Arts

Coming up: Joe Henry & Billy Bragg at The Ulster Hall, January 29

Billy Bragg and Joe Henry are bound for Ireland

LAST year, Billy Bragg and his American Grammy-winning singer-songwriter chum Joe Henry boarded a Los Angeles-bound train at Chicago's Union Station. While travelling along 2,728 miles of track, every time the train paused to pick up passengers for more than 20 minutes, the pair would disembark, find a convenient spot and break out their guitars to record a classic ode to the railroad.

Their current album Shine A Light: Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad offers a whistle-stop sessions-sourced document of this four-day journey recorded in waiting rooms, at track sides and other rail-related spots in St Louis, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Alpine TX, El Paso, Tucson and LA.

"Railroad songs provided the bedrock of American popular music, from Jimmie Rodgers 'The Singing Brakeman' to Leadbelly, whose repertoire provided several of the songs for this project," explains the British half of the duo.

"Lonnie Donegan's 1956 hit Rock Island Line' sparked the skiffle craze, inspiring a generation of British teens to pick up guitars and form the groups that invaded America in the 60s, from The Beatles to Led Zeppelin."

Billy and Joe will soon be bringing these songs to Belfast for the Out To Lunch Festival's finale at The Ulster Hall (Jan 29) in between gigs at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin (Jan 28) and Letterkenny's An Grianan Theatre (Jan 30).

Essential gigs for all trainspotters, skiffleheads and roots of rock'n'roll enthusiasts.

Tickets available from CQAF.com

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Arts