice that came across to the listening public .

After a short intermission the stars of tonight’s Extravaganza took to the stage without any fuss.  As you would expect Dr Hook voice Ray Sawyer gave you all the hits you would expect, cover of The Rolling Stone, Sharing The Night Together, When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Women, and Walk Right In to same just a few.  This was as if you were transported back in time to when Dr Hook were Mega stars.  The Atmosphere in the Theatre during Hook’s show was electric and the audience sang along with every song, in fact you could say Ray Sawyer had them (the Audience) eating out of his hand.  For those who did not realise it Dr Hook had 2 lead singers in their time Ray Sawyer & Dennis Locorriere before Dennis decided to Part Company with the band.  But this was Ray Sawyers Dr Hook as Dennis Now does his own solo show.

If you had sat at home and played the original records to yourself you wouldn’t have noticed the difference in tonight’s show that’s how classy this band were, to describe the show you could only use truly magnificent from start to finish.

Kathleen is one half of the Irish Connection Radio Show (  – you can tune into Sean at Feile FM 103.2fm or listen online at from 09.00am to midday on Sunday.

The Hothouse Flowers at the Alley Theatre – Review by Mickey Ferry

The Hothouse Flowers
The Hothouse Flowers

Despite being a live unit for almost 25 years there are no indications that Hothouse Flowers are about to succumb to the role of complacent elder statesmen of Irish Rock, chiming out the tried and tested on auto-pilot. As exemplified on this particular evening in the Alley, there is still no certainty as what Liam Ó Maonlaí and Fiachna O’Braonain will do next. The Hothouse Flowers take their audience around the world, with the musical styling changing not just from one song to the next but, at times, from one verse to the next.

Tonight, they took Strabane to the Afro-American Gospel Halls of the South, and then hitched a ride with Muddy Waters to Blue Chicago after finding some African Roots in classics standards like ‘Your Love Goes On’ and ‘Don’t Go’. At the heart of this trans-global two hours, twenty minutes was an unmovable Celtic Soul that only reinforced just how sweet a thing it is when music travels, marries and merges. Ultimately, there are only two kind of music: good and bad, and this was damn good stuff!

The mood was set with epic opener ‘Isn’t It Amazing’, which immediately accommodated for Ó Maonlaí’s love for building a song from a subtle beginning to something anthemic and rousing. Appreciation was unanimous, with the audible seal of approval from Ó Maonlaí’s three-year-old daughter, Pema (meaning Lotus) from the balcony enough for the man himself. Pema later took to the stage herself and sat on daddy’s knee during ‘Better Man’, a lovely moment between father, daughter and the audience.

As ever, Ó Maonlaí managed to make scruffy look stylish: barefoot and dressed in a manner that would see the rest of us told to “move along”; the open shirt and long overcoat fitted him like a glove. He looked every inch the rock star poet, like a vagabond in the gutter forever looking at the stars. Only he can pull it off and he does it well. Besides, it was his birthday; he could wear what he liked!

A tale of being arrested for “minor grevious bodily harm” preceded “It’ll Be Easier In The Morning”, scaled down but no less powerful than it was in its 1989 carnation on the band’s ‘People’ album. A beautiful version of ‘Sweet Marie’ had couples snuggling up, which was a bit odd considering it’s a song about the breakdown of a relationship in the Dylan ‘Blood In The Tracks’ mode.

Snuggling to ‘Dear John’ letters done, it was then time to dance! Audience members got up off their seats for ‘This Is It’, as Ó Maonlaí swooned and swooped like a gentleman in need of a lot of room on a dancefloor. ‘Forever More’ and ‘You Can Love Me Now’ illustrated how the absence of the studio choir matters very little when you’ve got Ó Maonlaí and O’Braonain filling in with harmonies to raise any roof. The band got playful again on ‘Your Love Goes On’ with pop, trad and reggae breezing along together. This continued with the African-tinged rendition of ‘Don’t Go’, much to the delight of the dancing audience.

In the midst of the party, the Flowers’ penchant for risk perhaps went to step too far as the joyful ‘Don’t Go’ was stopped abruptly only for the band to venture into what could be best described as a long winded extended moment of progressive rock. It was obvious that it was going to kick back into ‘Don’t Go’ eventually but the momentum of the slightly bewildered audience wasn’t the same come its return.

Come the encore and all was forgiven as the Traditional Irish roots of the Flowers came to the fore with ‘Cailleach an Airgid’. A foot stomp resonated around the Alley as tin whistles and bodhráns and Irish dancing graced the stage. The set was closed with the very wonderful ‘Hallelujah Jordan’, as the Flowers, after taking us around their catalogue – and the world – for over two hours, took us back to the beginning – a journey worth taking time after time.

Mickey Ferry.

Published with the kind permission of N. Flatman of the Alley Theatre Strabane.

For full programme listings at the Alley Theatre Strabane please go to

The Alley offers a state of the art 270 auditorium, modern art gallery, box office, training/break out rooms, sound recording studio, the Strabane Tourist Information Centre and Jenca Cafe Bar.

The Alley Arts and Conference Centre is available for hire for business, government and the 3rd sector. The venue has a strong record for hosting press launches, regional and national conferences and workshop/training days with clients from across Northern Ireland.

For further information about hiring this award winning venue, contact the Alley Arts and Conference adminstration Office on 028 7188 4760.




Roly Daniels and Dee Reilly Live on Stage
Roly Daniels and Dee Reilly Live on Stage

A good size crowd made its way to The Tullyglass Hotel to witness the first night of this very special tour.   An all star backing band led by Producer/ Keyboard player Jonathan Owens were on hand to provide the backing for tonight’s show.  The M.C was Sean Wallace who opened the proceedings welcoming everyone and then it was Showtime.  Kicking off the event musically was Hugo Duncan who had the crowd eating out of his hand very soon indeed.  Hugo can read a crowd like you would read a book; he never misses an opportunity to have the craic with the crowd.  His choice of songs was spot on.

After the wee man came Dee Reilly who has now been adopted by the Irish as one of their own.  Dee just like Hugo has a great stage presence and has a great rapport with the audience.  Dee did a fine selection of songs including ones from her 2 solo albums.  At times she accompanied herself on Acoustic Guitar.

Dee Reilly and Kathleen from the Irish Connection
Dee Reilly and Kathleen from the Irish Connection

After a Intermission the show was back on course with the Legend Roly Daniels who’s crowds love him as much today as when he was back in the showband days with the Nevada & Green County.  If Roly sung 3 Blind Mice the crowd would just lap it up.  But no, you got all his hits & more.  Roly was the master puppeteer and the crowd did what he said. A faultless performance by the master.

Roly and Sean
Roly and Sean

Then it was what we were all waiting for Dee Joined Roly on stage and the fireworks were lit and bang – what a superb show they gave.  All the tracks were featured  from the Album as if you were playing the album on your CD player.   A world Class Performance from two truly splendid artists that go together like bread and butter.   Don’t Miss them when they go out on the road in 2010.

Kathleen Barclay

Kathleen is one half of the Irish Connection Radio Show (  – you can tune into Sean at Feile FM 103.2fm or listen online at from 09.00am to midday on Sunday.

This Sunday join Sean on Feile FM between 9am and 1pm.  On the show will be Larry Cunningham talking about his recently published autobiography plus direct from the USA Toby Keith and we will be joined in the studio by Bonnie Stewart.

Hydroponic Music & Corona Extra present: The Meat Market # 9 Gilles Peterson

Gilles Peterson
Gilles Peterson

(BBC Radio One / Talkin’ Loud / Acid Jazz) Featuring: MC Earl Zinger + Hydroponic Hi-Fi

‘Top Ranking Reggae’

Featuring: Michael McKeown & MC Krow

Saturday 28th November Black Box Hill St, Cathedral Quarter, Belfast

Admission: £12.50   21:00 – Late

Hydroponic Music and Corona Extra are pleased to present the next instalment of Meat Market – the ongoing programme of renegade, venue hopping guerrilla gigs.

Gilles Peterson – arguably one of the most forward thinking musical mavericks of the last 25 years, joins the Meat Market troupe for a headline appearance at Belfast’s Black Box. Joining him on stage will be seminal vocalist Earl Zinger AKA Rob Gallagher, former leader of acid jazz hipsters Galliano, who blazed a trail for the seminal Talkin Loud record label.

Gilles truly fits the criteria for Meat Market – a disc jockey with an unrivalled reputation for blowing open musical boundaries with formidable force.

The original Radio Pirate, his career kicked off when he suspended a transmitter ariel between a tree and a phone box – he hasn’t looked back since. A true champion of the global underground – his passion has led him from Essex to Cuba via LA, Kingston and every corner of the sonic stratosphere.

Label boss of the seminal Talkin’ Loud and Acid Jazz imprints, Gilles continues to present his own, hugely influential Radio One show – Gilles Peterson Worldwide, which is now broadcast in a staggering 15 countries.

Support on the night comes from Belfast based Reggae troop Hydroponic Hi-Fi, featuring Michal McKeown (Hydroponic Music) & MC Krow. The bass heavy outfit promise a rollercoaster ride through dub, rocksteady, roots and dancehall, with a sprinkling of ska for good measure.

Advance tickets available online from and in person from Black Box.


Musical Maverick DJ Gilles Peterson
Musical Maverick DJ Gilles Peterson

James Huish tour debut Saturday 7th Nov Lisburn

James Huish
James Huish

James Huish and The Michael Buble Tribute Band make their tour debut at The Island Arts Center on Saturday evening with a show that has already played to packed venues across Ireland. Expect to hear nostalgic classics such as Call Me Irresponsible, That Way You Look Tonight and Mack The Knife mixed with contemporary hits like Lost, Home, Everything and Fever to name a few and all delivered in the unique style of the worlds leading king of swing Michael Buble. The show could not have arrived in Lisburn at a better time, with Michael Buble’s latest single and album taking the charts by storm along with recent appearances on The Paul O Grady Show and The X Factor.

The Michael Buble tribute show is less of a tribute and more a re-enactment and direct replication of the man himself. Hailed a very close sound alike is not enough when it comes to a Michael Buble tribute show. What makes Michael so popular is his constant touring and massive stage charisma and presence and interaction with his audience. This made James Huish as the easy choice to pull this outstanding show off. Not only does James sound like Michael Buble but also he has a great stage presence and charisma equal to none.

This is a show not to missed with Irelands undoubted King of Swing James Huish and his Fabulous 8pc Bigband!!

07711 890085
028 25 879546

James Huish 2

Halloween Manifestations at the White Horse Hotel

After a frenzy of radio and television appearances last week, Mike Hirons of Paranormal Ulster took to the stage and introduced his team to an unsuspecting audience at the White Horse Hotel on Halloween Night.

‘There is definitely paranormal activity here at the hotel,’ Mike enthused on the evening. ‘The evidence presented by the team has left most everyone here tonight in no doubt about that.’

BWWH Pics 063 (2)

Ghost Hunters International’s Barry Fitzgerald and Clairvoyant to the stars, James Griffiths completed the celebrity line up that thrilled the crowds well into the wee hours.

Having been treated to a blood-red champagne cocktail reception, stories of the hotel’s hauntings and an array of costumes to make your heart skip a beat, the anticipating crowd enjoyed a sumptuous dinner and dance, DJ’d by a suspender-clad ‘Father Kevin Boyle’

The more serious ghost hunting guests were then invited to attend a series of séances staged in various locations throughout the hotel.

On his arrival at the hotel on Friday evening, James Griffiths instantly sensed that the hotel was ‘active’ and motioned towards the rear of the hotel as being the most significant area of activity. Interestingly, this is where most of the sightings and sounds have been experienced!

General Manager Keith Baldrick said of the evening’s success, ‘This was the first event of it’s kind in Northern Ireland and we are delighted to see so many people having made such an effort with their costumes. Everyone got in to the ‘spirit’ of the evening and it is now evident that we are a city of closet ghost hunters’.

For more information contact Heather Keanie 028 71 860606, mobile 07541397234 or email