Grainne Duffy

‘In a world of chic rockers Duffy is the real deal’ – Henry Yates Classic Rock Magazine

Indeed this is a very true statement. Grainne Duffy hails from Co. Monaghan, Ireland, and she is a unique talent. She is both raw and powerful, edgy and elegant.  She gained exposure at an early age to such defining influential artists as The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and The Pretenders by raiding her elder sisters record collection and very soon she was developing her own musical tastes. This began when she heard the subtle playing of Peter Green on such songs as ‘Need your Love so Bad’ and ‘Albatross’ which was to pave the way for Grainne to start listening to other guitarists such as B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and of course Rory Gallagher. Such a fascination lead to Grainne picking up the guitar and beginning what was to be just the start of her journey. All the while she had been developing her vocal ability by singing in her local church choir and listening to artists as diverse Aretha Franklin, Linda Rondstat and Bonnie Raitt to name but a few. Growing in confidence she and her sisters formed their first band and began playing the local circuit performing many of their favourite songs and this was where Grainne first began singing and playing electric guitar live.

After some years playing with her sisters band, Grainne upon finishing secondary school then undertook with completing a music degree at NUI Maynooth. While there she began experimenting with penning her own material. One key influence at this time on her song writing was Carole King’s Tapestry album while Grainne was also becoming very influenced by rhythm and blues and was beginning to find her own voice there. She headed in to the studio in March 2007 and began what was to be the recording of her first album. What began as a three song recording session ended a few weeks later as her debut album ‘Out of the Dark’. Such was the immediate reaction to her first release that she soon became a regular on the festival circuit in her native Ireland and she began taking her music abroad to such places as far flung as the Arctic island of Svalbard, Norway. She then was asked to appear for 3 days at Glastonbury 2008. There she was lucky enough to share the stage with such wonderful artists as Joan Baez, Suzanne Vega, Sinead O’Connor, Seasick Steve and The Blockheads to name but a few. She opened the acoustic stage on day one with her full band with what was to be an unforgettable performance. At this point Grainne had introduced among her own material her show stopping version of the Etta James classic ‘Rather go Blind’ to her set. It was during the performance of this song on day one of Glastonbury 2008 that the entire crowd in the acoustic tent who had been camped out on the floor of the tent rose to their feet mid performance and the atmosphere transformed to something magical that she has never forgotten and has since gone on to state as one of the highlights of her career thus far.

Alongside appearing at many of Ireland’s leading festivals Grainne was also approached by the BBC to record a track, ‘Get Here’, for their TV promotion campaign in George Martin’s Air Studio in London which was then aired over the summer on BBC 1 and BBC 2. She also was asked to take part in RTE’s highly acclaimed Other Voices music programme along with Eric Bibb, Christy Moore, Duke Special, Elbow, Lisa Hannigan, Mick Flannery, Billy Bragg and many more. While there she also took part in an interview with RTE’s John Kelly. Grainne has appeared alongside Paul Brady for the re-opening of the newly refurbished Ulster Hall and also at the renowned Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland and an extensive tour of Norway.

All the while between touring Grainne was continuing to pen new material and was experimenting with new sounds for her follow up album. She moved from playing a Strat to a Gibson Les Paul, a guitar which was to become her recognisable sound. Simultaneously her fan base was continuing to grow at home and abroad. With her band now featuring a full line up of second guitar Paul Sherry, bass Davy Watson, drums Gerry Morgan and piano John Mc McCullough – this line up was gaining a well earned reputation as stellar unit always delivering passionate performances – the perfect foundation for Grainne’s vocals, guitar playing and her songs.

2011 saw Grainne and her band begin the recording of her second album. Recording took place in Bangor, Co. Antrim at Hillhouse Studios and was spread out over the Spring and Summer due to the ever increasing touring schedule of the band to places at home and abroad like Norway, Scotland, Isle of Man, Holland and Belgium. A much anticipated release for the fall of 2011 sees an album of 11 self penned tracks spanning Grainne’s many and varied influences all brought together by her ever rich sublime vocals and the heartfelt expression in her guitar playing. On this record Grainne teamed up with well known producer and mixing engineer Niko Bolas working from Capitol Studios L.A. Niko’s reputation for working with singers and his experience from working with artists as diverse and varied as Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, Keith Richards, John Mayer, Los Lonely Boys and Melissa Etheridge brought a touch of magic to a specially crafted album. With mastering completed by Grammy Award winner Richard Dodd in Nashville the finishing touches to the album were all perfectly in place.

Earlier in the year Grainne released the first single from the album – ‘I Know We’re Gonna Be Just Fine’ to coincide with her Irish theatre tour. The single received a warm reception and much airplay and made the BBC Northern Ireland playlist and has recently received wonderful reviews from BBC Radio 2 in England including:

BBC Radio 2 “Really Like that” Alex Lester

BBC Radio 2 “This is a very lovely sounding record. Grainne has an Irish charm, which comes through her vocal. It sits very nicely on top of the guitars on this track.” Chris Evans producer.

BBC Radio 2  “I really like this’’. Terry Wogan producer.

She also appeared on a number of local BBC Radio 2 shows in England live playing tracks from her debut and forthcoming record. She was also asked to perform a live session for Pat Kenny on RTE Radio 1 earlier this year to coincide with her single release. Grainne was also asked this year to appear on the front cover of The Sunday Times Culture Magazine which featured a 2 page spread about Grainne’s music and how in a world obsessed with manufactured talent shows she is happy to do things ‘her way’.

With so much more still on the horizon for Grainne and her band this, her second release will only be another stepping stone in an already blossoming career.

Her wonderful mix of blues rock and soul in her original material and her treatment of a few carefully selected standards charged with true emotion and feeling can win over any audience and leave you begging for more. With her passion which no one can deny when they hear her sing, with her emotion which no one can ignore when hear her play and with her unique presence which is hard to express in words when you see her perform it is difficult to imagine what the future will have in store for Grainne Duffy. It is not often a rare honest talent like this comes along but when it does it is instantly recognisable and must be appreciated.

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