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Jeremy marches to his own beat with superb Be It Right or Wrong



Date Published: {J}

Drummers are renowned for creating a racket but back in 2008 a new kind of noise began to turn heads. Kilkenny man Jeremy Hickey released his debut album, Organic Sampler under the band name Rarely Seen Above Ground (RSAG) and Irish music fans and critics got very excited.

Organic Sampler fused Talking Heads, Fela Ku

ti and early rock ‘n’ roll to create one of the noughties most impressive debuts. The album was nominated for the 2009 Choice Music Prize but it was the RSAG live gigs that kept the buzz going. Hickey’s one-man show sees him combine live drumming, backing tracks and visuals to mesmerising effect, and his performances at Oxegen and Electric Picnic in particular earned RSAG a reputation for superb live shows.

RSAG comes to the Róisín Dubh this Friday, June 18, as part of a tour that marks the release of his second album, Be It Right Or Wrong. The album was recorded in Thomastown in Kilkenny by Leo Pearson, who has previously worked with U2 and Elvis Costello.

“I had known Leo for years but I didn’t know exactly how good he was,” says Jeremy. “I was looking for a place to do the album. We got on very well – we were talking about different styles I wanted to do and we were very much on the same kind of level.”

Although it contains the same elements that made Organic Sampler so appealing, Be It Right Or Wrong also marks a new chapter in RSAG’s evolution.

“The whole idea, and I hope I continue to do this, is to create a different vibe on each album,” Jeremy explains. “It’s not a band. I don’t believe in doing the same thing twice, really.”

The first song to be released from Jeremy’s latest release was The Roamer, a textured piece that adds another aspect to the RSAG sound.

“It was called The Roamer because I knew it was going to be long, and I knew the idea was to start from somewhere and then end up somewhere else completely,” Jeremy says. “One interpretation could be someone taking a journey which ended up somewhere they didn’t think it was going to take them.”

The Roamer is also different to some of the more raucous, rocking numbers that appear on the album.

“I wanted to, not go against the grain, but I didn’t want to go with one of the more rock ‘n’ roll-y ones,” Jeremy explains. “I just wanted to people hear that other side of it first. It’s probably the one track that’s kind of different; it’s almost the opposite of the first album. And it’s actually quite catchy; so I decided I’d go for that one.”

Although Jeremy is first and foremost a drummer, he is a multi-instrumentalist with an unusual method for composing pieces for the RSAG project.

“When it comes to writing music I would normally write on a three-string acoustic guitar,” he says. “I put it through an amp, so I have this kind of raw thing. I’d written most of the stuff on that, I’d map out the arrangements. From there I would put percussion on it.”

Being able to follow every tangent Jeremy’s inspiration takes him on means each RSAG track has a unique feel to it. And sometimes the song he will end up with is very different to the one he started with.

“You have an idea of the drums and the bass, which is the basis of the song,” he says. “Then when you start experimenting with different sounds and vocals it becomes something different. The whole process evolves; it turns into a finished song.”

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 get job done



Date Published: 04-Feb-2013


IT might seem something like a short term outlook, but really nothing else matters in a first match of the National League, only the result.

Galway went into last Sunday’s Division Two game with Derry in a somewhat reticent mood . . . last year hadn’t ended well, and two weeks previously in Enniscrone, Sligo inflicted another unexpected blow.

The visit of Derry represented a trip into the unknown as the northern side under new manager, Brian McIver, have also embarked on a rebuilding process – never something that tends to deliver early results.

As Galway manager, Alan Mulholland, stood on the heavy sod of Pearse Stadium at around 3.30 last Sunday, he was essentially relieved that his side had come out on the right side of a 1-15 to 0-15 scoreline.

There were no whooping supporters but a small core of fans had gathered in the tunnel to clap Galway off – wins have been scarce enough of late, so when they come, they’re to be enjoyed.

“Yes, there’s no two ways about it, a win was vital for us here today. We have a young team, this is a work in progress, but there really is no substitute for a victory. It is a confidence thing, and we needed that boost,” said Mulholland.

A fortnight previously, he had plenty to chew on as Sligo ground his side down in the FBD league to win by 0-9 to 1-4, with Galway just scoring two points from play in that tie played in Enniscrone.

“We are concerned about our fade out periods in games. In Enniscrone it happened to us over a 60 minute match where we just couldn’t sustain the effort and today we really let Derry back into it, especially in the third quarter.

“It was a strange kind of game in one way, in that both ourselves and Derry played far better football into the wind, but that sometimes happens as teams are more conscious of retaining possession when facing a breeze,” said Mulholland.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.


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Archive News

American songwriter Mark Eitzel set to deliver a memorable show



Date Published: 07-Feb-2013

Acclaimed American songwriter Mark Eitzel plays Róisín Dubh on Monday, February 25.

He has released over 15 albums of original material with his band American Music Club and as a solo artist – his latest being last year’s Don’t be a Stranger – and has been described by the Guardian newspaper as “America’s greatest living lyricist”.

After a string of bad luck, including a heart attack in May of 2011 and the implosion of American Music Club, Mark found himself in the studio with producer Sheldon Gomberg (who has previously worked with Rickie Lee Jones, Ron Sexsmith and Ben Harper).

That good luck was due to a good friend who had had won the lottery and offered to fund the recording of his next album. And Mark new what he wanted.

“I wanted to make an album more reminiscent of records like Harvest by Neil Young or Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake than anything I’ve previously done,” Mark says.

Inspired by his experience writing a musical, Mark’s songwriting is simpler on Don’t be a Stranger and lyrically reflects a more straightforward approach.

There is a haunted quality to tracks like I Love You But You’re Dead and The Bill Is Due, which are about broken promises, leftover people, the desperation someone feels when time and money are running out, and ultimately, the feeling of not knowing what comes next.

Doors 9pm, tickets €14/€12.


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