Derry’s wealth of working musicians have been urged to grasp the opportunities the city’s year as culture capital will offer.
Paddy Nash - widely regarded as one of the city’s finest singer songwriters and who today launches a new album with his band of Happy Enchiladas - says 2013 is every bit as much about the musicians who work day in day out in the city as it is about big names who are Derry bound next year.
“Next year represents a massive opportunity. It’s up to us to seize it, to do away with any apathy and to take advantage of the amount of people that will come here,” he told the ‘Journal’ this week.
“You look at Edinburgh where the Fringe is now bigger than the Festival. We can do the same in Derry, create our own counter culture.
“Local artists should think exactly what it is they want to do, map it out, take it to the powers that be and say this is what we are doing.
“We won’t have an opportunity like this again,” he says.
That attitude has seen the Creggan man’s stock soar over recent years.
The Happy Enchiladas’ debut album was hailed by critics, received airplay on the UK’s biggest radio stations, and saw Nash invited to play at last year’s Leftfiled stage at Glastonbury festival.
Paddy will curate a weekend long ‘Music for a New Revolution’ series of workshops and gigs during 2013 - with long time hero and now friend Billy Bragg lined up to perform.
In the here and now, Paddy and the Enchiladas are gearing up for another hectic summer following on from the release today of second album ‘Times of Transition.’
Paddy will play in Cool Discs from 4pm today while the whole line up take to the stage in Bennigans later tonight for a sure-to-be rousing launch.
“This is much more of a band album, we wanted to make sure we recreated the sound we have live, the sound we have honed over the past year,” he says.
He says fans can expect a much more collective creative album - but the songs are in keeping with the folk-punk-pop sound the Enchiladas are known for.
“We have tried to keep that contrast we had on the first album, between the rockier stuff and the more ballady type songs,” he adds.
Songs like Moneyman’s Dead, Rubber Bullets and Greedy Little Man showcase “the political side,” he says, while She Came Home and Works of Art play on the personal introspection that have always “been a feature of the songs.”
Paddy has few qualms about being labelled a political songwriter.
“Sometime you can only be the canary in the cage,” he muses.
“When I started writing as a child the first two lines I ever wrote were ‘rubber bullets bouncing off the street, rubber bullets on the mantle piece.’ That was the normality we were growing up in, normality in the sense of how it was for a six-year old.
“I’m not out to inflict my opinions on anyone but I do write about what I think is going on.”
The world around him remains his greatest inspiration.
“There’s a song on there, ‘Nobody’s Listening, about a friend who was diagnosed with cancer at the same time as Michael McGimpsey turned a blind eye to Altnagelvin.
“Another one, Work of Art, tells of the night a wee drunk man fell and I picked him up one night in the Bogside, just at the moment a Japanese tourist took our picture.
“Smile, you’re a work of art, I told him.”
Few will fail to notice the new album’s Ebrington Square inspired cover.
“And sure why not? This is the new time that we are in,” says Paddy
“We gave the designer Tyler Young some rough cuts and he came back with the visuals. We’re really delighted with what he’s done, he’s captured what we were after.”
As well as the Cool discs and Bennigans show today, the Enchiladas will play at the Clipper homecoming on July 5, and headline the Eagle’s Rock stage at Glasgowbury.
Shows are also lined up across the north before Paddy heads to play some solo shows in England and Wales -including a performance at the Tolpuddle Festival.
‘Times for Transition’ is out now.
You can get more info online at paddynash.co.uk