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Gig in the Garden, Belfast

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ATL | 10:54 UK time, Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Gig in the Garden POster


Gig in the Garden
4th August 2012
Minnowburn, Shaws Bridge


Given the weather recently, the National Trust’s Gig in the Garden must be thanking their lucky stars, as it happened to fall on one of the few gorgeous days we have had this summer. Quite rightly pitched as a ‘unique location’, the Rose Garden in Minnowburn is situated high amongst the tree tops on a hill, offering absolutely breathtaking views of Belfast. The ‘mini-festival’ was complete with local food and drink, surreal sculptures (by local chainsaw artist Ivan McNally), music and activities for kids. Not having any kids myself, I tend to shy away from ‘family friendly’ events- simply because it can often mean ‘families only’. This was not the case here- the kids doing crafts and playing on hula hoops (and trying on Katie and the Carnival’s unicorn head) only added to the already chilled summer atmosphere. 

There were excellently chosen vendors for the event - local, organic and tasty. The music was also well selected. All of the bands provided a strong acoustic, alt folk sound. Katie and the Carnival delivered their usual (well, usual for them) and much loved styling of eccentricity and fun. Sporting a sparkly pink guitar, Katie and her gang played a mixture of old and new, including the new single ‘Dinosaurs’. The new drummer Stef Campbell is a great acquisition, adding even more depth to the existing visual and audio feast that the Carnival always provides.

Sons of Caliber also played a blinder and had a great reception. Another local favourite, their presence was a real treat, as both they and KATC immediately dashed off to Forfey festival. A new discovery and highlight for me was The New Sheriffs. Trotting out of the Hilden Brewery tent into the mid afternoon sun, to hear a fantastic cover of Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’ was the stuff that dreams are made of. An excellent cover of a song I love dearly- it really captured the moment and perfectly complemented the sunshine and relaxed atmosphere.

Performances littered the afternoon and provided a constant, if somewhat unvaried, background to the festival. The organisation was very tight, and seemed to go without any hiccups- certainly an advantage with so many kids around. One tiny criticism was the stage - the awning looked great, but it was positioned so the acts were far from the crowd and generally in darkness, which made it hard to connect with their performances. This could very well have been in anticipation of rain, but definitely was noted by the audience. As such, it did feel that the music was not the focal point of the afternoon, more a facet of a general atmosphere.

The Jepettos were another new discovery for me. Their upbeat style and in particular, Ruth Aicken’s vocals caught my attention. I’m a bit fussy with my female vocals, but her dulcet alto tones were a real pleasure. Certainly, a crowd beside me were impressed and declared The Jepettos the best act they’d heard all day. All in all, Gig in the Garden was a beautifully organised event. Family friendly and fun for everyone else, the heady combination of local brews, local grub, local music and local people meant that the sunshine and gorgeous backdrop was the icing on the cake. Everyone knows it’s good to support local, but the Gig in the Garden proved, not only that it is easily done, but also that we’ve a hell of a lot of be proud of.

Cat Anderson


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