Northern Ireland Bureau and iBAM! present two fast-rising stars in the music strata, Hannah McPhillimy and Amanda St. John. Joining these two talented ladies is Chicago's own John Williams and some of his gifted friends! Join us on Sunday October 28 at 5pm in the auditorium of the Irish American Heritage Center at 4626 N Knox Ave in Chicago. Tickets are only $10
Originally hailing from Northern Ireland’s rugged North Coast, Belfast-based songwriter Hannah McPhillimy’s thoughtful music brings jazz-inflected indie warmth against a windswept backdrop. With her beguiling voice and ear for melody, paired with unguarded, reflective narratives, she has prompted comparisons to the likes of Feist, Regina Spektor and Daughter, all the while carving out her own distinctive path.
Since the launch of her debut EP Seeing Things in 2013, Hannah’s subsequent records have garnered acclaim for their diversity and ingenuity: working with anti-slavery charity No More Traffik to record the a cappella collection Freedom Songs, launched at a sell-out gig at Belfast’s historic Crumlin Road Gaol; and most recently, teaming up with author Jan Carson to record Disappear Here, a set of songs inspired by Jan’s novel Malcolm Orange Disappears.
With a back catalogue of appearances including RTE’s Other Voices, with Go Wolf at SXSW, supporting slots with The Gloaming, SOAK, Gungor and Foy Vance - never mind a Culture NI trade delegation to Brussels - Hannah has developeda more sophisticated sound and into a bolder artistduring a couple of action-packed years.
Now, her new record Wind Machine is the culmination of lessons learnt on the road and in the studio. With a fuller band, a completely analogue recording process working alongside the legendary Julie McClarnon (King Creosote, Neutral Milk Hotel), and a desire to explore new boundaries, Hannah’s latest music is packed full of surprises.
Amanda St. John
Amanda St John is a soulful singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland. She is a mainstay on the Irish radio, festival and gig circuit and has been described as a "Head-turning vocalist with serious song writing prowess.........a sensational artist" (Visit Dublin).
Her debut album 'Grow' was launched in May 2016 to a full house at the prestigious Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast and has received rave reviews and worldwide airplay including a national advert campaign for The Rio Olympics for the title track ‘Grow'. The product of a year's worth of recording and a lifetime's worth of experience, the soul, blues and pop-tinged opus is imbued with an uplifting sense of positivity throughout and serves as something of a much needed sonic tonic for these dark times.
Speaking of dark times, St John has had more than her fair share of them in the past, but she has used them as fuel for her muse. In fact a near death experience (in 2011) which saw her fighting for her life 300ft down the side of a mountain after a serious car accident actually gave birth to her career as a songwriter as she resolved to make her time of Earth count. Amanda has found that people are very inspired by her story of overcoming self-doubt, starting again and fully committing to living her dream.
She has worked with artists like Brian Kennedy, Duke Special, Eddi Reader, Mary Coughlan, Ciaran Gribbin (of INXS) and Jon Tiven (Grammy winning Nashville writer/producer who has worked with BB King, Van Morrison and The Rolling Stones etc...). Gaining substantial media interest in Ireland and the UK including extensive airplay on the BBC and RTE as well as reviews in Hotpress Magazine & The Irish Times; Amanda has started to gain nationwide interest in the UK with upcoming live sessions on BBC Radio London as well as recently recording for legendary broadcaster ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris.
Known for her passionate and powerful live performances Amanda is fast establishing herself as one of Ireland’s leading vocalists, with many festival slots and an ongoing tour of UK and Ireland 2017 is set to be her best year yet!
John Williams is internationally regarded as one of the foremost players of Irish music today. With five All-Ireland titles to his credit, John is the only American-born competitor ever to win first place in the Senior Concertina category. His additional talents on flute, button accordion, bodhran, and piano distinguish him as a much sought after multi-instrumentalist in the acoustic scene around the world.
Born and raised on the Southwest Side of Chicago, John spent his summers during college on the Southwest coast of Ireland in his father’s village of Doolin, Co. Clare. Like Chicago, Doolin became a major musical crossroads for John and countless other local and international musicians to meet and exchange music. Gigging every night in the pubs of Doolin and Lisdoonvarna soon led to performances in Galway, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Paris, Britanny, Zurich, and New York City.
Forming the groundbreaking Solas in 1995 with Seamus Egan, Winifred Horan, Karan Casey and John Doyle, Williams received wider recognition playing to sold out audiences internationally and earning two NAIRD awards and Grammy nominations for the ensemble's 1996 and 1997 releases Solas and Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers. The Irish national broadcasting network RTE has featured Williams as the subject of the radio program The Long Note, the television series The Pure Drop, and the Gaelic language and music programs Geantrai and Failte.
Outside of traditional music, John has collaborated on productions with Gregory Peck, Doc Severinson, Studs Terkel, Mavis Staples, jazz pianist Bob Sutter, bluegrass legend Tim O'Brien, Syrian oud player Kinan Abou Afach, Oscar winning director Sam Mendes, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Irish Chamber Ensemble. U.S. audiences recognize Williams from numerous appearances on Mountain Stage, A Prairie Home Companion and The Grand Ol' Opry as well as guest performances with The Chieftains, Nickel Creek, and Riverdance.
On the silver screen, John Williams appears as a bandleader, music consultant, and composer in Dreamworks' classic Chicago thriller Road to Perdition. Centrally featured in the Academy Award-Nominated score by Thomas Newman, Williams' autumnal Perdition Piano Duet was released on the 2002 Universal soundtrack album as performed in the film by stars Paul Newman and Tom Hanks. Regarding the original piece by Williams, The Los Angeles Times wrote “Closeness is beautifully and wordlessly conveyed in a quiet piano duet...a lovely thing.” Reviewing the entire score, The Denver Post printed “Brilliant, beautiful, brutal...the music in the film feels almost like a character itself.”
In August 2003, Chicago Magazine selected Williams in their annual Best of Chicago issue as one of the city's finest instrumentalists. His acclaimed duet album Raven with guitarist Dean Magraw was released last year on Compass Records of Nashville. John has recently performed in Scotland with Dean Magraw and Solas to capacity audiences at the Trongate Theatre and the Royal Concert Hall of Glasgow as well as recording a live radio special for The Folk Show on BBC Northern Ireland. The music and the fun were flowing this Easter when John Williams swung back into O’Connor’s and McDermott’s Pubs of Doolin for ten incredible nights with Christy Barry, Eoin O’Neill, Kevin Griffin, Noel O’Donoghue, Michael Kelliher, Sean Tyrell, Amy Shoemaker, and Terry Bingham.