Jan 11 2018
Ireland’s hottest country music star Derek Ryan has had some year. From rocking the SSE Arena to shutting down Trafalgar Square, the Carlow native says he’s only getting started. Here he looks back on a phenomenal 2017 that saw a him sell out a massive concert tour, blaze up the charts with his new album Fire, sing for the President, reach television audiences of millions and still have time to jive with a few beauty queens.
Here are Derek’s Top Ten 2017 moments….
It was a bit surreal, really. If you had asked me a few years back if I would have been playing country music in arenas I would have probably laughed in your face. It was amazing. It was slightly overwhelming, the crowds were in their thousands. But it was great to see the ever broadening appeal of countrymusic these days. There were people of all ages at it and the atmosphere was just electric. It was like stepping stones, really. You do the gigs in the dance halls and theatres to a big one at the arena. It was just great to be part of the Farmer’s Bash. I am delighted to be asked back to it again next year.
Sold out Irish concert tour
We kicked off in the Ulster Hall. It is an unbelievable concert venue, the atmosphere was amazing. It is an iconic venue, it really was something to remember. It was the first night of the tour, so the nerves are there anyway. It was one of my favourite gigs to have done in my entire career and it was great to kick it off in the city. The Irish tour was fantastic. We did all the regular theatres that we always do and it was definitely my most successful tour to date.
It was really emotional in a way. I lived in London for seven years. At the time I was going around London in taxis, gigging in Irish bars and just trying to do a bit to pay the rent. To come back and play in front of thousands, there was so many people they closed off the square, and to headline it, and for it to go out live. It was amazing. The people there were so up for our music, they were singing away. Everyone had a great day. It was an amazing event to be a part of. I have a photo of that day and I’m definitely getting it framed.
Late Late Country Show
It’s always nice to catch up with other artists and swap stories. There were some great stories about back stage about life of the road and everything else. It’s great, because you get to do collaborations with other artists. Because we are always doing our own thing and gigging away, it’s great to get together. There was a really relaxed atmosphere back stage and everyone was up for the craic and think you could see that on the TV.
Dance weekends Bantry and Donegal
We have the weekends every year. It’s a weekend where we can sit down with people, get to know them, maybe have a drink with them after the gig. There’s a personal feel to it. It’s almost like a way to say thanks to people for their support, the people who would come to see us almost every week and then they come to the weekend. We just have a little more time to chat to them. We had jiving lessons one afternoon. All the band and crew were in there, jiving away. It was so much fun. Bantry wouldn’t be a place we would be that often so when we step out onto the stage the crowd really go for it.
I purposely took a week out to go to Nashville. I’m doing it again in January actually. I had writing sessions there. Funnily enough my latest single Heaven Tonight came from that writing session when we were there. I wrote it with a guy called Trent Willmon who is a Warner Music Writer. So we wrote that in Warner, down on Music Row. Walking into Warner was something else. It was great experience. I wrote with three different guys out there and I’ve gone on to use pretty much all of the tracks and some of them have been pitched to American artists as well. It’s something I want to develop. As I get older I really love writing, it’s just finding the time to it. So I’m purposefully putting in two or three writing sessions in Nashville and some over here at home too.
Rose of Tralee
This was the TV highlight of my career. It had the biggest audience with over one million viewers each night. It was a big opportunity for me. I really enjoyed it. The Monday night was sensational, the atmosphere in the dome was unbelievable. I just relaxed and enjoyed it. It was a big moment for my family too. Growing up we would have watched the Rose of Tralee religiously every year like a lot of families. And I was lucky enough to get to jive with a few of the Roses as well! I sang the actual Rose of Tralee the next night. I was added to the list of accomplished singers who sang that, so it was a big proud moment for me. It was so special, a night to remember.
It is my most traditional album that I’ve done so far. It has been really, really well received. It sold overwhelmingly well. I’m so glad that people are loving the tracks and there are a lot more singles to come from it. There are eight original songs on it. We are looking forward to the tour now and performing all the tracks live. I love releasing albums, I’d release one every few months if I could. I just love writing and recording. I always get a buzz from it.
I was invited to sing at the opening ceremony of the Ploughing Championships. I sang Homeland for Michael D Higgins. It was a great honour for me. We did six performances each day there. It was great to launch the album there because we got to showcase the album in front of thousands every day. The song Friends with Tractors went down well there funnily enough! Country music has a great association with the farming community and always has. That’s why we loved doing the Ploughing Championships, it is right up our street. I needed my wellies a right few times over there, there was a lot of rain one day. Hopefully we’ll be back next year to do it all again.
The This Is Me Tour was amazing. We played the Union Chapel in London, not long after Trafalgar Square. Anybody who knows the Union Chapel knows that it really is an iconic venue. I would definitely put it down to one of my most favourite venues of all time. It is just one of those places. It was jammed, sold out. The Carlow Association came along too and I remember seeing the flag. It was one of those moments that I will never, ever forget. I finished up with God’s Plan and everyone was singing along, it was unbelievable and I came off the stage really buzzing.
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