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Best of the west

Joanne’s band is doing just Dandy

By Francesca Ryan

A West Belfast woman is happily galloping along the path towards musical success with her bandmates.

Joanne Cassidy and her friends Noeleen Cosgrove and Seán Quinn together form the up and coming band the Dandy Horses who have just released their eponymous debut EP.

With growing support across the city and beyond, the band have a fairly hectic schedule ahead of them but Joanne, who’s from Andersonstown, took some time out to tell us about the trio and their music.

“We play a blend of folk, Irish traditional music and Americana,” said the 32-year-old. “We do a lot of three-part harmonies and play fiddle, flute and guitar so there is plenty going on.”

Joanne, who sings and plays the tin whistle, guitar and flute, has a full time job but is eager to make music her vocation.

“I first started out with the McPeakes,” she explained.  “Then I taught with Davey Music and it all took off from there. I love music and I’d love to make it a full-time thing, I really want to pursue it further.”

The former Rathmore pupil began as a solo artist and got airplay on Radio Ulster, but she believes the band working together is the key to success.

“We do a lot of our own stuff but we do covers too, like we would cover the Pogues, the Saw Doctors and the Corrs. People like that kind of music and it is always popular when we do it for weddings.

“My own musical influences include Mary Black, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young but I really enjoy live acoustic sets with the band and I think that works best for all of us so we are keen to pursue a career as a group.”

Talking about their upcoming performances, it is clear Joanne and the Dandy Horses are making waves in the local music scene.

“Now that we have released the EP, we have a few gigs coming up,” she said. “Next Thursday (January 31), we are playing at the Sunflower Folk Club in Union Street. It was a famous old folk bar in the 1970s and has been resurrected. It’s right up our street in terms of folk, so we are looking forward to that.

“We are also playing McHugh’s the night before (January 30) and have our regular gig at Lavery’s every Monday as well as a night in the Empire in March.

“We are very much looking forward to taking part in the Belfast Nashville Festival in February when we are playing Madison’s.  It’s a very exciting time for us and we have a lot to look forward to.”

For more information log on to the website www.thedandy or visit Joanne’s site at www.joannecassidy

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