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Duke Special

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Lisburn, Northern Ireland (2002 – present)

Duke Special (real name Peter Wilson; born on 4 January 1971 in Lisburn, Northern Ireland) is a Northern Ireland songwriter and performer based in Belfast. A piano-based songwriter with a romantic style and a warm, distinctly accented voice, he has distinctive long dreadlocks, eyeliner and outfits he describes as “hobo chic”.

Live performances have a theatrical style inspired by Vaudeville and music hall, and often incorporate 78s played on an old-fashioned gramophone, or sound effects from a transistor radio. He is most often accompanied by percussionist “Temperance Society” Chip Bailey, who plays cheese graters and egg whisks, a Stumpf fiddle and a Shruti box, as well as the more typical drums and cymbals. Other musicians who perform with Wilson from time to time include Paul Pilot (guitar), Réa Curran (trumpet, backing vocals, accordion), Ben Castle (clarinet, saxophone), Ben Hales (bass guitar), Gareth Williams, “Professor” Ger Eaton (keyboards), Dan Donnelly (mandoline, backing vocals) and Serge Archibald III (saxophone, “ethereal background sounds”, vibes).

From beginning solo performing in 2002, his albums include Adventures in Gramophone (2005), Songs from the Deep Forest (2006), both of which were nominated for the Choice Music Prize, I Never Thought This Day Would Come (2008), Little Revolutions (2009), The Silent World of Hector Mann (2010), Mother Courage and Her Children (2010), Under the Dark Cloth (2011) and Oh Pioneer (2012).

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