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Glasgowbury to bring a splash of Brazilian sunshine this St Patrick’s Day

09 March 2017

The Sperrin Mountains may be a far cry from the golden sands of Copacabana beach but there’s a collective in Draperstown rattling out the thumping, hypnotic beats of Samba with all the enthusiasm you’d expect from a band in the music’s spiritual home of Brazil.

The Glasgowbury Samba Band and Boogie Buddies Dance Group will make the short trip up the A6 next week to take part in Derry City and Strabane District Council’s St Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival celebrations promising to bring a splash of Brazilian sunshine whatever the weather.

“We use a hashtag ‘bring the drumshine’ which means, no matter what the weather, it’s sunny when there is samba music,” explained band co-ordinator Paddy Glasgow who formed the group along with wife Stella four years ago.

“It’s a loud and welcoming music with a good time vibe, it’s something you can take anywhere and crowds tend to be drawn to you.
“It’s a type of music that people can’t help tapping their feet and dancing along to.”

The Glasgowbury name was originally used for Paddy’s music festival in the Sperrin Mountains that ran for over a decade and gained iconic status among local music fans.

In 2013 all resources were put into the establishment of a Creative Hub with the 'Small But Massive' ethos at its heart and the Samba band has been one of the main projects to develop from that.  

“We’ve been going since 2013 in the Cornstore Creative Hub in Draperstown,” Paddy continued. “Initially we just wanted to try something different, there was no long term plan for the samba project.

“The idea was to get rural people involved in a different art work so we got the instruments together and it just grew from there.
“There isn’t a lot of us but you’ll certainly hear us coming. We come to events to enjoy ourselves and I think the people who watch us do too.

“Our first gig was a small busking festival in Draperstown and people didn’t know what hit them when we landed."

“The positive reaction we got from the crowds that day really gave us a lot of confidence and we felt ready to come up to Derry for the Halloween celebrations and perform in front of a much bigger crowd."

“Our first time up there was an amazing experience to see thousands of people enjoying the music and responding to it, we’ve been delighted to be asked back several times and this will be our second St Patrick’s Day visit.”

“Samba Music is at its most effective when you get in amongst people and they can become part of the performance.
“When we play in a public place it is great to see people gathering around us and getting involved by dancing and cheering.”

The Glasgowbury performance is a real community affair and their musicians have been kitted out through the ‘Sew Happy’ initiative where local sewers have made costumes for the carnival with the help of Tina McLaughlin from the North West Carnival initiative.

The interest in Samba in their area is growing all the time and an outreach programme has seen local instructor Fionnbharr O’Hagan go into neighbouring areas to spread the samba gospel.

“We welcome people of all abilities and you’ll be given as much time as you need to learn the music at your own pace,” Paddy noted.

“Some people are intimidated about getting involved because the band are so tight but we wouldn’t put anyone forward to a big event until they are ready.
“The main emphasis is on enjoying yourself and hopefully the crowds in Derry will enjoy us next week too.”

More information on Council’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations are available at www.derrystrabane.com/springcarnival.