Young Man Blues

Uncut magazine has called it “a year with a hex on it, a year gone rogue”.

As 2016 draws to a close there is no escaping the portents of mortality, especially for those of us who grew up in the late 1960s and early 1970s:

Fidel of course, although he may not have graced as many bedroom walls in those days as his compañero Che; the irreplaceable Muhammad Ali;

Carlos Alberto, captain of Brasil 1970, the greatest ever football team, and Johann Cruijff, one of the four or five greatest players ever;

The music world has been the big loser:  BB King, Ben E. King, Ornette Coleman, Allen Toussaint, Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Mose Allison, Merle Haggard, and far too many others.  Not all of them were really old either: Prince, Glen Frey (of The Eagles), Chris Squires (of Yes) for example.  Closer to home the artist called Black, AKA Colin Vearncombe, died from injuries he had suffered in a car crash near Cork Airport.

 

Back in the mid ‘60s, The Who famously sang

“Hope I die before I get old”.

50 years on they still play that song, with two of the original line-up.

 

In those days they also regularly covered Mose Allison’s ‘Young Man Blues’:

“well the young man ain’t got nothing in the world these days

You know in the old days, the young man had all the money”.

 

Times have changed, that’s for sure.  Sad and all as these deaths are, the longevity of those music icons who died in 2016 – and those still making music – makes one wonder whatever happened to the notion that rock’n’roll is a young man’s game.  Most of those who died this year lived a half century longer than say Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and yet their loss is being deeply felt.

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Leonard Cohen’s You want it darker came out to rave reviews in the autumn.  For example

‘this exquisite 14th album from the Montreal poet’  (The Observer)

‘like a magician Cohen makes images reappear in different songs and guises’ (Sylvie Simmons in Mojo)

‘this wonderful new album . . . wise and honest and full of life’  (Alexis Petradis in The Guardian).

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When he sang ‘I’m leaving the table / I’m outta the game’ most critics either misread what he was saying or preferred not to grasp it.

Mind you, reading between the lines there was an element of ‘imagine he’s still alive and still bringing out records, at 82!!!’

‘eighty-two years old and still at the top of his game while mining the depths’ (Mojo again).

Not for the first time he knew more than the music critics.  We now know that his album was a farewell; it was a struggle for him to record the songs as he was dying of cancer.

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Some of the old masters are thankfully still around.

Van Morrison, still hale and hearty at 71, has received a lot less press for his Keep me singing, released at the same time, although this is a fine piece of music-making.  It features some gorgeous melodies ― ‘Memory lane’, ‘Every time I see a river’, and ‘In Tiburon’ ― and a blues ― ‘Going down to Bangor’ ― that links County Down with the south side of Chicago.  There is great singing by Van, and beautiful playing by Fiachra Trench on keys and Paul Moran on Hammond, and Van himself on blues harp on a couple of numbers.

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And of course, to cap it all, Bob Dylan (75 last May) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Dylan is the first artist since George Bernard Shaw to win both an Oscar and the Nobel Prize.  If anyone from the popular music world was to win a Nobel it was going to be either him or Cohen.  While he is still touring and his latest album of new songs (Tempest) was issued only in 2012  ― the 5th set of new songs since 1997 ― the citation for the Nobel stressed his work from the 60s and 70s.

Plenty critics were unimpressed that he was given that award, hardly surprisingly.  Maybe we should give the last word to Leonard Cohen on this.  Giving Bob Dylan the Nobel Prize, he said, was like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain.

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Chuck Berry is 90, Little Richard 84, Jerry Lee Lewis 81; let’s hope 2017 will be kinder . . .

Liam Ronayne
Liam Ronayne Cork City Librarian

Jacques’ Tribute to Rory

We’ve got a special treat for you on the first of October at 3.30 pm as we play host to Belgian guitar virtuoso, Jacques Stotzem, as he stops off at the RGML for an intimate show as part of his European tour. The gig is, as always, free of charge, so if you’re in the neighbourhood why not drop in and be part of a very special acoustic tribute to the late Rory Gallagher. Stotzem’s latest album, ‘To Rory,’ is a tribute to the great man himself and features acoustic versions of some of Rory’s best known tracks.

The following is from Jacques Stotzem’s press release and if you’d like to learn more, see the link to his homepage at the end. For a full list of events in the RGML please click here.

“To Rory” is Belgian guitar virtuoso Jacques Stotzem’s tribute to the late Irish rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Rory Gallagher. Honouring the 20th anniversary of Gallagher’s premature passing, Stotzem recalls his guitar hero’s dynamic playing and, as he says, “unmatched musicality,” by presenting the music on solo acoustic guitar. Fusing the powerful nature of Gallagher’s music with his own expressive playing, Stotzem pulls off this considerable feat with aplomb. Employing the dynamic, playful style that has become his trademark, Stotzem impresses with fast runs, groovy basslines, and percussive elements, all paired with a musical sensibility that allows him to interpret Gallagher’s powerful repertoire without sacrificing his own identity.

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Skillfully using various fingerpicking techniques and even bottle-neck slide, Stotzem is equally adept at interpreting the driving beats found in Moonchild as he is at capturing the ballad feel of Wheels Within Wheels. “To Rory” is not only a homage to a legendary musician, it also affirms Stotzem’s own place as one of the leading European acoustic guitarists.

www.stotzem.com

 

Digitising Rita

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.

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Cork Soprano, Rita Lynch

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!

Digitising Rita – The Lyric Feature

The Rolling Stones: growing old (dis)gracefully?

When Barrack Obama visited Havana in March 2016, the first American President to do so in over 70 years, it marked the end of decades of a political, trade and cultural embargo imposed by the huge neighbour to the north. One of the few hopeful signs of 2016 so far.

Hot on his heels came the Rolling Stones playing their first ever gig in Cuba. It is surely remarkable that this legendary rock group is still going, never mind that they apparently left the Havana audience baying for more.  Three of the blues-loving youngsters who played their first gig in 1962 were on stage in Havana – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts.  In the late sixties the odds of all of them being alive in 2016, never mind still playing at the highest level, would have been negligible, especially after the death in tragic circumstances of founder Brian Jones in the summer of 1969.

Nevertheless it cannot be pretended that they are as vital as they once were, although in fairness that is because nothing can compare with the music they produced, on record and on stage, between 1968 and the early 1970s.

The run of records from Beggars Banquet to Exile on Main Street has never been equalled:

  • Starting with Beggars Banquet which came out in December 1968 (with tracks like ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and ‘Street fighting man’), the Stones produced an incredible string of rock classics;
  • Let it bleed followed in December 1969, and included ‘Midnight Rambler’, ‘Gimme shelter’ and ‘You can’t always get what you want’;
  • Get your ya yas out, one of the all-time great live albums, was recorded at the Madison Square Garden gigs in November 1969, and released the following September;
  • Sticky fingers – ‘Brown sugar’, ‘Wild horses’, ‘Dead flowers’came out in April 1971; some of the tracks were recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, between the Madison Square Garden gigs and the ill-fated free concert in Altamont near San Francisco at the end of 1969;
  • Exile on Main Street, released May1972; this double album of 18 tracks (incl. ‘Tumbling dice’, ‘Sweet black angel’, ‘Let it loose’) was recorded in the south of France where the Stones had relocated to escape UK taxes. This brought the run of classic albums to a close.

 

When the Stones turned up to meet the world’s media in Havana there were just four of them in front of the camera – Jagger, Richards, Watts, and Ronnie Wood, who has been with the band since 1975, joining them after Mick Taylor’s exit.

On stage in Havana, however, there were quite a few more musicians who, crucial though they are to the sound, are not ‘Stones’. It has always been like that.  Ian Stewart, the piano player, was the original sixth Stone in the 60s, but was deemed too old looking and too straight by manager Andrew Loog-Oldham to fit in with the band’s image.  He did not make the photos, but they could not have done without him on stage or in the studio.

Similarly the classic albums and performances listed above would not have been what they were without Bobby Keyes on sax, Jim Price on trumpet, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and often Billy Preston on organ. Percussionist Rocky Dijon, Muscle Shoals pianist Jim Dickinson, and even Ry Cooder were others who added hugely to the Stones output in the late 60s early 70s.

You can’t always get what you want, but if you bring in the right musicians, you get what you can!

Liam Ronayne
Liam Ronayne Cork City Librarian

 

Turning Point for Mile Twelve

Formed in late 2014, Mile Twelve is a fresh, hard driving young band beautifully walking the line between original and traditional bluegrass. Based in Boston, Massachusetts and fast gaining recognition for their outstanding performances throughout bluegrass and folk circles, Evan Murphy, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Nate Sabat and BB Bowness create captivating songs and daring instrumental pieces from diverse influences. Banjo Luminary Tony Trishcka says, “Mile Twelve is carrying the bluegrass tradition forward with creativity and integrity.”

In May 2016 the band will embark on their first Irish tour and we are very excited to play host to them on Saturday 7th May. As usual with RGML gigs, there is no admission charge and the show will begin at 1.00 pm.

MileTwelve
Boston’s bluegrass stars, Mile Twelve

 

If you would like to know more about the band, please visit their official website here:

http://www.miletwelvebluegrass.com/

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A Moment of Discorde

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.’

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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.

Discorde Quartet
From left to right: Meadhbh Campbell (Cello), Caoimhe Browne (Violin), Cian Adams (Viola) and Maggie O’Shea (Violin)

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.

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Discorde Quartet on Facebook

 

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