Lucy Healy-Kelly enjoys the blend of song and story at the Summer Salon, featuring playwright Dermot Bolger
|Dermot Bolger and Sons|
How It’s New York: The event was the second of three in the Summer Salon series at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Dermot Bolger’s excellent play The Parting Glass just opened on Thursday night, for a ten day run at the Barrow Street Theater (see our review by Michelle Woods ). Colum McCann is a New York resident, whose celebrated Let The Great World Spin is a love letter to the city.
The Brothers Bolger are the first on stage, with Donnacha, 22, on lead vocals and Diarmuid, 19, on guitar and harmonies. The songs are their own original pieces, taken from their debut album Skylines which is set to launch in Dublin’s Hedigan’s pub next week (watch a Youtube excerpt from it here!). The three pieces they choose puctuate the beginning, middle and end of the evening and Donnacha is a self-assured and gracious frontman throughout, providing the evening with a warmly familial tone and good unity. They open with Whisper, a gentle, folky ballad whose low-fi sound provides a good showcase for the duo’s pure voices, keen musicianship and well-observed lyrics. They finish with the upbeat and very hummable Rosie, with a lick of Arcade Fire’s ‘Moving Past the Feeling’ woven in. A self-confessed attempt at pop-song greatness, McCann has a share in any future royalties; the song having been penned at his prompting on a previous visit to NYC! The gig seems like an auspicious start to a promising music career.
After another musical interlude from his sons (he segues from their song to his reading by quipping “united by talent, divided by hair’), Dermot Bolger takes the stand. While his sons may have the edge on the hair front, Bolger’s talent is in no doubt as the audience are lulled by his poems, so clear and lyrical and vivid. O’Neill’s Music of Ireland and The Piper Patsy Touhey from his collection External Affairs: New Poems both touch on themes of music and the Irish emmigrant experience in the US; newer work explores familial loss and the journeys we make, in verse as personal as it is universal, and deeply moving. However the spaces between his poetry are filled with easy and immensely entertaining banter of a distinctly Dublin flavour. This gentle flux between tragedy and comedy is also very much apparent in The Parting Glass, and in fully embracing both, Bolger seems to lessen the distance between these two extremes of human experience. This is writing where pain and joy never feel very far apart.
Copyright 2011 New York Irish Arts