Originally from Armagh, James now lives on a small island off the north east coast of Ireland called Rathlin. He started playing guitar 20 years ago and joined the Manukahunney band in 2017. James is also an Artist and periodically holds exhibitions of his work, sometimes alongside his partner who is also a full time Artist.
I enjoy playing music that merge various musical flavours such as blues, jazz, folk, rock and classical. Musicians who have influenced me greatly include Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher and Jimi Page. As the guitarist with soul/funk quintet, Manukahunney I am privileged to play alongside this exciting funky family often to energetic audiences. I also
enjoy drawing influences from the vast and deep pool of soul music, which combines passion with the building of rhythmic intensity.
Matt started out on piano at 9 years old, learning classical, and 15 years later found himself playing jazz, funk, blues and indie rock! His first foray out of the classical world was when he was 17, when he played with the Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Ken Jordan. It was there that he learnt how to play in an ensemble and had his first go at improvisation. From there he entered the local jazz scene, playing in smaller groups and developing his skills as a musician. Matt has been playing in the Manukahunney band since 2017.
I work as a session musician in the jazz, rock and pop scenes in NI but my main projects now are Manukahunney and an original indie-rock band called Modern Rome. My favourite thing about Manukahunney is the wide range of musical and cultural backgrounds the band comes from - Henrique infuses the group with Brazilian groove, James has a very thoughtful, artistic style of playing, Pete brings his funk and rock bass lines (and pedal board), and Siobhan anchors the whole thing with her deep gospel and soul roots. It’s a space I feel we can musically explore and push ourselves, and putting the whole thing together creates a band genuinely unlike any other I’ve played in.
Founder and manager of the band, Siobhan’s love for soul music is evident when you see her on stage. Music has always been a big part of her life from a very young age and she has a passion for harmonies and rhythm. Having led numerous vocal acappella groups and gospel choirs, her experience in vocal arrangements is of the highest quality. Steeped in a background of gospel music, Siobhan’s ear is attuned to the intricate, delicate, emotional, rhythmic and funky grooves of the genre. In Northern Ireland her musical journey has seen her perform as backing vocalist to artists such as Brian Houston, Kaz Hawkins, Amanda St John and Cormac Neeson amongst others and sing in productions alongside The Ulster Orchestra at the Night of 1000 voices, in a Karen Carpenter tribute show, perform alongside The funky Beat n Drum - Beat carnival organisation, as well as numerous performances across the province as a duet with her sister Jean.
Siobhan’s love for feeling the warmth of an artist's spirit and meaning in their music plays a big part in her own musical ethos and stage performances. As well as a wife and mother of 3, Siobhan is also a Conservation Architect . She also co-wrote and directed the One Love musical, with her husband David which was supported by Arts council NI and ACSONI and performed at the MAC theatre, Belfast in 2014, a play she hopes to bring to the stage again sometime soon.
“I love the groove in this band, It’s a wonderful fusion of everyone’s musical character and creativity, but ultimately it’s all about deep rooted soul!! If the groove’s right and it’s coming from deep within, I find it irresistible and it simply makes me so happy whether I'm singing or listening to it. For me, Manukahunney is about sharing soul music and its power and beauty in the unique way that I grew up with it. I’m sharing a bit of who I am with those who love to listen to authentic soul . It’s great to see when people connect with the amazing warm atmosphere and feeling soul creates - as real soul music does!
I am surrounded by my own musical instruments at home, I don't play an instrument fluently, not yet anyway but it is my lifelong ambition to be able to. However, my instrument is my voice and my strength is my creativity. I grew up absorbing and being excited by the detail behind musical compositions. I absorbed the incidentals in musical compositions, which often excited me more than the tune itself! My mind continually creates new permutations , so much so that drawing the line, when in the creative process can be hard, but when you hit the sweet spot in music you know it!! In same the way an accomplished musician is a master of their instrument, I hear all the musical parts in my head in detail, which allows me to communicate with those i work with in detail, to create the unique sounds I look for in music.
I must say though piano, bass and drums are my secret pleasure and the instruments I would most love to be able to play. The groove one can create with those instruments just never ceases to excite me. If there was such a thing as a professional “air” bass player and drummer that would definitely be me!!! - I've been "air " playing since year dot. So as you can imagine my skills in that area are second to none.....LOL!!
Henrique 'Blackjack' Franco
Born in São Paulo - Brasil, Henrique comes from an extremely musical family. It was in Church that he learned to play drums and grew to love music and his passion for drums lead him to get involved in several projects, playing with bands ranging from Gospel Funk to Garage Punk. His travels to Spain, Australia, Dublin and Belfast have given him a rich palette of experiences that include DJ’ing, collaborating with various emerging artists and a resident DJ of a Saturday night Radio show at one of Australia's most prestigious Jazz Radios, East Side FM.
As a session drummer, he had a regular spot with the international reggae band “Caribbean Soul”, playing weekly at Sydney's biggest reggae night at Civic Underground. He also performed at Australia's The Voice Grand Finale in 2013, as part of Robin Thicke's band. In Ireland Henrique started drumming for singer/song-writer Carlinhos Cruz and became a resident DJ at The Berlin and Abbey Court Bar. His time in Northern Ireland has seen Henrique get involved with 2 regular Radio shows, The Movement on Blast FM-Xtra and Mellow Moods on Belfast Underground Radio and run a weekly Open Mic night held at The Pavilion, where he also hosted iTV's auditions for The Voice UK 2018.
Interested in composing and expanding his own musical style, he has also created his own project called “Blackjack”, a groovy electro-acoustic mixture, heavily influenced by the Nu-Jazz scene that also features several local artists.
Henrique currently produces for upcoming artists and has featured on numerous albums. He also runs individual and group drum classes in his studio in Belfast and can be seen drumming regularly with a wide variety of bands - As well as Manukahunney/ Manukahunney Blue, he also drums with Blackjack, Xango Latin, Carlinhos Cruz, Dizzy Steppers, Tonic All-Stars, Stepbrothers, Scream Blue Murmur, Hot Sauce, Streetwise Samba, Belfast Busking Band and others. Henrique joined Manukahunney in 2016 .
I met Siobhan at a street performance I was doing and our musical synchronicity was pretty instant coming from similar musical backgrounds. I was pleased to join Manukahunney and its great that as a result good friendships have grown within the band. It’s a real pleasure for me to have the opportunity to experiment with my musical ideas within this band and to be able to bring those vibes to places where people are not used to listening to this kind of groovy soulful music.
At a relatively young age Peter has already encountered many successes as a musician. Playing for “Jealous of the Birds” fronted by the talented Naomi Hamilton he has been privileged to support some great artists such as Kate Nash, Elbow and Suede he has also played across the Atlantic & recently recorded in Abbey Road Studios. He formed his own covers band “Annas Number”, with musicians spanning from various parts of his professional life. His dexterity within the band received notable praise from BBC Radio 6 DJ Tom Robinson - who described Peter as “a world-class bass player”.
Playing the guitar as a way to avoid PE in school was his first insight into what has become for him a love with music and sonics. He started lessons at 14 and found his affiliation with the bass guitar. He attended Armagh SRC, and obtained a few awards as part of an ensemble and achieved the grades to study in Queens University , Belfast - Sonic Arts Research Facility a course that allowed him to focus on his love of sound. There Peter studied sound design, sound for film, sound for virtual reality audio and a whole host of electro-acoustic compositions. With this background knowledge He gained an insight into what makes a good band sound and this engineer mindset has allowed him to implement those concepts into his own playing with various effects and techniques to fix a mix. Peter Joined Manukahunney in Early 2019 .
It's low end punch of the bass that hooks me and also being the driving force of a band yet sitting back. I love to be challenged with the music i do as it really helps train me to play the parts intended . Things are going brilliant at the moment and I am privileged to add Manukahunney to the list of acts that I put my stamp on. The guys in the band are so welcoming and it’s always great to get to make new friends through this art.