Songwriter Cleaves on way to Portstewart

THE ACCLAIMED Slaid Cleaves – making his Flowerfield Arts Centre debut - spins stories with a novelist’s eye and a poet’s heart. Twenty years into his career, the celebrated songwriter’s new album Still Fighting the War spotlights an artist in peak form.

Cleaves comes to Portstewart on Thursday, September 26 for a show as special guest of the Real Music Club, as part of a major tour to publicise his new album.

Cleaves’ seamless new collection delivers vivid snapshots as wildly cinematic as they are carefully chiseled. To give a flavour of his writing, think of William Faulkner with faded jeans and a worn six-string acoustic guitar.

‘Slaid’s a craftsman,’ says Terri Hendrix, who sings harmony on ‘Texas Love Song’. ‘He goes about his songs like a woodworker.’

Cleaves has built an unlikely success story from scratch after moving to Austin, Texas, from Maine two decades ago. The new album follows the razor sharp songwriter’s undeniable hat trick – Broke Down (2000), Wishbones (2004) and Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away (2009) – that established him as a singular storyteller.

His songwriting style effortlessly shades dark with light. ‘Slaid is my favorite co-writer,’ says Rod Picott, who also co-wrote the new album’s standout ‘Welding Burns’. ‘He’s a smart writer with a gift for wringing the most out of a melody.

‘Slaid understands that the song has to rule. He’s patient and unwavering in his pursuit of the best.’

Tickets for the 8pm show are priced at £15, which includes complimentary interval refreshments.

Tickets for the concert are available for purchase online from the Real Music Club website at

You can also buy tickets at reception at Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart, using your credit or debit card – call the reception staff on (028) 7083 1400 for details.