An Irishman has beaten off the opposition in an international competition to play the Benicasssim festival in Spain.
A few weeks ago – give or take a few! – Dublin based singer songwriter Ryan Sheridan was busking in Temple Bar. "I was walking through Temple Bar when I saw him," Brian Whitehead, who manages the Olympia Theatre told Hot Press. "Over the years, working with MCD, I've had hundreds of people approach me with CDs and so on, and I've never been inspired before to get involved. But when I saw this guy, he blew me away. He was absolutely brilliant."
Whitehead isn't the only one to think so. There were 3,227 entries to the Benicassim competition, Ryan Sheridan – who is originally from Monaghan – among them. The first call was to say that he had made the shortlist of 40. Then there was a call to say he was in the Final 5 – could he come to London to perform?
He did. And he won, impressing a panel that included representatives from Universal Records, as well as Benicassim founder Vince Power.
Sheridan's talent had already been recognised in Hot Press:
"Ryan Sheridan has the enviable knack of making you feel that his songs have arrived fully formed from some other place," Jackie Hayden wrote in HP's First Cuts column. "There's a real life grittiness to his voice too, as if he's really lived inside these songs and their fevered rhythms keep you well logged on."
As it turns out, Sheridan is no neophyte. He toured with Riverdance from the age of 16, and left the show in 2002. He was lead singer with the Glasgow based Shiversaint from 2004 but, since his return to Ireland, has embarked on a solo career.
"He is fantastic," says Whitehead, who is managing the 28 year old Irishman. "When I saw him busking, there was a crowd of 100 people watching – he had them in the palm of his hand. He is brilliant. Niamh Kavanagh came third last, representing Ireland in the Eurovision – and she's good. But this guy took on 3,227 other artists and bands – and won playing his own songs."
Benicassim takes place between the 15 & 18 July.
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