Date Published: 20-Jun-2012
It’s a gig that could fly under the radar, but don’t let it. Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys come to Kelly’s on Friday, June 29, playing the kind of Americana that has won them fans like Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen.
Alejandro Escovedo’s parents emigrated from Mexico, and he grew up in a home where a work ethic and music went hand in hand.
“My father worked hard all his life, 60 hours a week,” Alejandro explains. “He was a plumber. And I think he passed that down to my brothers [who were musicians]. When I watched them play they were always very poised and they looked sharp. They weren’t really flamboyant about it; they were just working very hard, becoming better musicians all the time. It seemed like a natural fit.”
When referring to his own solo career that has produced 14 albums, Alejandro is reluctant to confine himself to a genre.
“There’s so much music out there,” he says. “You can’t set boundaries. I think that when people ask me about my music, what kind of music I play, it’s a difficult question to answer. I always say it’s the result of a very large record collection! “There’s so much to be drawn from and inspired by,” he adds. “It’s difficult to work with blinders on.”
Big Station is Alejandro’s latest album and was recorded in Austin, Texas, a town that’s known for its vibrant music scene.
“Jim Eno, from the band Spoon, has a studio called Public Hi-Fi,” says the singer. “It’s a great studio, we had a wonderful time making it. It was nice to make it in Austin, actually; it was the first one there in quite a while. It’s been my home for 30 years. It’s got a great history of music – and a great future, I think.”
Big Station is the third album Alejandro has made with Tony Visconti, the producer behind seminal David Bowie albums like Space Oddity, Heroes and Low, as well as Thin Lizzy’s best work.
“Tony, historically, is an iconic producer,” says Alejandro. “He brings a lot of great things to a recording session. Not only his vast vocabulary of music and arrangement on rock ‘n’ roll records that he’s made, but he’s a great guy. Passionate. And I think he’s there for the right reason, he’s there for the songs. I love how he makes his music.”
The singer is a big fan of American writers like Larry Brown and the short story master, Raymond Carver. Given the limits of song writing, does Alejandro find it difficult to distil these influences into his craft?
“I don’t think so,” he says. “I’ve always been inspired by writers.
Hemingway I love very much, Flannery O’Connor, Larry Brown, Raymond Carver. I love those guys, especially Raymond Carver, how he deals with relationships, dysfunctional relationships that are based on love, but somehow can’t seem to find the right rhythm.”
The heart-worn but brilliant song Last to Know features a line that Carver himself could have written: ‘More miles than money/We fall in love and it’s never funny.’
“I wrote that a long time ago,” says Alejandro. “It was in Austin, somewhere around the mid-nineties I think. I wrote it in [his former band] Buick McCain. I wrote it about all the things that we’d gone through as a band, and hat song came out. ‘The party’s over and we won’t go.’
Down in The Bowery, from Alejandro’s previous album, was inspired by his then 17-year-old son, who was getting into punk music and was “angry, young and pissed off”. Alejandro was once that young punk fan himself – so did he get rid of all his own anger?
“I don’t know that it always goes away,” he says. “Most of the guys that I grew up playing with are kind of the same. I’m not saying that they haven’t matured, but I think it’s what still drives you in music. Those things that you learn when you’re first beginning.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Galway have lot to ponder in poor show
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
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.
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013