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Kaeshammer returns with Big Easy brand of rhythm and blues

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 10-Aug-2012

 HOT on the heels of two sell-out shows at this year’s Arts Festival, Michael Kaeshammer returns to Róisín Dubh on Tuesday next, August 14.

Kaeshammer plays an irresistible brand of New Orleans-flavoured boogie-woogie and rhythm and blues. Speaking from Vancouver, Canada, Michael is looking forward to coming back to Galway.

“People are really what make a difference, to me at least,” he says. “When you go somewhere and you start meeting people and you start making friends, and you actually start looking forward to coming back – that’s a really good thing when you travel that much.”

Michael and his band play off the crowd at their shows, and the reaction to their Arts Festival gigs took him by surprise. “In Canada, it takes people a little longer to get out of their shell,” he says.

“That’s the one thing I’ve noticed with Irish audiences – they’re right there from the beginning. They were responsive right away. I didn’t know how people would react to my music, but it’s been fantastic.”

Michael grew up in Offenburg, Germany before the Kaeshammer family moved to the Canadian west coast when he was a teenager. But both of those places are a long way from Louisiana – where did he find his love for New Orleans’ music?

“You know, that’s been around forever for me,” he says. “When I was a little kid, I got it through my dad. As far back as I can remember – he plays a little bit of ragtime and blues piano – he would show me things as a kid. That’s all I heard as kid, it just seemed the most natural thing to play.”

Michael Kaeshammer lived in New Orleans two years before the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and still returns to the city on a regular basis. “Everything that I value in life is important to that city,” he says.

“Music not just being a background thing, but an integral part of the mentality. And food is a very important thing. Just the whole lifestyle of living life.”

Though parts of the city may still be reeling from Katrina, does Michael feel that New Orleans retains its inimitable spirit?

“I think so,” he says. “You still find areas like Treme and the Ninth Ward where it’s still a ghost town. That’s because people have moved and they didn’t money for insurance for their house. But when you go in the French Quarter, it feels like nothing happened.”

“People in New Orleans are so proud of their city and their heritage; I don’t think they’ll let that die. And rightly so. I always find it crazy that it’s one of the poorest cities in the US.”

Amongst other influences, Michael’s love for boogie-woogie music can be heard on his latest album Kaeshammer. Does he find it hard to replicate the feeling of a live show in the studio?

“It’s hard to capture, but I honestly don’t try to capture exactly what’s happening live,” he says. “I feel you have to at least be aware that you’re in a different place; you’re in a studio, there’s no audience. You have to take all those things into consideration.”

“But one thing I’m always conscious of is that everyone records live off the floor. I think the whole interplay of the band if you start overdubbing, at least for the music I do, it will take away some of that life. You react to each other when you play.”

Michael Kaeshammer plays Roisin Dubh on Tue Aug 14.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy



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 girls make a splash on Irish U-15 water polo side

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 18-Feb-2013

The Irish U-15 girls’ water polo team, which was backboned by eight Galway players, made history in Birmingham made history last weekend when they reached the final of the British Regional Water Polo Championships.

All the girls are members of Galway’s Tribes Water Polo Club, formed only two years ago by Deborah Heery and Amanda Mooney. To get eight members from one club onto a National squad of 13 was an achievement in itself for this new club, but to be part of an Irish team – which was captained by Galway’s Róisín Cunningham, Smyth – to reach a final at such a high International level exceeded all expectations.

Competing against Scotland and Wales, Ireland made it out of their group to a semi-final place against the much fancied North West A England team. The semi-final proved to be the game of the tournament with nothing to separate the teams.

After goals from Carmel Heery, Aisling Dempsey, Eleanor O’Byrne, Roisin Cunningham Smyth and a dramatic penalty save by goalie Ailbhe Colleran, the Irish girls ran out 7-6 winners to become the first Irish side to make a final.

In the final on Sunday afternoon, they met tournament favourites, London, who they had previously beaten in the Group stages. With excellent performances from Eva Dill, Ailbhe Keady and Laoise Smyth, Ireland held the experienced English team to a 4-4 scoreline at half-time, but the English team, with their stronger and more experienced panel pulled away to win the tournament in the second half.

The success of the Irish team in reaching their first ever British Regional Finals was enhanced even further when Tribes member, Carmel Heery, was nominated Most Valuable Player of the Irish Team

In addition to their recent International success these girls were also members of the Tribes Water Polo team that won the U-14 & U-16 National Water Polo Cups this year and the Grads invitational U-15 tournament.

The success of this young Galway Water Polo Club nationally and internationally is in no small way due to the exceptional ability of their talented coaches, Padraig Smyth, Amanda Mooney, Jeremy Pagden, Carol O’Neill, Roisin Sweeney, Cathal Treacy.

The Irish team was coached by Aideen Conway (IWPA) and managed by Tribes founder, Deborah Heery.

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Archive News

Feast of folk at An Taibhdhearc

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta



Date Published: 21-Feb-2013

Galway group We Banjo 3, comprising Enda and Fergal Scahill with Martin and David Howley, will team up with Dublin band I Draw Slow for a unique concert at An Taibhdhearc, on Thursday next, February 28, 8pm.

Featuring banjos, fiddle, mandolins, guitars, banjolin and vocals We Banjo 3 combine Irish music with old-time American, ragtime and bluegrass influences, revealing the banjo’s rich legacy from its roots in African and minstrel music through to the Irish traditional sound pioneered by Barney McKenna.

Their début album, Roots of the Banjo Tree, was voted best trad album in The Irish Times in December 2012.

The roots band I Draw Slow perform a blend of old time Appalachian and Irish traditional material that has been described as a fully natural evolution of American and Irish traditional styles.

Their top 10-selling second album, Redhills was named RTÉ’s album of the week in 2011 and it frequently features on playlists of stations in Ireland, the UK and the US.

Next Thursday’s concert in An Taibhdhearc is presented by Music Network and An Taibhdhearc and starts at 8pm. Tickets are €15. Booking at 091-562024.

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