Irish eyes smiling on Chichester Country Music Club

Multi-instrumentalist/singer Stephen Smyth (pronounced Smith) is the latest guest in the popular series of Irish music nights staged by Chichester Country Music Club at the Venue in Chichester (Thursday July, 14, 7.30pm).

“I’m from Portaferry in Co Down and still live there with my family around me,” Stephen said.

“I’ve been involved in the music scene for a long as I can remember and have taught myself to play a range of instruments, including guitar, saxophone and fiddle, but my favourite i think has to be the steel guitar.

“I first took to the stage at the age of 13 when I played lead guitar with a show band that my father was a member of. Since then, I’ve learned my trade working with some of Ireland’s best-loved artists and their bands. I’m now in the very lucky position to be able to be out front myself.”

Tony Bleach, who founded Chichester Country Music Club 37 years ago, is expecting a good audience. The club holds 12 concerts a year at Lavant and 12 dances at North Mundham. In addition, they stage five Irish nights a year at the Venue.

“We get the top bands from Ireland coming over here. We have got an open invitation to them to come to us. They will come for a weekend for a couple of concerts and they add us on at the end or the start - so we get them a bit cheaper.”

Tony is delighted to welcome people from far afield to the Irish nights, with concert-goers heading in from Southampton, Guildford and Brighton, sometimes even further: “We get a lovely atmosphere.”

As for country music generally, Tony admits that sadly things are perhaps a little on the wane, with the difficulty being to attract younger audiences.

“Country music is more of an elderly audience. The youngsters are not really coming into it much. It’s the older people that come. It’s a difficult situation. The younger ones have got so many different counter attractions.”

Even so, the Irish nights generally draw audiences several hundred strong. Tickets £10 from Tony Bleach 01243 527439.