Petunia and the Vipers
Petunia and the Vipers

Belfast city of music  sound like a NITB soundbite but there is a lot of truth in it.

Moving on Music has been breaking musical glass ceilings for ages now with bands that might not be on everyone’s lips but with amongst people with a sense of adventure and wonderfully eclectic tastes in music, they are a one-step shop for the exciting, the cool, the funny and the frankly bizarre.

Last night saw Petnunia and the Vipers hit the stage of the MAC to a packed cabaret style seating arrangement – Belfast is full of cool dudes, who knew? Pet and the band are a Canadan quintet who play all kinds of Americana superbly well, with a charismatic frontman born just on the right side of Deliverance.

I find all Americana sad and beautiful and hypnotic all at the same time and that was what we got from Petunia and the guys as well as some great bluegrass and rockabilly to get you on your feet.

Petunia also yodelled his way into my heart with the standout song of the evening (for me) Cricket Song.

As well as the hypnotic effect of the songs, there was some glorious playing from guitarist Stephen Nickleva and lap steel guitarist Jimmy Roy ably assisted by Marc L’Esperance on drums and percussion and James Lillico on bass.

Petunia himself also played guitar and yazoo – let’s hope the last mentioned doesn’t become the new ukelele! From the MAC, I travelled a short third of a mile to Saint Kevin’s Hall home to Belfast’s newest trad venue.

It doesn’t have a name yet but my choice is An Parlús@Halla Naomh Caoimhín (or just An Parlús) because Ray Giffen and Eamonn Murray (the Laurence Llewellyn-Bowens of traditional music) have been scouring Belfast for lampshades, sofas and soft furnishings and turned the venue into one of the most homely going.

When I got there, Mórga were in full flow. Comprising David Munnelly on accordion, Domnic Keogh on bodhrán, Danny Diamond on fiddle, and Jonas Fromseier on banjo and bouzouki the boys play at a speed that could get them featured on Police, Camera, Action!

Many of the tunes came from the new album, imaginatively called Mórga, but live, the band play an explosive blend of tunes old and new. Well worth keeping an eye out for.
The next gig in St Kevin’s will be the wonderful Lumiere on April 13. That’s one not to miss.

Petunia and the Vipers play in the Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre in Naul, Co Dublin tonight and in the Grand Social in the capital on Sunday night.

Mórga on the bill tonight at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin in Derry tonight with Donal Murphy, Steve Cooney, Gino Lupari. This has “not to be missed” written all over it.

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