Monday 11 March 2019


Belfast writer and journalist Stuart Bailie will read excerpts from his book, ‘Trouble Songs’, in New York this evening (Monday, March 11 2019).

He will be performing at Paul Muldoon’s Picnic, a monthly event organised by the Pulitzer Prizewinning poet that brings together acts from across the island of Ireland.

Sharing the stage will be Ash frontman Tim Wheeler, Belfast actress Laura Donnelly, Playwright Jez Butterworth and the inhouse band Rogue Oliphant – featuring Cait O'Riordan from The Pogues.

Trouble Songs, which was heralded as one of 2018’s top books by Hot Press and Uncut, is the story of music and conflict in Northern Ireland since 1968 and involves over 60 interviews and conversations with the likes of Bono, Christy Moore and the Undertones. This visit, which is supported by British Council Northern Ireland, continues its whirlwind promotional tour and follows Stuart’s stint at the Los Gatos, Irish Writers' Festival in Los Angeles.

Speaking ahead of the show, Stuart said: “I’m really excited to be showcasing the book in New York – it’s the home of punk legends such as the Ramones, Patti Smith and Blondie, and I’ll be performing not too far away from the undisputed birthplace of punk, CBGB.

“A lot of that music and influence ultimately ended up in Belfast and helped to shape our own music scene. I think people in New York will be able to relate to the story of rebellion in the book, as it rings very true with them.”

Stuart, who initially wrote Trouble Songs for himself, can’t believe how successful it’s been.

He said: “The book was self-published with the help of Eastside Arts and the British Council and I really wrote it for myself, but it seems to have taken on a life of its own and I’ve had to put everything else on hold!  I’ve been really surprised by people’s reactions - with children buying it for their parents and vice versa, and we’ve had so many sales that we’ve had to resend it to the printers  - there are even plans to produce a film.”

“I definitely want to get back in to writing soon, including a book about Van Morrison’s life.”

For the former NME editor and founder and CEO of the Oh Yeah music centre, punk music in Northern Ireland has come full circle.

He said: “There’s a new generation of rebellion music coming out of Northern Ireland including bands such as Touts, Wood Burning Savages and Susie Blue – it’s starting to get spikey again due to Brexit and border issues. A lot of these bands are now reading the book and seeing that they are part of a bigger movement and it’s been great to see.”

Also speaking about the book was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland.

He said: “We’re delighted to support Stuart with Trouble Songs and help showcase his work internationally – this book tells an important story about darker times in Northern Ireland’s troubled history and the role music played and we wish him every success in New York this evening.”

The British Council is the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation. For more information on current opportunities in Northern Ireland, visit, or follow on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI

Notes to Editor

About Trouble Songs 

Some responses to the Stuart Bailie book:

#7 Music Book of the Year 2018 – Uncut 

#2 Music Book of the Year 2018 – Hot Press 

“Brilliant.” – John Harris, The Guardian 

"One of the most important books about Irish music ever written." – Eamon Sweeney, The Quietus

“A cracking book, warmly recommended.” – Stuart Maconie, BBC 6 Music 

"His ear for the humanity amidst the horrors keeps the pages turning... an important social history.” – Keith Cameron, Mojo

“Courageous… a social history as much as a musical one.” – Freya McClements, Irish Times

“Beautifully written by an insider… a gobsmacking history.” - Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music

“Terrific… with themes more potent than at any other period in the past two decades… human, humorous and educational.” – Graeme Thomson, Uncut 

This is the story of music and conflict in Northern Ireland since 1968. Trouble Songs is related by Bono, Christy Moore, the Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers, Orbital, Kevin Rowland, Terri Hooley, the Rubberbandits and the Miami Showband survivors. Musicians from punk, folk, rave and rock have responded to violence, bigotry and shocking events. The soundtrack includes remarkable work by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Sinead O’Connor, the Pogues, the Cranberries and Elvis Costello. 

Stuart Bailie, a Belfast-based music journalist and broadcaster, has spoken to over 60 participants and reveals many untold histories. Trouble Songs is an alternative hearing of the conflict, a testament to music’s value as a persuader, agitator and peacemaker. 

About Stuart Bailie

Stuart Bailie is a music writer and broadcaster, based in Belfast. He has been a music industry professional for over 30 years, writing for NME, Mojo, Uncut, Q, Vox, The Times, The Mirror, The Irish Times, Classic Rock and Hot Press. He was assistant editor of NME, 1992-96. 

Other Stuart Bailie books are:  We Hope You Will Enjoy The Show: British Music Since 1945 (British Music Experience, 2017) and the authorised story of Thin Lizzy, The Ballad of the Thin Man (Boxtree, 1997). 

He has written TV and radio documentaries on U2, Elvis Costello, Glen Campbell and Thin Lizzy. He wrote and narrated a BBC TV history of music from Northern Ireland, So Hard to Beat, in 2007. 

For further information please contact: 

Claire McAuley, Communications Manager: T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504 Twitter: @BCouncil_NI, Facebook – 

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 65 million people directly and 731 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.