“The whole night was like fireworks,” playwright Janet Noble said of Tuesday night’s IAW&A’s Salon at The Cell. The perfect blend of presentations and talents made for an electric evening. There were two singers, three one-person acts that included music, two films, a scene from a play and four writers reading their works. It would be hard to pick the evening’s highlight but Janet’s play, Hello, Mr. Chops, was certainly a candidate. The one act play was given an hilarious reading by, as Janet calls them, “two gorgeous actors,” Mary Tierney and Jack O’Connell. It was brilliant and as Janet added, “Completely unrehearsed.” Bravo!
Singer/songwriter Tara O’Grady opened the evening performing a melancholic tune called, “An Cuileann Sul Glas” (The Green Eyed Girl). Tara was recently introduced to her ninety-five year old cousin, Packie Moore, the author of thousands of tunes and stories, and her lyrics tell the story of his secret…marrying a Protestant girl in England. Eventually Packie was faced with a harsh dilemma: Which funeral does he attend when his wife and his father die on the same day? “This but begins the woe, a modern Irish Romeo. Deny thy father, oh he could not.” The songwriting skills are obviously in the blood.
Charles R. Hale presented a film created by Lucy Mathews Heegaard and Charles called Judy Collins: A Life in Music and Video, which which was debuted at the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award event last week. I told of my “creative process,” how I likened my work to a four movement classical symphony and how the “movement” of the images in the last section of the video called “Peace” were inspired by the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Third Symphony., Charles noted that mentioning Beethoven and him in the same breath might be a stretch, so, as he said, “Go ahead, sue me.”
Guen Donohue once again combined her acting, singing and writing talents in a performance from her stage piece, Killer is my Name. Beginning with a haunting Irish funeral dirge known as keening, she then stood on a table and improvised her father’s time spent walking the beams while building the WTC. As she balanced “on the beam” she told of her father’s lost friends who “took the fall” as well as those who inhaled the asbestos, pronouncing that the buildings had taken lives before it had even been built. Her finale was an original song, “Revered,” yet another haunting vocal performance, weaving together the grandness and melancholy of the WTC experience in the Sean Nos tradition. Poignant, beautiful, cathartic.
Brendan Connellan jumped up and told a fast paced tale of unhealthy addiction, frantic flirtation, tottering self regard, Burgerking bags of cash and sorry and abrupt endings, taken from his Wall Street dark comic novel-in-progress, Trading Ninja.
First time presenter, Cathy Maguire, brought her guitar and sang two beautiful tunes. One, “Portrait” is also the title tune of her recently released CD and tells the story of the songwriter looking at a very old and worn wedding photo and wondering how their lives turned out. It was a great treat hearing this talented singer who was warmly received by salon crowd.
Kevin R.McPartland began the second half of the evening reading a short passage from his soon to be released novel Brownstone Dreams. Kevin describes the protagonist Bobby Dutton’s sad reflections at his grandfather’ s wake. Kevin also announced a slight delay in the release of his book by Boann Books & Media due to a glitch in the book jacket design and a final edit. Kevin is now anticipating a launch in the early spring.
Seamus Scanlon read from his highly regarded new collection As Close As You’ll Ever Be. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house! The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Mysterious Bookshop, Centre for Fiction, City College Bookstore and direct from Seamus (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Malachy McCourt rounded out this dynamic evening with a few fine words and a stirring rendition of “Go, Lassie Go.” A perfect ending to the perfect event.
For more on the Irish American Writers and Artists or their salons, contact Charles R. Halechashale1@yahoo.com Salons are normally the first and third Tuesday of each month; however, the next salon will be on the second Tuesday of the month, Nov. 13, 7PM at the Thalia Cafe at 95th and Broadway.
Photos by Cathleen “Cat” Dwyer