Music across the border line
Belfast was showing what it has to offer the world last week as the fourth annual Belfast Music Week took place.
Van Morrison received the Freedom of the City and celebrated with a gig in Ulster Hall, Foy Vance took home the inaugural Northern Ireland Music Prize for best album for Joy Of Nothing. The singer-songwriter came top from a list that included great records from And So I Watch You From Afar, Girls Names, Space Dimension Controller and Two Door Cinema Club.
In the Limelight venue on Thursday night, 11 Northern bands were showcasing their newer sounds. There was folk-pop from The Jeppettos, neon indie-rock from Wonder Villains, taut stadium-rock from More Than Conquerors, sweet indie melodies from Little Bear and very promising synth-pop from Go Wolf. Things are going well up North.
At a talk the next day, on which I featured, the panel tackled how Northern bands can take advantage of what the South has to offer.
One older audience member took exception to comments from RTE producer Ian Wilson about how Northern bands have the best of both worlds – they can hook into the music industry of the Republic and the UK.
Wilson's point was that they're not taking advantage, but that led the audience member to verbally attack the chair of the talk, before storming out of the building in expletive-laden disgust.
Cross-border collaboration is something to be encouraged for the benefit of music in the future of this island. Bands from either side should go on tour together, promoters could do a support-slot swap, bloggers can do guest posts and publishers can do spotlights. The example has already been set by BBC Northern Ireland's Across The Line radio show, which regularly invites guests from the South.
In contrast to that angry older man, people under 35 or so, while being aware of the Troubles of the past, try to stay in the present and the future. The enjoyment of music isn't inherently political, and can help leave history in the past .