Soulantics to play at BuskFest awards

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BuskFest organisers have confirmed Warrenpoint singer/songwriter Allison McGrath and her band Soulantics will perform at the Banbridge busking competition’s awards ceremony on Saturday June 21.

Taking elements of jazz, blues, soul and funk, Allison has performed at music and arts festivals across Ireland and in 2012 released her debut album ‘Overboard’.

But it was as a busker on the streets of Belfast where Allison first learnt the art of performing to a live audience, busking her way through college and winning ‘Northern Ireland Busker Of The Year’ in 1989.

Since then Allison enjoyed three years as lead singer of Captain Swing, before enjoying a successful solo career and time with her band Soulantics.

Now a regular performer in venues on both sides of the border Allison’s journey from street busker to paid musician makes her the perfect example for participants in this year’s BuskFest.

Currently in the studio working on her second album and preparing for another summer of concert and festival performances, Allison said: “We are delighted and excited to be performing at the Banbridge BuskFest 2014 awards ceremony. It is a great honour to be part of such a wonderful event.

“I started out as a Busker many years ago on the streets of Belfast whilst studying at college and this paved the way for me as a songwriter, where I met such wonderful people who encouraged me in every way.

“We look forward to BuskFest where we will be performing some of the new songs from our second album, which is a work in progress, as well as some old favourites from our debut album ‘Overboard’, which was awarded M.R.U Best Souls Funk Jazz 2012.

“Roll on BuskFest and good luck to all competitors taking part.”

Allison and Soulantics take to the stage in Solitude Park from 4.30pm, after which BBC Radio Ulster’s Ralph McLean will help present the awards to the winning buskers.

The award-winning journalist and broadcaster presents a cross-section of musical programmes on Radio Ulster each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and has chaired the BuskFest judging panel on many occasions.

His lifelong passion for music and the arts will no doubt serve him well during the event as he judges the buskers before presenting the winners with their prizes at the awards ceremony.

This year’s BuskFest boasts a £3,000 cash pot up for grabs, with prizes of between £250 and £1000 being awarded to winners in a number of categories including the ‘Spirit of BuskFest’ prize, which is sponsored by The Outlet.

The Overall Winner will also be given the opportunity to perform live at Sunflowerfest, which takes place from August 22 to 25 at Tubby’s Farm in Hillsborough.

Now in its fifth year, Sunflowerfest aims to be an excitingly different and magical weekend festival of great music, arts and entertainment, with a wide range of superb music, fantastic fun for the family, storytelling, poetry, and interactive art, dance and music workshops.

BuskFest are giving fans the chance to win one of three pairs of Sunday tickets for Sunflowerfest - simply visit www.facebook.com/buskfest for details on how to enter.

This year’s BuskFest runs from 1pm to 6pm in Banbridge town centre. For further information, including competition rules and registration, log onto www.buskfest.com and www.facebook.com/buskfest.