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Followers of Otis bring new buzz to local music scene

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Date Published: {J}

It’s a very interesting time in the Galway music scene as plenty of bands are emerging with their own sound and style. However, not all of them have the subtle, melodic power of The Followers of Otis. The band play upstairs in Róisín Dubh on Friday, May 14.

 

Their sound has evolved from a host of new instruments that lead singer Eoin received for his 21st birthday. New songs began to emerge from his dabbling with a melodica, a glockenspiel and a few harmonicas.

“I started messing around with these instruments and I started listening to other genres of music, things I wouldn’t normally listen to,” Eoin recalls. “Around then, I got a microphone for home recording. I was kind of getting frustrated before [that] I wasn’t getting enough recording done. I always felt that I could do an awful lot better.”

Eoin rallied his friends Brian and Danny and they agreed to put some tracks on to tape.

“It was a Friday evening, over a few cans at somebody’s house, and I was like ‘right, we’ll do it tomorrow’.”

The recording went well and The Followers of Otis were born. They now had a four-track EP to their name.

“It was a real buzz,” explains Eoin. “I’d been playing in bands since I was 13. The idea of the band was we’ll just get some good people together and, I know it’s so clichéd, but just really focus on getting records out and a good body of work together, and playing gigs.”

Buoyed by their new endeavour, The Followers of Otis agreed to play at a charity gig that a friend had organised. They came to the show with their instruments and box of their CDs.

“We only practised that day,” says Brian.

“I think we sellotaped covers together,” Eoin says about their first EP. “We gave them out free to people and we made up badges as well. The idea of giving away stuff for free gave us a bit of . . . momentum?”

“Probably,” Brian answers. “People like free stuff.”

The Followers of Otis released their debut album, And Those To Come Hereafter, last March. The idea behind the band is that every member is free to contribute, rather than follow the whims of a chief songwriter.

“This is our first full length album,” says Eoin. “Two guys have come in recently, Adam and Kieran. It’s not like ‘you play this and you do this’ it’s ‘how are we going to make this a good record? How are we going to make this a good gig?’.”

“There’s no dominant voice,” adds Brian. “Everyone throws in their ideas and no-one’s right and no-one’s wrong. It is a collective, very much so.”

Playing melodic folk is hardly anti-social behaviour but complaints against the band in their formative days in the city almost scuppered their album.

“The record we made before, we had a lot of trouble with neighbours,” explains Brian. “We were living up in College Road and anytime you’d strum a guitar you’d get a knock on the door. Or the landlady ringing. It was a nightmare.”

“We moved to a house

on the Docks, where we started this record,” Eoin says. “It was a much better place; there were big, thick brick walls and we only had a neighbour on one side. She was a really nice old lady. We could just play away to our hearts content and there was no worries. We were probably two months at it.”

Bands who work in studios will tell you about the challenges recording presents. Making a 12-track album in your front room is equally trying.

“We did come against a few problems,” Eoin recalls. “What we did before was four or five songs – you could do that in a couple of weekends. With other commitments – work, life, different things – there was a bit more of a challenge to get that bit more condensed in.

“There was some long hard looks in the mirror,” says Brian. “We recorded over the winter. We just got so heavy into it and you’d listen to something so many times you didn’t know what you were listening to.”

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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