Paper Dogs Score Sunflowerfest Slot

Belfast four-piece confirmed to play the Hillsborough weekender after emerging as winners of the inaugural Grass Roots band competition

Belfast blues rockers Paper Dogs have been announced as the winners of the inaugural Sunflowerfest 'Grass Roots' band competition. Throughout recent months heats have been held for the competition across Northern Ireland, including in Bangor, where the four-piece took the top prize.

The winners from each heat then played a final gig to an enthusiastic crowd in Voodoo, Belfast this week, where judges nominated Paper Dogs as the firm favourite on the night. The group will now get the opportunity to perform a full set on the Barn Stage at the Hillsbrough festival, known for its inviting array of music, arts and family activities, at 1.50pm on Friday, August 5.

Paper Dogs comprises Chris Rooney (guitar and vocals), Nick McCully (guitar), Mark Mahood (bass) and Kris Young (drums). Having formed in 2012, the band record their own material at Vega studio in Bangor and produced their latest EP with Chris Ryan at the Oh Yeah Centre's Start Together studio. They hope the chance to play at Northern Ireland's fastest growing festival will provide a step up and help them reach a greater audience than ever.

Speaking at the competition Chris Rooney said: 'Playing Sunflowerfest is going to be the highlight of our summer. When we entered Grass Roots, we just wanted decent exposure and to meet other bands we could gig with in the future; we didn’t think we’d win. Now we’re going to be playing among 120 of the best acts in Northern Ireland and further afield; we can’t wait to get down to the farm.'

Inspired by bands '70s artists such as Thin Lizzy and contemporary acts including Graveyard, Paper Dogs are distinguished by their groove-heavy blues rock sound and will be performing original songs as they take to the Sunflowerfest stage. Those in attendance can also expect to hear new material from the band's forthcoming EP, due for release this summer.

Michael Magowan, festival organizer, said: 'We are absolutely over the moon that Paper Dogs have taken home the Grass Roots crown. We couldn’t be more proud of the band. Right from the beginning they have been amazing to work with, from the initial heat through to the final, and we see big things in the group’s future.'

'Very well done to Chris, Nick, Mark and Kris. We can’t wait to see them live on stage at Sunflowerfest this summer and we will continue to support them as much as we can.'

Sunflowerfest takes place at Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough, from August 5 to 7. As has come to be expected, the music line up covers all genres with a wide range of international and homegrown acts confirmed across six diverse stages.

Weekend tickets available from £79.95 per adult and each adult ticket admits two children aged 15 and younger for free. Day tickets are also available at £28. For further details visit