Fresh from a four song set at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, one of Derry’s most influential singer songwriters is a troubadour on a musical mission, writes DAVID WILSON. Last weekend Paddy Nash - the former Screaming Binlid, Whole Tribe Sings and now Happy Enchilada frontman - played the world’s most famous festival at the behest of English folk rocker and political activist Billy Bragg.
And now the Creggan man wants to bring the pop and politics vibe he experienced at Glastonbury’s Leftfield Stage to his home town for a one off ‘Glaston-Derry’ in the summer of 2012.
While U2, Coldplay and Beyonce may have hogged the mainstream limelight for their main stage performances, the Leftfield stage gives a platform to those at the cutting edge of politically inspired music.
Indeed it is Bragg, one of Paddy’s biggest influences, who planted the seed for ‘Glaston - Derry.’
“When I was leaving Glastonbury on Sunday,” Paddy told the ‘Journal’ this week, “ I had the camera on Billy and asked him for a message for my video diary and for people back in Derry.
“He said ‘ there’s no Glastonbury next year, but let’s strip it down and take it to the walled city, let’s call it Glaston - Derry.’”
Now Paddy, and his partner and co-Enchilada Diane Greer are determined to make it happen.
“I think it’s our challenge,” says Diane.
“He has planted the seed and it’s up to us now to explore how we can make it happen.”
Paddy is equally determined to see Glaston-Derry come to fruition.
“That’s the thing, it’s up to us now to meet the challenge. We will talk to whoever we need to talk to, the council whoever, and hopefully can go back and say ‘Billy this is doable.’
“We are both pretty determined to make this happen.”
Glaston-Derry is not the only project Paddy hopes to develop. He’s also keen to bring Bragg’s Jail Guitar Doors project to the north.
“Some of the guys I played with last weekend came are where they are because of that project,” he says.
The Jail Guitar Doors is an independent initiative which aims to provide instruments to those who are using music to help rehabilitate prisoners. Founded by Billy Bragg, it takes its name from the b-side of the Clash’s 1978 single ‘Clash City Rockers.’
Paddy says he has no doubt the project would be of huge benefit to many of the north’s prison population.
“The guys we met have completely changed their lives around in many ways because of this project,” he says.
With two new projects now beginning to take shape, last weekend’s trip to Glastonbury would seem to have had a profound effect on both Paddy and Diane.
But both say it was also just great fun to be part of it all.
“People thought that because we were going to Glastonbury we’d be bumping into Beyonce backstage and all that,” Diane says.
“That was never going to be the case. It was a wonderful experience in a very unexpected way. The ordinariness of it all was what struck me, the people we met, the conversations we had.”
For Paddy, sharing a stage with Bragg last Saturday afternoon was like “winning an Olympic gold medal.”
“The nerves were pretty bad. I sat down, kept the head down plugged in my guitar, and when I looked up thought this is terrible - the place was packed.”
Diane, filming from the back of the crowd, shared Paddy’s nerves.
“My heart was thumping, I was on filming duty and so afraid of messing it up - if I didn’t get it right people would never believe it had went so well.
“I was so proud of him, I just thought, oh my god they love him.”
Paddy’s four song set included Rubber Bullets, “a new song about boy racers”, The Moneyman’s Dead, and Billy Bragg Jeans.
“When he played The Moneyman’s Dead, the whole place erupted,” Diane says.
Paddy says as he played Billy Bragg Jeans he looked over to see the man himself singing along.
“That was one of many surreal moments over the weekend,” he says.
Paddy and Diane say those more surreal moments included former Smiths soundman Grant Showbiz looking after the sound during Paddy’s set, Diane carrying a polka dot dress on a hanger around a mud riddled Glastonbury, ending up at a birthday bash for comedian Phil Juppitus and watching hordes of music fans battle with the mud to dance along to the Undertones anthem Teenage kicks.
Only hours after getting back the duo played a Guildhall Square gig in support of the Cookie Company’s People’s Millions bid.
Last night the full Enchiladas line up played Sandinos, and play a couple more gigs this weekend before setting off on an English tour in July.
That tour includes performing at the the Tolpuddle Martyrs festival and at the Hope and Anchor in London - where the Clash played their first ever gig.
Paddy says his Glastonbury video diary will go on the band’s website, Facebook and Youtube “ when the editing’s finished.”
More details on the Happy Enchiladas can be found online at www.paddynash.co.uk