Weekend Q&A: Singer/songwriter Jackie Rainey

Singer-songwriter Jackie Rainey (43) will be supporting Spandau Ballet lead singer Tony Hadley in Larne on August 27, writes Jane Hardy

Singer/songwriter Jackie Rainey
Singer/songwriter Jackie Rainey Singer/songwriter Jackie Rainey

How do you unwind at the weekend?

My world is upside down and my weekend is Monday to Wednesday. I lead the Bangor Open House Festival choir on Tuesday nights, taking 63 people of all ages through arrangements of songs like Mr Blue Sky, The Caravan of Love, Happy Together. To relax I would often go running in Bangor where I live – and when I visit my mum and sisters in Larne, up the coast, doing 25 miles at a time. I’m on a fitness thing after having a hysterectomy in January, actually the best thing ever. Doing two hours on stage is both exhausting and uplifting. I often do a couple of gigs in a day and play at Belfast's The Cloth Ear, The Spaniard and The Empire on Friday with my partner Emma on drums when everybody’s in a good after-work mood. Of course, Covid stopped everything and I remember touring as part of Sinéad O'Connor's band – we were in Chicago on Friday, then on the Monday it was over. She isn’t intense – but lovely – and performs barefoot.

What do you remember most about weekends growing up?

I learned how to play the guitar at Castlecombe Primary School in London, where there were nine in my group – with three classes of P5, P6 and P7 all put together. I can’t read music, I just work by ear. I used to work on farms so there was a lot of driving tractors. I’d also walk the dog, our Border Collie, a black and tan Lassie type-dog called Paddy. And I was in the rowing club and joined in the Irish championships. I was too short to be a rower, liked being the cox and telling the others what to do.

Lisa Tarbuck
Lisa Tarbuck Lisa Tarbuck

Do you have a must-listen radio programme or podcast?

Lisa Tarbuck’s show on Radio 2 – she’s very funny.

Is there a must-watch TV programme or Netflix?

Still Game – which is about a couple of old Scottish guys in a sketch show that’s crude and very funny. With my mother I watch The Repair Shop and am quite handy with DIY myself. I made my own guitar using jacaranda wood which is lovely. A guitar geek might hear its unique sound.

Is Sunday still special?

When I was young I was made to go to the local Presbyterian Church, but when I started working in bars, that was my get-out of going to church card. But I get that people gain something from it.

Do you have a favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?

Emma and I are foodies and I love Asian cuisine. My current obsession is bubble tea which I became aware of in Canada. It’s very sweet. We like going out to places like Six by Nico and Bo Tree Kitchen in Belfast, and The Guillemot and Joxer in Bangor.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

I love what I do, so I feel great.

Tony Hadley from 80s band Spandau Ballet
Tony Hadley from 80s band Spandau Ballet Tony Hadley from 80s band Spandau Ballet

Tony Hadley will be at the Clearer Water Antrim Coast Half Marathon event in the Live Lounge, Larne, August 27.