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20 Jan, Sunday
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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.



Writer for Gigging NI. My tastes are varied; began listening to the folksy standards of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and indie favourites like The Cure and The Smiths, all of which permeated my formative years in the 80s. My first gig was Prince in Cork in 1990. The 90’s also included The Trip to Tip in ’91 & ’92, and gigs by Van Morrison, David Byrne, The Verve, Counting Crows, John Prine, Morrissey, Chris Smither and many more. The noughties brought James Taylor, Squeeze, New York Dolls, Neil Young, Arlo Guthrie amongst others; though a highlight was an opportunity to see lifelong hero David Bowie on his final tour, Reality in 2003. This decade I’ve had the chance to see everything from Erasure, Johnny Marr and They Might be Giants to Thirty Seconds to Mars, Aslan, Crosby and Nash, Georgie Fame, Paolo Nutini, John Grant. Latterly there's been a pretty serious obsession with Rufus Wainwright, and the Wainwrights in general to be honest. In the last few years, I’ve also been enjoying a lot more of our home grown talent, with the likes of Duke Special, Brian Kennedy, VerseChorusVerse, The Bonnevilles, Tony Villiers and the Villains, The Hardchargers, and The Four of Us – so I guess you could say no common thread to speak of!