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Enjoy reggae twist to well-loved songs with Easy Stars All Stars

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Date Published: {J}

Put some bounce and bass into your Autumn by going to see Easy Star All Stars when they come to Róisín Dubh on Thursday, October 21. The New York-based reggae outfit are best known for reinterpreting songs by The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Radiohead and they have a stellar live reputation.

Easy Star records was set up in 1996 by Michael Goldwasser, Eric Smith and Lem Oppenheim. They were united by a passion for reggae and a desire to do something different.

“We all loved reggae but we weren’t very happy with the quality of reggae that was going on in the early to mid nineties,” recalls Michael, the producer and arranger for Easy Star All Stars. “The stuff that was coming out of Jamaica was pretty much all using drum machines and was very computer and digital oriented. The stuff that was coming out of America was mostly trying to be Bob Marley.

“We thought it would be good to start a label where we make traditional-sounding Jamaican reggae using Jamaican artists, but recording in New York,” he adds. “We were young and foolish enough to think we could just out some money together and do it, but it worked.”

Easy Star began to make waves in 2003 when they decided to rework a classic Pink Floyd album.

“We were highly regarded but we wanted to do something different. My partner Len was a big fan of Dark Side of The Moon and he had the idea of ‘why don’t we do a reggae version of it?’.

Michael came up with the basic arrangements in his studio.

“We thought ‘wow, this really could work’ and then we just took it from there.”

Dub Side Of The Moon was met with great acclaim and Easy Star really took off. The Easy Star All Stars were assembled, touring the world and even getting some feedback from members of Pink Floyd.

“David Gilmour was being interview on BBC Radio and the host asked him about Dub Side of the Moon and he said ‘yeah, it’s great fun. I really wish I had seen them the last time they were in London’,” Michael says. “Roger Waters sent us a fax saying that he didn’t comment on covers of his work, so we respect that. Claire Torey, who sang The Great Gig in the Sky, came to see us play a couple of times.”

Easy Star All Stars have since gone to record their own versions of Radiohead’s OK Computer and The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band. Easy Stars’ popularity is surely down to their mastery of the reggae groove – what is it about this genre that consistently appeals to audiences?

“Well, there are several reasons,” says Michael. “Musically I find it’s hard to hear some good reggae and not feel it somehow in your body. It’s something about the beats – it all originates with the idea if the heartbeat, which was then translated to African drumming, which was then made its way to Jamaica. So I think there’s something very primal about reggae music.

“But also a lot of the messages in reggae are universal,” he continues. “Reggae started out as struggle music, in the seventies, singing about social problems and inequality, racism, socio-economic problems – and these are things most people can relate to. In fact, one of the reasons why Dub Side of the Moon works so well is the universal themes that Pink Floyd were writing about – reggae fans can relate to those as well.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht 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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