Swing singer and Big Band frontman Andrew Monk has been entertaining audiences throughout the country for decades with his strong vocals and smooth style.
The local singer has performed at venues across the country as a solo artist and also fronting his The Bleu Note Big Band, a seventeen piece big band comprising of some of the northwest’s finest musicians.
September saw the release of his new EP, ‘That’s What Lovin’s For’ which has been filling the airwaves across Ireland and Scotland.
We caught up with Andrew this week and started by asking about his new six track EP. “The new EP was recorded and produced by one of our city’s finest musicians, Mr Paul Casey at his own recording studio, Cable Junction Recording Studio here in Derry” said Andrew. “The Brass arrangements were written by another musical legend of Derry, Mr Joe Quigley.
“The title track ‘That’s What Lovin’s For’ I co-wrote with Al James and T Hegarty from England, and penned in on the first verse about a relationship of two lovers who met at The City Hotel in Derry. I thought it was only right to involve The City Hotel in a song as they gave me my first residency when opening 15 years ago.
“Another original track on the EP that I recorded is a song called ‘Can’t Get Over You’ which was written by a close friend of mine in England called Andy Kinch.
“In four of the songs, I was joined by some members of The Bleu Note Big Band’s brass section, my sister-in-law Sharon Quigley performing a beautiful alto saxophone accompaniment on the original song ‘Can’t Get Over You’ along with my brother in law, Gary Quigley, on trumpet and Lawrence Quigg on trombone, performing on some old standards such as Bobby Darin’s ‘Mack The Knife’, Frank Sinatra’s ‘Witchcraft’ and Engelbert Humperdink’s ‘After The Lovin’.
Andrew Monk "That's What Lovin's For" 2017
“Joe Quigley is also my musical director and lead guitarist with my own big band, The Bleu Note Big Band, which consists of 15-23 musicians from Derry, Belfast and Donegal. The Band accompanies me on big venues such as this year’s Christmas party nights at The Marquee, Beechill House Hotel. One of which will be happening again this Saturday, the 16th December. We also perform yearly in The Corinthian Ballroom in The City Hotel too” explained Andrew.
Speaking about some of the audiences he has performed in front of alongside his Bleu Notes, he said: “One of my biggest achievements since the Big Band was formed was to perform at Europe’s biggest hotel, The CityWest in Dublin in 2011 when we played at The World Championship Irish Dancing Ball, where we entertained Michael Flatley and his troop from Riverdance. It was such a buzz for myself and the band to have 1200 people enjoy our rendition of The Riverdance with a big band and brass accompaniment.
“Another night that stands out was when were asked to play at The National World Council of Ballroom Dancers at The Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny in September of 2015 supplying a band comprising of 23 musicians on stage.
“My favourite gig of this year with the Big Band was our last performance in The City Hotel when we got to perform all the big band standards of Michael Buble, Sinatra, Glenn Miller, etc to a local audience in our home town.
The Bleu Note Big Band
The local singer has seen a huge change within the music industry since he first broke on to the scene. Over the years records have made way to CDs, who have in turn stepped aside for the modern day downloads. “The biggest change over the years that have affected myself and my band has been the phasing out of hard copies of CD’s and the high street music store with the introduction of downloads” admitted Andrew. “Also the closure of dance ballrooms and the lack of venues that cater for live musicians to perform.”
Of late the Swing and Big Band scene has been somewhat reinvigorated, with the sounds of the 40s and 50s making a comeback. “One of my main influences is Michael Bublé who has re-introduced the big band sounds from the 1950’s till the present” revealed Andrew.
With so many incredible local acts on the scene at the moment, it’s a great opportunity show your support by giving the gift of local music this year. Andrew Monk’s new EP is out now and available to purchase from local shops Cool Discs and MAD and can also be downloaded from www.songcastmusic.com, Itunes, Amazon and Napster. Be sure to check Andrew's and also The Bleu Note Big Band's Facebook too!
Don't forget to enter our competition here, where you have a chance of winning a host of merchandise from all the acts involved in the campaign.