McSherry the toast of town

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LURGAN singer-songwriter Baz McSherry will be showcasing songs from his new album, ‘The Lookin’ Drawer’, live on home turf for the first time next week.

The album was launched earlier this year, and has met with much acclaim.

The guitarist recorded the album with Rachel Toman and her brother Johnny, a former member of Cat Malojian.

Although containing a heavy blend of classical, bluegrass and folk music, the sound of ‘The Lookin’Drawer’ falls very much under the influence of the legendary Planxty.

The operation has now expanded to include local musicians Darren and Alison Crossey.

The band will be performing their debut home gig in the Railway Bar next Wednesday (November 23).

Now that the album has been completed, Baz said he is looking forward to “getting out on the road”.

“It’s wonderful to finally have an album,” said Baz.

“I feel very lucky. The release of my album has certainly been the highlight of my career, considering the feedback we have been getting about it.

“We’re working hard now on getting out on the road. We’ve been practising flat out for this next gig.

“It has got to the point where I have actually been bringing my guitar to work to practice songs during my lunch breaks.

“After work, we go straight to practice, and we stay there to the early hours of the morning. I’ve been getting by on five hours sleep a night for the past few months.”

Baz started playing music at 14, after he saw an advert for a second hand guitar in the Lurgan Mail.

As luck would have it, the owner of the Gibson Epiphone was Johnny’s grandfather, Paddy Toman.

The largest influences on Baz’s music, and indeed his life, have been Christy Moore, Bob Dylan and Wally Page.

He began writing his own songs seven years ago, when he was 24, his first attempt coming in the form of his powerful anti-war song ‘Screenplay’.

“One New Year’s Day, while I was recovering from the night before, I made a new year’s resolution to write a song of my own,” he said.

“I had put the notion off for a long time. I suppose I had a fear of failure, but thankfully I overcame that.

“Song writing seems to come from somewhere other than yourself. If you think you own the song, you are wrong.

“It is something that can leave you as quickly as it comes to you.

“When the ability comes to you, the flood gates open. When that happens, my advice is to hold on to the gift with both hands.”

Baz released his first EP back in 2006, but he insists he sees ‘The Lookin’ Drawer’ as the goal he has been working towards.

He said: “I wasn’t overly happy with the song choice on my first EP. That’s something I have fixed with the new album.

“I’m working with fantastic musicians, and that has helped a lot.

“I was trying to find a suitable producer for years, but was unable to get the right one. It was extremely frustrating, as I was keen to get writing and recording.

“Then Johnny suggested that he would produce the album. He turned his three bedroom house into a recording studio and we took it from there.

“Once we started, we knew it was something special.”

He continued: “At the beginning we had ten songs listed which we wanted to record. In the end, only two of them actually made it onto the album. The rest were written during recording.”

The name of the album comes from Jonny’s studio, which is called the Lookin’ Drawer. It’s named after a special drawer in which Jonny’s granddad stored a collection of trinkets which fascinated his grandson.

Plans are now under way for the band to produce a new album, which is expected to be released sometime next year.

“I’m holding back on some of the songs for the next album,” said Baz.

“We are taking it in a very different direction in terms of song choice, but you will just have to wait and see when it comes out.”

The gig in the Railway Bar on Wednesday will also host banjo player and singer Damien O’Kane, bodhran player John Joe Kelly and local guitarist Gerdy Thompson.

Baz and the band will be joined by well renowned fiddle player Brendan Henry.

The show begins at 9pm.

Tickets are £8 and are available at the Railway Bar or by contacting Alison on acrossey@hotmail.com.

For more information, visit www.bazmcsherry.com.

Baz added: “If your brains are melted by X-Factor, you should come down to the Railway Bar to hear some real music.”