A Thornhill College music teacher has been winning the respect of the Northern Irish music scene since the release of his debut EP ‘Barbera’ in November, one publication even referred to Eoin O’Callaghan AKA Best Boy Grip as “one of the most vital artists in the country.”
Father of three Eoin has been writing music all his life but has only started recording and touring in the last six months and what a ride it has been so far.
“We played to over 450 people at the Students Union in Belfast the other night,” Eoin told The Journal.
“It has been remarkable. I had all this material written and I thought, now is the time to do something with it.”
The reasons behind that, by his own admission were: “Well I turned 30, I’m married with three children and I thought, it’s now or never. The stability in my life allows me to get the material out there I suppose.”
The fact that he has also just finished his music degree meant: “It was definitely time to give it a go, we’re not getting any younger.”
To that end Best Boy Grip released ‘Barbera’ and the reaction, by Eoin’s own admission has been beyond his wildest imagination.
One review stated: “Eoin specialises in the kind of intelligent and literary songs that hide real emotion, with strong feelings bubbling below a thin layer of wit and irony. With a hint of the bitter barbs of Elvis Costello at his best. Best Boy Grip puts on a spectacular performance that leaves the audience in no doubt of his potential.”
Another mused: “Armed only with a piano and an acerbic wit, his songs specialise in sweetly grabbing your attention, before hitting you with a piercing emotional sting. One of the most vital artists in the country.
Eoin’s debut release the Barbara EP, was thought by another reviewer to: “Have a mature feel and polished sound you don’t get on other debuts.”
“The Barbara EP is a well crafted piece of piano-driven pop, further releases should be hotly anticipated.”
Culture Northern Ireland wrote: “‘Barbara’ is faultless.”
Little wonder then that BBG has supported the likes of Bronagh Gallagher, Pete Doherty and Rams Pocket Radio and all within the first six months of getting the band together.
Best Boy Grip was started a a solo project but for this live date Eoin is joined by the insurmountable talents of Dee Bradley on guitar, Liam Craig, drums, Shane McCaul vocals and Stephen Hamilton on drums.
“I really didn’t think things would happen this fast, it has been great. The reviews mean everything, I am waiting for a bad one at this stage to be honest.”
Eoin admits he had little choice when it comes to his musical prowess as; “Both my parents are music teachers so I couldn’t really avoid it. I began learning piano when I was seven years old and took up the clarinet soon after. I then grabbed a guitar a few years later and that’s when I started writing.”
His wife Kitty is also a music teacher.
Eoin said the reason behind his sudden place in the spotlight is due to the fact: “I’ve been using social networking to its full potential. YouTube, Facebook, Bandcamp, Twitter and Soundcloud. Facebook is the main place I try to send people as its easy to find. People can just search Best Boy Grip and find the page. From there I can redirect them to other places like bandcamp where I can sell or give away the material.”
That answer of course, in his modest way, neglects both the incredible standard of his songwriting and indeed musicianship. Looking forward Best Boy Grip said: “I have no idea what this year will bring. I’m taking it one day at a time and I hope the success continues to grow, I just want it to be organic. I’m still amazed that a group of lads are willing to get together, learn my songs and then travel places to perform them. It brings a whole new dynamic to the music. I plan another release soon, the songs are sitting waiting to go but I’m undecided as to how and when this should happen. I don’t want to put a full album out just yet as that would be 12 songs gone but I’m learning every day.”
Catch BBG on Feb 17 at Masons, Feb 22 at Lavery’s Belfast and Feb 23 in Masons.
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