WE welcome you back to this week's Northern Winds column, where we trudge on with heavy heads following the celebration of the North's music scene.
The NI Music Prize, the culmination of a year's worth of talent and creativity, has concluded and it may have been the best year to date since its inception 11 years ago.
Hundreds gathered for the award ceremony and live performances, coming together to celebrate the creatives, faces and personalities that make our scene so strong. Punk acts Problem Patterns and Chalk picked up the Best Music Video and Best Live award respectively, whilst also giving two standout performances at the venue, the legendary Ulster Hall. The former also made a rousing statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people that sent ripples through the crowd and still gives me goosebumps recalling it days after.
Other awards were picked up by fan-favourites MoonBoot, who nabbed the Best Single award for 'To U', and TRAMP, who picked up the BBC Introducing Artist Of The Year Award. Whilst they already had a special place in my heart and ears, thanks to their riotous live acts and expertly written tracks, that place has grown fonder and larger after the act dedicated their win to the victims and civilians in the Gaza Strip and Palestine. The future of our scene is in safe hands, methinks.
The main prize, alongside Paul Brady picking up the Legend award, went to folk singer Arborist. A veteran of the awards process and someone who has picked up a few winning nominations in the past, Arborist's seminal LP 'An Endless Sequence Of Dead Zeros' smacks of a classic already, an album you could return to in a decade and it wouldn't have aged a day.
A worthy winner and an album we should be proud to call our Best Of The Year.
In the South, things have got increasingly exciting surrounding Other Voices. The final festival to close out the year in Ireland, it draws punters from all over the world to Dingle, County. Kerry. The pilgrimage is long, but the rewards are worth it, with a fresh host of new acts announced earlier this week for the headline slots. Previously mentioned prize winners Arborist, TRAMP and Problem Patterns were announced alongside a host of other talent, whilst headline performances number acts like CMAT, ØXN, Gurriers and Mick Flannery.
After supporting singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers on her Irish dates, Irish folk act Ye Vagabonds announced a collaboration between Bridgers and supergroup boygenius (which features Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker). The two released a charity single, a reworking of the Sinéad O’Connor version of ‘The Parting Glass’. All proceeds from the Interscope-released record will go towards the Aisling Project, an after-school project working with children and young people growing up in a disadvantaged area in Dublin, chosen by the Sinéad O’Connor Estate.
And as always, this week's column ends with a spotlight on some of the best new music from our shores recorded by independent musicians. And as we approach the Christmas season, the output has not dipped even one iota. Take the newest record from Mount Palomar, the polymath producer and creative behind recent collaborations with acts like Enola Gay. 'Embers' is the latest showing, featuring vocals from Harry Wilkinson, who sings with alternative act Maruja. An experimental voyage through dance, drum and bass and techno traditions, it's a banger from start to finish.