An Interview with James Huish ….


James performing with his band.

James Huish and his Michael Buble Tribute Band are returning to the Market Place Theatre in Armagh on Friday 11th November, for th first shot in the new tour – ‘The Coming Home Tour’, We caught up with the man himself to find out what makes him tick and what his plans are for the future.

How long have you been singing?

Wow. Since I was very little. I used to sit by the tumble dryer or the hoover and march the sound! It used to drive my mother mad. So you could say I’ve been singing for 35 years….I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t sing.

If you had to choose would it be music or acting?

Good question. Music is in my blood so not singing isn’t even an option, combining the two is my ideal.

Tell us about a typical day in your life?

It varies. Most days are spent working in my theatre company, which offers classes for children aged 6-18 Years old. I spend my time speaking to parents, answering emails and making sure the team are ready for the next class. After that I take some time to go over the lines for a musical I am appearing in soon and then off to perform – My days are busy and I don’t get a lot of free time, but then I am doing what I love so its hardly difficult!

Can you tell us what musical you are preparing for?

Yes, I am currently rehearsing for Titanic the Musical – The opening show coincides with the actual sinking of the ship 100 years ago and is part of the centenary celebrations of 2012 – The show will be produced by the Belfast Operatic Society and I know it will be an amazing and emotional musical to be in, I’m honoured to be a part of it.

Tell us more about your theatre company for children

I established the Belfast School of Performing Arts just last year and it has already been more successful than I could have hoped for. There are currently classes taking place in both Belfast and Ballymena and I am looking forward to starting more classes in the new year in 2 other locations in Northern Ireland – There is a lot of talent out there and I want to make sure it isn’t wasted. My ultimate goal is to provide a musical theatre academy in Northern Ireland to rival the likes of Mountview in London.

How do you feel about your job?

What job? It feels wrong to call this a job, It’s my hobby, my passion and I get paid for doing it. I love what I do.

What gives you the biggest thrill in work?

Seeing children from my theatre school on stage and the excitement afterwards.

What’s your favourite Michael Buble hit?

Tough one! Well there are a few, I love singing ‘Cry Me a River’ the audience just loves that one but there are a few ballads too, particularly the old classic, ‘Your’e Nobody Until Somebody Loves You.’

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given / and the worst?

The best piece of advice is surely ‘Never give up, don’t let anybody put you off your dream, If you want it enough it will happen, but you have to believe it.’ The worst piece of advice I ever heard was undoubtedly ‘Leave it to me, trust me.’ Never leave it to someone else you have to make it happen yourself.

What is your favourite song of all time?

That would be ‘Fall at your Feet’ by crowded house. Neil Finn the songwriter is a huge inspiration of mine.

If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

Three people. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior.

What are your ambitions?

My ambitions are to do my best in my field, I want to keep singing until the day I die! I will also make sure my children are happy and have all they need to live a fulfilled life. I also want to open a musical theatre degree course and academy of arts in the island of Ireland to provide more opportunities for this country.

What would you say your biggest achievement to date has been?

Becoming a father twice and opening my theatre schools.

What do you do to relax?

What does that mean?

What’s the daftest thing you have ever done?

Lay down on a skateboard and held on to the back of a bike. I still have the scar…

Rachel Tucker in "Wicked"

Best show on Broadway / West End?

My good friend and patron of my theatre company is Rachel Tucker. She us currently playing the lead role of Elphaba in the West End hit show Wicked. It is amazing.

What do you love about performing in Northern Ireland?

The audiences. People really appreciate fine music here and let you know if they don’t like something. I love the intimate theatres and really being involved with the audiences.

What is most important to you in life?

My 2 boys, as long as I’m a good father and my boys grow up with fond memories of me then I have done my job.

Do you have a life motto you live by?

Yes, I have two, ‘If you want it you have to believe it’ and ‘You’re a long time dead’.

James Huish and his Michael Buble Tribute Band will be performing at The Market Place Theatre in Armagh on 11th November, tickets are priced at £16.50 and can be booked online at or purchased by visiting the box office.

For more information on James and to keep up to date with tour dates please visit or follow him on Facebook.

Monologue performance to support local women’s charities!

You might have already heard that ‘The Vagina Monologues’ returns to Northern Ireland courtesy of Premier Theatrical Productions, and premieres on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th November at the Burnavon theatre, Cookstown.

The brand new production stars local comedian Carol Doey; National TV broadcaster Pamela Ballantine and the much loved Olivia Nash, star of Give my Head Peace.

Laughter and comedy aside (which there is plenty of in the ladies performances of the monologues), there is a serious side to the evening. The proceeds from the play go to the V-Day Charity. V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls inspired by The Vagina Monologues.

On both nights of the premier performance, representatives from a number of local charities that deal with issues that affect women in particular will be displaying stands and creating awareness of their work. Those attending include Women’s Aid Cookstown and Dungannon, who provide a quality-based holistic service to women and children affected by all forms of domestic violence. Women’s Aid work closely with another charity that will also take part: the Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre. Based in Belfast, the Centre has been providing free of charge confidential counselling, advice and advocacy services to survivors of sexual violence and abuse and those who support them since 1982. Angela, volunteer at the Rape Crisis Centre stated “We support the client from the first phone call to any legal proceedings. As with any company during this recession the Centre is struggling financially. To continue for a further 30 years we need the public support more than ever, and are delighted to take part in this event to raise awareness of the work we do, and reach out to people who may need our help.”

Also attending will be the Niamh Lousie Foundation. Based in Tyrone and Armagh, with resource centres in Coalisland, Richill and Cookstown, the charity was set up in 2006 following the death by suicide of local girl Niamh McKee. Concentrating on rural communities, the charity provides advocacy services, as well as suicide prevention, intervention and postvention services.

Joining these charities will be LiLAC Coalisland and Cookstown. LiLAC was established in 2003 in response to an identified need in the area for emotional support for cancer sufferers and their families in Mid-Ulster. They provide information, support, relaxation services and practical help assist cancer sufferers and their families from their resource centres in Coalisland and Cookstown,

The final charity to attend will be Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s only charity dedicated to those affected by cervical abnormalities or cervical cancer. Robert Music, Director of Jo’s Trust, said: “I am very grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness of our work and the fact that cervical cancer is largely preventable. However almost one in four women in Northern Ireland didn’t take up their cervical screening invitation last year, whilst half of the women diagnosed with cervical cancer in Northern Ireland have never had a smear test or their last smear test has taken place more than five years previously. The Vagina Monologues production will help us reach and educate many more women, reminding them that they can take proactive steps to reduce their risk.”

“The Vagina Monologues” were written in 1996 by performance artist Eve Ensler. In drafting her early monologues, Ensler conducted interviews with 200 women on the subjects of sex, relationships and violence against women. Since then, a new monologue has been added to the performance each year to highlight a current issue affecting women around the world.

Searingly funny, sometimes shocking, moving and unashamedly honest, these potent stories from a range of ages, ethnicities and sexualities will make for a jubilant night at the theatre. It’s certainly one for an ultimate girl’s night out (though it has to be said, men in the audience may learn a thing or two!).

Tickets are currently available at the Burnavon Box Office, by phone on 028 8676 9949 or on the website and are priced at £18 / £16 (concession). The performances contain strong adult content and responsibility for the under 16’s lies with the accompanying adult.

Bravo the UO!

At last night’s Chartered Institute of Marketing’s 2011 Ireland Marketing Excellence Awards at Belfast City Hall, the Ulster Orchestra won the Best Marketing and Sales Award in The Arts, Heritage and Creative Industries category.

Lydia Gamble, the Ulster Orchestra’s Head of Marketing and Development receives the CIM Marketing Excellence Award in The Arts, Heritage and Creative Industries category from Brendan Mulgrew, Managing Director of Stakeholder Communications.

Speaking at the Awards, which celebrated marketing at its best in Ireland, Lydia Gamble, the Ulster Orchestra’s Head of the Marketing and Development said, “This is a huge tribute to the hard work and creatively of the UO’s marketing communications team and our designers, Design Ethos.

“Each year the UO plays live to over 100,000 people across Northern Ireland and our talented musicians are supported by an equally talented team behind the scenes who provide the branding, marketing collateral, PR, direct and digital marketing to promote this quality cultural product,” Lydia said.

Explaining that the approach included a refreshing of the Ulster Orchestra’s brand and the development of a number of audience segmented marketing brochures, she said the new approach increased the Orchestra’s return on investment.

“The overall marketing mix produced significant results on the over-all return on investment for marketing spend. On the main season brochure, for example for every £1 invested, £30 was generated in sales,” Lydia explained.

“As Northern Ireland’s only professional symphony orchestra, like the Lyric Theatre and the Grand Opera House, the Ulster Orchestra is one of Northern Ireland’s cultural cornerstones.

“As such and given that we receive public funds, there is an increasing responsibility to generate a greater return on investment and a greater emphasis to reach out to more people. This Award recognises that we are working hard to achieve this,” she said.

This is the third award the Orchestra has received this year. In April at the Belfast Business Awards the UO picked up the Best Marketing Initiative Award. In January the Orchestra’s relationship with JTI UK was recognised at the Allianz Arts and Business Awards for a creative partnership and commitment that brought classical music to communities across Northern Ireland.

Wee Amigos bring Spanish clubs to Lisburn and Lurgan

Youngsters in Lisburn and Lurgan will soon be saying ‘hola’ to a whole new set of skills.

Wee Amigos Kids Clubs are launching Spanish sessions at Lisburn’s Island Arts Centre and The Jethro Centre in Lurgan, starting next week. The clubs will teach a new language to children as young as one-year-old right through to 11-year-olds.

Group co-ordinator Kelly Parker said: “The Government is currently proposing to introduce learning a second language to the primary school curriculum and there is a good reason for that.

“Research shows that not only do you pick up a second language more easily at a younger age, it also helps you to learn your own language more effectively.”

Despite the plans to increase language teaching in schools, Kelly insists that Wee Amigos will be far more informal than the classroom.

She continued: “Our clubs will focus on encouraging learning through fun. We’ll be playing games, singing songs and telling stories in Spanish.

“As far as the children are concerned, they will just be enjoying themselves. But the language skills they are learning will stand them in good stead for secondary school and even their future employment prospects.”

Kelly has previously taught Spanish classes in primary schools in England and also taught English to Spanish pupilson Madrid’s bilingual school programme.

The experience of teaching in Spain reinforced her belief that learning a foreign language as early as possible is hugely beneficial to a child’s overall development.

She said: “In some Spanish schools, pupils as young as three are having up to half their lessons delivered in English.

“The effect this has on the child’s confidence in using a second language is clear to see.”

Clubs are running on Thursday evening in Lisburn starting on November 10. The Lurgan clubs are being held on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting on November 16. Places are limited and booking is essential. To register or get more information, please contact Kelly on 07749433394 or email

Mr Van Morrison announces his first Dublin and Belfast concerts in over a decade

Van Morrison is without a doubt one of the most original recording artists in musical history.

His live shows are always inspired and transcendental while some of his albums such as Astral Weeks, Moondance and It’s Too Late To Stop Now are widely viewed as among the best ever made. His songwriting has influenced everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Bono, Damien Rice to Paolo Nutini, Elvis Costello to Jim Morrison… The list is endless.

Brown Eyed Girl, Madame George and Moondance were three of his songs that were included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Van Morrison has 6 Grammys and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll and Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The once off set list for the shows will feature a selection of his greatest hits and songs that have a particular resonance to his Irish roots. These shows are set to be one of the musical highlights of 2012. Many of his songs have a nostalgic yearning for his carefree childhood days in Belfast and it will be a special occasion to hear Van perform his songs in the neighbourhood of Cypress Avenue, Hyndford Street and Orangefield High School.

“Van Morrison is interested, obsessed with how much musical or verbal information he can compress into a small space, and, almost, conversely, how far he can spread one note, word, sound, or picture. To capture one moment, be it a caress or a twitch. He repeats certain phrases to extremes that from anybody else would seem ridiculous, because he’s waiting for a vision to unfold, trying as unobtrusively as possible to nudge it along…It’s the great search, fueled by the belief that through these musical and mental processes illumination is attainable. Or may at least be glimpsed.”
Lester Bangs

“It is at the heart of Morrison’s presence as a singer that when he lights on certain sounds, certain small moments inside a song—hesitations, silences, shifts in pressure, sudden entrances, slamming doors—can then suggest whole territories, completed stories, indistinct ceremonies, far outside anything that can be literally traced in the compositions that carry them.”
Greil Marcus

“Astral Weeks is about the power of the human voice – ecstatic agony, agonising ecstasy. Here is an Irish tenor reborn as a White Negro – a Caucasian Soul Man – pleading and beseeching over a bed of dreamy folk-jazz instrumentation: acoustic bass, brushed drums, vibes and acoustic guitar, the odd string quartet – and of course flute.”
Barney Hoskyns

“As a physical fact, Morrison may have the richest and most expressive voice pop music has produced since Elvis Presley, and with a sense of himself as an artist that Elvis was always denied.”
Greil Marcus

Van with The Band

The Last Waltz 1976
Greil Marcus, in attendance at the concert, wrote: “Van Morrison turned the show around…singing to the rafters and …burning holes in the floor. It was a triumph, and as the song ended Van began to kick his leg into the air out of sheer exuberance and he kicked his way right offstage like a Rockette. The crowd had given him a fine welcome and they cheered wildly when he left.” The filmed concert served as the basis for Martin Scorsese’s 1978 film.

Van teams up with The Band again at the Berlin Wall with Snowy from Lizzy on Guitar. Comfortably Numb

The Vanlose Stairway, with Georgie Fame

And the song that launched a million bands: G. L. O. R. I. A.
That wonderful Pirate Mick Green on Guitar, Jools Holland on piano

MCD are very proud to present Van Morrison in concert.

The Odyssey Belfast February 3rd, The O2 Arena Dublin February 4th 2012.

Tickets limited to 4 per person on sale Thursday 10th November at 8am.

Tickets for The O2, Dublin from €56, €65, €81, €86 to €115
Tickets for The Odyssey Arena from £55, £60, £75 to £100

To purchase tickets
In person: From 100 Ticketmaster Outlets Nationwide
By Telephone (24 Hour):
ROI – 0818 719 300, Northern Ireland – 0844 277 44 55
Buy Online:

UO gives its first concert for Belfast Music Week

With the MTV European Music Awards this weekend, hundreds of concertgoers will enjoy music of a different kind today (2 November) as part of Belfast Music Week, when Craigavon flautist Eimear McGeown makes her Ulster Orchestra début at the Orchestra’s popular JTI Lunchtime Concert in city centre’s Assembly Buildings.

This Season, the Lunchtime Concerts have a ‘Home Grown’ talent theme and celebrate local musicians who have established a growing international reputation. Eimear, who is from Drumglass in Craigavon, will play Ibert’s Flute Concerto in an all-French concert called Après-Midi, which takes place at 1.05pm.

Looking forward to the concert, the UO’s Head of Marketing and Development, Lydia Gamble said, “Our first Lunchtime concert of the new Season last month was one of the best attended. The Series itself, which began in 2009, has proved popular with regular concertgoers, shoppers, city centre workers and visitors from outside the city, especially since the cost is about the same as a cinemar ticket.”

Après-Midi is the first lunchtime concert not to take place in the Ulster Hall and Lydia Gamble hoped that concertgoers would remember that the concert is in the Assembly Buildings which was formerly known as the Spires Centre. “We had to make the Ulster Hall available to the organisers of the MTV European Music Awards, so the concert is now taking place at the Assembly Buildings, but will still start at 1.05pm and teh concert will last 50 minutes like always.”

Eimear McGeown was ‘Best Performer’ by unanimous vote at the Sir James Galway International Masterclasses in Switzerland in 2009 and has won many awards. “I love the energy that the piece has,” she said. “The first movement has such a great start; it captures everyone’s attention straight away and is so rhythmically exciting.

“Then the second movement is so beautiful and also quite sad in contrast to the first movement. Apparently it was written on the death of his father. Then the last movement is a great big ball of excitement with an explosive end!” Eimear explained.

The conductor for the Lunchtime concert is Christopher Wilkins from Boston, who makes his UK, Irish and Ulster Orchestra début’s all in the one day. “The Concert features wonderfully vibrant French music that lies just outside of the standard repertoire,” he said.

“The challenge for me will be to find what is unique about each piece, how it sets an individual mood or is suggestive of the place it describes. But I have always felt, the Ibert Flute Concerto to be one of the most entertaining of all 20th Century wind concertos.”

This year two Ulster Orchestra concerts are part of the 170 gigs and performances that make up Belfast Music Week. The second, with Nikolai Demidenko, takes place on Saturday 5 November at the Whitlay Hall when he plays Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in an all Russian concert – Russian Colours. Tickets are still available.