THE VALENTINE’S Weekend Rhythm & Blues Hop at Portrush Town Hall has become one of the steady highlights of the event season on the north coast, and the good news is that the blues are back in town, as Ronnie Greer’s Almost Big Band make tracks for the Triangle for a return date on Friday February 15 – with Grainne Duffy as special guest.
Tickets have sold out three years running for this show, which is sponsored by Coleraine Borough Arts Committee, the tickets are available from Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart – you can book over the phone using your debit or credit card on (028) 7083 1400.
This special concert is promoted by Coleraine Borough Arts Committee, with sponsorship from Fairley’s House of Wines – those attending will get a free glass of wine on arrival and another at the interval.
The seven-piece band plays everything from Herbie Hancock to Big Joe Turner in a show that features some of the finest musical talent Northern Ireland has to offer. Fronting the outfit is the superb Ronnie Greer, one of the finest guitarists of his generation. Ronnie always plays with emotion, but never forgets to swing. Every phrase is guaranteed to get the toes tapping and the emotions in motion.
Special guest is Monaghan-based blues chanteuse Grainne Duffy, who is fast making a name for herself as one of the most exciting singers and guitarists on the live circuit. Her albums Into the Light and Against the Grain have proved that she’s capable of delivering smoky torch ballads alongside gutsy rock/blues material.
Also appearing as part of the line up will be the wonderful Linley Hamilton on trumpet. Linley has become one of the essential jazz figures on the Northern Ireland circuit, famed for his awe-inspiring technique and showmanship. He’s joined in the brass section by rising star Dave Howell, who played some jaw-dropping solos during last year’s show. Together he and Linley pulled some wonderful horn riffs out of nowhere is what was a memorable pairing.
On slide guitar and vocals, Coleraine-born songwriter Anthony Toner shows his bluesy side, strapping on an electric guitar and singing songs by everyone from Steely Dan to JJ Cale and playing some Little Feat and Ry Cooder-influenced slide guitar.
On keyboards, John McCullough is equally at home playing Chicago blues piano and hot Hammond organ – he’s always a showstopper. Backing the whole thing up in the rhythm section are the twin powerhouses of Alan Hunter on bass and Colm Fitzpatrick on drums. Together they lay down a groove that allows everyone to showcase their best playing.
It looks like being a night not to be missed, and tickets are now available for sale from Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart – they’re priced at £12, and if you’d like to know more, get in touch with Flowerfield on (028) 7083 1400.