REVIEW// The Easy Street Pickings open the Cottage Sessions

With support from Thomas John - Saturday 25th February 2017

Known far and wide as being a hidden jewel in Derry's crown, the Craft Village shone brightly on Saturday night as it played host to the inaugural episode in the Cottage Sessions season.

Taking inspiration from the critically acclaimed Other Voices live music series, the Cottage Sessions, hosted by Ruth McPhillips, is the brainchild of the Inner City Trust’s Blane O’Donnell who together with the Nerve Centre and the local collaborative group Derry Creatives, have transformed Bridies Cottage into a platform for local original artists to showcase their work.

The homely surroundings of the cottage provided an intimate setting for the evening with a warm scattering of candles and fairy lights to produce a spectacular backdrop and transform the cottage into a magical mix of Dickensian and 21st Century atmosphere. The thatched cottage is an ideal setting for the series, with the reconstructed interior transporting you back to 18th Century Ireland.

First up in the series was a double bill featuring singer-songwriter Thomas John and five-piece folk rock group The Easy Street Pickings.

Carved out of the Irish singer-songwriter mold, Thomas John’s combination of strong vocals and catchy tracks set the series off with a bang. From tracks such as the memorable ‘Easy Tiger’ to the endearing ‘Better Days’, the local musician is helping to preserve Derry’s long tradition of producing great singer-songwriters.

The Easy Street Pickings, who hail from Derry and Armagh, have been making a lot of noise of late. The hard working five piece have just finished recording their new EP which is scheduled for release in April and have been busy gigging throughout the country, from Derry to Cork.

The intimate surroundings of the cottage provided an ideal setting for the band’s folk, rock and funk infusion. The all seated chilled out gig provided a relaxed atmosphere for the music loving locals to enjoy, captivated by what was on show for the season debut.

The Easy Street Pickings don’t like to pigeonhole themselves into one specific style or genre. Their music ranges in style from traditional folk, with a smidgen of rock, a dash of funk and even a little bit of swing at times with their mix of style being executed perfectly.

With one catchy track after another, the local band oozed charm and confidence and had the audience gripped throughout from the thumping ‘Where will you go’ to their incredible cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Billy Jean’. They were even joined on stage for one track by hostess Ruth McPhillips who added yet another dynamic to their sound.

With a new EP soon to be released, the local band gave a preview of what is in store, and we’re all in for a treat come April.

The Craft Village may well be a hidden jewel in the city’s crown, but the Cottage Sessions can become the bedrock in Derry’s claim as music capital of Northern Ireland.

Photos by Lawrence Cooke, The Photographers Studio

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