Americana Music Festival Hits Derry

Stripes and Stars Americana brings Northern Ireland's US-influenced acts to Derry~Londonderry

With music festivals cropping up nearly as often as instrumental bands in these parts, it's hard to stand out from the crowd. Martin Mullan, however, thinks there is a niche to be filled in Derry~Londonderry this July. He is aiming for the stars, and the stripes too for that matter.

Stripes and Stars Americana Festival rolls into Derry over the July 1-2 weekend. Events will take place in the Nerve Centre and the Waterside Theatre, with a film screening and live musical performances from many of Northern Ireland's most promising state-side influenced musicians.

Likening the simmering folk scene in Northern Ireland to the impact made by the invasion of punk, organiser Mullan is confident that the festival will reflect the listening public's passion for all things Americana, as well as showcase the best in local talent.

'It's a conversation amongst cultures,' Mullan says. 'A reciprocal gesture of American culture across the water. With essentially Northern Ireland-based Americana artists, we're not just trying to have commentary on history, we're having a commentary on the future.'

The artists featured in the festival line-up boast a variety of folk, blues and alternative country, with the likes of Captain Kennedy, The Lowly Knights, The 1930s and American singer/songwriter, Rachel Austen (pictured above) on show.

In addition, the Nerve Centre will also be showing Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show at 5pm on the Saturday (July 2). The Last Picture Show was one of the first feature films to make solid use of contemporary music in its soundtrack, which features American greats like Hank Williams.

Citing Obama's reference to the two 'diasporas' in Ireland during his recent visit, Mullan expects both communities to find something of interest. He intends to 'challenge perceptions' across the divide.

'We want to have a complete city experience, rather than having it on just one side of the water. What we're trying to do is build something that's positive for the city. As a beacon for 2013, this is a perfect example of how culture should be experienced. Our goal was in year one to start small, work local and come in at the right price. Have lots of free opportunities as well.'

What Mullan wants to avoid doing at all costs, however, is forcing the 'Star Spangled Banner' down people's throats. 'It has to happen organically, the way Terri Hooley started the punk movement in Belfast,' he adds.

You can't argue with that kind of passion, and with the City of Culture 2013 celebrations just two years away, there may be enough time yet for Stripes and Stars Americana to live the American Dream.

Tickets for Stripes and Stars Americana can be purchased online from the official website. Weekend passes are £10 and single day tickets are £6. The full line-up as well as venue times are detailed.

In conjunction with Stripes and Stars the Nerve Centre is also showing The Last Picture Show at 5pm on the Saturday (July 2).