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03 September 2012
Paddy Nash’s latest album with his band The Happy Enchiladas is a fairly decent
representation of the man himself. It’s upbeat, thought provoking and it gets to the point
in a way that isn’t over imposing. Most of all, after listening, you’ll be left with a
smile on your face.
During an otherwise mediocre day on Thursday, I had one of those smiles on my face after a
chat with the Derry singer songwriter who handed me a copy of the album where he quickly
scribbled, ‘keep er lit - Paddy.’ It was a requested signature of course and one he was a
bit embarrassed to give. The Creggan born singer isn’t really a man for autographs or
egos. The practical attitude to his music is one he’s gained in pubs and at parties where
he’s spent the best part of his life gigging and trying to earn a crust from the thing he
Paddy, as he says cheerfully, was born in the back of an ambulance on Spencer Road.
The ambulance had to pick up a few extras along the way due it having been a particularly
bad day for rioting but together with his late mother Patsy, Paddy eventually arrived at
Altnagelvin unscathed. The youngest of a family of ten there wasn’t a lot of fuss over his
hurried birth. His mother Patsy left the hospital just hours after she’d first reported
Paddy like thousands of others, was a child of the Troubles, although he didn’t see it
like that at the time. He’s immortalised the era in the fourth song on his album, aptly
titled, ‘Rubber Bullets’. It’s not a political ballad, it’s life in Derry, during the
conflict, from the point of view of a little boy who just wants to pay on the monkey bars
- and it’s well worth a listen.
“We definitely grew up in dangerous times but when that’s your life and those are your
surroundings, you make the best of it and you don’t actually realise when you’re a child
how dangerous it really is,” says Paddy.
He grew up in Rathmore Heights, beside the reservoir in Creggan.
Together with close childhood friends Jimmy Friel and Terry O’Kane, he has fond memories
of growing up and finding his feet, which at one point were uncomfortably situated at the
bottom of a highly questionable pair of burgundy flares.
“We were great friends and we were very into the whole Madness scene in the late
seventies. There was one Christmas I really wanted a pair of burgundy drainpipes, Everyone
was going to be wearing them but instead I ended up with a pair of maroon flares that my
mother had bought in Vij’s stores. They were obviously not the look I was going for but I
remember wearing them to midnight Mass and being mortified!”
It’s just one of the many colourful anecdotes that make Paddy the Derry man that he is.
Chatty and with a real sense of humanity, both these qualities combine seamlessly in the
man and his writing.
After a short time at St Joseph’s Boys School in Creggan, Paddy found himself at the Derry
Workshop on Bishop Street. It was there, under the mentoring of Derry musicians Eamon
Toland and Liam Nelis, that his interest in music was first awakened and initially
“The workshop brought me out of my shell at that point and I learned so much about music,”
“Liam Nelis taught me so much about the kind of music that I might not otherwise have had
access to and it was around then that I started writing songs, I was taking bits and
pieces from the music I was listening to. I always remember a great quote from Morrissey
where he said that great artists borrow from other artists, but geniuses steal! I suppose
when you start out that’s what you’re doing really.”
Paddy cites his influence best on the biog on his website
“Inspired by the Country collection of me Da, the Rocker collection of our Peter, the Punk
collection of our Jimmy and the New Wave collection of our Sean, both me and our Paul (the
two youngest) started to make our own sounds on cheap guitars bought on the never-never,”
Paddy’s first band had a memorable, of its time name. Inspired by the Australian soap
opera, he was one of the founding members of Mrs Mangel’s Boys.
The band - Paddy confesses - enjoyed a short musical career. It was around this time he
found himself working at the youth club in Dove House and after a few impromptu
performances in the Bogside Inn, then owned by Terry Crossan, he secured his first regular
paid for slot playing in the then popular bar.
“They were great days and I was delighted to have a regular gig,” he says.
He then went on to become a founder member of award winning band The Whole Tribe Sings.
Their most popular hit ‘Happy’ was picked up by Guinness and used to promote Harp in the
US. A trip to America followed for the Derry band but in hindsight it was an adventure
that Paddy admits didn’t work out.”
A combination of the wrong management and bad timing meant the band were left high and dry
in the States and subsequently returned home to Derry. At that point, with a need to bring
money in, Paddy applied for a job. He started working in Xtravision where he stayed for
eleven years until, inspired by his partner Diane, he returned to his love of music.
The Happy Enchiladas were formed in 2009, and released their first album in 2010. The
feedback was good, even overwhelming, according to Paddy.
“We got 1,000 albums pressed and we were getting so many letters, emails and phonecalls.
It was really heartening, it really gave us the drive to keep going,” he says.
Two years later the hype over the Happy Enchiladas shows no sign of going away. After an
extensive tour of England and a recent ‘legenderry’ performance at Ebrington during the
Paddy has also enjoyed huge solo success playing the LeftField stage at Glastonbury in
2011 and supporting Billy Bragg on his Irish tour.
Paddy’s not holding back when it comes to grabbing opportunities during the City of
Culture year. He says other artists have a responsibility to grab the bull by the horns as
well and capitalise on the fact that Derry is set to be put on the world stage for all the
“When I played at Ebrington it was an amazing feeling. I can say that for the first time
in my life I felt like I was having an out of body experience. Standing there on stage
looking over at the Guildhall, I never thought I’d get to look out at the town from that
view. It was amazing. I think we have really exciting times ahead of us and I want to be a
part of all that. I’m really looking forward to next year.”
In the meantime, thanks to Arts Council funding, Paddy’s working on new material.
On paper he’s self employed and that, he admits, is slightly daunting. But people like
Paddy tend not to live their lives on paper and for that reason, fans have a lot to be
All life is there inside the sleeves of The Happy Enchiladas album. In the writing and the
music it has all been covered. A perfect mix of people, politics and powerful lyrics have
firmly re-established him as one of the North West’s best and most popular performers. And
he’s not going away, you know.
Visit www.paddynash.co.uk for performance dates and see local press. Paddy Nash and the
Happy Enchiladas’ latest album ‘Times of Transition’ is now on sale and the band will play
the Foyle Folk Festival at the courtyard at Cafe Soul, Shipquay Place on Sunday September
Glasgowbury 2012 reflections:
I go to bed tonight with a rosy glow. It may be the two brandies I've had to celebrate the success of another
Glasgowbury Festival. However, I don't think so.
Since coming home tonight I've had time to reflect on the last few days.
I arrived in the Glasgowbury office on Friday morning and after the big welcoming hugs I was presented with my
'Trader's Liason' folder. All neatly typed up and containing all the information I would need to carry out my tasks over
the festival. This year we have had volunteers and placement students in the office and it has definitely taken some of
Stella Glasgow's workload off her. What many people won't know is that she works incredibly hard on a voluntary basis.
She is a mistress of multi-tasking and is a wonder to behold. I have never known how she does it, she isn't the height
of two turfs! This year, she had extra help and it was good to know that.
Armed with my file I headed to Eagles Rock. Big smiles from the crew greeted us and plenty more hugging! The crew
had already marked out the traders pitches for me, I was delighted. The site was looking fantastic with the new
addition of the circus tent. I spotted my favourite clown bouncing towards us, Crazy, who was managing the crew.
Another big warm hug for me and man-huggin for him and Paddy.
At some point we sat down to warm tomato soup and egg and scallion sandwiches (the only food for a day on a
mountain) and looked out over Mid-Ulster, it was stunning. I listened to the site machinery and above that the laughter
and banter. The sun was high, the wind warm and gentle and I was happy in that place, in that company and in that
Traders arrived like clockwork at the arranged time, some new to us and some old hands. Some catching up on family
news and current affairs and much talking about the weather. I reassured them about Paddy Glasgow's ritual - putting
a hard-boiled egg in a tin bucket around May time, hasn't failed yet. There would be festival sun as ordered.
There were a few surprise visitors who I was delighted to see, the Family Monds, Bridie (SOAK sporting a new tattoo - I
have to confess to wanting to lift her and put her in my pocket. Talented, with her star on the rise for sure, but a wee
dote to boot, with the loveliest parents as well). Gemma Bradley, friends and mammy Patricia - excited about her debut
performance at the festival came along as well.
The day passed and by ten o'clock it was time to depart and have an early night. However, the car pulled up outside the
Cellar Bar and in we went for a quick drink. Huddled outside chatter about the festival was in full flow - the anticipation
was high. There was a great sense of us all being in it together. People in Draperstown turn out time after time to
support live music in all the ways they can. I love them for that. They are some of the best people you could meet, they
are also a bunch of mad hallions, in the loveliest sense of the word.
I didn't sleep very well in one of the most comfortable beds on the planet in Apparo, I was too excited, maybe a little
anxious - I'm not sure. If you have never stayed there, you should, a gorgeous boutique hotel, wonderful food, friendly
staff. Highly recommended - tell Mary and Peter I sent you.
Festival morning came bright and very early. Delicious breakfast, power shower and the car packed with stuff for all
weathers but especially the sun! We keep the faith about Glasgowbury I'll have you know.
It would take too long to tell you about all the people I met, all the good conversation I had, all the hugs so I'll cut it
down. I can do that if I have to you know!!
By eleven o'clock the gates were ready to be opened and we couldn't wait. The crew had worked like trojans to make up
for time lost due to the terrible weather conditions earlier in the week. I salute them!
Gates opened and in they came in all their festival colour, all ages and all up for the day ahead.
The line-up this year was fantastic and all stages were blasting out the best of new music, something for everybody. If
what you found at one stage didn't tickle your eardrums you could move on to another which would. I met people who
have been coming for years and lots of Glasgowbury virgins.
Faces painted, temporary tattoo's, funny costumes, mad hats and wellies appeared all over the place. The smell coming
from the food traders drifted through.
I caught some of John Deery AndtheHeads, Ard Ri Band and Katie & The Carnival. It's mad how much music we miss
when working at the festival.
The stilt-walkers arrived and delighted and scared the crowd in equal measures. They are my nephews and really good
at their craft. One of them, Tyler did the drawings for our new album.
At eight o'clock I drove Brian (Stella's daddy) down home and managed to have a quick wash, up and down to
Draperstown, showered and dressed in an hour - not bad!!
Disaster - I was hoarse from all the talking and shouting over the music all day and we had a show to put on at twenty
Thank Rod we weren't doing any slow songs anyway is all I can say.
I tried not to talk for the hour beforehand, I did try....really hard. Then Harry, the lovely Emma McLaughlins partner
suggested I warm up my voice - so off I went to do that.
Well....The Eagles Rock tent was jammed to the rafters and we know the crowd was as big outside. I thought I was
imagining it when the crowd started to sing along on the very first song, but I didn't - they actually were and that's
what happened the whole way through. I felt like a Saw Doctor!! At some points when the lights turned on the crowd I
felt my heart physically lift. I could see our friends, fellow musicians dancing and singing alongside the stage. We won't
appear in any Across the Line footage or reportage, we might not even get reviewed by some of the 'cooler...?'
reporters but we don't care, we really don't. What matters to us is what happened in that tent, in that place, at that
time....we had a ball and it felt like the audience did too. We, between us all created a lovely vibe. I asked everyone to
turn to someone they didn't know and hug them. You would have had to be looking from the stage to see what
happened, another warm fuzzy feeling came over me. I looked across at Paddy during one of the songs and I knew he
was feeling the same, we were so chuffed.
This post may be too sugary for some but it's the way of it, so this may be the time to turn away (if you're still reading
After we finished, I checked back to make sure the traders were closing up, legged it to the main stage in time for
Therapy's final two songs. I didn't really rate them, thinking they might be a little too heavy for me, but they were
fantastic and I take it all back!!
Once the site cleared we chatted a while with other musicians/friends. keith Harkin kissed my sweaty head (he's
game!), we chewed the fat on the day and there were all the goodbye/goodnight hugs to be had. Some off to party
some more and some off to bed.
One of the highlights of my day was seeing the Nashman and Paddy G DJ together. I had spent all week listening to my
Paddy choose his tunes and make his jingle. Once he had it down to 35 songs I had to dance-test them for him in
order that he made his final selection. I did it under pressure I might add. He had loads of fun doing it and he danced
his wee heart out up in the DJ box. His dancing may not have been the coolest, but I thought he was cute!
Anyway, it's happened now and in a few weeks we begin planning for Glasgowbury 2013.
To all who worked on it, and there were many, to all who came and supported it, I thank you.
To those who came to see us, and you know who you are, we all know it was special and we thank-you from the
bottom of our Enchilada hearts.
You know I'm reminded that if you bring good people together with a shared interest and the sun shines on them then
the result of that is joy.
19 June 2012
Paddy Nash and the Happy Enchiladas' Times of Transition sews a world of music together
PADDY Nash and the Happy Enchiladas have been described as 'a band on a mission'. With a
new album, packed gig schedule and upcoming collaboration with Billy Bragg it's easy to
see why, writes Anne-Marie Gallagher.
The band are stalwart live performers and their second album, Times of Transition, manages
to capture that. Lead Enchilada, Paddy Nash, said it was important to produce an album
that retained that live sound “With the technology available these days it’s really easy
to get carried away. There are many different styles of music on there but that’s the way
I write. People say my songs are like mini-movies so if it was a film I would describe it
as an ‘Action packed comedy with a few sad moments’.”
Times of Transition is a smart, funny and at times heartbreaking collection of songs that
look at what's going on in the world through individual characters and memories. These are
sewn together by 3D vocals from Paddy himself and Diane Greer. It manages to bring
together different styles and types of songs without seeming disjointed. 'Works of Art'
is the opening track and one to dance to, it tells the story of two local characters
Skippy and Betty whilst 'Fire on the Water' is a gentle lullaby that showcases Diane's
Nash uses 'Rubber bullets' to describe an army raid in Creggan through the eyes of his six
year old self, whilst 'The Moneyman's Dead' is a scathing criticism of the bankers
bailout. This kind of material has seen the band often described as political “I think
politics has become something of a dirty word in this country. It always seems to throw up
the old orange and green cards. But Politics is all around us in all shapes and forms
because that’s the society we choose to live in.”
“We all helped create an environment where it’s okay for Bankers to condemn us to the
worst recession in history and still pay themselves hefty bonuses, where it’s okay for big
businesses to trade here and pay their taxes in small havens like Zug or wherever, where
it’s accepted that severely disabled people will have to go through vigorous and demeaning
tests to prove they’re worthy of the pittance they get to live on. A society where so
called Christians try to take this moral high ground when it comes to Gay people wanting
to get married. Meanwhile, all our crowd are worried about is their ‘Identity’ sort it
Folk-Punk and protest singer Billy Bragg has become a fan and supporter of the Happy
Enchiladas. He is set to perform with them in Derry soon and is working with them on a
music project that will go into Jails here “I wrote a song called Billy Bragg Jeans, a
love song about an old pair of £5 jeans I had for years. He heard it and liked it enough
to plug us on his Facebook page. I was chuffed to say the least so I sent him an album.”
“About 6 months later he was playing in The Empire in Belfast and I sneaked backstage to
say hello. We chatted like old cousins. He said he loved the album and invited me over to
perform at the Leftfield stage at Glastonbury that summer. I must have done alright
because then he asked me to play support for him on his Irish Tour last year. We had the
best of craic travelling around Ireland, with Diane acting as my Tour Manager.”
“Since then we’ve launched Jail Guitar Doors in the prisons here. It’s a charity that
Billy set up to provide musical instruments to help with the rehabilitation process in
memory of Joe Strummer. I’m starting classes in Magilligan in July. I also hope to have
Billy come over to Derry next year as part of a weekend event I’m organising amongst other
things. So watch this space.”
The band will be performing at Ebrington on the 5th July as part of the Clipper
celebrations before hitting the festival circuit in England and headlining the Eagles Rock
stage at Glasgowbury on the 21st July. Paddy is also looking forward to the potential for
next year's City of Culture “I think the new Peace Bridge has definitely helped to broaden
the city and the potential of a new shared space like Ebrington Square is really exciting.
I think it’s important that the council and others start taking a look at what’s going on
locally and support the music that’s on their doorstep but I also think it’s mainly up to
local musicians themselves to get involved. We have a fantastic platform to showcase what
I think is the best music scene in Ireland at the minute. Put on your own gigs, appeal to
the powers that be for funding or whatever but don’t wait for them to come calling.
Counter culture can be as big if not bigger, look at the Edinburgh Fringe.”
The “album with a message” can sometimes be hard work to listen to, but not here. Paddy
Nash and the Happy Enchiladas have managed to craft an album of great tunes whilst also
making you think about what's going on in the world now.
01 June 2012
Grasp 2013 initiative’ - Paddy Nash
Derry’s wealth of working musicians have been urged to grasp the opportunities the city’s
year as culture capital will offer.
Paddy Nash - widely regarded as one of the city’s finest singer songwriters and who today
launches a new album with his band of Happy Enchiladas - says 2013 is every bit as much
about the musicians who work day in day out in the city as it is about big names who are
Derry bound next year.
“Next year represents a massive opportunity. It’s up to us to seize it, to do away with
any apathy and to take advantage of the amount of people that will come here,” he told the
‘Journal’ this week.
“You look at Edinburgh where the Fringe is now bigger than the Festival. We can do the
same in Derry, create our own counter culture.
“Local artists should think exactly what it is they want to do, map it out, take it to the
powers that be and say this is what we are doing.
“We won’t have an opportunity like this again,” he says.
That attitude has seen the Creggan man’s stock soar over recent years.
The Happy Enchiladas’ debut album was hailed by critics, received airplay on the UK’s
biggest radio stations, and saw Nash invited to play at last year’s Leftfiled stage at
Paddy will curate a weekend long ‘Music for a New Revolution’ series of workshops and gigs
during 2013 - with long time hero and now friend Billy Bragg lined up to perform.
In the here and now, Paddy and the Enchiladas are gearing up for another hectic summer
following on from the release today of second album ‘Times of Transition.’
Paddy will play in Cool Discs from 4pm today while the whole line up take to the stage in
Bennigans later tonight for a sure-to-be rousing launch.
“This is much more of a band album, we wanted to make sure we recreated the sound we have
live, the sound we have honed over the past year,” he says.
He says fans can expect a much more collective creative album - but the songs are in
keeping with the folk-punk-pop sound the Enchiladas are known for.
“We have tried to keep that contrast we had on the first album, between the rockier stuff
and the more ballady type songs,” he adds.
Songs like Moneyman’s Dead, Rubber Bullets and Greedy Little Man showcase “the political
side,” he says, while She Came Home and Works of Art play on the personal introspection
that have always “been a feature of the songs.”
Paddy has few qualms about being labelled a political songwriter.
“Sometime you can only be the canary in the cage,” he muses.
“When I started writing as a child the first two lines I ever wrote were ‘rubber bullets
bouncing off the street, rubber bullets on the mantle piece.’ That was the normality we
were growing up in, normality in the sense of how it was for a six-year old.
“I’m not out to inflict my opinions on anyone but I do write about what I think is going
The world around him remains his greatest inspiration.
“There’s a song on there, ‘Nobody’s Listening, about a friend who was diagnosed with
cancer at the same time as Michael McGimpsey turned a blind eye to Altnagelvin.
“Another one, Work of Art, tells of the night a wee drunk man fell and I picked him up one
night in the Bogside, just at the moment a Japanese tourist took our picture.
“Smile, you’re a work of art, I told him.”
Few will fail to notice the new album’s Ebrington Square inspired cover.
“And sure why not? This is the new time that we are in,” says Paddy
“We gave the designer Tyler Young some rough cuts and he came back with the visuals. We’re
really delighted with what he’s done, he’s captured what we were after.”
As well as the Cool discs and Bennigans show today, the Enchiladas will play at the
Clipper homecoming on July 5, and headline the Eagle’s Rock stage at Glasgowbury.
Shows are also lined up across the north before Paddy heads to play some solo shows in
England and Wales -including a performance at the Tolpuddle Festival.
‘Times of Transition’ is out now.
By Davy Wilson
17 May 2012
Published on Tuesday 24 April 2012
One of the most distinctive and politically infused voices of the British music scene says
he hope to play in Derry during the City of Culture year.
Folk rocker and political activist Billy Bragg this week told the ‘Journal’ he would “love
to be part of” Derry’s year long culture celebrations.
The folk rock politico stopped for a sojourn in Bennigan‘s bar in Derry during a two day
trip to the north to promote the Jail Guitar Doors project - a programme that supports the
rehabilitation of offenders through music.
Taking its name from the B-side of the Clash’s 1978 single ‘Clash City Rockers‘, the
initiative has been up and running since 2007 in the UK.
Now, working in partnership with two of Derry’s most influential musicians, Happy
Enchiladas Paddy Nash and Diane Greer - whose friendship has developed with Bragg over
recent years - the singer songwriter is overseeing the launch of the programme in
Magilligan, Maghaberry and Hydebank.
“I invited Paddy to come over to Glastonbury’s Leftfield stage last summer and we had a
couple of guys from the Jail Guitar Doors Project - one from Dartmoor, one from Guys Marsh
- and that kind of put the idea into Paddy and Diane’s heads ,” Bragg says.
“So when I played in Belfast last year, Paddy introduced me to Mike Maloney from the
Prison Arts Foundation and he arranged for me to come over and visit the three prisons.”
Billy visited Magilligan and Maghaberry on Monday, and Hydebank on Tuesday morning. He
says the response from prison authorities was overwhelmingly positive.
“Basically the programme is about getting some guitars into the prisons to assist the
people already working with the prisoners.
“I supply the instruments but it’s about local musicians going in and doing the work.”
Creggan native Paddy is set to start the programme in Magilligan in June.
Bragg has little doubt as to the programme’s efficacy and is quick to counter criticism of
“I believe in people being punished for their crimes, and am in no doubt that the
punishment should fit the crime, “ he says.
“But I also believe that the punishment is in itself going to prison - the loss of liberty
and dignity that accompanies a prison sentence. While they are in prison, I believe we
have an opportunity to help prisoners turn their lives around.
“A lot of them are there because family, education, the system, has failed them and prison
is the last place that can’t say no.”
“It makes no sense to leave them there to fester. Rather than sit back and do nothing
about that, as a musician who knows and has seen how music can help people, I feel it is
my duty to try and do something to help society as a whole so that they too might be able
to deal with their problems in a constructive way,
“I don’t think everyone will come through the programme and become musicians but its about
giving people an opportunity to express themselves in an articulate way.”
Bragg says anyone who has been to prison and “is trying to turn their lives around
“Some people are more interested in a retributive system, but I am more interested in
helping those who are genuinely interested in rehabilitation.”
The ‘Journal’ caught up with Billy, in the company of both Diane and Paddy, during a
moment’s respite in his otherwise hectic two day trip.
While Billy took time out to chat to the ‘Journal, tea time drinkers in Bennigan‘ s also
enjoyed an impromptu Bragg performance - you can watch Billy sing the Mountains of Mourne
Bragg says the City of Culture year reflects Derry’s determination to leave the past
behind - and says he hopes to be a part of it.
“Connecting with Diane and Paddy has allowed me to reconnect with Derry. I’ve had a lot of
good shows here in the past and I’ve always thought there’s something special about this
“It’s like a classic European walled city, and there’s not a lot of them about anymore.
“Obviously Derry-Londonderry‘s past is in many people minds as a troubled past, but a lot
of ground has been covered since then and there seems to be a real willingness of the
people to look forward rather than back.
“There are those who would drag it back but ultimately it’s the determination of the
people of Northern Ireland to go into the future that is keeping that at bay.”
That connection with Diane and Paddy - Bragg discovered their song ‘Billy Bragg Jeans’
after googling himself one day - underpins his desire to be part of Derry 2013.
“Paddy’s organising a festival for 2013 here and I hope I’ll be able to come over and be
part of that. It depends on a few things, but it would obviously be great to be part of
the celebrations. Paddy is coming over to our local Tolpuddle festival I hope to be able
to come over here, that’s what I’m hoping,” he says.
David Wilson, Derry Journal