Stephen Dunwoody and his band the Mono Trio present ‘The songs of Nina Simone’ at 1st Church Belfast on Wednesday 11th December. The event marks the launch of the album ‘Finding Nina’.
‘Finding Nina’ 60 years on
Sixty years ago in December 1959, Nina Simone released a ground breaking live album ‘At the Town Hall’. That same month Chubby Checker released ‘The Twist’ and, in a curious twist of fate, The Noise Abatement Society’ was established!
Wind forward 20 years where a chance meeting in 1979 at a little jazz club in Paris was to shape a Belfast musician’s life and musical career.
Stephen explains, “I was in Paris with two friends at the time. We were away from home for the first time thanks to the wonder of Inter-Rail. Ninety quid and you could travel anywhere in Europe that took your fancy – for a whole month!
“No mobile phones then of course. You just said, ‘Bye mum, see you in a month’ and off you went. We were crossing Paris when we passed a club called Aux Trois Mailletz with a billboard outside advertising the legendary singer Nina Simone. I’d never even heard of her then, but thankfully my mate Fred had. He was really into his music and insisted we go in. It was dank, smokey underground cellar and at the far end, at a grand piano, sat Nina.
“She sat staring at the audience homing in on anyone who didn’t show respect (on one occasion, us!). I was learning piano at the time and I was blown away by her technique and confidence.
“It was a spine-chilling experience I would never forget.”
For four years Stephen presented the songs of Nina Simone at Culture Night in Belfast and, such was the success of the show, he has decided to put on a Christmas show at the same venue, 1st Church in Belfast – 60 years since the launch of Nina Simone’s seminal live album.
Stephen explains, “It is a stunning venue for music. I have never heard acoustics like it anywhere and their beautiful grand piano is a joy to play. The people there have been so nice to us over the years and I am delighted to be going back there for this CD launch.”
A gifted pianist/guitarist and vocalist, Stephen has played in numerous bands around Ireland, often playing support for major acts such as Jools Holland, The Corrs and Wishbone Ash.
His most recent Band, The Mono Trio have just finished a season at Bert’s Jazz Bar in the stunning Merchant Hotel in Belfast.
The Songs of Nina Simone at 1st Church Belfast on Wednesday 11th December at 8pm.