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Conor Linnie is from Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. His songwriting style blends together a driving rhythm with ornate melody lines to create a complex folk sound. He first developed an appreciation for fingerstyle guitar playing from the simple elegant rhythms of early Bob Dylan songs such as Girl From the North Country and Boots of Spanish Leather. The guitar styles of Paul Simon, John Martyn and Kristian Matsson are other key influences. His lyrical style draws from a variety of different sources, from the fiction of Herman Melville and the poetry of Louis MacNeice to the songs of The Temptations.
This summer Conor was invited to play a number of major Irish music festivals including Electric Picnic, Knockanstockan, The Jack of Diamonds Rhythm and Roots Festival and the 10 Days in Dublin Festival. His debut album is scheduled for release in early December 2012.
‘As soon as I heard Conor Linnie’s guitar skills, I stopped what I was doing, he had my full attention. His fingerstyle was flawless and beautiful, his voice melts superbly on to his guitar strings.’ – unsigned.imusician.org
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“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac
An Englishman and an Irishman, both travellers, step onto the same train at Chicago’s Union station and meet for the first time. Both are musicians, both singers, both songwriters. They’re broke, but intent on making their way by rail to Memphis, TN, the birthplace of Rock n Roll…
The conversation that followed revealed a mutual love for vocal harmony, the honesty of live performance and the sounds of the sixties.
That night, on a train that sent the young musicians hurtling through the darkening Illinois plains, Winter Mountain was born.
A fan of the beat poet movement and inspired by the 60’s folk resurgence in greenwich village, JR ‘Joe’ Francis from Cornwall, UK had spent a successful month writing and performing in New York City before heading West, stopping for a while in Chicago.
Marty Smyth from Donegal, Ireland had flown to California in search of sun, sea and the west coast soul that infused his favourite records of the 60’s and 70’s. After two weeks of exploring California’s rich musical heritage he began making his way East. After a 3 day journey he too found himself in Chicago.
Over the weeks that followed the two exchanged stories, lyrics, songs and sang together for the first time in the clubs and cafes of the deep south. Recognising the rare magic of their unique vocal blend they hatched together a plan to meet up once they had completed their travels.
A short time later a fortnight spent writing in Ireland led to a chance entry in a local Battle of the bands. For their first ever live performance Winter Mountain competed against the best unsigned talent Northern Ireland had to offer, and won. Their prize was two days in a Derry recording studio. The fruits of the session were enough to capture the heart of a local theatre owner who booked them to open for Irish singing luminary Cara Dillon.
Excited upon hearing Joe and Marty’s performance Dillon and husband/producer Sam Lakeman immediately signed Winter Mountain to their fledgling label, Charcoal Records. With a view to giving the two an experience that had eluded the couple during their years spent on Warners and Rough Trade Cara and Sam set about assembling a team of musicians who could help realise the vision that Winter Mountain had for their debut album.
With contributions from Robbie McIntosh (guitarist with McCartney, The Pretenders and John Mayer), Audrey Riley (string arranger for Coldplay and Nick Cave) and Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Pulp) the album was recorded in a host of vintage studios, from State of the Ark, Richmond to the legendary Rockfield in Wales, Mark Knopflers British Grove Studios and Sam and Cara’s own studio in rural Somerset.
The final, perhaps most extraordinary touch to the album was made when none other than Mike Crossey (Keane, Ben Howard, The Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg), intrigued upon hearing just a small amount of what Winter Mountain had to offer, stepped up in the midst of his hectic schedule to mix the first few tracks.
Interest and enthusiasm for Winter Mountain has grown enormously over the last few months. As well as performances at some of the UK and Irelands most prestigious venues and festivals, they were chosen by Rosanne Cash to open for her and husband John Leventhal when they toured the UK in 2012. While opening for some of Cara Dillons’ bigger shows they outsold her on the merchandise stand and, unbelievably, whilst opening for Sara Watkins (Nickle Creek, The Decemberists) they won over audiences so much that they were often given an encore, before the main act had even taken to the stage.
€5 on the door
AFTER THE GIG
Whelan’s Silent Disco from 11pm – 2 DJs, just pick the one you like best [Free before 11:30pm, €5 after] plus Late Bar.