TG4 television’s highest viewed country music show, Opry le Daniel, returned to the Millennium Forum, Derry (Londonderry) for 7 nights back in May of this year.
With two concerts per night scheduled from 7.45pm, Opry is the biggest televised extravaganza of country music, with artists from both home and abroad performing on stage with Ireland’s own king of country music, Daniel O’ Donnell.
Series Seven kicked off on Sunday 13th May with the first of one of this year’s new concept shows ‘Country Music Family’, which introduced well known singer/songwriter/musician Brendan Quinn performing with his sons James and Stephen, both accomplished performers in their own right, whilst the second concert of the opening night saw the legendary Charley Pride take to the stage. Pride, of course, needed no introduction to country music followers the world over and made what is to be his only appearance in Ireland in 2018 in Derry.
Monday 14th saw Opry giving a truly entertaining tribute show to the iconic George Jones with Jimmy Buckley and Robert Mizzell performing some of George’s best loved songs with special guest Georgette Jones, daughter of country music’s golden couple, George Jones and Tammy Wynette. The second concert also featured a ‘Country Music Family’, this time with Dominic Kirwan and sons Barry and Colm. Colm has been working and living in Nashville for over 5 years now and during that time he toured across the USA as support act for the late great Don Williams. Colm’s song “I Love the Way You Love Me” was produced in Nashville by Victoria Shaw who co-wrote “The River” for Garth Brooks. He took time out from his own very successful American television appearances to appear with his Dad and brother.
Derek Ryan, Ireland’s latest star, took to the stage on Tuesday 15th with his father Pat and his brother Adrian for a third ‘Country Music Family’ show. This was followed by the ‘new’ up and coming stars on the country scene, artists such as Stuart Moyles, Keelan Arbuckle, Olivia Douglas and Caitlin & Brandon McPhee from Scotland.
Wednesday 16th brought together the ‘Classic Country’ artists from the ‘70’s era who kept country music alive during the ‘disco’ years – John Hogan, Kathy Durkin, Shawn Cuddy and Gloria.
Also appearing were some of the new ‘Contemporary Country’ performers of today, Donna Taggart, Jacqui Sharkey & Niamh McGlinchey, giving us their own style of country.
Two of the biggest names in country music were paid tribute to on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th, with Sandy Kelly, Declan Nerney and Jordan Mogey ‘singing’ Johnny Cash. Both Sandy and Declan toured or sang with the ‘man in black’ whilst Jordan has received much praise from his peers for his renditions of Cash songs. Sandy also recorded her number one duet in Ireland “The Woodcarver” with Johnny. Following the tribute show is undoubtedly one of new country’s gems, Lisa McHugh, who has gained a massive following from all over Ireland and abroad. Friday’s show, the final ‘tribute’ show, was dedicated to the one and only ‘Gentleman of Country’, Mr. Jim Reeves. Paying tribute is the undoubted no.1 performer of Reeves songs, Al Grant accompanied by Tony Kerr, Patrick Feeney and Matt Leavy. The brilliant Isla Grant closed off the evening in her own inimitable style.
Closing night, Saturday 19th, brought together a group of female singing artists with a wealth of performing experience between them. The first concert was a celebration of the music and songs of an icon who was once described as the leading female country music artist in the world, the fabulous and unforgettable, Loretta Lynn. Leading this exceptional night was none other than Loretta’s granddaughter, Tayla Lynn who was accompanied by Leona Williams, all the way from Tennessee, the latter having performed many times with Loretta both on stage and screen. Leona was also married to the late great Merle Haggard once upon a time and she also co-wrote hits with him, as well as performing with his band and writing hit songs for several other top US Country stars.
Joined by Niamh Lynn and Louise Morrissey, two of Ireland’s best female country music artists of our time, these four ladies enthralled the audience with their musical prowess. The closing concert of the night hosted the enigmatic Rita Coolidge, known the world over for penning such songs as ‘Help me make it through the Night’ and ‘Me and Bobby Magee’ with her then husband Kris Kristofferson.
All Shows were recorded in front of a live audience, mixing profiles / archive and comments from their biggest fans, Opry le Daniel brings the essence of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry to Derry.