Over 50 fans of the singer-songwriter genre were treated to an eclectic mix of original and popular cover songs last evening on the main stage at The Roisin Dubh. Stemming from the hugely successful Open Mic night held most Sundays upstairs in the same venue, the evening featured 3 artists presenting their own songs with a few covers thrown in for good measure.
Gregor Urbschat was born on a cold November morning in 1991 near Stuttgart and became an early DJ of his father’s vinyls, including The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary etc. Every Sunday morning he entertained or annoyed his siblings with music.
His father made him learn the cello at the age of 6 (telling him it is a good practice for trumpet, he literally didn’t want that hectic instrument be played in his household). Little Gregor bought into that. At the age of 11 he realised ‘Hey, they tricked me’, and played trumpet and cello for 2 years at the same time, and, as puberty and the rebellious phase hit in, he quit both. Mommy cried!
Move on, Gregor said! there are lighter days to come! It took him 6 years to get back to the music! Starting out as the front singer of a band called ‘Vanuatu’. Doing reggae and ska stuff, you know. Cool schoolkids. Also, he had to take singing lessons, cause he sounded terrible and it was hard to sing against a trumpet and a trombone.
After getting sick of Juri, transforming the songs Gregor wrote (mostly ballads, cause he thought that’s how you get girls) all into Ska and reggae songs, he finally decided ‘Oh, I need to learn an instrument that makes me independent, so I can compose on my own.’ So, he taught himself guitar. After long nights of practicing, he finally figured that instrument out! Kinda similar to the cello if you’d put a cello on your lap. Just smaller, and with frets!
He named himself Imanuel Kleeberg. Imanuel, his second name, and Kleeberg the last name of his mother. Sounded more melodic than ‘Gregor Urbschat’.
In the Roisin Dubh yesterday evening he delighted the mid-week audience with 5 songs whose titles, in his own words, ‘You’ll never remember anyway!’ Imanuel is an accomplished guitarist and impressed with memorable melodies, some picked out on his nylon strings as he simultaneously sang – not easy to do! His confidence grew as the audience interacted, perfectly leading the way for the acts to follow.
Magda is an Austrian musician, who is currently living in Galway. She started to play the accordion and the recorder at just 6 years of age and at 14 she started playing the guitar. As soon as she could talk she was singing, but mostly engaged herself to sing in different choirs up until 2013.
It was only when she moved to Galway that she started using her voice to sing solo. Mostly she sings/plays accordion at Open Mics in Galway, but she has also played some small shows in Austria. 2017 was a big year for her – this was when she started busking and writing her first song.
Magda opened with an accordion piece reminiscent of Parisien summers. I whispered to a friend during her second song that her voice sounded very like a mix of Tracy Chapman and Birdy. Lo and behold she introduced her third song ‘Fast Car’ and fourth ‘Skinny Love’. The difference between the originals and Magda’s versions was difficult to distinguish. She has a vocal range which she uses to great effect and we look forward to seeing more of her on Sunday nights at the same venue.
Pa Reidy is a singer / songwriter from Co. Clare. With two albums already released, ‘The Treehouse Empire’ and ‘Tea & Talks’, Pa has been performing regularly across Europe and is an accomplished performer.
The highlight of Pa’s set for this writer (already familiar with his existing repertoire) was a cover of Tom Petty’s ‘Learning to fly’ delivered as an emotional roller-coaster ride, alternating between understated verses and the raw power of Reidy’s vocal strength on the chorus. The two new songs presented on the night will need another few listens – perhaps at one of the Sunday night open mics – before comment. Barring a small tuning incident on the last song, Pa gets full marks for last night’s performance!
Pa is currently working on his album ‘You & The Moon’, set for release later this year.
The night ended with a rapturous round of applause for Tracy Bruen & Steven Sharpe who organised the evening and, hopefully, will follow up next month with a similarly intimate evening of original work from artists firmly establishing themselves on the music scene in Galway and beyond.