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Colm draws from the past and present for his third solo album

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Date Published: {J}

Q, otherwise known as Dublin based musician Colm Quearney, plays The Crane Bar on Thursday next, April 29, opening for blues player Chaz De Paolo. An in-demand guitarist for major acts like Mundy and Jerry Fish, Colm has just released his third solo album Root To The Fruit. The album was recorded in The Cube studios, a space Colm built himself from scratch.

“It’s in Northstrand in Dublin and it was really built with the purpose for me to have somewhere to record and just get in to production,” he explains. “It was really built out of necessity as well – studios being so expensive. Any money I seemed to be making I was handing over to studio owners, so I thought I’d be as well to start with humble beginnings. I’m glad I did now, two years later.”

As well as recording his own music, Colm has been able to hone his skills as a producer. It may have been six years since his last solo record, but he feels it’s been worth the wait.

“It was definitely a fresh start and a new beginning,” he says. “I had to up my skills in engineering. It wasn’t just my own music, but to produce other people – I produced an album with The Pale and a guy called Mick Duffy.

For the making of Root To The Fruit, and any other album to be recorded in his studio, Colm wanted to draw from the past as well as the present.

“I knew that records from the 60s and 70s, to my ears, sounded better than more recent records. I wanted to investigate the whole idea of analog and digital equipment; I came up with an assimilation of using both.”

Colm explains the difference between older and newer recording techniques thus:

“When you’re working with analog equipment it’s all about pre-production; a band really has to have their stuff down. I think that’s what happened in the Sixties – bands gigged and rehearsed so much that when they went in to the studio they really were putting down a final article. More and more now, tracks can be built in the studio and e-mailed all over the world for people to play on.”

When it came to picking the ten tracks for Root To The Fruit, Colm had to work his way through a lot of material.

“There’s some really nice songs that didn’t end up on the album but they just didn’t fit,” he says. “I had about 30 songs, and 22 or 23 of those were finished. There’ll be more releases in the future.”

Some musicians see their songs as ‘babies’ but Colm was less precious when it came to picking which tracks he’d use.

“I am quite decisive – I was never one to write hundreds of songs, I kind of know whether an idea’s worth developing or not. I don’t really have a problem with that; I’m quite good at working on a song and putting it away and working on other stuff, then coming back and re-jigging it.”

One of the stand-out tracks on Root To The Fruit is El Capitan, a song that a sort of Tom Waits feel to it.

“That was a bit of a joke song,” says Colm. “I got this new Hammond organ in the studio, which is an old instrument. It has these bass foot pedals and different functions on it and I used to play music on it for people coming into the studio, as a showcase of what it could do. I just decided to record it one day and I had a set of lyrics that were kind of like a children’s song.”

“It didn’t seem right to sing it in a normal voice so I cut off the end of a Ballygowan bottle and started singing through that,” he adds. “There was no intention of putting it on the album but when I started playing tracks to people they were going ‘that definitely has to go on the album.’”

Music has been part of Colm’s life since childhood – his father John Quearney is a veteran double-bass player in Dublin’s blues scene. Did Colm inherit his work ethic from that generation of working musicians?

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Galway have lot to ponder in poor show

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE

GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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