Matthew Crampsey from Culdaff is a well-known face on a live music scene around the North West.
The singer-songwriter recently became a member of ‘Ceol,’ a group set up by none other than Nathan Carter and manager Liam McKenna.
The 27-year-old told the Journal the new group performs a modern collaboration of folk and Irish music, with some pop also in the mix and they recently released their first single, ‘The Mermaid’.
Music is in Matthew’s blood and as the son of well-known singer-songwriter Shunie Crampsey, he was ‘born into it.’
“I knew nothing else growing up other than music. I started playing guitar was I was around 10 or 11 and then I started playing in pubs when I was 15. I did music for education as well. I went to the North West Regional College in Derry and then to Leeds College of Music, which was an unbelievable experience.”
After arriving back home, Matthew was ‘flat out’ with gigging and releasing his own material, and said he knows how fortunate he was.
“I was so lucky because, being from Donegal, you’re so close to the music scene in Derry and you will not find one like it anywhere else.
“So I’m very fortunate as I went to North West Regional College and they put the gigs on in the bars throughout the years.
“Someone saw me in a bar and passed my name on to others and ever since then I was flat out. Derry is very, very good in that live music is such a big thing - between the venues and the patrons themselves.
“People want to see it and hear it and I was there at the right time for that.”
Like all musicians, the gigs stopped for Matthew during the Covid 19 pandemic and he spent the time writing music.
His plan was to release his own music this year and he had ‘about 15’ songs ‘ready to go.’ But, life had other ideas.
“It was pure fate. I was meant to be playing in a place but they double booked me. And the person who was meant to be playing in the Copper Tap in Omagh had to cancel. I got a message from the Copper Tap asking if I knew anyone who could cover and I said I could do it.
“Nathan Carter happened to be in the bar that night on a stag party. He came up to me afterwards and told me about the group. I went home and spoke to dad and decided to go for it.”
However, Matthew, who also plays guitar and the stomp, then contracted Covid 19 and couldn’t attend the audition. But, Nathan Carter was so impressed with Matthew’s gig in the Copper Tap that he knew he was perfect for the band.
Matthew joins Ceol along with James O’Sullivan from Waterford, Cathal Dervan from Dublin, Daragh O’Connor from Dublin and Daryl Philips from Kildare.
There are big plans for the rest of the year.
“Nathan Carter and Liam McKenna are very clued in and have everything very much under control. They’re honestly complete gentlemen and we all get on the best.
“We do a combination of folk music and Irish music and we’re going to take out pop stuff and do it those styles as well.
“We want it to be high energy and get people up dancing but we also do a contrast, so we want people to be up going mad but then also able to really listen to the music!”
There are also plans for the band to write their own music, which Matthew is really looking forward to.
Matthew said his father, who has been in the music business for decades, is ‘really excited’ about the band.
“He’s really excited. I suppose he sees the work I do behind the scenes and is delighted to see a break come my way.”
Matthew said the band is a ‘lovely thing’ to be part of after the past two years, which have been difficult for every musician.
He added how he is aware he is fortunate to be able to pursue a career in something he loves.
Ceol have already performed a number of gigs with Nathan in large venues, something Matthew said they were ‘very lucky’ to get to do and they are hoping to perform at a number of festivals this summer.
“We just want to get out there and meet people and get playing.”
*You can follow Ceol and Matthew on Instagram and Facebook.