Rory Gallagher and the Rory Gallagher Festival
For your consideration. . .
Coachella just started I believe last night. And I just saw news of a “Super Festival” being put together by the same promoters. That festival could feature Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Paul McCartney, and Roger Waters this October. Festivals all around us.
Here is one you may not have considered: The Rory Gallagher Festival in Ballyshannon Ireland.
The Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival 2016 takes place in the town where one of the world’s greatest Guitarist was born – Ballyshannon, Ireland. Since 2002 the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival has celebrated the Music & Life of Rory Gallagher in Ballyshannon, with over 10,000 fans now attending the Festival annually from all over the world. Rory Gallagher was simply an amazing guitarist and musician and it is wonderful that his hometown remembers him with such an event!
Rory Gallagher at the Hammersmith Odeon in London.
No I was checking out Thin Lizzy recorded in Dublin Ireland supporting their Chinatown album. That entailed them doing a tune off the album, Sugar Blues. And that led Mr Lynott to of course drop Rory’s name in the middle of the tune. I believe the line was, “I got those Rory Gallagher blues. . .” The crowd went wild, and this curious kid in America was like who the hell is this Rory Gallagher? Even before that I might have paused on Rory’s albums in the record stores. A lot of his album covers spelled it out – he was a guitar playing rocker. Regardless, now I heard it from Phil that Rory Gallagher was something to check out.
I went on to collect a good chunk of his music, which is basically Blues Rock, but that misses so much of what he and his music offers. He can more than rock. His shows focused largely on the rock and the blues, intense soulful blues. His albums, however, explore a broader range including a dose of folk, and even a dash of country. His ballads and slower pieces are amazing. Things like a Million Miles Away or Calling Card just inspire. That said, most of his tunes do rock. Tunes like Laundromat, which is exactly that-a song about a laundromat, “One of the craziest place I been”. It is just a neat little rocker, like so many of his tunes.
Rory doing some acoustic. . .
It is a shame that US audiences largely neglected Rory. He did routinely tour the US. I saw him at L’Amour in Brooklyn in like 1985. Put on like a two hour show and was just classic Rory Gallagher – Fast paced rock and blues with some amazing guitar! Rush tried to introduce him to their fans in the 80s. You would think the fans would have latched onto such a gift. Instead they booed the man. They just did not get his mix of raw blues and rock served straight up. I have caught a few interviews with Alex Lifeson where he laments about the fans not getting it. Lifeson and his bandmates tried, and regardless I am sure Rory enjoyed the gigs and the challenge. I imagine today more than a few of those fans look back and wonder what they were thinking.
I am not sure what the deal is with Ireland, but they produced in that period some amazing guitarist. You have Eric Bell, the first guitarist for Thin Lizzy and those first albums with him are so unique and just a different sound. Then you have Gary Moore who joined Phil Lynott and the boys a few times and likewise had his own success in rock and later blues-rock. Parisenne Walkways and his version of Don’t Believe a Word still have an effect on this listener. Lastly, you have Bernie Torme, who has commented at various times about seeing these guys perform at high school dances and the like. Imagine that. Alright so I have listed four guitarist – maybe not an epidemic, but still something.
So the next time you get into that silly debate over who is the best guitarist. . . drop Rory’s name. It belongs in such a discussion. And again, it is simply nice that Ballyshannon is giving a nod to its native son and his music.