The Songwriters Contest is quickly coming to a climax with the first semi this Friday in the Castle Inn, the second semi in the Sean Ti next Friday and the final in Rosatos next Saturday night in front of Tony Bramwell. It’s getting exciting.

The quality of the songs has been excellent. For instance at the Sean Ti heat last Friday night I was going to exclude all songs that got less than an average of 8 out of 10 from the two judges – but none did so I had to raise the threshold to 8.75 or more.

With the first semi the standard should rise again. Here are the runners and riders.

Laura Bonner
– Unattainable
– Loaded Gun

Laura is just 19 and has 4 songs through to the semis. She won a talent contest at Rawdons and plays regularly there. She has the most songs through to the semis of anybody.

Leo McCauley
– Duffy’s Cut
– Gathering

Leo has been one of the most influential musicians and songwriters around the area for manys a year. Both his songs that he entered got through.

Martin Moir
– Don’t know what for
– Touch the Sky
– Moving Ahead

Not sure if Martin is going to be able to make it as he is going to Thailand shortly on holiday. Martin has been writing songs and taking part in these contests regularly. Martin has got three of his four songs through to the semis.

Jack Craig
– On the Right Track
– Pleasure and Pain

Jack took part in the Rosatos heat and the girls behind the bar picked his songs out as the ones they liked best. Jack got into the finals of the Derry songwriter contest finishing 4th out of 17 in the final. He must be in with a great shout.

Karl McCarron
– The Rose of Fluoride Free

Karl, from Muff, is one of the top performers around Inishowen and delighted the audience with this one. He stands a great chance of getting this one through.

Mark McKinney from String Fellas (Derry)
– My Granda’s Brother Gerard

String Fellas are one of the top bands in Derry and in Inishowen. Mark has now revealed himself as a quality songwriter. This one is very poignant one as his Grand’s brother Gerard died on Bloody Sunday.

Jessica Harkin
– Not Ready to Talk
– Dancing in the Shop

Jessica is one of the top young songwriters in the area amongst a very good crop.She was picked out by Tony Bramwell as a potential talent when she performed before him last year at the BeatlesFest.

Deadpool (Derry)
– Ink
– That Time My Friend

This is a great young, high-octane band from Derry who are currently gate crashing the scene there. If you think of an early Stratospheric you’ll get the idea. They also put me in mind of Nirvana. One of their songs was given a straight 10 by the three judges. I’ll let you decide which one you think it is as they are both good. They have a great chance of making the final.

James O’Donnell (with Gerard McGonagle)
– You Face the Sea – This was already sung at the heat in the Sean To last week as James left for sea on Tuesday of this week. We couldn’t say if it had qualified for the final until we heard the other songs.
– About a Cow (We’re Going Down)

About a Cow, one of the great Spring Tides songs will be sung by Gerard McGonigle as James is away. Everyone remembers Spring Tides and what an exciting band they were.

Ryan O’Dochertaigh
– Risky Business

Ryan virtually runs the music business in Derry, running the Songwriter contest there and organising various festivals. Movillians will remember him and his band playing the Bar-a-Cuda during the 2010 DylanFest. It was one of the best ever DylanFest performances and is still remembered.

The quality of the songs is very high and it should be a great semi final.

It takes place in the Castle Inn at 10pm