Colum Sands

17th October 2022

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Colum Sands has performed in over thirty countries around the world, confirming the universal appeal for the songs and stories with which he observes the minute and often humorous details of life.

A member of the internationally renowned Sands Family from County Down, Colum established his reputation as a songwriter with the release of his first solo album, Unapproved Road in 1981. Songs like Whatever you say, say nothing, and Almost every Circumstance were soon in the repertoire of artists from Billy Connolly to Maddy Prior and June Tabor.

On his travels around the world he soon discovered that many of his songs had arrived before him, carried by other singers and in recordings by fellow performers like Andy Irvine, Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, Roy Bailey, Mick Hanley, Gerard van Maasakkers, Rosemary Woods, Iain McIntosh and Enda Kenny.

Colum noted that people in Belfast were asking him if he wasn't afraid to go to Israel with all the trouble going on over there and then, that people in Israel inquired if he wasn't afraid to go back to Belfast with all the trouble over there...In response to these and many other questions in each place as to what exactly the problem was, he put pen to paper to record his thoughts on the complexity and yet the simplicity of it all. The result, Skipping History Lesson, was a one-minute summary of human conflict and appeared on his 2003 album The Note That Lingers On along with songs of love and life like The Wake Song,, Sweeney the Fiddler, Song for Adam and Eve and a live version of Mickey MacConnell's classic Politician's Song.

The endless range of venues around the world inspired the title track of Colum's seventh album, Look where I've ended up now, released in 2009. From songs inspired by Bedouin activist Nuri Al Okbi, Song for Nuri to songs like Beyond the Frame - from around his own front door in Rostrevor, the album is a wonderful travelogue of people and places encountered by the County Down troubador. His meetings with fellow musicians like Sinead Stone and Gerard Farrelly from Dublin provided the story which led to Michael's Orchard while an unlikely encounter with a pair of old boots in New Zealand resulted in Fred Jordan's Boots in praise of their former owner, English folksinger Fred Jordan.

In 2012, Colum took time out from touring and his weekly radio programme to write and record his ninth album, Turn the Corner. The album was released during the 2013 Fiddler's Green International Festival and since then many of the ten original songs including "Annie I Owe You", "Lazy Hill", "The Glassmaker's Hand" "Two Angry Dogs" and the title track, have become firm favourites with audiences around the world.

Colum's tours since then have taken him to to venues all over Ireland and the UK as well as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany and Denmark. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed the travels of musicians everywhere, Colum's songs continue to travel and his brand new album, Song Bridge, his tenth collection was released in 2020. The songs have themes of environmental protection, a reflection of Colum's involvement with RARE (Rostrevor Action Respecting our Environment), and the power of songs to build bridges between people, places and generations.

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