Heralding from a culture of storytelling and a rich musical heritage, G D Sweeney has combined his love of Bluegrass, Folk melodies and classic Country sound with his Irish roots, to create a musical style he calls ‘Celtic Country’. This ‘new-traditional’ style is the musical backdrop to the narratives and characters in his songs.
“Celtic Country is a fusion of my Irish background with my long standing love affair with Americana, Folk and Country music.”
Starting out in his late teens with his hard-earned pocket money in his back pocket, G D Sweeney entered a Belfast music store to buy a saxophone, but walked with a five-string banjo. No one had a five-string banjo in those days.
Sweeney is a curious man and set out with an inquisitive mind to learn all about this banjo and this additional string. He discovered its great musical heritage and the songs and tunes that inspired a culture of people. A whole new world opened up and much the bemusement of his friends, he played it wherever he went, from Derry to Newry and from Liverpool to Leicester.
With this newfound inspiration Sweeney switched from listening to a mainstream music diet to practicing licks, picks and rolls of artists most had never heard of. Shortly after this he learned to play the guitar and most of his songs are penned on it, but the banjo has provided him with a melodic landscape which along with his love of poetry he attributes to his ability to write memorable songs.
His songwriting prowess was first brought to attention in 2001, when he won the Diversity 21 Millennium Songwriting Competition in Northern Ireland. In recent times he has written for established pop band The South, (formally The Beautiful South) composing two songs on their 2012 album Sweet Refrains.
“There is inspiration for my songs in everyday conversations, observations of people, unintentional quips and in the poetry of both city and country life. “
Like any good Country song, Sweeney’s life has taken a number of twists and turns. After careers in advertising, design and teaching, as well as fronting the Leicester based band ‘Swagger’, he has penned music for TV shows as well as composing a premier football club original official anthem.
Aside from the banjo and guitar, Sweeney plays mandolin and dobro and he has performed and collaborated with many well-known musicians over the years from The Specials, The Fun Lovin Criminals and The South.
Sweeney’s debut album ‘The Truth About Lies’ was released in May 2015. It is a musical account inspired by the deceit experienced by friends through to the small lies we tell ourselves everyday. The landscape of Ireland, the heartbreak of Country, the yearn of Americana and the wistfulness of Folk music can be heard throughout the album.
“The album title refers to a poem I wrote called ‘The Truth about Lies’. Every lie has a truth behind it whether you are deceiving someone else or just yourself”, said G D Sweeney.
The eleven-track album was assembled to reflect the continuity of the archetypal old-fashioned record. Each song tells it’s own tale, but hangs together like the chapters of a book, from the fast paced first single, ‘The Night Before’ to the mellow and euphonious closing track, ‘Country Moon.’
G D Sweeney said: "Many of the songs were inspired by colourful characters that exist within my circle of friends and some from stories overheard in pubs and bars. Heartache mixed with alcohol always provides a great basis for a Country cocktail.”