Vince Brophy live
By Col Hesse
WOLLONGONG — The first time I saw Vince Brophy was earlier this year, at the march and rally to save Bulli Hospital from becoming yet another victim of the state Liberal government's "economic rationalism".
As anyone who has ever attended a protest march will tell you, you can always find someone to get up on the back of a truck to belt out a few songs for a worthy cause. But this time a fair bit of the crowd actually listened to this Irish-Australian singer as he sang a great mixture of traditional songs of Ireland and Australia, popular songs and some of his own.
The next time I met Vince was over a few Guinnesses, as he explained that he had just returned to Wollongong after 18 months in Ireland and Europe catching up with what was happening in the music scene over there . "It's not", Vince explained, "as though what's happening in Australia is inferior, it's just that I felt I needed a broader range of musical experiences, to develop my writing, than is available here."
Vince is Dublin born, and all his family sing and play music. He came out here with his family when he was a teenager, and has worked as a butcher, as a fireman (assistant train driver) in the Lithgow district and as a rigger and scaffolder for the MSB at Port Kembla. These experiences of work, as well as his activities as a union member, have influenced the songs he writes and sings, as has his concern for the environment and the future of the planet.
Like most performers who operate broadly within the Celtic tradition, he considers Christy Moore one of his biggest influences. And, like Christy's, Vince's musical vision looks forward while not forgetting the past.
Vince hopes to be recording his second album soon. You can catch him live at the next Cultural Dissent in Wollongong: Coniston Community Centre, Saturday, Aug 15, 6.30 p.m.