14th April 2016
The MAC, Belfast

A sold out show of soulful jazz and blues.

A sold out show and a buzz of anticipation in the foyer pre-show. The gig was in the big room, I would think it holds up to three or four hundred. Nice dark setting; only drawback is that reviewers cannot see to write notes, ah well a small price to pay for atmosphere.

Two short opening sets from Amy Rose and Hannah McPhillimy, who later joined the band on backing vocals. Six piece band, drummer, electric guitar, bass, keys alto saxophone and trumpet. I think Linley Hamilton, trumpet, is also musical director and a kind of mentor and champion to Dana.

The back story, I suspect known to most of tonight’s audience and increasingly music fans all over Ireland, is that Dana is from the Southern States of USA, married a man from here has relocated to Lisburn. She has been singing around the local jazz and blues circuit. We are very lucky to have her in our midst, a stunning soul voice and great stage presence.

The set consisted of songs from the new EP interspersed with some well-chosen covers. The latter included top class versions of ‘A Change Going To Come’ and ‘Motherless Child’, put into the context of struggle in her introductions and sung with huge passion and feeling. It’s always difficult to place new self-written material among such works but I thought Dana own songs were up to the task.

‘Someone Else’s Love’, the title track ‘Crossing Lines’ and in particular ‘Carry You In’ are fine works that suit Dana’s style.

Dana noted that she talks a lot during her show, mostly related to the songs but also about her family background in USA and now in Ireland. There was also quite a bit of banter with the band. At times I just wanted her to sing, others talk as well as her but few sing better. Band were tight with some lovely solos from alto and trumpet.

No encore due to “venue curfew” issues but great show. If you haven’t heard Dana sing do yourself a favour and check her out. CD available from her website. Recommended.

On the way home I dropped into the John Hewitt for a pint. It’s thirsty work this reviewing. They had a three-piece cover blues cover band playing the life out of numbers like Gillian Welch’s ‘Miss Ohio’. I didn’t even get their name but I am told they are there every week and Linley Hamilton Quartet in the same venue on a Monday.

Folk and Tumble keeping you informed