JANUARY IS often a drab and dull month. It is the post-Christmas slump, the winter is not yet over, and the New Year has not yet fully kicked off.
Thankfully a Galway January does not have to be uneventful, not when the month will close with a bang during the Once Upon A Time Back The West mini-festival, in association with Heineken Music.
The mini-festival will see a host of gigs, comedy, and DJ nights taking place in venues across ‘The West’ area of the city - Róisín Dubh, Monroe’s, Bierhaus, The Blue Note, and Massimo - from Thursday January 26 to Sunday 29.
When hip-hop emerged from the Bronx in the late 1970s and spread throughout New York, punk and new wave musicians in the city began to take note.
One act that was impressed was Blondie, and lead singer Debbie Harry asked graffiti artist and scenster Fab Five Freddy to take her to where the music was being performed. What she saw amazed and thrilled her and she paid tribute to the emerging new movement on Blondie’s 1981 hit ‘Rapture’: “Fab Five Freddy told me everybody’s fly/DJ’s spinning I said ‘My my’/Flash is fast/Flash is cool”.
The Flash she referred to in that song is Grandmaster Flash one of the most innovative and important individuals in the development of DJing and hip-hop.
Inspired by hip-hop originators like DJ Kool Herc and Grand Wizzard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash studied their style and developed his own techniques, in the process inventing methods that have since become standard DJing techniques today:
Backspin - isolating short drum breaks in a song and extending them for longer durations by using duplicate copies of the same record and a mixer to switch from one turntable to the other.
Punch Phrasing - isolating short segments of music and rhythmically punching them over the sustained beat using the mixer.
Scratching - although invented by Grand Wizzard Theodore, Flash perfected the technique and brought it to new audiences, giving a performative aspect to DJing.
Such techniques were on full show in the audacious seven minute 1981 single ‘Adventures Of Flash On The Wheels Of Steel’, which features samples of Blondie’s ‘Rapture’, as well as songs by Queen and Chic, that are cut up and re-assembled into a stunning, rhythmic, sound collage.
This single was made with the group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five who created another classic with the 1982 hit ‘The Message’, which has, as Pitchfork said, “rightly been hailed as hip-hop’s first overtly political expression”.
These days, in addition to recording and performing Grandmaster Flash owns a clothing line, G Phyre, has penned a memoir, The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash: My Life, My Beats (2008 ), and hosts a weekly show on Sirius Satellite Radio.
Grandmaster Flash plays the Róisín Dubh on Saturday January 28 at 9pm (admission is €18/16 ).
The Certain Three 2012 Tour
The Certain Three 2012 Tour, featuring Katie Kim, The Lost Brothers, and Puzzle Muteson, comes to the Róisín Dubh on Thursday January 26 (admission free ).
Katie Kim is the pseudonym of Katie Sullivan, who performs and records slowcore, ethereal, ambient folk/pop, paired with vocals that have been compared to Zola Jesus, Cat Power, and Joanna Newsom. Check out her debut release Twelve and her new album Cover & Flood.
The Lost Brothers have recorded in Nashville with Brendan Benson of the Raconteurs while their album So Long John Fante was made with Richard Hawley’s band. Their sound embraces country, doo wop, rock‘n’roll, and folk. Puzzle Muteson is a songwriter from the Isle of Wight.
Also taking place...
On Friday 27, leading indie-rock band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah play the Róisín Dubh. The gig is sold out but if you have not got a ticket and would like to be around that night, there are plenty of other events to check out.
Rock’n’rollers Kopek play Monroe’s at 10pm (admission €7 ); Techno, electro, and house DJ Paudi Ahern plays the Bierhaus at 10pm (free ); the mighty Shake! night, with Aran and Ray spinning the best funk and soul, is at Massimo at 10pm (free ).
On Saturday 28 Dublin four-piece The Shoos play Monroe’s at 9.30pm (admission €7 ); TR-One, analogue-obsessed soul DJs Dean and Eddie, will be spinning the decks at the Bierhaus at 10pm (free ); Galway’s Soul Brother Number 1 Dave Barry, along with Andy R will be spinning the best of Northern Soul, 1960s r’n’b, and funk at The Blue Note from 10pm (free ); and The Browne Brothers will be in Massimo from 10pm (free ).
Comedy in ‘The West’
Comedy fans will not be left out of the fun during Once Upon A Time Back The West as Abandoman play two shows that weekend.
Abandoman are comedian Rob Broderick and multi-instrumentalist James Hancox who create songs based on audience suggestions. This is fantastically funny, improvised musical comedy which Chortle.co.uk have described as “Flight of the Conchords meets 8 Mile” while The Stage has declared: “Killer punchlines - note-perfect, lyrically mind-blowing hip-hop improv. Genius!”
The duo won The Hackney Empire New Act of The Year 2010 award and were a hit at the 2011 Galway Comedy Festival. See them support Grandmaster Flash on Saturday 28 while on Sunday 29 they perform their own headline show in the Róisín Dubh at 8.30pm (admission €15/12.50 ).
On Sunday 29 you can also look forward to The Converse All-Stars at the Róisín Dubh from midnight to 2am while Graham Dolan DJs upstairs (free ); Limerick hip hop crew Campaign LK in Monroe’s Live at 10pm (admission €5 ); A Vinyl Affair in The Blue Note from 10pm (free ); while in Massimo from 10pm, Stevie G, one of the country’s best known club DJs, will be spinning the decks (free ).