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Halves play free gig to celebrate fine new album

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It may be a little early to start drawing up a ‘best of 2013’ list but it will take some record to rival Boa Howl from Halves. The Dublin based trio celebrate the release of their second album with a free show in Róisín Dubh on Thursday, August 8.

The band began working on Boa Howl in December 2011, just after they had played a well-received show in Dublin’s Unitarian Church.

“As soon as we got the Unitarian thing done, we really kicked off working on the second album,” says guitarist and drummer Brian Cash. “We realised if we were going to make a second album, we had to record it the following August. Once the deadline was set in place, we just kept writing.”

Halves debut album, It Grow and Grows (Forever and Ever) earned the band a prestigious Choice Prize nomination. Did they feel under pressure to match it?

“It’s initially very daunting,” Brian says. “For your first album, you have years of riffs, and little ideas and songs, even. This time, we had absolutely nothing. But once we got past the first three songs, we knew we were OK.”

Boa Howl begins with the cacophonous Drumhunter, a gem of a track that sets the standard for a great album. Why did Brian and his band-mates (brothers Elis and Tim Czerniak) decide to start with this track?

“That’s a direct reflection on the first album,” says Brian. “We love it, but I think the one problem we have with it now is that the song that opens the first album is very wishy-washy for the first two minutes. There’s no immediacy; for people that didn’t know our stuff, it was kind of a hard sell.

“So we wanted a very definite message to start the second album,” he adds.  “And we wanted people who knew our previous stuff to be a little taken aback at the change. It was almost dancey; it was very deliberate to put that first.”

One of the highlights on Boa Howl is Tanager Peak, which features Gemma Hayes. Why did the guys want to work with the Tipperary-born singer?

“She’s amazing,” Brian enthuses. “Her first album was gorgeous, when it came out we all fell in love with it. One of the places we were going to record was in France with Dave Odlum, formerly of The Frames, simply because we love his production on her records.”

“We always like bringing in vocalists. This time around, we had one person on the list and it was Gemma Hayes. I heard through a friend of a friend that she really liked the band, so I just sent her an email. She’s an absolutely lovely person.”

 They mightn’t be competing with the Fab Four on eBay, but Halves are certainly in the running for Irish album of the year. Are they contemplating a second Choice nomination, and the €10,000 that comes with winning it?

“Before we got the nomination the first time, it didn’t enter into our heads, because we didn’t think we get nominated,” Brian says. “When we did, we were quite realistic that they weren’t going to give it to us. We were the smallest act on the shortlist, but we got publicity out of it.

“We’d obviously love ten grand. But I don’t know if we’ll get nominated again. Even if we did, we definitely wouldn’t win!”

Halves play the Róisín Dubh on Thursday, August 8. Doors are at 9pm, admission is free.

Connacht Tribune

Pixies slot proves time is now for the Clockworks

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The Clockworks...supporting Pixies on September tour.

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

When Pixies were announced as Galway International Arts Festival headliners way back in 2019, a promising Loughrea four-piece were fresh from relocating to London and bullishly embracing their role as the new faces of former Oasis manager Alan McGee’s Creation 23 record label.

Two years on, the US alt-rock pioneers are yet to grace the Big Top – but the Clockworks, made up of James McGregor, Tom Freeman, Seán Connolly and Damian Greaney, are set to make a US debut in their company with a series of support slots that cement their place as one of Galway’s biggest artistic exports.

In less than six weeks’ time, Pixies will embark on a September tour of the states with the Clockworks by their side for six gigs. The Galway group play their own maiden headline US show in New York’s Mercury Loung on September 8.

On their horizon too, is an end-of-year Irish tour with Dublin indie-rock outfit Inhaler as well as a host of festival appearances, barring cancellations.

With news of the Pixies tour coming in the same week NewDad were announced as support for Fontaines D.C.’s highly anticipated Belfast show on August 13, it is powerful evidence of the ground Galway acts continue to break.

“It’s very exciting to have loads of gigs lined up after absolutely nothing for so long,” James admits.

“It’s really nice to feel like we’re going to hit the ground running and when Pixies came through, that was just amazing and what a way to start. It’s our first time gigging in America – my first time going there personally.

“All four of us are massive fans of Pixies too. Any time they’d come to Ireland, we’d always try and throw our hat in the ring for a support slot and just to think that now we’ll be going around the States with them is insane.”

Read the full interview in this week’s Groove Tube, in the Connacht Tribune – on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital version from www.connachttribune.ie

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘World in a Window’ – a unique perspective of lockdown life

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Helium Artist Chelsea Canavan, Galway-based artist and parent Yvonne Cullivan and her son at the launch of Helium Arts’ ‘Our World in a Window’ exhibition at Galway City Library. PHOTO: ANITA MURPHY.

A new exhibition, Our World in a Window, which is currently running in Galway City, focuses on the experiences of children who have been living with long-term health conditions during lockdown

Facilitated by Helium Arts, the national children’s arts and health charity, the exhibition features animations and mechanised artwork produced by young people from across Ireland who took part in Helium’s remote programme ‘Distance Creates’.

Our World in a Window can be seen until August 4 at Galway City Library before it goes on tour to Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick and Longford.

Since last February, children aged 9-12 who are living with long-term health conditions have been exploring the world of animation, guided by Helium artist, Chelsea Canavan. From tinfoil and claymation characters to foam sculptures and hand-drawn illustrations, these young creators have brought their stories to life in unique and imaginative ways.

The origins of Our World in a Window date back to the beginning of Covid. That was when Helium Arts began adapting its usual in-person programmes, moving to digital and postal formats to allow vulnerable young people to be creative from the safety of their homes. The goal was to offer respite during a time of social distancing and to support the youngsters’ mental health, which is part of Helium’s brief.

In non-Covid times, Helium Arts supports sick children via arts-based projects in hospital, community and public settings. More than 5,000 children and their families have availed of its service since 2010.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

126 Gallery fundraising for new studio spaces

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126 Gallery and Studios, based in St Bridget’s Place in Galway City

The artist-run 126 Gallery and Studios, based in St Bridget’s Place in Galway City, has established a satellite studio space on nearby Saint Francis Street, in response to members’ need for working spaces that are affordable, secure and easy to access. The new Barton Studios will host four studio spaces and the artists using them will have access to 126’s main facilities.

Submissions for Barton Studios and any further spaces are open to current members of 126, in recognition of those artists and creatives who have supported the members-run gallery over the past 16 years.

The group is currently raising money to fit out the studios and because normal methods such as table-quizzes and its ‘drink and draw’ nights are out of bounds, the 126 steering committee has turned to GoFundMe to try and raise €2,000, which is what they estimate it will cost.

If any extra money is raised, it will be used to subsidise the rest of costs for the studios to artists for the remainder of 2021. Some €1,800 would be needed to lower the rent to €50 per week for each artist. A breakdown of all costs will be posted on 126gallery.com and made available to donors.

Initially, the studios will have a communal computer, a private workspace with wi-fi, and access to all resources at 126’s main facility, just six minutes’ walk away. Active studio members will have free 126 membership.  The mission of 126 is to support its members to work and to access opportunities, supports, and spaces. With that in mind, the gallery team is available for one-to-one conversations to facilitate group engagement between both facilities, or with other organisations in Galway.

To contribute, go to www.gofundme.com/f/barton-studios-2021. For more information on how to get involved, email contactg126@gmail.com.

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