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Diversity is the name of the game for indy Galway record label

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Date Published: {J}

Rusted Rail is an independent Galway-based label and home to a diverse bunch of artists. This innovative label was founded by Keith Wallace, who acted on a notion that was born during his days working in the college radio station at NUIG.

“It started in 2006 but it had been in my head since 1995, when Flirt FM started,” he recalls. “We started writing off to labels to get promos in, to build up the music library. I realised there was so many cool labels out there and it was like ‘I want to do this’.”

Rather than setting up a label that was obsessed with the bottom line, Keith sought to create something that would foster and encourage local talent.

“You can do this on your own terms without having to conform to any type of model that somebody else thinks is the way to go,” he says. “There’s a label in Canada called Constellation. Their whole idea is to work within their community. A guy down the road might be good at taking pictures, someone else might be good at designing the sleeves, or they might be printers.”

Once Rusted Rail was up and running, Keith wasted no time in getting music out there.

“The first two releases were two batches of three. So I had six records out in six months, which looks good! Technically the first one was Agitated Radio Pilot, a chap from Longford who I knew from college back in the day. He’d been making music on cassette for years and years.”

Rusted Rail also takes a DIY approach to recording, eschewing expensive studios for a more organic, home-grown sound.

“Home recording, that’s another thing that I’m really interested in,” Keith explains. “The fact that you can now make records at home in the comfort of your own sitting room or whatever, is really good. You can work at your own pace and things can percolate more easily than when people are looking at a clock on the wall.

“I’ve never been to a recording studio,” he adds. “I can only imagine that I’d break into a cold sweat.”

So does Keith go about selecting the acts for Rusted Rail?

“I kind of commission stuff, but I don’t like that word,” he says. “I’ll get on to someone or they’ll approach me. In general, they’d be people I know. You meet people without ever meeting them in real life, from emailing and message boards and various things. Sometimes people – out of the ether – would get in touch. One or two are people who would’ve bought stuff on the label, and then emailed me and said ‘hey, here’s my stuff, will you give it a listen?’.

“In terms of the recording, most people would do it themselves,” he continues. “A lot of times I would record with them, with a laptop set up. People pitch in and do what they can– they might take a picture for the sleeve, or somebody else will master the record. It’s just really organic, the way it evolves.

“There’s a lot of crossover between different bands on the label working with each other. They’ll end up playing gigs together – going back to that community idea.”

Rusted Rail has 21 releases to its name, so far. This includes music by talented artists like Brigid Power Ryce, Music For Dead Birds and So Cow. Most of the albums are released on the rarely seen three-inch CD format.

“When I first saw them a few years ago I nearly fell over, they were so cute,” Keith recalls. “They hold about 22 minutes of music. The idea then was to do an EP, or a mini-album.”

As well as being eye-catching, the three-inch CD format has another advantage in a world full of distractions.

“People’s attention span, unfortunately, has been kind of crushed by the internet and by the accelerated culture,” Keith laments. “I think albums are too long any way – an album doesn’t need to be 80 minutes long just because there’s 80 minutes on a CD.”

There are many stories of independent labels – like Manchester Factory Records –that got swallowed up by the music business. Does Keith believe it’s possible to succeed without selling out your ideals?

“How do I put this – the answer is yes! If things tick over and pay for themselves then that’s a success. If you don’t have insane ambitions then you can do alright.”

Getting a song into to an ad, TV show or movie is a lucrative income source for many bands. There are companies who specialise in finding hip music to push products but Rusted Rail is unlikely to court any of them.

 

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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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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