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US brass band of brothers for Galway



Date Published: {J}

There are some gigs that stick with you, shows that justify the gamble you make when you fork out for a ticket. Without question, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are worth a flutter. The Chicago based band make a welcome return to the Róisín Dubh on Thursday, April 15.

Band leader Gabriel ‘Hudah’ Hubert is in ebullient form as he gets ready to bring his band of brothers (eight in total) out on the road. He explains the practicalities of playing seven countries in 30 days.

“Pack light, don’t pick up too many souvenirs along the way,” he says. “You’ll find yourself paying a bunch of euros trying to think about everybody back home. Make your presents as small as possible, key chains and postcards and things like that!”

Hudah and his brothers are all sons of jazz musician of Kelan Phil Cohran, who played in the legendary Sun Ra Arkestra.

“Being part of a musical family, coming out of the womb you had an instrument in your hand,” he recalls. “The majority of us started playing around five years old; the youngest one started around three.”

“Early development was tutelage under our parents, mainly playing our father’s music,” continues Hudah. “Things that he wrote specifically for the band or things that he’d written already and thought we were advanced enough to perform.”

In 1999, Cohran’s eight sons started playing together under the name of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. How did the name come about?

“One scenario is the fact that we would captivate people just from playing music,” says Hudah. “People would come from miles and miles and miles following the sound, not knowing where it was coming from but would trail it until they found the source.”

Indeed, the band is aptly named. This is music that draws the listener in, making a permanent impression and, the band hopes, injecting some positivity into the world.

“We’ve had people tell us that they were on their way home to commit suicide or they were having a bad day, or they had lost hope for humanity. By being entranced by our music it gave them hope for a better life, or made them see the future as not so dark and gloomy but as, potentially, something better for them and future generations.

“We’ve always left people wanting more after they hear us,” adds Hudah. “It’s never enough. I could tell you a million different scenarios on why we call ourselves Hypnotic.”

Another thing that strikes you about a Hypnotic Brass Ensemble concert is the complete lack of sheet music. This gives their shows a sense of spontaneity that the band are only too eager to act upon.

“With our father and his teachings, he never wanted his musicians to play on stage with stands and sheet music,” Hudah explains.

“Because what that does is put you in a box, as far as performing is concerned. As an artist the sky is supposed to be the limit, creativity is endless. If you’re playing the same music everyday and you’re playing it the same way, it is not growing. Music evolves, it grows like people do.”

Improvisation is a key part of jazz performance, something the Chicago octet does with aplomb.

“You might not want to play you solo the same, or you might want to add on another bridge, another breakdown. It’s free like that and all you have to is keep eye contact with the person on each side of you and y’all can expand yourself.”

Although steeped in musical heritage, the Hypnotic Brass ensemble are on a quest to constantly create something new.

“One thing our father always told us was that we are supposed to inspire,” says Hudah. “You always have to think of different ways; you can’t inspire something new if you’re dwelling on the old. You don’t forget about the old but you respect it in its proper place, and you build on that.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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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Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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