21 Jan, Tuesday
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Interview: Ben Glover on His Northern Lights Tour

The talents of Ben Glover, Malojian, and Matt McGinn shine their own light on each of their individual musical careers.

As song writers, story tellers, and creators of music they have respectively produced songs that strike that chord, put it into words for us, make us feel not quite so alone with it all.

They’ve decided to merge those lights, and will be embarking on a tour of the north this spring. Starting in Newtownabbey in April, the Northern Lights tour will take in Dungannon, Downpatrick, Limavady, Lisburn, and Ballymena, and will culminate in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in May before heading over to the Netherlands at the end of May for a run of dates.

There is also one special performance by Malojian and Matt McGinn guesting with folk legend Martin Carthy at the Ards International Guitar Festival.

“It all happened very organically” Ben Glover told me about how all this came about. “I had been talking to Matt last summer about the idea of doing some gigs together, and around the same time he had been chatting to Stevie about the very same thing. So it really was staring us in the face. David Hull Promotions were interested in putting on the show and in no time at all we had a tour booked across the north. The only challenge has been tying down rehearsals as I’m in Nashville and the guys are back home but I think we’ll sneak one or two in there before the first date in April.”

It won’t be a traditional ‘In The Round’ set up though – there will be more to it than that. “The shows will be a full on collaboration between the three of us. Sometimes the ‘in the round’ format can get a bit stale so we wanted to take it a step further and make it more of a challenge for ourselves and more intriguing for the audience. We’ll be banging away on drums and percussion, electric and acoustic guitars, bass and of course there will be a fair bit of singing!”

Matt McGinn 1

This isn’t about introducing new material; it’s more about the best being brought out of their songs, live on stage with some of the finest songwriters on the island. “We haven’t had the chance to sit down and write together so we’ll be performing our own material which of course will have new arrangements and treatments especially for this tour.”

“Right now there are no definite plans to have a recording from the tour” he explained, “but I can certainly imagine that at some point we’ll get in the studio and work on something together. I hope that it’s the start of collaboration both in performing and recording between the three of us.”

BEN GLOVER: 2016 has got off to a special start for Ben Glover as he picked up the award for International Song of the Year at the UK Americana Awards in January. He co-wrote the award winning song Blackbirds with the esteemed singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters. Glover has just finished the recording of his sixth album The Emigrant, which is set to be released on Proper Records in the autumn.

In 2015 he was part of another award winning project, this time collaborating with some of Nashville’s finest musicians called The Orphan Brigade. He was one of the writers of the album and film documentary which was written and recorded in Octagon Hall, a Civil War era house in Kentucky, which just happens to be one of the most haunted houses in the USA. As well as drawing on the troubled history of the house the project also dealt with the themes of war, tragedy and personal perseverance.

Glover’s last solo album, Atlantic was released in 2014 and was acclaimed by critics and fans alike. The taste maker music magazines Mojo and Uncut both gave the album 4 out of 5 star reviews. On the back of Atlantic he performed a live BBC Radio 2 session for the ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris show and undertook his first UK headline tour. Ben is originally from Glenarm, County Antrim but has been a resident in Nashville, Tennessee since 2010.

MALOJIAN: Malojian has been previously acclaimed as ‘The North’s best songwriter over the last half decade’ by Hot Press Magazine. Other supporters include Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol) who claims to be ‘completely obsessed’ by his music and Lauren Laverne (BBC6 Music) also describes it as ‘really beautiful’.

The most current record, SOUTHLANDS, was shortlisted for the NI Music Prize and Hot Press ALBUM OF THE YEAR award. Maverick Magazine said ‘I really and truly believe we’ve unearthed a star here and I can’t urge you strongly enough to seek out this wonderful album’.
Stevie recently worked with legendary producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Jimmy Page & Robert Plant and The Pixies,) recording a follow-up – 2016 is shaping up to being another huge year.

MATT MCGINN: Matt McGinn has been a lynch-pin on the Irish music scene for a long time. Over the years he has been the go-to session’s musician for a wealth of Irish artists and as a result sharing the bill with the likes of Paul McCartney, Crowed House and Crosby Stills & Nash. But now, with his songs appearing on TV shows around the world, and the release of his second album, Latter Day Sinner, Matt has emerged as one Ireland’s singer songwriters.
His list of fans includes BBC Radio 2’s Whispering Bob Harris, Nanci Griffith and Kim Richey to name but a few. Matt’s songs flow straight from the heart and his live performances and personality make them even more poignant. ‘Darkest Before the Day, what a truly beautiful track, I’ve seen Matt play live, he’s fantastic – Latter Day Sinner is a beautiful album’ – BOB HARRIS – BBC Radio 2

Tickets for the Northern Lights tour:
Thurs 7 April: Courtyard Theatre, Newtownabbey
Fri 8 April: Ranfurly Arts & Cultural Centre, Dungannon
Sat 9 April: Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick
Sun 10 April: Queens Hall, Newtownards (Malojian & Matt McGinn) – Ards Guitar Festival
Wed 4 May: Roe Valley Arts Centre, Limavady
Fri 6 May: Island Arts Centre (Studio), Lisburn
Sat 7 May: The Braid, Ballymena
Sun 8 May: The Black Box, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Belfast – 3pm show

Writer and Editor for Gigging NI.