Last year saw the 10th Anniversary of Atlantic Sessions and its sell-out success was proof that the festival continues to grow from strength to strength. Audiences travelled from right across the province and further afield to hear musicians play throughout the four days. Restaurants, hotels, pubs, coffee shops, music venues and the Town Hall were packed with the festival attracting new customers for them. This year’s festival will be headlined by Ryan McMullan in Kelly’s. Snow Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody has cited Ryan as one of Northern Ireland’s most exciting artists with the voice of an angel, and said: “Atlantic Sessions is an award-winning four day festival with an incredible reputation for its passionate support of local talent.”
Although headline events are ticketed, Atlantic Sessions offers over 40 free gigs every hour throughout the weekend, making a music trail across Portstewart and Portrush. Audiences will have the chance to hear Northern Ireland’s finest talent, including over 10 of the 2019 Music Prize nominees, in unique, intimate venues. New locations have been added this year such as the Causeway Lass Boat, Holy Trinity Parish, Star of the Sea Chapel, as well as favourites such as the Arcadia, Yacht Club, Harry’s Shack on the beach, the Anchor and Atlantic.
Events this year include:
THURSDAY 14TH NOVEMBER
A very special opening will celebrate Coleraine born SAM HENRY and his remarkable collection of over 800 songs gathered from across the North Coast and beyond. ‘Sam Henry – Songs of the People’, a new documentary will be screened examining Sam’s pioneering approach – in an official capacity and later when song collecting – placed him at the heart of rural communities and inspired his greatest work. It will be followed by a Q&A with the Producer and live performances.
Also on Thursday, The Muscle Shoals Sessions – Album Launch Party – celebrates the acclaimed Alabama venue which was founded in 1969 and which was made famous by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Boz Scaggs, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. AMANDA ST JOHN and her band will be joined by TONY VILLIERS. Amanda became the first independent Northern Irish/Irish artist in history to record in the legendary Muscle Shoals and her songs and performance style have been heavily influenced by these artists.
FRIDAY 15TH NOVEMBER
‘When The Mountains Meet The Sea’ will bring together an ‘all-star band’ featuring MATT MCGINN, WILFIE GILBERT, John McCullough, Nicky Scott, Matt Weir and Matt Curran, curated especially for Atlantic Sessions. Matt will be releasing his fourth album in 2020 and will be premiering many of these songs. An outstanding blend of soulful passion and melody that will haunt and inspire.
GEMMA BRADLEY in Me and Mrs Jones meshes pop with the finest hand-picked sounds from R&B and Soul. Her debut single ‘Berserk’ earned her the title of the winner of the Christie Hennessy Contest and her sound has earned her slots on BBC Introducing and RTE. ALICE LA will bring her colourful pop to the Anchor Complex, DANI will perform in Harry’s Shack on the Strand beach and the incredible 6-piece RUNABAY, who have been nominated for Best Album this year, will bring their alt-rock to the Springhill.
Friday will culminate in a showcase with PROBLEM PATTERNS and NEW PAGANS in the Atlantic Bar, and no punk night would be complete without the Godfather of Punk himself, TERRI HOOLEY, bringing his DJ set. Nominated for Best Album and Best Live Act this year, New Pagans create music that is vivid and engaged. The songs have massive riffs and rare dynamics. Problem Patterns is Ciara King, Beverley Boal, Bethany Crooks and Alanah Smith. While often lyrically tongue in cheek, no subject is off-limits!
SATURDAY 16TH NOVEMBER
Saturday opens at 1 pm with NI Music Prize Contender nominee JOEL HARKIN in Koko. TOUR ALASKA will launch their new album at 2 pm in the stunning Arcadia – the solo project of A Plastic Rose frontman Gerry Norman, he has toured across Europe multiple times and has supported Biffy Clyro and Twenty One Pilots.
This is followed by of the biggest voices you will ever hear, as KEN HADDOCK brings a magical performance to Holy Trinity Parish at 4 pm. At 5 pm the stunning DARKLING AIR who will be joined by their long-time collaborators Arco String Quartet to launch their new album in Portrush Town Hall. The band are back with their latest LP ‘Ancestor’ and during The Atlantic Sessions 2019, attendees can expect a night of filmic folk-noir coupled with poetic lyrics, piano, guitar and strings producing a richly emotive and melancholic sound. In Portstewart, REEVAH who has been played on RTE, BBC Introducing and 6 Music, will bring her distinctive Americana and new release to Me and Mrs Jones.
We are thrilled to announce that RYAN MCMULLAN, will headline this year’s festival, straight from his tour with Snow Patrol. Ryan has already earned a formidable reputation in the European live music scene. After spending many years developing a dedicated local following, in 2017 he supported Ed Sheeran. 2019 saw his first Glastonbury performance and his largest Belfast show playing to 5000 fans.
Saturday will culminate with a party in the Atlantic featuring The SABREJETS and festival favourite THE BONNEVILLES with their garage punk blues.
SUNDAY 17TH NOVEMBER
Holywood Record Fair will be partnering with Atlantic Sessions for the first time, bringing a wide range of new and pre-loved vinyl to Portstewart Town Hall from 10 am.
Sunday will open with a lunchtime ‘In the Round’ featuring the extraordinary GARETH DUNLOP, EILIDH PATTERSON and BRIGID O’NEILL, hosted by BBC’s Ralph McLean. Gareth’s poetic vulnerability in his songs and distinctive, soulful voice has led to Gareth’s music being featured in a wide array of television shows including Bones, House, Lucifer, Switched at Birth, One Tree Hill, and NASHVILLE to name a few. Over the years Gareth has toured in the UK, Europe and US opening for a diverse group of artists including Van Morrison, The Stereophonics, James Morrison and more.
This will be followed with M.CAMBRIDGE’s acclaimed ‘Sea Song’ album which will be performed at 3 pm on the Causeway Lass boat in Portrush Harbour. Featuring sea songs based on old shanties, Ulster weaver-poet poems, traditional ballads and original compositions, it’s one of the most beautiful and remarkable albums released this year.
Best album nominee CONOR MASON will play the Star of the Sea Chapel – the master of hook, harmony and heart, his air of richness and comforting warmth are perfect for a Sunday afternoon. RORY NELLIS, one of the country’s most respected songwriting voices, will play his new album in the Anchor.
The festival will culminate with a closing party in the Anchor with trad band Tippin it Up – expect a roaring turf fire and some special guests!
Atlantic Sessions is a Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council event curated by Snow Water.
Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Councillor Sean Bateson said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming thousands of music fans to Portrush and Portstewart for four very exciting days and nights in November.”
Director of Snow Water Carolyn Mathers commented:
“Northern Ireland is extraordinary in the richness of its talent and our artists are receiving international awards and acclaim. We look forward to hosting premieres of single, EP and albums, new collaborations that have been curated for the festival, all with the backdrop of incredible coastal scenery.”
Festival Pass and individual tickets are sale now at atlanticsessions.com or purchase from Visitor Information Centres in Ballycastle, Coleraine, Ballymoney & Limavady.
All others are admission free but early arrival is recommended.
For artist biogs, maps, travel and accommodation details, check out atlanticsessions.com