How Belfast Got the Blues

A Cultural History of Popular Music in the 1960s

Noel McLaughlin and Joanna Braniff

How Belfast Got the Blues

Noel McLaughlin and Joanna Braniff

Distributed for Intellect Ltd

550 pages | 6 3/4 x 9 1/4
Paper $38.50 ISBN: 9781789382747 Will Publish December 2020 Not for sale in the United Kingdom or Europe

Was the first white European blues singer an Irish woman? What links The Rolling Stones to the birth of the Northern Ireland civil rights movement? Did the state suppress the work of a key countercultural director because his film was shot in Belfast in 1965?

This book provides the answers in an engaging and dynamic reconsideration of Belfast’s long-ignored contributions to the popular music and cultural politics of the 1960s. In an expansive socio-cultural history, Noel McLaughlin and Joanna Braniff explore how popular music engaged with and influenced the global cultural and political currents of the decade.

The popular history of Northern Ireland has been overshadowed by the violence of the Troubles. But How Belfast Got the Blues offers a corrective, reconsidering the period before 1969 and arguing that popular music in Northern Ireland was central to the politics of the time, in ways not previously understood or explored. In addition to big names like Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher, the authors highlight lesser-known artists—notably Ottilie Patterson, Ireland's first blues singer—and restore them to music history. By intertwining politics, culture, and key personalities, the authors reexamine this radical decade and the complex but essential relationship between music and identity in a place where it could mean the difference between life and death.

Contents

Introduction: Belfast at a crossroads

Chapter 1: 1964

Chapter 2: The political power of a film that might have been

Chapter 3: ‘We gotta get into this place’

Chapter 4: ‘Them are coming!’

Chapter 5: A story of Them

Chapter 6: Irish lady sings the blues

Chapter 7: 1966 – The summer of love?

Chapter 8: Crossroads – Times have surely changed

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