Sunday, June 16, 2024


LOCAL band Wookalily are preparing for one of their biggest weekends of the year when they get set to play three gigs in three days.

They are playing Music in the Park at the Waterworks in Belfast this Friday (the 19th of August), the Turnip House festival on Saturday and the Wake the Giant festival on Sunday.

Wookalily are a folk Americana group, who take inspiration from bands like Fleetwood Mac, and are made up of five members.

Louise and Adele from the band took time to talk to the Mourne Observer about their two upcoming gigs in County Down.

“The gigs are like buses, there are none and then suddenly there are three in the one weekend,” Adele said.

“To be honest we haven’t pushed to get gigs this year.

“We have kind of taken wee bit of a break. Next year we are going to get back at it again.”

The reason for the break is partly to do with Covid and lockdown.

Adele said: “It has taken a wee while to get our mojo back after Covid.

“It is hard. But we have also been juggling everything in life as well.

“We don’t have the same time.”

Wookalily’s first album, All the Waiting While, was released in 2014.

Their second album, ‘Everything is Normal’, was released last year.

During lockdown the group were signed to a label, and the band were hoping that that would help to push the new album.

But things didn’t get going because there was very little going on anywhere in the world, never mind Northern Ireland.

Louise said: “Because of Covid nothing was happening in the music industry.

“There was very little promotion of an analogue album we recorded. After our contract ended, we decided it was best to leave but going back to promoting ourselves.”

Louise said it was a frustrating time.

“We knew we had a really good album.

“We recorded in the studio Analogue Catalogue in the Mournes.

“We were really proud with what we had done. It was a slightly different take on the type of music that we had done before.

“We still had that Americana influence. But there was a new sound.”

So, they have changed tack and have started promoting their own music.

That has involved releasing singles from the album.

They have released ‘Ghost’ last Halloween, ‘Old New Mill’, and the most recent was ‘Love Makes me Sick’.

They have found that the music has been popular.

Adele said: “Ghost had the biggest response of the three.

“We released it at Halloween, it is a five-minute long, ghostly, dark, dirgey song but it got lots of radio play.

“It was darker and more psychedelic.”

Indeed, the response has been positive.

The BBC’s Ralph McLean has said that ‘Wookalily are back and sounding mighty good’.

Louise said: “They (the radio station) play the whole song which is notable because it is a five-minute song. We were chuffed with that. We have got good feedback from the album, but it is just a case of getting it out there.”

They have performed a few times this year, and they are looking forward to playing the gigs this weekend.

They are familiar with both the Turnip festival and Wake the Giant as they have played both events before.

Of Wake the Giant Adele said: “We really enjoyed it.

“We had loads of room on the bandstand and the sound was great. There was a great crowd. It was a lovely day.”

Louise said: “It was really well organised.

“The whole town got in on it. There were tentacles coming out of the windows of a building.

“It looked like the whole building had been taken over by an octopus.

“There were different pieces of art all around the park.

“The weather obviously made it. It was just really well organised and all the staff were really nice. The crowd was good. It was just a lovely day.”

Turnip House is in the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, near Liatroim.

Wookalily played the festival last year and are looking forward to going back again this year.

Adele said: “It is a lovely festival. It is a very family-orientated, small festival.”

Louise said: “Turnip House is a craft café. They have nice food, nice vegan food and nice home cooked meals.

“The stage is outside and they have four or five bands.”

The band will have more gigs later in the year.

“It would be nice to have a few more gigs. I love playing live,” Louise said.

“I’ve really missed it.

“I’m a drummer. I love sitting back and seeing people getting into it. I especially love being outdoors, in nature, and seeing people clapping or dancing or singing along. You get to feel that you are affecting that.”

And it is likely that the gigs this weekend will also be a chance for the band to play some of the new unrecorded music they have been working on over the past few months.

“We have performed one song live, on the radio and at the Black Box and that went well,” Louise added.

“We just need to practice them a little more.

“It will be good to give them a test drive.”

Wake the Giant festival takes place on Saturday the 19th of August and Sunday the 20th of August.

Wookalily will be playing at 1.45pm to 2.30pm on Sunday at the bandstand.

Other performers on Sunday include Sophie Lennon, Ria Maguire, String Ninjas and the Unholy Gospel band.

The Turnip Fest is on Saturday from 12.30pm to 11.45pm and will feature a wide range of music from Soul Sisters, Jazz Plus, Linley Hamilton, Reverend Doc and the Flying Squad, Karma, Mark Braidner, Speedy Mullan Band and many more, with the incredible circus skills of The Great Mefiesto as compere.

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