Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 2 roundup (part 1)

By on Tuesday, 18th October 2016 at 1:00 pm

During my Friday at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016, I decided to take a more relaxed approach to the band discovery and actually enjoy the city of Dublin. Sort of. Stepping into part of the festival‘s convention activities at the Chocolate Factory for late in the afternoon, I was still able to catch two acts in the free In the City programming before taking in an assortment of Irish and Northern Irish acts in the evening.

Brian Casey (West Cork) @ Gutter Bookshop

Brian Casey HWCH 2016

From the south-west coast of Ireland, Brian Casey is a self-described failed journalism student turned musician who’s already set up his own studio, Waveform Recordings. With whip-equipped drummer Andrew O’Sullivan, he performed a brief set at the Gutter bookshop on Cow Lane. As my hosts in Galway insisted, there’s a slight but discernable difference in the Irish accent from the west country compared to Dublin’s, and even between Galway and Cork, which made for an interesting contrast to the other singer/songwriters on show this weekend.

True to form for a good musician able to improvise in any situation, he asked the audience for a topic to write a song about on the fly. My suggestion for food ended up not working out – hey, they were stood right next to the culinary books section of the shop! – so Casey wrote a song about sleep instead. I doubt he’s going to record that, so have a listen to his track ‘Believe’ instead below.

Callum Stewart (Belfast; now known as JC Stewart) @ Nine Crows –and- City Hall

Callum Stewart HWCH 2016 outside Nine Crows

Here’s another big tip for the major labels out there. As us music bloggers get older, some things never change. We know you labels want to keep the young music buyers of the world happy and spending their money on your artists and part of that is finding a young, fresh-faced talent. Singer/songwriter Callum Stewart will tick off all the boxes for you very nicely. The young Belfast artist has already been featured in Ireland magazine Hot Press as one to watch, filmed a video in far-flung Iceland of all places, and worked Nile Rodgers (yes, that Nile Rodgers) and Rudimental. What makes him a complete package: he’s cute as a button and if I were a lot younger, I’d have a Tiger Beat-style crush on him.

Callum Stewart HWCH 2016 2 at City Hall

As young artists these days do, he’s chosen an r&b pop bent for his music. Unlike the many others, he’s got a convincing soulfulness and I can’t wait to hear what he does next. Whether he’s playing on a street in Temple Bar with only his voice and his guitar or in a echoing, unusual venue like City Hall in front of a keyboard, he’s already mastered the professionalism of artists far older than himself. Despite the experience and fans he’s already amassed, he’s eager for the next steps of his career, yet still extremely humble. Is this because he’s Irish? Quite possibly.

Jealous of the Birds (Portadown, Northern Ireland) @ Tengu Downstairs

Jealous of the Birds HWCH 2016

Carrie covered Northern Irish singer/songwriter Naomi Hamilton at this year’s SXSW 2016 when she performed at the Output Belfast showcase on St. Patrick’s Day 2016 (of course). I have to admit that the only exposure I’ve truly had to her music is her single ‘Goji Berry Sunset’, an indie folk masterpiece that has already garnered the attention of BBC Radio 1, 2 and 6 Music. Naturally, I was expecting more of the same chilled out atmosphere when she played the downstairs stage of Tengu Friday night.

Imagine my surprise and enjoyment when Hamilton rocked out! Much more my speed. You go, girl! If she plays her cards right, I think she could very well be the next Sheryl Crow: versatile in her song styles and musical choices, but with strong chops vocally and instrumentally.

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