A little celebrated fact is that Belfast is twinned with Nashville, Tennessee. Yee haw. Maybe that explains Hugo Duncan’s dominance on the afternoon airwaves! But it’s not something that’s talked about very much. Dolly Parton doesn’t seem to come and lead the St Patrick’s Day parade (what would she sing - Peace Train?) ... in fact, last time she appeared at the Odyssey, her reluctance to allow video screens on the side of the stage meant that a lot of fans complained they couldn’t see her during the sell-out show! She's coming back in June 2008 ...
There’s even a joint publication – The Belfast Nashville Story - written in 2007 as Nashville celebrated its 200th anniversary of incorporation, highlighting the cultural aspects that Belfast and Nashville share together with the role played by the many “Ulster Scots emigrants and their descendents”.
Even less talked about than the special relationship between Nashville and Belfast is Nashville’s promiscuity ... it hasn’t just signed up in union with Belfast, but has relationships with Edmonton (Alberta; Canada), Caen (Basse-Normandie, France), Pernik (Bulgaria), Magdeburg (Germany) and Taiyuan (Shanxi, China).
Though on closer inspection, Belfast has a fair few sister cities too: Belfast (Maine US), Bonn (Germany) and Hefei (China).
But putting all that behind us, the 4th Belfast Nashville Songwriters’ Festival kicks off tomorrow.
5 Days, 75 Songwriters and 28 Concerts
Nanci Griffith will no longer be singing From a Distance, but will be in concert at The Empire on Botanic Avenue on Thursday night as well as appearing “in the round” at the Kings Head in Balmoral on Friday. (Update - But if you haven’t already got a ticket, her concerts are sold out.)
And as if timed to coincide with and reinforce the Belfast-Nashville connection, one-time Belfast flâneur Jett Loe has finally uploaded the long-awaited Chapter 78 of Letter to America podcast, recorded in his new home of Nashville.