Tuesday, 28 July 2015

He's been 'Seen on TV' - now you can see him in Macosquin

Last spring I set up a spoof Twitter account, just for a bit of fun.  But it all ended in tears - along with those of many thousands of others.  

My Twitter handle was @GarthBrooksHorse.  And, as luck would have it, I was pretending to be Garth Brooks' horse.  With the US country music big cheese due to play in front of more than 400,000 loopy fans over summer five nights in Dublin's Croke Park, I thought it might be a laugh to get involved.  And I did my research.  He most certainly did have a horse and I wanted to give it a voice as the hype surrounding his boss's Irish trip built to unfathomable heights.

And then Garth Brooks went and cancelled all his gigs.

To be fair, it wasn't entirely his fault.  He was originally booked for three, his promoters added two more, local nimbies complained, the council wouldn't extend his licence to cover five shows, and he huffed in his barn and wouldn't come out to play.  Literally.  He may still be there.  

Understandably, this left a lot of Garth fans feeling bereft.  Given that the entire population of Ireland is six million and around 400,000 of them had a concert ticket, well, go figure.

But a year after their crushing disappointment, there is finally something for Brooks devotees to look forward to.

Because on Sunday 23 August in the glorious village of Macosquin, Jason Hughes - Ireland’s best-loved Garth Brooks tribute act - will join other big names in the local country music scene to bring the curtain down on the inaugural Big Marquee Weekend.  

Pretty impressive, eh?

In case you've been living under a stone, the three-day music festival will take place in a professionally-erected marquee in the car park of Mary Pat’s Bar less than four miles from Coleraine.

It all kicks off on Friday 21 August with a clubland DJ night headlined by Ultra Beat and Micky Modelle.   

Bon Jovi tribute act Con Jovi and Oasis dead ringers Roll With are the star attractions on Saturday in a Rock v Britpop head-to-head, with Cellar Door and Adam Buick providing top notch support. 

And then on Sunday, mega-popular two-piece band JD County and the brilliant Ritchie Remo – whose version of 'Hit the Diff' has now attracted more than half a million views on YouTube – will join Jason in providing an all-day feast of country music.

My pal Drew Hutchinson, who is organising the event with Robert Todd and the bar’s proprietor Hughie Hamilton, told me he's been taken aback by the level of interest the Big Marquee Weekend has generated since being announced.

“What started off as quite a modest event when we first came up with the idea has really taken off,” said Drew, aka DJ Steady, who will also be spinning discs throughout the weekend.  

“Kerry McLean has talked about it on her BBC Radio Ulster afternoon show and it’s been getting lots of mentions on social media.

“We’re now getting ticket enquiries from all over Northern Ireland, from across the border and from England.

“The quality and variety of the acts over the three days has been the key and no one will leave disappointed – unless, of course, we sell out before they’ve managed to get their hands on a ticket.

“Jason's appearance has excited a lot of people, particularly after Garth Brooks decided not to bring his big hat to Dublin last year. 

“Disappointed Garth fans have had refund money burning a hole in their pockets for a whole year now.  And at just £12 for a full day of country music, they will still have plenty left after buying a ticket.  I know some of them are still hurting after Garth’s snub, but I think a few drinks from the marquee’s fully-kitted bar will help to ease the pain.”

Day tickets for the Big Marquee Weekend are priced at £10 for Friday and £12 on Saturday and Sunday.   A two-ticket is also available priced at £20.

Tickets can be purchased from Mary Pat’s Bar, Romaya Hair Sanctuary in Coleraine or by calling Tel: 028 7034 4659.

If you are a Garth fan and you did have a ticket to see him in Dublin, just remember how you felt when you heard he wasn't coming.

Do you want to feel like that again?  Well?  Do you?  Not nice, was it?  No, it wasn't.

Please don't go back to that dark place.  Get your Big Marquee Weekend tickets while they still remain - and I'll make sure Jason turns up. 

I wonder if he has a horse...