Sofa Sessions #5: Ulster Hall 150th Festival

Ulster Hall, BelfastIn January 2010, I kicked off the first Soul Ambition Sofa Session in my living room in south Belfast. Pairing visiting musicians with local performers, with a backdrop of original artwork and with intervals of poetry and stand-up, I wanted to host relaxed, intimate events creating special memories for audience and performers alike. I also wanted to give myself the opportunity to perform and develop as a musician. I’m beyond delighted to have been invited to bring the Sofa Sessions to one of our most iconic venues, the Ulster Hall, for their 150th Festival! On May 24th, I’ll host and perform with another eclectic mix of talented artists from near and far for an uncommon cabaret.


<img class="alignleft wp-image-1419" src="https://i1.wp .com/×199.jpg?resize=200%2C133″ alt=”Katie & the Carnival in a forest with colourful bunting and props” srcset=” 300w, 900w, 960w” sizes=”(max-width: 200px) 100vw, 200px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />Katie and the Carnival is the musical project of Belfast-based musician and actress Katie Richardson and her band. They are known for their energetic and engaging live performances and their music is soulful and harmony-driven with influences from folk, pop and torch song. Following a couple of sell-out special events last summer, the band have made several TV, radio and festival appearances and joined Foy Vance in the Ulster Hall for a magical gig last November. Katie has also worked with the likes of Duke Special, The Inishowen Gospel Choir, The Salt Flats, The Jane Bradfords and many more. “A proper spectacle, a visual treat. Oh, and the music’s great too… engaging is an understatement” — BBC ATL

Luke Slott sitting under a tree by a lakeLuke Slott is a singer, songwriter and composer from Dublin, Ireland. He plays piano, guitar and trumpet, and collaborates with a variety of musicians on both sides of the Atlantic. He has independently released four records including two volumes of his solo piano compositions, a collection of musical settings of Bahá’í prayers entitled Create in Me a Pure Heart and, most recently, a collection of songs with his own original lyrics entitled A Few Honest Words. He can often be seen playing his music on a full-size piano on the streets of Dublin.

Little Bear on a pierFormed in late 2011 in Derry, Little Bear are a three-piece band who play a blend of melodic harmonies with rhythmic structure and atmosphere. Little Bear’s single I’d Let You Win was chosen as Stephen Mc Cauley’s “Flavour of the Month” on BBC Introducing Radio 1 and has been described by Phil Taggart as “glorious and haunting” and was played on BBC Introducing, ATL and Electric Mainline in the first two weeks since its release. Little Bear have just finished recording their first E.P which is due for release in coming months.

Ursula Burns with her harpBelfast-born singer/songwriter Ursula Burns grew up in a musical family and promptly ran away to join the circus in a vain attempt to escape the fate which awaited her — living as a musician in Northern Ireland. After many years and a few thousand miles walking with a horse drawn Theatre Company, ”Horse and Bamboo”, she decided to come back home and face the music by writing songs. She has worked with many Irish and International artists from Jackson Browne, Beth Orton, Billy Bragg, Duke Special, Laim O Maonlai, Keiran Kennedy, the Blue Nile to Eimear Quinn and many more, and has performed everywhere from burning fire escapes to the Royal Albert Hall. Buy her a drink to hear the fire escape story.


Nathanial McAuley“People remember their lives in snippets of significant events rather than huge big sprawling narratives. But after you’ve covered all that big stuff, you start to become more interested in that beautiful forgotten in-between sprawl bit. You burrow deeper into your mind and work on a micro image of your life. You become impassioned by the seemingly mundane. It’s a seriously exciting way to live!”

So says Belfast’s Nathaniel Joseph McAuley, who’ll be performing his poetry between musical sets at this special edition of the Soul Ambition Sofa Sessions.

Live Art

Jamie Harper painting of Xavier Cardriche and audience at Sofa Sessions #4Whitehead-based artist Jamie Harper has regularly delighted attendees of previous Sofa Sessions, with his live paintings of both the performers and the spellbound audience members. Capturing the atmosphere of the event in pen and ink, his stealthy portraits will be available to buy as souvenirs at the end of the event.

In between sets, I’ll be performing and talking with the artists — be prepared for a bit of audience interaction too! Tickets are only £5 for all of this multi-disciplinary talent, and can be booked on 02890 334455, or via the “book tickets” link here.

Ulster Hall 150th Festival logo

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1 Response

  1. September 14, 2014

    […] to move it to a prestigious venue, with a load of mics and cables and all the rest – but Sofa Sessions #5 could not have gone better. Excuse the Oscar carry-on here – if you weren’t there, […]

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