A welcome return for Coleraine native Damien

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The Riverside Theatre is welcoming back singer Damien O’Kane when he returns to Coleraine on Wednesday November 2 at 8pm.

Damien O’Kane is a musician of many talents.

He’s a singer. A very good one, too, with a relaxed, assured vocal style that exudes a natural warmth and empathy with the colourful characters who occupy his songs.

He’s also a brilliant banjo player. And a fine guitarist. And an ingenious arranger. Not to mention an accomplished tunemaker, researcher, bandleader and accompanist of rich imagination and fearless vision.

Steeped in music, Damien grew up in Colerain with a deep respect and understanding of the folk tradition, yet which also forged a healthy appetite to explore its broadest borders and test its boundaries.

All of which has culminated in his brilliant 2015 solo album ‘Areas Of High Traffic’ which, apart from proving he scrubs up well for a cover photo, takes some of the greatest songs in the folk canon – ‘The Blacksmith’, ‘The Banks Of The Bann’, ‘I Am A Youth’ and ‘The Green Fields Of America’ included – and reinvents them in refreshingly original ways.

“They are songs,” he says, “that take me back home. Great songs which I love, but I’ve always avoided doing them because they are so iconic. I decided it was time to overcome this and do the songs my way.”

His career began early. Very early when he first went on stage with his parents and siblings at the age of 13 in the O’Kane Family Band.

Damien joined the first intake at the newly instituted Traditional Music Degree course in Newcastle, where he learned a great deal about the tradition and shared sessions and opinions other musicians from differing backgrounds with differing ideas.

Damien was suddenly being talked of as one of the most exciting young folk musicians in Britain, much in demand for sessions and touring near and far with Flook.

He has also played with Kate Rusby’s band and there was further acclaim in 2011 for the ebullient ‘The Mystery Inch’, a dazzling instrumental album with Sheffield guitarist David Kosky to add another string to an already busy bow.

Tickets are on sale now from the Riverside Theatre Box Office.