Hailing from North London but with roots grown in the foothills of Topped mountain, multi-instrumentalist and talented composer James Patrick Gavin is bringing a live performance of his solo album to Fermanagh, the home of the people and stories that inspired it.

“It’s like bringing it full circle,” said James, explaining that the album starts in Fermanagh and ends in London. “We launched it in London and now we’re bringing it back to Fermanagh. There’s a lot of people either mentioned in or who inspired the album that live in or around Fermanagh,” he added.

Entitled ‘Chewing the Fat,’ the album is a conversation, both literally and metaphorically, with James’ grandmother Mena Gavin at the core.

“A lot of the time she’s just telling her stories and it’s just conversations going back back and forth. ‘Chewing the Fat’ came from that,” explained James.

Throughout the album, Mena’s Fermanagh brogue can be heard as she shares anecdotes with her loved ones.

Along with his grandmother, James cites his father Seamus Gavin, who performs with him on the album and during live shows, as a great influence to his music.

“If it wasn’t for my dad I wouldn’t be playing music. He is from Mount Drum but he went to school in St. Michael’s so there’s a lot of friends of his who would come over from Fermanagh to London to play,” he said.

“One of the first tunes I ever learned was off Barry McGandy, he’s a bit of character around town,” he added.

Although James plays numerous instruments, he claims the fiddle as his first. When asked if any of his family members inspired him to learn the violin, James said: “I actually tried that myself. I tried it when I was about four or five. I remember my mum took me to a place in London as she just wanted a coffee or something and when we walked in there were kids playing violins and I said I wanted to do that. And they just got me one and it went from there.”

He added: “It might not have been the wisest choice but it’s definitely my first instrument, my first wife.”

Describing his style of music as “heavily influenced by Irish music,” James added that his tastes are very eclectic. He said: “There’s probably a bunch of other things in there that aren’t quite necessarily trad.”

When asked about his compositional skills and songwriting process, James said: “I usually try and think of a scene. I wrote the tunes specifically for this album so there were certain things that I wanted to set. I kind of think about them and it would go from there.”

He added: “I think tunes or songs are almost like leaves in the wind, they just kind of pass by and you have to grab them when you can.”

‘Chewing the Fat’ was launched early last year with a sell-out show at the Union Chapel in North London. During the live performances, James was accompanied by fellow musicians, acclaimed in their own right, who had featured on the album. Together they brought the 10-track record of folk tunes and songs, interwoven with spoken word, to life. With his Ardhowen Theatre show at the end of May, James is planning to do it all again.

“On the launch night in London there was about 11 of us all on stage which was a bit, in terms of logistics, insane. So I’ve decided, as a true sadomasochist, to do the same thing again or close enough to it,” he laughed. “90 per cent of the people who featured on the album are going to be there in Fermanagh. I’m looking forward to it,” he added.

James will bring his live performance of ‘Chewing the Fat’ to the Ardhowen stage on Friday May 31. Tickets are now available from the Ardhowen Box Office and website.

“I think there’s nothing better than a live performance. We don’t play it exactly like the recording, some things are improvised so it’s pretty much a unique experience,” commented James.

“Plus there’s a whole bunch of other things that we do on the night, basically you just have to come to the gig,” he added.