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Get to Know: Anthony Toner

Coleraine native and long-time Belfast resident, Anthony Toner is known and loved for his wonderfully warm, witty and often autobiographical songwriting. Seven studio albums and and a “Selected Songs” collection, as  well as a reputation for intimate live performances full of beautiful music and charming stories, have earned him a loyal fan base.

Anthony’s latest collection however, is something of a departure from his usual fare. The Kiss of Light, is a spoken word-and-instrumental collaboration with the acclaimed poet Frank Ormsby, in which Frank’s readings of eleven of his works are interspersed with Anthony’s guitar instrumentals, inspired by the poems – with additional graceful touches from Neil Martin on cello and Linley Hamilton on trumpet. The album is due for release in mid-March. Get to Know Anthony Toner.

The Kiss of Light

Name: Anthony Toner

Where you’re from: Originally Coleraine, born and bred – but have been living in Belfast for the last 10 years

Describe your style in 5 words or fewer: James Taylor meets John Prine

Best thing about the Northern Ireland music scene: Best and also possibly the worst – it’s so tight. Everybody knows everybody

Digital music, CDs or vinyl: CDs – I find myself listening to music in the car

Biggest musical influence: Early ’70s James Taylor on Warner Brothers

What you’re listening to right now: Beethoven’s Late String Quartets – The Takacs Quartet

Favourite venue: The next one

Best local band/artist of the moment: Ciaran Lavery

Last gig you attended: Stewart Lee at the Leicester Square Theatre in London in January

Best gig you ever attended: Ron Sexsmith Trio at Katy Daly’s, 1997 – up close, tight, intelligent, emotional and groundbreaking

Gig you wish you could have attended: The Six Gallery in San Francisco, October 1955 – Allen Ginsberg reads ‘Howl’ for the first time

Favourite album of all time: Keeps changing… at the minute it’s Randy Newman – Little Criminals

Musician you’d love to collaborate with: Ry Cooder

Last thing you do before going onstage: Check the setlist and file my nails

Most prized possession: My Lowden O10 guitar – 25 years old this October.  It was the most expensive single thing I’d ever bought back then, apart from a car or a house

Last present you gave to someone: Some spending money for my daughter’s birthday trip to Edinburgh

Dream festival line-up: I never go to festivals so I have no idea: The Rolling Stones, The Hold Steady and Fun Lovin’ Criminals…..?

Check out details of all of Anthony’s upcoming live shows here.



My tastes vary - live in concert I've seen (amongst others) Bob Dylan, The Cure, Morrissey, Johnny Marr (sadly never The Smiths), Van Morrison, David Byrne, Counting Crows, John Prine, Chris Smither, Erasure, They Might be Giants, The Verve, Ben Folds, Georgie Fame, Teddy Thompson, Martha Wainwright, Rufus Wainwright and Loudon Wainwright III. This decade, a lot more home grown talent, with the likes of Duke Special, Brian Kennedy, VerseChorusVerse, The Bonnevilles, Tony Villiers and the Villains, The Hardchargers, and The 4 of Us. Favourite gigs include Prince in Cork in 1990, Trip to Tipp ’91 & ’92, David Bowie’s Reality tour in 2003.