The Groove Tube with Jimi McDonnell
Bringing a lively take to Irish and American roots music, Amazing Apples play Monroe’s Live on Friday next, May 31. The Galway based five-piece have gone from strength to strength since winning the hotly contested Battle of the Band’s competition in The Townhouse last year.
“It gave us a bit more faith in ourselves, made us push on a bit more,” says Cian, who plays guitar and sing in the band.
Amazing Apples are currently recording their debut single, which they plan to release in July.
“It wouldn’t be a dance-y kind of tune, but it’s not slow,” says Cian about the song. “It’d be upbeat enough – I don’t how you’d say that. We’re going to have a brass section as well. It’s the first time we’ve done that, looking forward to it.”
The band members have mostly been doing some home-recording, but went to a city-centre venue to get their drum sound right.
“We’re recording out in Ed Kenehan’s [sound engineer with Monroe’s Live] house, but we’ve put some of the drum tracks down in Monroe’s,” says Cian. “There’s a room in there that Ed thought would suit, it had the right ambience, good reverb.”
Last year, Amazing Apples made the transition from being a covers band to performing their own compositions. Cian has found the transition relatively smooth.
“It’s been about eight months now,” he says. “We don’t really do covers anymore. If we do, they’re our own take. They’re never straight covers, we’d always change it as much as possible. Just for the live show.”
“It’s going pretty well, to be honest,” he adds. “We thought it’d be harder. People seem to respond well to it. A lot of the stuff is upbeat, it catches people’s attention. I suppose our main thing when we’re playing live is to create the best show that we can. It’s all about the live show, you have to make sure that people stay into it. It’s about making an impression; that’s the main priority.”
The full line up of the Amazing Apples is Eanna Fahy (fiddle/mandolin/vocals), Cian Crehan (rhythm guitar/vocals) Anthony Ryan (lead guitar/bass/vocals), Brian Grace (drums/guitar/piano), Darragh Crehan (bass/keyboards/mandolin/bouzouki/vocals.) They formed almost accidentally, says Cian, explaining that the band was originally “just a bit of craic really, something to do”.
“Myself and Dara are brothers,” says Cian. “We were in a band with the drummer, Brian, years ago. Myself and the brother used to work in a car-wash with the guitarist, Anthony. Then, the fiddle player is just a friend of a friend.”
Amazing Apples formed over three years ago. Did Cian have a good feeling about the group from the get-go?
“No!” he laughs. “We didn’t think we’d be taking this direction, but it kept going from strength to strength. We just kept working on the live show, and it was going well. When we started writing our own stuff, that’s what we were trying to do. People were coming to our gigs that we’d recognise. We were happy with it so we decided to keep going.”
Having three people swapping lead vocals means Amazing Apples are never dull to watch.
“It gives the other person a break as well!” says Cian of this practice.
Perhaps the most arresting part of an Amazing Apples live show is their singing fiddler, Eanna. Cian admits that Eanna’s onstage antics helped to get the band noticed at an early stage.
“It was definitely different,” he says. “It opened a lot of doors and we could do more things that we wouldn’t be able to do if he wasn’t in the band. It brought an Irish flavour to it. We wouldn’t be traditional Irish at all, but it definitely has an Irish feel to it because of the way he plays.
“It drives them a bit mad!” Cian adds about Eanna’s effect on a crowd. “If you’ve a song rocked up with a bit of fiddle in it, people tend to go a bit nuts.”
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be
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.
All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh
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.
Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday
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.