Happy New Year to all our Rory Gallagher Music Library patrons. Unfortunately, we face another national lockdown meaning the libraries are closed for now. However, we have a couple of online musical treats for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own homes.
We hope you enjoy a special online version of the popular Music Recital formerly known as the Gramophone Circle. Philip Brennan introduces a variety of his favourite compositions sung by the likes of Richard Tauber, Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli and Majella Cullagh with the Cork Youth Chamber Orchestra:
Watch local musicians Jimmy Morrison and Joe O’Sullivan (known as Ceol Coolroe) online as they play a selection of traditional songs and tunes:
The booklet in the recently issued Blues has a quote from Rory Gallagher recalling the impact of first hearing blues on the radio:
“the following weekend I went into the library in Cork and I got books out on the origins of the blues”.
Rory was a regular user of the City Library on Grand Parade. Another time he recalled
“I went into the library once and got Teach Yourself How to Read Music or something, and it said, ‘sit down with your piano’. . . We didn’t have a piano, so that went down the chute”.
It wasn’t just the books on music which drew Rory to the Library. As a young reader he began a lifelong love of the classic hard-boiled crime novels of writers like Dashiell Hammett, Patricia Highsmith, James L. Cain, and Raymond Chandler. This fascination with classic noir is reflected in the titles of the tracks on the second of the three disk set: ‘Prison blues’, ‘Secret agent’, ‘Loanshark blues’, ‘Pistol slapper blues’ and ‘Nothing but the devil’. These could have been titles of books by his favourite writers, like e.g. Hammett’s Continental op.
It might seem an absurd thing to say but if Rory had never picked up a Strat and plugged in, these acoustic tracks – 12 in all – would be enough to make his name.
You only have to listen to ‘Should’ve learnt my lesson’ – his playing (including an over-dubbed mandolin track) gelling beautifully with Lou Martin’s barrel-house piano. ‘Prison blues’ and ‘Bankers blues’ are other standouts, and he attacks ‘Pistol slapper blues’ with a relish that is irresistible. Some of the tracks on CD2 are versions of songs better known in electric versions; hearing a song like ‘Whole lot of people’ for example in an acoustic version gives more space for the listener to appreciate the lyrics, often overlooked in the electric versions.
This should be no surprise to anyone; as early as ‘See here’ on the 2nd Taste album, and through to ‘Out of my mind’ on Deuce and beyond, Rory’s tasty acoustic playing was a joy.
The last four tracks on the acoustic CD are covers of songs by his heroes and mentors – Muddy Waters, Son House, Fulton Allen, and great versions they are, although you’d have to say his cover of John Lee Hooker’s ‘Want ad blues’ lacks the latter’s roguish menace. Muddy Waters was always Rory’s main man, and you can feel the love in the versions of ‘Can’t be satisfied’ and ‘Blow wind blow’ (the basis for Dylan’s ‘It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry’) both included here.
Of course no Rory fan would accept that it’s all about his acoustic playing, and if there was even the remotest doubt listen to the first three tracks on CD3, recorded live in Glasgow in 1982, with Brendan O’Neill on drums: ‘Why my baby she left me’ (the Sonny Boy Williamson classic), ‘Nothing but the devil’ and Willie Dixon’s ‘What in the world’. These are some of the best live tracks we have ever heard from Rory and his band. They were lucky to keep the roof on!
Other standouts include ‘Off the handle’ a slow searing blues, ‘I could’ve had religion’, ‘A Million miles away’ – both familiar live favourites but great versions here – and ‘Leaving town blues’ a studio cut for a Peter Green tribute. Congrats to the production team, chiefly Donal Gallagher’s son Daniel, for getting a raft of great tracks from the RTÉ vaults. Many Rory fans will have seen or heard them before, but having them anthologised here is a huge plus.
Of course it has to be said what a joy it is to see these tracks issued on the Chess label, how proud Rory would have been.
The only even vaguely negative comment one can make about this wonderful set is ‘What took ye so long lads?’
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.
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
Ian Rankin himself praised the wonderful mural by John Coughlan that was recently erected outside the library in a tweet as seen here.
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.
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.
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 Vestas: Live at the Library: a series of recorded interviews with contemporary Cork musicians, as part of the Rory Gallagher Music Library 40th celebration.
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’
On Friday, 28 August 1970, Rory Gallagher and his Taste band mates stood before what was quite literally an immeasurable crowd and delivered a set that was simply stunning. What’s Going On? Live at the Isle of Wight captures the essence of that performance beautifully. From the dazzling guitar intro to ‘What’s Going On?’ right through to the last notes of ‘Blister On The Moon,’ the band, by now a well oiled machine, exude a raw, primeval energy and a mastery of their craft that few bands then or now could match.
The fact that Rory — only twenty-two years old, but already a seasoned veteran of the stage — could stand in front of such a huge audience with nothing but his white Fender Telecaster and a slide for company, and perform ‘Gambling Blues,’ the way he did is mind-blowing. But Rory could do that, couldn’t he? Letting the band take a timeout, he could pick up an acoustic or a mandolin or whatever he felt like and still remain the focus of attention. It’s a rare gift. I caught Joe Bonamassa live a couple of years back and, although the show was great, the only low point was when he played acoustically without the band for a short set. We were treated to a cornucopia of fret-board acrobatics but no soul. It was all very contrived. The difference with Rory was that it always sounded so natural and it never interrupted the flow of his performance. His agenda was never to show off but to express his music as fully as possible and to do this he used whatever tools were necessary.
Taste was a musical phenomenon. Listening to them play, one could hear echoes of everything that went before and hints of what was yet to come. They had the tight, disciplined professionalism of a Jazz trio, the heart and soul of a blues band and the kind of fire that later ignited the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. In August 2005 I met two of the guitarists from Iron Maiden —Dave Murray and Janick Gers — in Bruxelles Pub in Dublin after a show they played in the RDS, and during a chat about musicians they admired, both axe men cited Rory Gallagher as a major influence. I wasn’t surprised, as I’ve always thought that Iron Maiden’s self-titled 1980 debut had echoes of Rory all over it. Indeed, Rory Gallagher’s influence on the sound of modern rock in general cannot be underestimated. Brian May of Queen readily admits that he got his sound from him. Rory kindly talked him through his live rig after a gig in London’s Marquee that Brian, then a very young Taste fan, attended. Since then the Vox AC 30 and treble booster pedal became permanent fixtures in Brian May’s setup.
Though showing no sign of it on the day, by the time Taste took the stage on the Isle of Wight in 1970, cracks had already appeared behind the scenes and soon afterwards they split. They were even reluctant to let photographer John Minihan take a band portrait backstage. It was only when bassist McCracken grabbed his band mates and jibed, ‘Come on guys, even if it’s the last one!’ that the photo was taken. As you can see in the picture heading this article, they look far from comfortable.
On the one hand, it’s a shame that the band didn’t get the opportunity to realise their full potential, but, on the other, it opened the door for Rory to go his own way and to become an artist in his own right. With the albums Rory Gallagher, Deuce, Blueprint and Tattoo released in the years succeeding the Taste break up, it became clear that Rory had drawn a line under the past and moved on. Out were those frivolous, jam-style interludes between guitarist and rhythm section and in came more focused songwriting with Rory centre stage and bass and drums providing a rock solid backdrop. The dynamic had changed and by the time Irish Tour ’74 hit the shelves, Rory Gallagher and his band were a blues–rock tour de force, and Taste a distant memory.
But what a memory it was. Taste was active during a period of intense cultural and musical transformation and the line-up at the Isle of Wight Festival, the largest musical event of its time, read like a roll call for anyone who mattered in popular music in 1970. What a thrill it must have been for the three young Taste members to play at such a monumental event alongside names like Jimi Hendrix and The Who. Though it was to be the band’s swansong, their performance sent waves across the music world and earned them their place in Rock history.
With the recent release of I’ll Remember, the Taste boxed set detailing the band’s history, and the film What’s Going On? Live at the Isle of Wight on DVD, it’s important to note that, although Taste represented a relatively short span in Rory Gallagher’s musical career, to his fans and fans of good music in general it was not without value, and sounds as good today, twenty-one years after Rory Gallagher’s passing, as it did all those years ago.
Soprano Rita Lynch (1914 – 2009) is back in the Big Apple
Sixty seven years ago in 1949 Rita sang in New York, Chicago and Boston. Now in 2016, the RTÉ Lyric FM radio documentary, Digitising Rita has made it to the finals of the New York Festivals Annual Radio Awards, the winners of which will be announced on the 20th of June.
‘It’s a big leap from boxes in my attic to New York’s radio showpiece!’ says Rita’s daughter, Mary Davies.
‘The sifting, sorting, cataloging and curating of approximately 2000 items which included photos, programmes, correspondence, contracts, fan mail, acetate recordings, 78s and cassette tapes began on my sitting room floor in late 2013.’
Over time, the project took shape and the way was guided by admirers and the unfailing help and encouragement of many, including; RTÉ Lyric FM’s Dr. Evelyn Grant, Dr. Orla Murphy of University College Cork, Eibhlin Hegarty (masters student), Cara O’Sullivan (soprano), Liam Ronayne (Cork City Librarian), Kitty Buckley (Executive Librarian of the Rory Gallagher Music Library) and former Lord Mayor of Cork, Mary Shields. Special thanks also for the technical skills of Tadhg Kelleher and Harry Bradshaw.
The celebration of the centenary of Rita’s birth on the 2nd December 1914 in Macroom, Co. Cork became the target date to unveil the project and as part of the centenary celebrations, the Rory Gallagher Music Library hosted the launch of an exhibition on Rita’s life, a CD of her recordings (singing from 1948 – 1976) and a Digital Archive of 2000 items.
All the while, Evelyn Grant was quietly beavering away with RTÉ Lyric FM producer, Eoin O’Kelly completing the wonderful ‘Digitising Rita,’ documentary for the ‘Lyric Feature,’ on RTÉ Lyric FM which was broadcast on the 9th October 2015 and again on the 4th March 2016.
Mary Davies (Daughter of Rita Lynch)
Here’s hoping that ‘Digitising Rita’ scoops a well deserved award on the 20th June!
If you would like to listen to the RTÉ Lyric FM broadcast then click below!
The late George Martin was one time quoted as saying
“can you tell me what music is? It’s completely intangible. It grips you, gets into your soul”.
That quote came to mind when listening to Martin Hayes leading his Gloaming comrades out of their own composition ‘Fáinleog’ and into the first few bars of the traditional jig ‘The Holly Bush’. I wish I could describe the feelings that the transition and Hayes’s fiddle-playing create, but all I can say is, go listen to it.
The Gloaming first got together almost five years ago – a fantastic concert in Triskel Christchurch in December 2012 was one of their early gigs. Since then they have often been referred to in the media as a ‘trad supergroup’. Whatever about that there is no doubting their standing in the world of roots music – Iarla Ó Lionáird (voice and keys) is the leading exponent of the Muscraí singing tradition, and Martin Hayes is the king of east Clare fiddle-playing. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh is a wonderful fiddler as well, playing the Hardanger d’amore, his own creation, Thomas Bartlett, from Connecticut is on piano (and organizer / producer in the studio), and Irish–American Denis Cahill, on guitar, is Hayes’s long-standing music partner.
That difficult second album! One of the hoariest old chestnuts in music. The Gloaming have got around it with their second, by creating a companion for their first. Not really a continuation, not the same as the first, but together they form a whole, greater than the sum of the parts. The feeling that the two CDs are a pair is reinforced by the visual presentation of the records by the Real World label — beautiful packaging it has to be said. Both have striking but elusive sepia images on the cover, photos by Robert and Shana ParkerHarrison. The back covers and the inside spreads are also very similar, encouraging us to see them as a pair.
Centrepiece of the first CD was ‘The Opening Set’, track 8 on the album! This is a 16-minute masterpiece in its own right, starting with a traditional song from the Muscraí tradition, and building, layer by layer, through six tunes and airs to a cathartic climax.
There is nothing resembling this on The Gloaming 2, and rightly so. It would have been impossible to equal it. But what we have on both are group compositions using Gaelic poetry, the earliest from the Fiannaíocht or Fenian Cycle, and a 16th-century poem, but most are recent — Sean Ó Ríordáin’s ‘Saoirse’, and Michael Hartnett’s ‘An Muince Dreoilíní’ on the first album; The Gloaming 2 begins with two poems from Ó Ríordáin’s Eireaball Spideoige.
Their versions of ‘Samhraidh, Samhraidh’ (on the first album) and ‘Slán le Maighe (on Gloaming 2) are worth the price of entry alone. These take their place among the jigs, hornpipes, reels, hop jigs, and slides.
The music on The Gloaming 2 might not be created for dancing, but I would challenge anyone to stay sitting quietly when listening to tunes like ‘The Rolling Wave’, ‘Music in the Glen’ and ‘The Holy Bush’. Iarla sings the old lullaby ‘Cucanandy’ which he learnt from the singing of Bess Cronin from his home parish of Baile Bhúirne. The Gloaming’s version wanders off mid-way but returns to finish with a credo that would apply to any musician:
“Piper sell your pipes, buy your wife a gown
Piper sell your pipes, buy your wife a gown
Yerra I wouldn’t sell me pipes for all the wives in town”.
The Gloaming last played Cork at a sold-out show in the Opera House last year. The way they’re going they will fill the proposed Events Centre, and still leave disappointed fans outside.
Cork has a new string quartet featuring some very young, but very experienced and talented Musicians. Discorde Quartet will play their debut performance in Cork City Library, Grand Parade as part of the Seachtain na Gaeilge programme.
On Saturday 12th March at 3.00 pm, Cork City Libraries will celebrate the centenary of the birth of Seán O Riordáin with an event entitled ‘Ceol agus Filíocht.’
Discorde Quartet will play a selection of Irish Melodies while Irish Language poetry writing group, Peann agus Pár, will read from their own poetry and from the works of Seán Ó Riordáin.
The first violinist, Maggie O’Shea, studied the Suzuki method and has been playing music since the age of 3. Maggie was a member of the Cork School of Music Orchestra, Cork Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland.
The second violinist, Caoimhe Browne, began violin at the age of 7 when she was inspired by watching a performance of Riverdance on the Late Late Show. She currently studies under the guidance of Gregory Ellis. She is looking forward to what this newly formed quartet will achieve in the future.
Cian Adams, who plays the viola, has been playing music since the age of 6. He studied under maestro Constantin Zanidache. He performed in the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland. He has been a member of many quartets including the Prima Vera Quartet.
Meadhbh Campbell started cello at the age of six, and is currently studying with Chris Marwood. She has enjoyed playing in a variety of chamber music groups from the age of ten and is a former member of the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland.