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A year of highs and lows and legends now gone

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Suede who were the highlight of this years Arts Festival.

Groove Tube with Jimi McDonnell  – tribunegroove@live.ie

The past year has seen some music legends shuffle off this mortal coil.  The losses started early, on January 10, David Bowie passed away, shortly after releasing the magnificent Blackstar. As well as eloquently facing up to the dying of the light, songs like Lazarus and I Can’t Give Everything Away are up there with his finest compositions. The different moods and genres Bowie jumped through are jaw-dropping, there weren’t many performers who could rival him.

Except, perhaps, for Prince, who died in April.  Where do you start with Minneapolis’s most famous son? His insane falsetto? The guitar playing that could rival Hendrix, dance moves that out-stepped James Brown and Michael Jackson or the sheer mastery of funk? The quality of his recorded output had perhaps dropped, but there was no doubting Prince’s prowess as live performer. He died at only 57, in the middle of a tour, but that might still have been the case had he lived to 82.

Which is the number of trips Leonard Cohen clocked around the sun before he passed away in November. Like Bowie, he released an excellent album before his death. You Want It Darker received rave reviews, and the title track is an acerbic and poignant gem.  Cohen got to the essence of what it is to be human, and his lyrics are some of the finest that have ever been to put music.  His late renaissance as a live performer was a fitting bookend to an exemplary career, and his work will continue to be pored over as long as there are pages to be read and speakers in the world.

It may be something of a jump, but here at home, Galway has seen its fair share of excellent live performances this year. One worth noting is John Conneely Inc’s continuing Sunday residency in the Róisín Dubh.  Kicking off at midnight, laughing in the face of Monday morning, Conneely’s rumbling voice is augmented by a changing band of clarinet, dobro, trumpet and violin players.

For many, Galway’s year revolves around the summer and the gigs in the Big Top always loom large in the musical calendar.  The highlight of this year’s Art Festival, to these eyes and ears, was Suede’s show in the big blue tent.  The band commissioned Roger Sargent to make a film to accompany their latest album Night Moves. At their Galway gig, this film was projected on to a screen that a semi-lit Suede played behind.  The sides of the Big Top were closed off, and the excellent sound and visuals combined to make for a rock show with a difference.  Talking to people afterwards, many loved it, while others actively disliked it. But didn’t that make a pleasant change from an established band simply rattling through their hits? Anyway, Suede did this too in the second half, with Brett Anderson throwing rock star shapes like his life depended on it. The crowd singing the hit single Trash at the top of their voices had to be one of the highlights of 2016.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be

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Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce.

Folk duo Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce are launching their new album What Will We Be, a  blend of folk, Americana and acoustic music, this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in An Taibhdhearc.

The success of their well-received 2020 release Taobh le Taobh, as well as recent successes at the Pan Celtic and Oireachtas Song Contests, spurred the duo on to record this new album which represents many years of collaboration and musical development.

It features Niall and Pádraic on vocals, harmonies, and acoustic guitars, Maidhc Ó hÉanaigh on double bass and Neil Fitzgibbon on fiddle. The catchy title track, What Will We Be, features contributions from percussionist Jim Higgins (The Stunning, Christy Moore, Paul Brady) and haunting, driving melodies on vocals, guitar, and fiddle.

Themes of love and hope are woven through Come Away with Me which features interplay between piano and fiddle as well as rich vocal harmonies.

People, places, and broken dreams are celebrated and lamented on Martin and Tom, Guitar Gold, Memories of You and Achill Island. The influence of David Henry Thoreau’s novel Walden features on the tracks Simple and Wise and Walden, with the beauty of nature, escape and simple pleasures at their core.

The album moves from minimalistic folk ballads such as Galway Ghost to swirling, string-laden arrangements on the song Neptune, both of which are influenced by maritime tales from Galway. Much of the work on this album was supported by the Arts Council, including work with musical arranger Eoin Corcoran and the string ensemble Treo.

The album will be launched this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in an Taibhdhearc. Tickets €22, plus booking fee at Eventbrite.ie.

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CITY TRIBUNE

All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh

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Most of the competitions for young musicians will take place this Saturday in Dunmore Community School. All the competitions are open to the public.

Dunmore is the place to be this weekend for lovers of traditional music, as the Galway County Fleadh will take place there from this Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 23.

It is 10 years since Dunmore last hosted a fleadh and the local Comhaltas branch, which has re-formed since Covid, is looking forward to facilitating this gathering of music, song, dance and craic.

The official Opening Concert will take place in Dunmore Town Hall this Friday at 8pm with the acclaimed Mulcahy family from Limerick. Mick, Louise and Michelle are well known throughout the country, thanks to their live performances, television appearances and numerous CDs. They were the winners of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Grúpa Ceoil Award for 2023.  Tickets for their concert can be purchased on the door and a great night of music is promised.

Two days of competitions will kick off this Saturday at the town’s Community School, with more than 1,500 competitors taking part. Participants will be hoping to qualify for the Connacht Fleadh 2023, which will be held in Ballina, County Mayo, from June 23 to July 2.

Competitions for those aged Under 10, Under 12 and Under 15 will be held in a large variety of instruments on Saturday, as well as in singing and Comhrá Gaeilge. Sunday’s competitions will be for the Under 18 and Over 18 ages groups, as well as in dancing.

On both days a large entry is expected for Grúpaí Cheoil and Céilí Band competitions across all age groups.

Seventeen Comhaltas branches from across Galway will have participants in this weekend’s competitions, which will result in a large number of visitors to the Dunmore area.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the competitions, which offer a great opportunity to hear and see the talent on display. There will be sessions in local pubs over the weekend as well and everybody is welcome to attend these.

For more information on the County Fleadh, go to www.galwaycomhaltas.ie.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday

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Pianist Cédric Pescia.

Music for Galway’s concert with renowned Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia which had been due to take place on April 27 but which had to be deferred, will now take place next Tuesday, May 23, at 8pm, in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the University of Galway.

This concert of German classics with Bach at its core, will brings the Bach element of Music for Galway’s 41st season to an end.

This world-class pianist who won the famous Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition, has a repertoire that spans many eras from baroque to contemporary and he is widely known for his elaborate programmes. Cédric Pescia describes music as  ‘language and movement at the same time’.

Audiences will have a chance to experience his soft, clear touch as he performs a programme for solo piano that will include classics such as Schumann’s popular Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), a suite of nine short pieces, and the penultimate of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, No. 31.  These pieces will be interspersed with French Suites by Bach.

■ Ticket for Cédric Pescia’s concert are available at www.musicforgalway.ie, or by phone 091 705962 and on the door on the night. They cost €20/€18. The price for fulltime students of all ages is €6 while MfG Friends can avail of the friends’ rate of €16.

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