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Damien Dempsey – creating a natural high for audiences

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The Groove Tube with Jimi McDonnell – tribunegroove@live.ie

 Damien Dempsey and Glen Hansard play the Festival Big Top on Thursday, July 25 as part of this year’s Galway Arts Festival. Last year, Dempsey released Almighty Love, a record that’s arguably his strongest so far and earned the Dubliner a Choice Prize nomination.

The last time Dempsey spoke to the Groove Tube, he was about to take some time off from music to travel. Was he inspired by the change of scenery?

“I kind of left it alone,” he says. “I tried a bit of writing when I was away, but it wasn’t coming together – nothing decent coming. It was probably a bit of writer’s block.

“About two years ago now, when I got back from my travels I just started writing songs that meant something to me again. I was trying to go a different angle and write something a bit lighter, a bit more ‘festival’. Just to pick people up, because everyone seemed a bit down with the recession and that.”

Damien was initially unhappy with the direction of the new album, but eventually found the tone he was looking for. The breakthrough came with Chris and Stevie, a song he wrote about losing people to suicide.

“The lyrics and the verse would have come in a day,” says Damien. “I had a different chorus, but it wasn’t strong enough I didn’t think. I had to try and write a more simple chorus, that people could relate to. It was a bit too wordy, the chorus I had.”

The one Dempsey went for sees him sing ‘I’m missing you tonight’. It’s a tune his fans took to with gusto, and quickly became a live favourite.

“Everybody misses somebody at the moment, I’m sure,” he says. “It goes down really well. People seem to enjoy the story and they get emotional. It touches people, I suppose. It shuts them up too, if they’re getting too rowdy. The melody you can sing acapella, so I can stop playing the guitar so that stops people talking if they’re having a chat.”

At the Arts Festival show, Damien will be sharing the bill with Glen Hansard, who will be joined by The Frames and a brass section. Hansard has had quite a few years – he’s won an Oscar, the musical of Once scooped eight Tony awards and, most recently, he played alongside Rufus Wainwright at Joni Mitchell’s birthday tribute in Toronto’s famous Massey Hall.

How does Damien feel about his fellow Dubliner’s success?

“I’ve always been a fan of Glen,” he says. “He’s never lost the passion that he had when I first saw him 20 years ago; he still has that passion that gives me the shivers whenever he sings. As soon as I saw him I was hooked, I was in love with his singing. I still am; he hasn’t lost that edge.

“It’s great. I’ve seen how hard he’s worked, all over the world. For many years he went out there and lost money, and came back with bills from America and Europe. But he kept going, kept grafting out there. And it’s finally after paying off; it’s just brilliant to see.”

Damien Dempsey has become one of Ireland’s most popular and enduring live performers. People come to see him in their droves, but he had his own struggles in getting to that point.

“I was 10 years before I made a shilling,” he says. “Then it started to turn. After about 12 years, I started to make something, but before that I made nothing. It was a hard old slog for them years; I was penniless a lot of the time. People saying to me, ‘give up the ghost, you gave it a try’.

“Outside of Ireland, it’s still very tough – in the States. But it’s going well in Australia, and some of the cities around the UK.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Multi-instrumentalist draws inspiration from west coast

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Seamus O’Muineachain... new release.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

Seamus O’Muineachain is a minimalist multi-instrumentalist, composer and  producer with a penchant for a sense of place in his work.   Through five albums, he has approached ambient, instrumental soundscapes with piano melodies, gentle guitar, percussion and field recordings – using his music to reflect the calm and space of the areas that inspire it.

Seamus’ latest project is an ode to the Mullet Peninsula in the barony of Erris, Co. Mayo, which lies next to his home in Belmullet. Isthmus is set for release on October 1.

The songwriter was born in the US to an Italian mother and an Irish father, and his travels since his late teens have taken him across the globe. Still, something about home still seeps into his work at every corner.

For this record, it was a peninsula that, for Seamus, acts as a viewing platform for a sizable portion of the western landscape.

“It’s really rugged,” he says of the place.

“It feels like its own kind of world down here – it isn’t actually an island but it’s as close as you can get to one. Once you drive past the Ballycroy National Park, you’re out in the twilight zone where it’s rugged and back in time a little bit, but there’s something really beautiful and peaceful about it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Unique síbín-based show entertains and challenges

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The interior of the síbín that has been installed in Galway Arts Centre's building at Nuns' Island.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

They call it a síbín, but the ‘illegal boozer’ that members of the Belfast arts collective, Array, have created at Nuns’ Island Arts Centre in Galway city centre is as impressive as many legally licensed premises down South – more impressive than some. Síbíns might have gone out of fashion in this part of Ireland, but they remain popular in the North, especially in Belfast, where the 11-strong collective is based, explains artist Stephen Millar of the group.

This one forms part of The Druthaib’s Ball, a major exhibition from Array which won the prestigious 2021 Turner Art Prize – the first time a group from Northern Ireland took Britain’s leading arts award.

The Druthaib’s Ball was conceived by the members as a wake –  celebrating life and death – to mark the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s partition. On one wall of the síbín, a 35-minute film is playing. It was made during the commemoration ‘ball’, in Belfast’s Black Box venue last year.

Meanwhile, a collection of work on the síbín’s shelves and walls represent aspects of life in Northern Ireland – past and present. There’s more than 150 pieces, large and small, including paintings, political banners, a triptych of three stopped clocks, a kettle and a bata scór – a stick with a notch that was used in schools in Ireland during Victorian times to ensure children didn’t speak Irish.  The stopped clocks, meanwhile, with pictures of Belfast City Hall, Stormont and the EU Parliament in Strasbourg, are stopped at 19:21, 20:16 and 20:21 respectively – key years in Northern Ireland’s history.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Work for children of all ages in extended Baboró programme

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Grand Soft Day, a new co-production from Branar is for children aged three to six.

The 26th annual Baboró International Arts Festival for Children will take place from Friday, October 14, to Sunday, October 23, in theatres, galleries, schools and communities in Galway City and County.

This year’s extended 10-day festival will have more than 50 live events, presented by companies from all over Ireland and Europe, including Belgium, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Scotland and England.

These will include a special collection of European work made for children up to six years, as well as residencies in special schools and child-led projects.

Children aged eight and older are invited to join the surreal world of Der Lauf, where nothing is quite as it seems. In this show, two circus performers from Belgian company Le Cirque du Bout du Monde, compete in a series of bizarre challenges as they juggle blindly, spin plates and stack glasses, while wearing boxing gloves. As the glasses rise, so do the stakes. The children are their only guides and will either help lead the clowns to order or towards further chaos.

Ballet Ireland will present The Glasshouse, a dance performance for children aged six and older. It is the story of Fiach, an earnest youngster who is on a mission to repopulate the world with plants and turn it green. This fun, compelling show, by exciting young choreographer Róisín Whelan, is about human courage, friendship and the determination to survive. The Glasshouse promises “moments of suspense and joy, exhilarating dancing, vibrant costumes and magical music”.

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

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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