The Groove Tube with Jimi McDonnell
Canadian songwriter Cara Luft plays upstairs in Róisín Dubh this Saturday, June 8. Cara is someone to reckon with as she has been awarded a Juno (Canada’s answer to the Grammys) and was a former member of folk trio, The Wailin’ Jennys.
She has just released her third solo album, Darlingford. With all this experience behind her, was making this album easier than her previous efforts?
“It was a different process because I chose to record it myself,” Cara says. “Whereas all my previous solo recordings, as well as the recordings with the band I’d been in before, we’d always had a producer involved.
“I was always still very hands on with the process, and I understood how to produce an album but I’d never undertaken it myself. So it was quite different that way, learning to trust my instincts and learning to express what I wanted from the other players that were taking part.”
The album was recorded in a church in Darlingford, a rural town in Canada. What made Cara choose that unusual location?
“I used a couple of churches, actually,” she says. “Part of the reason I did that was the album was written after a pretty severe break-up. I was really wearing my heart on my sleeve, and I felt it would really help to capture the energy of the songs if I was to record them in a really unique environment.
“Churches have often been sung in; they’ve had a lot of music played in them. So I could pick up a little bit of the vibe that was already within those walls and have it seep into the album a little bit.”
Darlingford sees Cara Luft deliver a stirring version of Bring ’em all In,a relatively unknown Mike Scott song. How did the Canadian folk singer come across it?
“A friend of mine, a guy who produced one of my albums, was a big Waterboys fan,” Cara explains. “I had listened to The Waterboys quite a bit, but he gave me Mike’s solo album. I listened to that song, and I was just floored. I thought it was one of the best written songs I had ever heard in my life.
“I thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool to it as a duet?’ and came up with my own rendition of Mike’s song, but not straying too far from Mike’s version. It’s such a great song, and audiences absolutely love it.”
Many of the songs were co-written with Lewis Melville, a songwriting friend of Cara’s. Having Lewis there helped to up her game, but it also meant she was a little more measured in how she wrote about her break-up.
“I did that purposely because I didn’t want to wallow in misery,” Cara says of having a collaborator. “Songwriters write from their experience, and I was going through a really difficult time. And I wanted to be able to write about it, but I didn’t want to do it in a way that nobody could relate to.
“Lewis could help me capture what I wanted to say in a song, but capture it in a way that it could be upbeat. It might have a sad subject matter, but it’s not going to be overly depressing to listen to.”
There was also a free flow of ideas, and opinions, between Cara and Lewis.
“I know him well, he’s an excellent songwriter, but he’s also the type of person that isn’t precious about his ideas. I wanted to write with somebody who wasn’t going to be ‘it’s my way or the high way’. If I had an idea and he disagreed, he could say so but neither one of us needed to feel hurt or upset.”
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.