Home Gigs Gig Review : An evening of Bluegrass Rock N Roll at the Empire, Belfast.

Gig Review : An evening of Bluegrass Rock N Roll at the Empire, Belfast.

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I first saw Hayseed Dixie around five years ago on Jools Holland’s New Years Hootenanny where they performed Survivors “Eye Of The Tiger” and was instantly impressed, so much so that I had been to see them play at the Empire the previous two years in a row. When they announced that they were playing the venue this year again I instantly decided to make it three years on the trot and just like the previous two years, I was certainly not disappointed.

The evening opened up with an act I honestly have never heard of before and so didn’t really know what to expect. 8 ball Aitken is an Australian singer, songwriter who plays country blues.


For around forty minutes we were entertained with not only some great music, but we also found out very quickly that Aitken is quite humorous with a great connection with the crowd. An example being when he introduced the next song as the reason he left home and then performing “Mama’s Cooking”. He also got the crowd to interact with him during the humorous rendition on “She’s Going To Mexico, I’m Going To Jail”.

A little later into his set he brought out an electric three string cigar box guitar. This guy as well as with the humour really shows here how good of a solid musician he is. This guy really does play a mean slide guitar, not to mention that he is pretty killer on the Kazoo.


If you’re unsure of what to expect when going to see this guy, just as I was, think along the lines of Seasick Steve but with humour thrown in for good measure.

8 Ball Aitken was an absolute treat and an act that I would certainly dive at the chance to go and see again.

Up next are Hayseed Dixie who are one of the most talented and not to mention, humorous bands around. Originating twenty years ago in Nashville, Tennessee with their name being a play of course on the classic rock band AC/DC. Over the years they have played over 1,000 shows across the world as well as playing major festivals such as Download and Glastonbury, as well as playing the Wacken Open Air Festival in 2011 three straight nights in a row.


They are truly an amazing band to see perform live. Between their great covers of rock classics done in the bluegrass style, blended with humour throughout the show. These guys never fail to entertain.

During the evening they did their bluegrass interpretations of such classics as “Highway To Hell”, “Ace Of Spades”, “Summer Of 69” as well as the Tears For Fears 80’s hit “Shout”, which in my opinion is superior to the original in every way. But then again, I was never a Tears For Fears Fan.


One of the highlight of their shows is their entertaining version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody where they dip in and out of the song and interweaving other classic rock songs throughout it is amazingly done.


This is one band that if you like music from great musicians but yet don’t take themselves seriously and offer up a great nights entertainment then you really need to get out and check these guys out.

Review & Photography by David Stewart for MPM

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