For many decades, Derry has had a strong reputation as the place to be for live music, which was recognised by ‘PRS for Music Limited’ in 2010 when they named Derry as the UK's tenth 'most musical' city.
Not bad for a place with a population which pales in comparison to some of the big hitters such as London and Edinburgh.
Over the years we have exported some huge stars onto world music. From Josef Locke in the 40’s to present day musicians who are making their mark, we have been spoilt for choice here in the northwest.
Homegrown, a gig which celebrates the rich local music scene, has been running successfully since 2013 with some of Derry’s finest musicians at the helm.
I caught up with co-founder Paul Casey to find out more about the event. “I had the initial idea for Homegrown for the City of Culture year in 2013” said Paul. “Personally, I felt that the local music scene was being overlooked a little as there is so much good music here in Derry to tap into and celebrate.
'Changing World' Paul Casey (Official Music Video)
“I usually would have put on a gig of my own around Christmas week anyway, so I asked Bronagh Gallagher and Paddy Nash would they be interested in doing something together. They were really into the idea so I went to see David McLaughlin at the Forum, who loved the idea, and he got involved right away.
“Luckily for us, the only date he had was around mid January and we ended up being the first live music event of the Culture year. We’ve ended up doing the Homegrown gig every January and this will be our sixth year. It’s incredible how well it’s supported locally still.
“The idea was to make this all local, so after getting Bronagh, Paddy and The Forum onboard, I spoke to Pol Sheerin of P.S Audio, who provide the best sound in town, and Mark Patterson of BBC Radio Foyle to host it. It was a great success thankfully. Radio Foyle has supported Homegrown from the start and continues to do so. It really is a coming-together of many local things which I feel make it a success.”
The Millennium Forum has been home to the event each year, and is a venue Paul loves returning to. “It really is a brilliant venue to play” said Paul. “David and the staff have been so supportive of Homegrown since its first year.”
PORTS - The Devil is a Songbird (Official Video)
The local musician is also thankful that local people come out to support it in their droves year on year. “I’m always amazed that so many people go out and buy tickets to see local acts” admitted Paul. “It’s so encouraging and proves to me that we love to support our own here in the city. We never take it for granted. Every year I’m terrified no one will come.”
This year’s lineup includes Paul Casey & Band, Ports and also Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas.
Ports rose to prominence throughout the country during 'Other Voices' in 2013, when they stepped in at short notice to replace Two Door Cinema Club. We had to wait a further three years for the local four piece to release their debut album ‘The Devil is a Songbird’ but boy was it worth the wait.
Paddy Nash, another local music legend, returns to Homegrown following the release of his latest album Gate Fever, which has been hailed by critics and fans alike.
“Ports are incredible” said Paul. “Their live set is so well perfected, the songs and arrangements are superb and they always go down brilliantly with the audience.
“Paddy is Derry’s John Prine. He has a brilliant way with writing songs that instantly connect with listeners. Pol Sheerin who mixes the live sound for us, in my opinion, is one of the best in the business. For me he is the fifth member of my band, and vital to Homegrown’s success.”
Paddy Nash - The Boy in the Old Man's Clothes | Cottage Sessions
This year also saw Paul Casey release his own new live album titled ‘Solo’. Eight tracks all recorded locally. “Paddy and I performed an ‘In-the-round’ gig in Bishop’s Gate Hotel earlier this year” said Paul. “Pol Sheerin multi-tracks all out gigs, this one luckily turned out to be a good one. When I listened back I thought it was good enough to release.”
The local musician told us about what’s coming up in 2018: “I’m working on a brand new project/album for next year. I’ve just released the title track to radio this week, it’s called ‘Looking Back But Moving On’. Please request it from your favourite station.”
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. Tickets for Homegrown are now available to buy here. Be sure to check out Paul Casey, Paddy Nash and PORTS own websites 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.