Record label holds party to celebrate home-grown talent

Date Published: {J}

Galway based label Rusted Rail will host a Christmas party in Róisín Dubh on Monday, December 19. Label founder Keith Wallace gives the pitch for this night of left-of-centre, arresting music.

“Five bands for a tenner,” he says. “Four of them are on Rusted Rail – that’s Driftwood Manor, Bridget Power Ryce, Yawning Chasm and Phantom Dog Beneath the Moon. And then special guests are Rites, they’re not on Rusted Rail, but they’re the most consistently mind-blowing band I’ve seen in the past year and a half in Galway.”

In a time when we’re lambasted with negative news, Rusted Rail’s impresario strikes an optimistic note.

“It’s been the busiest year so far,” says Keith, who affectionately refers to the label as ‘the Rail’.

“It started in March 2006, and every year’s been getting busier – more releases and more opportunities and things like that. We’re just about to release the 26th release on the label.”

Keith is joined for the interview by Eddie Keenan, the songwriter behind The Driftwood Manor. Keith and Eddie met through mutual friends, and music soon found its way into their conversation.

“Keith would have been at a few of my gigs,” Eddie recalls. “In conversation a few times, it popped up – maybe someday we’ll bring out something on the Rail. Then about two years ago I had an EP called Holy Ghost. Keith had a listen and said ‘I must bring this out on the Rail’. We had an album this year, The Same Figure (Leaving).”

Ireland’s independent music scene is close-knit and The Same Figure (Leaving) is a co-release between Rusted Rail and Dublin based label Slow Loris.

“We both rolled in behind it, collaborated, I guess,” Keith explains. “That was followed by the Rusted Rail Roadtrip in the summer, which was a seven-date nationwide Irish tour. Driftwood Manor were headlining in support of the album. It was the best craic you could have while keeping your clothes on!”

The Driftwood Manor’s music incorporates elements of the American and Irish folk tradition. Eddie explains how he found his own style in this old music.


“There’s a kind of confessional edge to the lyrics,” he says. “Some people kind of see it as darker as well. The musical side of things – I listen to so many different kinds of music, I try to keep an open mind about everything. Big influences would be the trad side of things, bluegrass. I would have spent many years listening to the likes of Planxty, and Will Oldham, Smog – the more American folk side of things.”

Although Eddie is the only constant in The Driftwood Manor, he likes to assemble a cast of players that he can draw from regularly.

“Niamh Fitzgibbon plays fiddle with me on pretty much all the releases,” he says. “There’ll be other members who come and go – Anne Marie Hynes, who’ll be singing with me at the Christmas Party, and there’s Nick Byrne who plays fiddle and mandolin. It depends on the night.

“Sometimes I might record an album and pretty much do it all myself,” Eddie adds. “And then other times I’d have a lot of other collaborators. On The Same Figure (Leaving) I had, god, maybe eight or nine other people.”

For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.



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