Neil Young in the Ditch

Neil_Young_2012

Neil Young is arguably the most prolific, as well as the longest-lasting, and hardest-working musician in popular music.  His output is so varied that it is difficult to know where to begin to come to terms with his music.  He moved from his native Canada to the USA in the mid-1960s and it feels like he has hardly let his guitar down since.  In this present century alone he has released 17 albums of new music, along with a series of archival recordings, mostly live, curated by Young himself.

Looking back over four decades to focus on one short period in his career might seem a little odd, in that context.  Yet in the opinion of this writer, the three albums he recorded in 1973 and 1974, taken together, amount to his finest work.  He himself coined the name by which this period and its music – ‘The Ditch’ – are known:

Heart of Gold put me in the middle of the road.  Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch”.

The music made by Young during that time was brought to mind by the release in early summer 2018 of Roxy: Tonight’s the Night Live.  This album was recorded straight after he and his band had finished recording the Tonight’s the Night studio album.  They went to the newly opened Roxy Club on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in late September 1973, and played most of the songs they had just recorded.

GUEST_81a6b993-f67c-4bea-b067-47e711434733

Tonight’s the Night – released in June 1975, although recorded in August 1973 – is so good I wondered what the live set would have to offer, but it is a revelation.  Tonight’s the Night captures Young coming to terms with “losing friends, band members and crew members to heroin” according to music journo Jon Dale, who described the recording process as “a dark occluded affair”.

Many of the versions are even better live than in the studio.  Young’s singing, and his and the band’s playing, are much more engaging; witness for example the soulful guitar-playing on ‘Speaking out’ (Nils Lofgren), a beautiful – though haunting – ‘Tired Eyes’ and scorching versions of ‘Roll another number (for the road)’ and ‘Tonight’s the night (Reprise)’.

The first of ‘The Ditch’ records was Time fades away, a collection of eight songs recorded live during a tour of 65 large venues over 90 days, beginning in early January 1973.  Young took against this record soon after its release and has refused for years to have it released on CD; “it’s the worst record I ever made” he says.  Not so, in fact its honesty and sometimes ramshackle playing offers a way into Young’s deepest feelings.  The rawness only adds to what the listener gets out of it.

The third album of the trilogy is On the beach.  This received negative reviews on its release in July 1974, but is now recognized as one of Young’s greatest.  It is a sobering and sometimes savage pen-picture of America in the dying days of Nixon’s presidency, absorbing and reflecting the awful impact of the Vietnam War and the Manson ‘family’ on the youth of the USA.

But to get back to Roxy: Tonight’s the Night Live, one of the striking things is that the sadness and anger of the lyrics are offset by Young’s sardonic and self-deprecating patter on stage.  Surprisingly, in an odd kind of way, this adds depth and humanity to the songs.

The order in which the band play the songs is different to the studio album, and this helps to give Roxy a different vibe:

Studio Album
1 Tonight’s the Night
2 Speaking’ Out
3 World on a String
4 Borrowed Tune
5 Come on baby (let’s go downtown)
6 Mellow my Mind
7 Roll another number (for the road)
8 Albuquerque
9 New Mama
10 Lookout Joe
11 Tired Eyes
12 Tonight’s the Night (Reprise)
Roxy
1 Tonight’s the Night
2 Mellow my Mind
3 World on a String
4 Speaking’ Out
5 Albuquerque
6 New Mama
7 Roll another number (for the road)
8 Tired Eyes
9 Tonight’s the Night
10 Walk On

 

Incidentally the encore, ‘Walk on’, appeared as the opening track of On the beach.

Liam Ronayne
Liam Ronayne          Cork City Librarian

 

 

 

 

Remembering Rory

As the Music Library in Grand is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, we are delighted to be commemorating one of Ireland’s most influential and fondly regarded musicians, the peerless guitarist Rory Gallagher. Indeed, the Music Library was renamed the Rory Gallagher Music Library in 2005 and this summer as part of the Remember Rory programme organised by the library there is an exhibition of a select few of Rory’s guitars and memorabilia such as concert posters that were kindly provided by his brother Donal.

An interesting aspect of the exhibition is a collection of Rory’s favourite crime novels. Many fans may be unaware that he was an avid reader of crime fiction and gained much inspiration from the genre which is reflected in aspects of his music, namely the song Continental Op after the Dashiell Hammett novel. Other favourite authors include Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley; Strangers on a Train), Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep; The Long Goodbye), Ian Fleming (Casino Royale; Thunderball), Eric Ambler (Journey into Fear; Epitaph for a Spy) and many others.

Rorys_books

In 2013 the noted crime fiction writer and bone fide Rory Gallagher fan Ian Rankin collaborated with Donal Gallagher to produce a novella with illustrations by  Timothy Truman inspired by Rory’s music entitled The Lie Factory which was accompanied by a compilation of Rory’s more crime noir related music with a narration by the actor Aidan Quinn. The finished product is entitled Kickback City. This is available to borrow from Cork City libraries along with many of the aforementioned titles from your local library branch or to reserve online here https://librariesireland.iii.com/iii/encore/homepage?lang=eng

kickback_city

Ian Rankin himself praised the wonderful mural by John Coughlan that was recently erected outside the library in a tweet as seen here.

tweet

The exhibition of memorabilia will run until the end of August and there will be more talks and performances throughout the rest of the year.

For further information please check the Rory Gallagher Music Library Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/RoryGallagherMusicLibrary/ and also the Music Library website http://www.corkcitylibraries.ie/music/

by Conor MacHale

July 2018

Live at the Library – Jack O’Rourke

Jack O’Rourke is a singer/songwriter from Cork.  His debut album, “Dreamcatcher”, was released in 2016, with its edgy baroque pop, plaintive ballads, noir blues and startlingly honest reflections on the world around him.  The album was play listed on national and regional stations.  Jack won the prestigious International Song writing Competition for lyrics for the album’s centerpiece ballad, “Silence” (performed live on the Late Late Show), as well as having sell-out shows around the country.

Jack O'Rourke

 

Here is a short performance by Jack as he chats to Sheena Crowley about his plans for the future and plays a selection of his songs.

 

 

To view the full interview visit our YouTube channel here.

This recording is part of a special programme of events to mark 40 years of the Rory Gallagher Music Library, 40 years of service to the music loving people of Cork, 40 years of pleasure and enjoyment to library users

The series is about contemporary Cork musicians, old and young of diverse styles and backgrounds.  They are invited to do a half hour interview in the music library, followed by a couple of songs.  Each episode is professionally recorded, and kept as part of the Cork City Library Music Archive to reflect the musical culture of Cork.

The Gloaming Live at the NCH

a3058313837_10

The prog rock group Yes used to be famous (infamous?) for frequently having long tracks that would fill an entire side of an LP.  The vinyl version of The Gloaming Live at the NCH is a double album; sides B and D each contain just one track; does this mean they are about to change their name to ‘Is Ea’?  A risky thing to do, having such long pieces, but saved by the fact that the music is so fantastic.

The Gloaming have played 24 shows at the National Concert Hall (NCH) in Dublin since 2013, most usually as part of series of concerts in the spring of 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 – they’ve just finished a series of seven shows there in March of this year.

The Gloaming Live at the NCH is not, however, a recording of one concert, rather a selection made by Thomas Bartlett, the piano player and producer, of tunes and songs from the 2015 to 2017 concerts.

Doveman opening for the Swell Season in Eugene 2009

When Planxty revolutionised traditional music in the 1970s it was partly through their choice of instruments, putting uilleann pipes alongside guitar, bouzouki, and mandolin for the first time.  The line-up of The Gloaming is also a step change:  Martin Hayes, the renowned East Clare fiddle player, is joined by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh on a fiddle he adapted himself called a ‘Hardanger d’Amore, as well as by the singer Iarla Ó Lionáird from Cúl Aodha, and Americans Denis Cahill on guitar and Thomas Bartlett on piano.
There are so many gems on this record, it is hard to know where to begin:

The album gets off to a lively and lilting start with ‘The Booley House’, a selection of a hop jig, plus reels and slides.

‘The Sailor’s Bonnet’ opens with the title tune played as a slow air, and then picks up showcasing each of the musicians – not least Bartlett on an extended piano piece – as they build to the flying finish.  They come close to taking the roof off the NCH!
On ‘The Pilgrim’s Song’ it is Bartlett’s piano behind Ó Lionáird’s singing and Hayes’ fiddle-playing that gives them the space to create so beautifully.

Their version of the famous jig ‘The Rolling Wave’ – and even more so ‘Music in the Glen’ which follows on – features two fiddles doing their very different things, with Thomas Bartlett doing the seemingly impossible and accompanying both while also providing a percussive thump – the Kilfenora Ceili Band featuring Thelonius Monk!

Mid-way through the final track ‘Fainleoig’ the great jig ‘The Holly Bush’ emerges out of the maelstrom created by Bartlett’s huge piano sound.  When the jig really gets going it is irresistible.  The tempo and sound then soften for Ó Lionáird to sing the beautiful ‘Samhraidh, Samhraidh’.

000bc969-800

So perhaps surprisingly, given the fame of Hayes and Ó Lionáird, it is Bartlett who is the star of this show, more so than on the two studio records The Gloaming have produced so far.  Bartlett – who also performs under the name ‘Doveman’ – has worked with a wide variety of artists, from Martha Wainwright to Ed Sheeran.  He plays on David Byrne’s American Utopia which also appeared this year.  His jazz-flavoured percussive piano playing is a crucial and defining element in The Gloaming’s sound.

24 gigs at the NCH and surely more to come.  That building on Earlsfort Terrace should sport a big banner out front: ‘The National Concert Hall – home to The Gloaming’.

Liam Ronayne

#rgml #thegloaming #corkcitylibraries

Live at the Library – The Vestas

The Vestas: Live at the Library: a series of recorded interviews with contemporary Cork musicians, as part of the Rory Gallagher Music Library 40th celebration.

the_vestas

Jake Kalilec, Leo Mullane and Fintan Mulvihill are three fine singer-songwriters from Cork, who came together whilst studying music in college. They write and perform some of the finest new music on the Irish scene – heavily influenced by soul, blues, pop and jazz styles, reflecting the different influences each of them brings to the group. This gives their music a refreshing and uplifting feel, with appeal to a wide audience. Their catchy melodies and vocal harmonies range in theme from the heartache of lost love to life on the dole. They have supported Damien Dempsey, Declan O’Rourke, Hermitage Green and many more.

Their new EP “In my Head” features soulful original songs that combine moving lyrics with equally moving melodies.

Here, Sheena Crowley talks to The Vestas about their new EP ‘In My Head’

Live at the Library with Joe O’Callaghan

Joe O’Callaghan is well known on the Cork music scene as a master harmonica player and for his high energy performance as one of the best frontmen in Cork. He has gigged regularly for the past five decades and is still going strong.

Joe started out with a band called ‘Boothouse’ in 1970 with band members, Joe O’Callaghan, Declan Pender, Pete Brennan, Ciarán MacCarthy and Dan Sheehan.

In 1977 Bill O’Brien and Joe formed Hot Guitars along with Jeremy Nagle, Pat Lynch, and John Finn. Although the line up has changed many times, the very popular Cork blues/rock band has been gigging for 40+ years. Joe plays harmonica, guitar, sax, and keyboard throughout the set and with his usual gusto on the mic, he entertains the crowd, often strutting along the bar or swinging from the rafters. The audience is glued to such a dynamic personality, following him as he moves through the crowd. They would never imagine that such a vibrant character is known amongst his friends and family as a quiet, reserved man.

Joe O’Callaghan is one of Cork’s finest legends.

 

by Sheena Crowley

Live at the Library: South African Jazz Tunes “Old & New”

Dan Shout is a respected jazz musician based in Cape Town. His professional career spans almost 20 years, with a multitude of local and international performances.  In addition to his work as a session musician, Dan lectures part time at the University of Cape Town. He also presents workshops at Jazz conferences, and recently performed in the Cork Guinness Jazz Festival.

He can be seen here playing in The Rory Gallagher Music Library, accompanied by Mo O’Connor, where he gave a wonderful and informative illustrated talk on South African jazz.  His latest CD, “In with a Shout” is available for loan from the library.

Mo O’Connor is a former member of Loudest Whisper and the Noel Redding band and is well known in the traditional Irish and jazz world.