New York Tradfest, for the fourth time!

How it’s New York: See the title! This festival of trad music and dance is put together by New York’s
Tony Demarco, center, plays fiddle at New York Tradfest. ©Newyorktradfest

Tony Demarco, center, plays fiddle at New York Tradfest. ©Newyorktradfest

own Tony Demarco, who runs the session at the 11th Street Bar and Swifts Hibernian Lounge. It will be full of players from the tri-state area.
How it’s Irish: It’s a celebration of Irish traditional music.

Fiddler Tony Demarco started the New York Tradfest in 2013, to give New York its own night of Irish music. Sure, we have Irish music throughout the year, and various “mini” festivals, but this one brings a big group of musicians to one place, on one night.

Tony, originally from East Flatbush, Brooklyn, runs the Swift session on Tuesday nights as well as the 11th Street session, known as the ones where the pros go. He know everybody: people beginning, people visiting with instrument in hand. Once, Tony said, there was a music festival at Irish Arts Center, but IAC hasn’t had one in about 20 years. That’s not to say IAC hasn’t been hugely supportive: in fact, Tony appeared with Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill on Sunday, Oct. 23. IAC is one of the collaborators, along with many local pubs, 11th Street and Swifts of course, but also Paddy Reillys pub, Pier A Harbor House and many more.

For the past few years, the Tradfest has taken place at Connollys in Times Square. While the venue is easy to get to, it also gets crowded quickly– and its backstage is, well, a curtain and about a foot and a half of space, if you can call it that.

This year the festival will take place downtown at Pier A Harbor House, 22 Battery Place, beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased  at eventbrite at the door.

The venue is right on the Lower Manhattan waterfront, with a gorgeous view of the river and the Financial District skyline. What better place to hear the Auld sound than at Pier A, which opened in 1886 as the headquarters for the New York Harbor Police and Department of Docks? (and of course, there’s a long tradition of Irishmen in the police of all kinds!)

If you’re just in town for the weekend, this event will blend New York tourism with the trad music you love.

 

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‘New York City: A Shining Mosaic’ review

How it’s New York: Tales of immigrants who arrived in New York City.
New York City: A Shining Mosaic produced by Charles Hale. September 27, 2016. 1st Irish Theatre Festival. Featuring Niamh Hyland, Walter Parks, Elsa Nilsson, Eleanor Dubinsky, Laura Neese, John Duddy, Jack O'Connell, Mala Waldron, Yuri Juárez, Julie Kline, and Charles Hale at Pier A Harbor House, New York City.

Photo courtesy of Mitch Traphagen.

How it’s Irish: Those arriving left lives behind in Ireland. This piece was part of Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish 2016.

Were this event staged a few years back, before the advent of the so-called “information age,” there’s quite a chance that attendees of this extraordinary production may well have invited encyclopedia salesmen into their home, to peruse their wares, and purchase a volume or two, to look up a few of the fascinating tidbits that Charles R. Hale’s modern masterpiece had informed them of.

“New York City: A Shining Mosaic” is so much more than a play: it is a series of vignettes, a song and dance revue, a carefully interwoven collection of biographies of several characters, some seen, others merely mentioned.

It is a story which unravels elegantly, a timeless tale that reminds us that there were generations here before us, dozens, scores, hundreds of them: men and women who had less, but yearned for more. Brooklyn had them by the thousands. :New York City: A Shining Mosaic,” directed by Niamh Hyland (music), Julie Kline and Charles R. Hale, is brought to us by Artists Without Walls, and is a production celebrated aptly right within sight of the arrival of all of those millions of immigrants who made it to New York, at Pier A, which looks out on New York Harbor, with Lady Liberty and Ellis Island calmly watching in the wings.

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Riverdance at 20 is as good as you remember – only better

The "Riverdance" ensemble. (Photo courtesy of Amanda-Rachel Garcia/Prana Marketing)

The “Riverdance” ensemble. (Photo courtesy of Amanda-Rachel Garcia/Prana Marketing)

How it’s New York: The show had its U.S. debut at Radio City Music Hall in 1996. Current musical director and fiddler Pat Mangan is a Brooklyn boy. Tapper Christopher Broughton has some Broadway credits to his name.
How it’s Irish: Riverdance. You can’t get more Irish than that, can you?

The pre-recorded show greeting came first in Irish, then in English: You are welcomed to this 20th anniversary production of “Riverdance.”

Two questions were running through my head as I was setting into my seat, way up in the third tier at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark:

“Is it going to be as good as I remember?”

and

“How on earth has it been 20 years already?”

I’m afraid I really can’t answer the second question. But to the first question, I say: Yes. This incarnation of “Riverdance” was every bit as good as the original – and then some.

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Ireland Rising – Words and Music for a New Century: A Special Benefit Performance for Irish Arts Center

Irish Arts Center_ Almost Home_Page_1

How it’s New York: Took place in New York at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side.
How it’s Irish: Benefit performance for the building fund for the new Irish Arts Center.

This past Friday I was honored to be among those treated to the best the Irish Arts Center has to offer.  The overriding sentiment of the night was that when the Irish Arts Center calls, you stop everything and rush right over to support them.  And that is just what the phenomenal performers featured in this varied night of song and story brought to the party.

 

A testament to the true diversity that has become the norm at the Irish Arts Center, this show offered something for everyone. The show opened with the ethereal voice of Christine Tobin moving through the audience, followed by the gorgeous “Beautiful World” from Declan O’Rourke.  A luscious orchestra, under the direction of Henry Hey, laid the groundwork for the performances to follow which ranged from a country tinged “Raglan Road” from Cork singer Nicole Maguire, a bluesy tune from JD & The Straight Shot, a number of greatest hits tunes from Paul Brady, as well as a couple that he wrote with lyrics from poet Paul Muldoon.

One of the highlights of the evening was the vocal quartet Women of the World, a delightful group singing backup for a number of the other artists, most impressively with the powerful singer from Sierra Leone, Loah.  

Liam O’Maonlai teamed up with jazz singer Cassandra Wilson for a powerful rendition of Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey” and O’Maonlai sang a few of his own songs and trad standards.

IAC staples Joanie Madden, Athena Tergis, Mick Moloney and Billy McComiskey contributed a lively set of barn dances and a few songs as the Irish Traditional section of the evening.

Curtain Call for "Ireland Rising, Words and Music for a New Century. Symphony Space, NYC. The Irish Arts Center. Friday, April 22, 2016. Credit Photo: Erin Baiano

Curtain Call for “Ireland Rising, Words and Music for a New Century.” Symphony Space, NYC. The Irish Arts Center. Friday, April 22, 2016. Credit Photo: Erin Baiano

Comic relief and pathos were provided by readings from Peter Quinn, Zadie Smith, Mick Laird and Cólm Toibín. The major plea for pledges was delivered by none other than the Queen of Ireland herself, Panti Bliss in all her glittery glory!

A true treat was 17 year old jazz guitarist Andreas Varady from Limerick who has already been signed to a major label, and with good reason.  His dexterity and musicality is up there with any of the jazz greats and this young man is an excellent example of the innovative programming that is keeping the Irish Arts Center at the top of its game.

The finale of the evening brought out Riverdance alum Jean Butler to do a duet of pieces with the band, with her precision percussion as sharp as ever.

Overall the evening was lively, diverse and delightful, as are so many of the programs that will be even more impactful once the amazing new home for the IAC is finally funded and built.  There is still a long way to go, and if you have a bit of loose change knocking about and looking for a good home, you can contribute to the building fund here:

http://www.almosthome2016.org

Here’s to many more years of incredible music, art, theatre, dance and education in their fine new home.

jpirish-master675

Concert review: Altan and friends sure-footed on a slippery Sunday night

How it’s New York: Snowy winter night downtown at  City Winery, March 1st20150301_221340
How it’s Irish: Donegal, that’s Irish, right?

Fiddler Des Hurley describes the ideal of an Irish traditional music session as a team sport where all players are aware of every other team member and anticipate each other’s moves and runs. Altan exemplify that in the subtleties of their ensemble playing and that is what makes them such a great live act. Looking at the formation on stage: on the left and right you have the guitar and bouzouki in the calm hands of Dáithí Sproule and Ciarán Curran providing a sensitive and responsive pulse; in the middle you have the twin fiddles of Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Ciarán Tourish playing off each other, with Mairéad’s short-held bow ever primed for attack. (more…)

She Lives Life to the Fullest – My InterReview with Jacquie “Tajah” Murdock, The Face of Lanvin

How it’s New York: Jacquie Murdock is a native New Yorker
19-lanvin-jacqueline-murdock.w215.h143.2x

Face of Lanvin 2012

How it’s (Irish) Scottish: She’s Scottish

Yahoo is currently featuring an article called “Awe-Inspiring Women of 2014.” But my choice is Jacquie “Tajah” Murdock, featured in the documentary Advanced Style, and a Face of Lanvin 2012. In two generous interviews, Murdock impressed me as being one of the most dynamic and courageous women I have ever known.

Murdock, a former dancer with the Apollo Theater, had always known who she was. After church in 1930’s Harlem, her cultured, middle-class family (Her father was a restauranteur.) attended salons at inspiring hosts’ beautiful homes that were filled with wonderful music and conversation. One day, at the age of 5, this youngest of three daughters announced to her family that she wanted to be a ballet dancer. This would not be exceptional by today’s standards but back then, it wasn’t an considered an acceptable occupation for a well-brought-up young lady – or a lucrative career choice. So her parents – Scottish, Jamaican-born Edward Templeton Campbell and his Jamaican wife, Izilda Fyffe Campbell (childhood sweethearts who grew up and married in Jamaica, lived in Cuba, then emigrated the United States in the 1930s) – gave her piano lessons. This did little to deter Murdock’s ambitions, for she was born to stand out.

06_ADVANCED STYLE_Photo Credit to Ari Seth Cohen

I was always a fashionista

Then her mother sent 8-year old Murdock for sewing lessons. Tall, with the looks and posture of a dancer, she became her mother’s seamstress’ model. She was finally in the spotlight. (Murdock allows that she might be related to Naomi Campbell. “I was always a fashionista,” she assured me.)

Her dancing was never far behind, though. This was the time of Cafe Society, and Murdock performed at famed NYC ballrooms when she was 15: the Renaissance, the Savoy, the Audubon. But she “grew up at the Apollo.” Frankie Manning and Norma Miller were

She grew up at the Apollo

looking for tall girls who could dance, and Murdock began to dance there when she was 17. When she turned 20, she found that she couldn’t get a show, so Murdock took a typing job at Universal Films – the first black woman to get a job there. Then she joined Eubie Blake’s show, “Black-Skinned Models.” She was 25, and she took off!

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New York Tradfest’s Saturday Night Concert: A Remarkable Showcase of Music and Dance

How it’s New York: The New York Tradfest Saturday evening concert took place in Connolly’s Klub 45 near Times Square, New York, NY and showcased many Big Apple musicians and dancer
alice

Alice Ryan

 

s.
How it’s Irish: The New York Tradfest Saturday evening concert consisted mostly of Irish music and dance.

visit John Kearns at his own site, Kearnscafe

On Saturday October 18, 2014, the second annual New York Tradfest, organized by fiddler extraordinaire, Tony DeMarco, held its evening concert at Connolly’s Klub 45. Hosted fluidly by a leader of the traditional music scene in New York, the multi-instrumentalist and singer, Don Meade, the concert featured an all-star lineup of the traditional musicians and dancers of the Big Apple and beyond. The event offered five hours of top-notch music and it is hoped that this event will become an annual tradition.

The first performer I saw when I arrived was Alice Ryan, a sean nos singer from California who performed some beautiful songs in English. Ryan would also take to the stage as a dancer with a few of the other acts that followed. (more…)

The Stepcrew makes a big splash!

How it’s New York: It was the Stepcrew’s debut performance in New York City.
The Stepcrew at SubcultureHow it’s Irish: The show features Irish music and dance.

I arrived at Subculture Underground Arts at 7:20 PM last Thursday, after a long day in the recording studio, for a show by The Stepcrew.  The theater was completely packed, and an air of anticipation filled the warmly lit theater before the show began.

There were simultaneous conversations about other shows people had been to recently, and about what Stepcrew shows had been like in the past… but a only a couple things stood out.  Everyone was genuinely happy to be there, and everyone was exited to see the show.   Subculture as a venue is a perfect example of a place in a busy city where time slows down for a few hours, and where people can truly enjoy the arts firsthand.

There is something about the energy of the dancers that makes you want to dance.

The Stepcrew is an energetic and original new show which brings together three styles of dance forms – Ottawa Valley stepdancing, Irish stepdancing, and modern Tap.

With virtuosic dancers and musicians from The Chieftains, Cherish The Ladies, and Bowfire,

these artists and musicians take the audience on a wild ride to demonstrate the similarities and differences of these three unique dance forms. (more…)

New York Trad Fest 2014: Bing bang and boom… no flopping!

How it’s New York: It’s full of players from New York and the tri-state area, and New York is in the title!IMG_0045
How it’s Irish: Trad music is on the bill, and Irish dancing as well.

A version of this article was  published in Irish Music Magazine November 2014.

When you tell someone who doesn’t really follow Irish music that there is going to be a New York Trad Fest, you might get a blank stare – what, you mean there wasn’t one before?

But there wasn’t. Not for a long time, anyway. For fiddler Tony DeMarco, now is the time to have it. He had the first one last year, thrown together quickly, and had a surprising turnout—all of the artists said yes, and the crowd came out. This year, Irish Arts Center is sponsoring too.

“Irish Arts Center used to do a traditional music festival, but hadn’t done one in awhile,”

DeMarco said. With the center building a new facility, which will break ground next year, it’s a perfect time for them to be part of a new Manhattan tradition. The festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 19. On Saturday, there will be speakers at Glucksman Ireland House at NYU in the afternoon, then musicians at Connolly’s Times Square from 7:30 p.m. on. On Sunday, there will be a sit-down concert at Irish Arts Center. For details and a line-up, visit newyorktradfest.org. (more…)

Mick Moloney’s “An Irish Christmas” brings holiday spirit in

How it’s New York: Presented by the Irish Arts Center and Symphony Space, this Irish Christmas concert has come to feel as much a part of the
Gabriel Byrne, courtesy of IAC

Gabriel Byrne, courtesy of IAC

season as The Nutcracker. The blending of songs and traditions is oh so New York.
How it’s Irish: It has something of the feel of an Irish house party, Mick says.

Gabriel Byrne was one of the special guests at “An Irish Christmas,” presented by the Irish Arts Center at Symphony Space last weekend. Dr. Mick Moloney has been organizing these events which blend music, dance, interview and readings. Byrne discussed his fond memories of actor Peter O’Toole, who had just died that day, and also read some of his own works-in-progress. Other special guests included Congressman Joseph Crowley, dancer Wayne Daniels, Grace Nono, Tamar Korn, guitar player and filmmaker Macdara Vallely.

The concert began with the “Trip to Athlone” medley, which has begun it most years, featuring Mick on banjo, Athena Tergis and Liz Hanley on fiddle, Donna Long on piano (who brings a lot of great rhythm and harmony to the table) and Billy McComiskey on accordion… with Niall O’Leary, “the dancing architect,” joining in too. It’s always a rousing way to begin the event.

Congressman Joseph Crowley and Mick Moloney (courtesy of IAC)

Congressman Joseph Crowley and Mick Moloney (courtesy of IAC)

New this year was Liz’s powerful singing of “Carol of the Birds,” in which all the birds find religion. It was a haunting, evocative tune that suited her husky voice. The first special guest of the evening was Congressman Joe Crowley, interviewed by Mick. Did you know Crowledy could sing? well, I didn’t– and it turns out he used to sing in bars back in the day. He did a lovely version of “Raglan Road” (he called it “Dawning of the Day,” but that’s actually another, much older song; poet Patrick Kavanaugh uses the refrain “dawning of the day” and Luke Kelly put it to that tune, but the song “Dawning of the Day” is a 19th-century song, set to an even older air. Just had to point that out.)

Mick’s interview with Crolwey and later with Byrne were outstanding– relaxed, funny, getting sharp insights and fascinating stories from both men.

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Fiona Shaw’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ at BAM quenches a thirsty soul

How it’s New York: Brooklyn Academy of Music, or BAM, is a mecca for hipsters and culture vultures. The venue presents some of
Fiona Shaw and Daniel Hay Gordon (Adam Termine)

Fiona Shaw and Daniel Hay Gordon (Adam Termine)

the best theatre from all over the world, as well as film and music.
How it’s Irish: Fiona Shaw, who stars in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” is from Cork.

Stephen Orel saw Fiona Shaw at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Shaw, whom we loved so much in Colm Tóibin’s “Testament of Mary” on Broadway, is starring in a short run of an adaptation of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s eerie poem. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, the production is part of the Next Wave Festival, and closes on Sunday, Dec. 22.

Most likely, ever person reading this blog has read, or at least knows something of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner;”yet equally likely is it that unless you have heard it come alive in the voice and movements of Fiona Shaw and her silent collaborator, dancer/mime Daniel Hay-Gordon, you have never truly experienced it.

Shaw, dressed all in black, starts in the pre-show by selecting members of the audience and having them model for the role either of the mariner or his forced audience, the “wedding guest,” by trying on one of two black hats, and asking them to pose, stooped, with a pole.  The show begins when she selects the last such person, sits him in a corner, and begins telling the tale.  That person, of course, turns out to be  Hay-Gordon, a dancer who uses his lithe limbs and body to simulate first the famous albatross, then the ghostly corpses of the mariner’s dead crewmates, who pay the price for his affront to nature.

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“McGoldrick’s Thread” Weaves a Tale of Irish Dancing Dreams

How it’s New York: The play is set in the Bronx circa 1995.  The production was incubated at the Cell, a twenty first century salon in Chelsea, and it’s currently playing at the fabled Theatre 80 – St. Mark’s (where Gary Burghoff, Bob Balaban, and Billy Crystal got their start).  “McGoldrick’s Thread” is part of Origin Theatre Company’s annual 1st Irish Festival (which is dedicated to presenting the work of Irish playwrights in New York City).
How it’s Irish: “McGoldrick’s Thread” tells the story of the O’Reilly family who left their home in Clonmel, Ireland to raise their children in the Bronx.  Daughter Magee is an avid Irish step dancer with big dreams riding on her next competition.
CeiliScene

©Kerry Byrne

“McGoldrick’s Thread,” a new Irish musical written by Marianne Driscoll, is steeped in references to Irish dance competitions – elaborate costumes, hours of practice, and intense pressure.  Featuring choreography and performances by former Riverdance stars Jason Oremus and Garrett Colemen, as well as original Irish dance music by Riverdance fiddler Patrick Mangan, the production is a must-see for any Irish dance devotee.  At the same time, the story’s core message of family, tradition, and cultural memory appeals to a broad audience.

Clever lyrics by Driscoll and Eliot Riskin and lovely music by Ronnie D’Addario tell the story of the O’Reilly family and the path they’ve taken from Clonmel, Ireland to the Bronx.  With three raucous sons (played by Paul Nugent, Conor McIntyre, and John Charles McLaughlin) and one dancing daughter (played by Casey Murray), the O’Reilly’s small apartment overflows with song, dance, and witty banter.  The action takes place during the course of one weekend when daughter Magee is preparing for an important feis (Irish dance competition). (more…)

Solas Lights Up Bleecker Street’s “Subculture” with the Trad Music and Multimedia, “Shamrock City”

by John Kearns

How it’s New York: Solas’s music and multimedia show took place at the new venue, Subculture, below the Bleecker Street Theatre in Manhattan’s East Village.  Solas fiddler Winifred Horan is from New York. 
How it’s Irish:Solas is a one of the finest bands in traditional Irish music, and most of its members hail from Ireland.  “Solas” is the Irish word for “light.”

On July 31, 2013, leading traditional Irish, Solas, brought its ambitious project, Shamrock City to New York for two shows at new downtown venue, Subculture, a sleek modern space reclaimed from a neglected off-off Broadway theatre.  Decorated with an awareness of the Lower Manhattan neighborhood in which it finds itself, Subculture has been hosting gigs for just three months and will open officially in September.

all

Solas

Shamrock City is a new CD and multimedia stage show created by all-Ireland-champion musician, Seamus Egan, and Solas.  Shamrock City was inspired by the story of Egan’s great-granduncle Michael Conway, who came to Philadelphia from the County Mayo in 1910 and who, three years later, fled the prejudice of the east coast for the Butte, Montana copper mines, where a job was practically guaranteed.  As the CD’s liner notes explain,. “Shamrock City is the story of the Butte he may have experienced.”  As the songs and tunes take us from Ireland to America and to the labor, conflicts, and celebrations of Butte, the multimedia presentation incorporates film footage, sounds of mining work, and quotes about Montana displayed on the large screen behind the band.  Shamrock City‘s broad scope demonstrates that Egan is still pushing the boundaries of traditional Irish music as he has done since mixing trad with African instruments as a member of the Chanting House in the 1990s.

egan_flute

Seamus Egan

In keeping with the theme of pushing the boundaries of traditional music and performance, as an opening act for Solas, the Brooklyn-based dance troupe, Hammerstep, brought its combination of hip hop and step dancing to the Subculture stage.

A lone dancer dressed in black stepped out between the propped-up instruments and began beatboxing and stepdancing at the same time, his toe tapping and stomping sometimes accompanying and other times answering his beats.  It was a revelatory and exciting performance that received an enthusiastic reaction from the crowd.  For a second number, another black-clad dancer appeared.  With lights down, their backs to the audience, and blue and white lights on either shoe, the pair performed a thunderous dance with unsuppressable energy, crisscrossing their feet with each other’s to create a memorable light show. (more…)

The Year in Blog Posts

Bloomsday at Ulysses (@Ray Foley)

How It’s New York: See the name of this blog! Ok, not everything was based here, but a lot was.
How It’s Irish: Everything has an Irish connection. We define the term loosely, but we think it fits!

We decided to give you a blast from the past this year, and remind you of some of our favorite posts and events from a year with New York Irish Arts.

It was a year of a new CD by Glen Hansard, the beginning of SongLives curated by Susan McKeown at Irish Arts Center, a great 1st Irish Festival, wonderful nights at the Irish American Writers & Artists Salon, a visit from Druid Theatre Company, some amazing dance performances, including Rian, Bloomsday celebrations (we picked a post about the readings at Ulysses, but the mock trial for obscenity was a real highlight too), the debut of Copper, a television show with a Civil War era Irish cop, Scottish events including the Tartan Day Parade and the Great Book of Gaelic, as well as an election year with two vice-presidential candidates of Irish descent, Hurricane Sandy, and the passing of Linda Hood, a beloved member of the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra.    

We’ve put in one representative podcast in this “best of” but we hope you’ll check out the rest; just visit the podcast tab of the blog to download interviews with Moya Brennan, Paddy Moloney, Garry Hynes, Glen Hansard and many more.

Here’s a look back at some contributions from myself and our outstanding roster of bloggers, and a couple of guest posts. And here’s to 2013.

JANUARY 2012

Jan. 7, 2012

Poetry in Pavements

May 1954: Yvonne Voigt Molloy, John Molloy, Christopher Fitz-Simon and other members of the Trinity Players head off on a University Tour that included Oxford University

How It’s New York: Honor Molloy is a New York writer and a regular partner in crime at the Irish American Writers and Artists Salon.

How It’s Irish: Amemory of Christmas in Dublin, and of her father the actor John Molloy.

Honor Molloy remembers the fun of poetry, buskers and theatrical parents, and John Molloy’s Dublin

Read More>

Monday, January 23, 2012

Come On Over! Silent Film Review from Cork

How It’s New York:This 1922 film is partly set in New York, where the Irish emigrant protagonists make their new home in Amerikay; and what is more New York than that? The film has recently been acquired by the IFI Irish Film Archive from the Film Department of the Museum of Modern Art, which screened it in New York earlier this year, as part of Gabriel Byrne’s Revisiting the Quiet Man series (check out our report on that here, and you can listen to Gabriel talking about it here).
How It’s Irish: Shane and Moyna must depart dear old Lisdoonvarna before starting afresh in New York. Needless to say, hijinks ensue. This screening took place as part of the 56th Corona Cork Film Festival, and the film is a recent addition to the Irish Film Institute’s Archive, which acquires, preserves and makes available Ireland’s moving image heritage.

Lucy Healy-Kelly reports on a fascinating silent film she caught in Cork:

For all that Come On Over is as fake-Irish-twee as a bowl of leprechauns, it does this knowingly, and what it has in heart and spirit more than make up for it.

Read more »

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Conscience and Kings: Kevin Spacey as Richard III at BAM

Kevin Spacey as Richard III (Joan Marcus)

How It’s New York:  Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is one of New York’s beloved institutions, founded in 1861, and at its present location since 1908, it’s the go-to place these days for international work,a s well as cinema, music, local performers and of course theatre.  And some of the performers in the Bridge Project are New York based.How It’s Irish:  It’s English, but Shakespeare has deep roots in Irish theatre too.  Who can forget Frank McCourt’s description of Shakespeare to mashed potatoes– you can’t get enough.   Kevin Spacey is a wonder in this production which literally took my breath away (as in, at times I forgot to breathe).  Runs through March 4.
A version of this review first appeared in Irish Examiner USA.

Excerpt of video after the jump, too!

Spacey dazzles, changing midline from anger to deadpan comedy to cold control.

 FEBRUARY 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Paul Keating on Cruising with Cherish!

How It’s New York: Paul Keating, author of this piece, runs Catskills Irish Arts Week, and about music for the Irish Voice.  If it’s Irish music in NY (and really, much of the world), Paul knows about it.

Photo: Frank Rudiger

How It’s Irish:   Joanie Madden organized a Celtic Cruise (see our interview with Joanie before the cruise, in which we prayed nothing would happen to the boat)– and brought an amazing array of performers with her, including New York stalwarts Gabriel Donohue and Donie Carroll, as well as Maura O’Connell, Mary Black, Scot Phil Cunningham, and many more!

Paul went on the cruise and as Joanie says on the podcast, led some set dancing; he reports back and we can all live vicariously through him!  He describes Joanie taking Cherish the Ladies and her “boy band”, the Pride of New York, on the High Seas.
Read more »

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

10 Irish Love Songs (but Irish STILL unromantic…)

How It’s New York:  Tommy Burns is a musician in NJ and hosts of “Glor na h’Eireann”, an Irish Radio show broadcasting from Rutgers University 88.7 FM on Sundays at 6pm.

How It’s Irish:  Boy Gets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Writes Song!  BUT.  Those songs ARE pretty great.

Meanwhile, on  the “The Irish are Unromantic” front, Irish Central has posted a list, with videos, of the top 10 Irish anti-Valentine’s Day  songs  (while snarking about Americans   “giving each other overpriced cards”).  Sounds like Sour Grapes, Irish People!  I’ll give you a Valentine, Bryan Fitgerald.

I admit some of  Fitzgerald’s commentary is funny, like this one on “Leave” by The Swell Season:

This song may have been directed from Hansard his to his Swell Season bandmate Marketa Irglova who took heed to the song and not only broke up with Glen but has stopped performing with him as well.
On the other hand, surely the Corrs‘ “I Never Loved You Anyway” is not sad but hilarious and grrrl power.   No tissues need apply.
Irish Central also reports that Irish men are likelier to be gold diggers than romantics, according to a new Valentine’s Day poll (the shock!  remember, boy loves girl, boy loses girl (or renounces girl!), boy writes sad song about it).
HOWEVER,  In better news, we asked Tom Burns, a supporter and player of Irish music with A Band of Rogues and Burns and Cashman and one of the hosts of “Glor na h’Eireann”, an Irish Radio show,

to share his 10 favorite Irish love songs with us.  He did– and it’s a terrific mix of trad and pop (AND YES!  One of them is “As I Roved Out,” about the man who “marries the lassie with the land!” Honest, I didn’t put Tommy up to it.  Take note of songs of dead or permanently unavailable loves).

Read more »

Friday, February 17, 2012

SongLives Brings Songs to Our Lives: Beginning Feb. 17

How It’s New York:  Not only does it take place at our home away from home, Irish Arts Center, which is so New York in its cultural fusions and happenings, the new SongLives program will include Irish singer-songwriters who are based in the city, as well as visiting.  New York has made an impact on Irish songwriting– see Luka Bloom, for example!  (who I think is working on his next, and we can’t wait!)  And of course Susan McKeown herself, whose brainchild this is, is an East Village Lady.

How It’s Irish:  All of the singer-songwriters are Irish, and the idea behind the series of programs (there will be 3) is to bring some of the Grafton Street feeling here.  The Irish are known for their poetry and for their music, and songwriting brings those strands together.

You can hear Susan talk more about this, and snips from all the musicians, on the Feb. 12 podcast!

A version of this article first appeared in Irish Examiner USA, Feb. 14.

From Grafton Street To NYC



Had Susan McKeown not abandoned her operatic studies at the College of Music to busk on Grafton Street, SongLives, a new musical series beginning Friday at the Irish Arts Center , showcasing Irish singer-songwriters, might never have happened.
You might know about the tradition of musical performance on Grafton Street from the movie and musical Once. That was a very real thing, Susan says.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kevin Holohan Remembers Reading Russell Hoban, 1925-2011

@Graham Jepson

How It’s New York:  This memorial was written by Kevin Holohan, an Irish writer based in New York.  Books Editor Michelle Woods reviewed his The Brothers’ Lot and loved it.  Also, Hoban was Jewish– so this is Jirish, which is so New York (even though Hoban lived in London).How It’s Irish:  This remembrance of Russell Hoban was originally published in Writing.Ie.  And Holohan first came across Hoban’s books in Dublin.
I grew up on the Frances books, but never looked for any other works of the author.   Thanks to Kevin for bringing this to our attention!  Hoban’s children’s books, says Kevin:

…celebrate the wholeness of childhood just as Mr. Hoban’s books for adults also capture a magical oddness that always percolates just under the surface of perceived reality, something he called the “unwordable.’

 Read more »

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New York Irish Arts Podcast February 26

Play

Terence Mulligan on The Craic Festival, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh from Altan on the new album, The Poison Glen, the Irish language, and Courtly Love (the band is at City Winery March 8!); Brendan Fay on the St. Pats for All Parade, March 4 (fundraiser concert at Irish Arts Center March 2); and excerpts from Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s speech at the Consulate February 9.
Featured tune from Altan!

Music Review: Ashley Davis – Fireside Songs for the Celtic Winter

How It’s New York:  Ashley Davis brought her musical talents to the stage of Joe’s Pub, joined onstage
@Therese Cox
by New York-based musicians Mike Cassedy (piano) and John Hadfield (percussion).
How It’s Irish:  The show featured songs from Ashley’s latest album, Songs of the Celtic Winter
featuring songs in Irish, storytelling, and the musicianship of Irish harpist Cormac De Barra.
New blogger, author Therese Cox, reviews  Ashley Davis at Joe’s Pub on February 23, and joined her on a

sustained journey into a beautiful netherworld of plaintive verses and haunting choruses…   

MARCH 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Theatre Review: Eternal Equinox and Sexy Mountains

How It’s New York: The production, by Grove Theater Center, LA is running at 59E59 on… East 59th St. in Manhattan.
How It’s Irish: The sexual repression. No, sorry, wrong play. This story of 1920’s swingers is, however, set across The Irish Sea in England.  George Mallory, one of the characters, was Irish-American.
Orla O’Sullivan finds a play about the Bloomsbury Group  unerotic, despite her observation that “the phallically described Everest (“a huge, colossal white fang”) becomes a metaphor for sexual conquest…”

Friday, March 9, 2012

Drinking Tea and Watching YouTube: Leo Moran on the Saw Doctors

@Ray Burmiston
How its New York: Since 1992, The Saw Doctors have traveled to the U.S. over 80 times, each time playing at least once in New York. When here, they draw hometown-sized crowds, lads in GAA jerseys and girls belting out the lyrics with glee.
How its Irish: The Saw Doctors formed in Tuam, County Galway, in 1986. For over two decades they have been writing small town songs full of humor and heart, producing seven studio albums, reaching the charts 19 times, and gathering a huge fan base for their live shows all over the world.
The Saw Doctors release The Further Adventures of the Saw Doctors, featuring, among others, a cover of Petula Clark’s “Downton”– with Petula Clark! The album comes out  March 13.  
Rachael Gilkey chats with Leo Moran as the band began their tour.
“The American audiences come in bit earlier, they are a bit more diligent. They don’t congregate around the bar.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Reading Report: Kathy Callahan laughs with Malachy McCourt at Death

How It’s New York:  Malachy McCourt is a literary Irish fixture in New York, one of the founders of  Irish American Writers & Artists (IAWA), and the person who suggested the salon.  This reading took place at SOPAC, NJ:  South Orange Performing Arts Center.  And one of the things about New York, of course, is that it’s tri-state!
How It’s Irish: McCourt is from Limerick, like his brother Frank (author of the famous Angela’s Ashes).  He’s a writer too, and has that gift of the gab.

Welcome aboard new blogger Kathy Callahan, an active member of IAWA, and a writer herself!  Kath is  a healing arts therapist in Wayne, NJ.  So good to have another Jersey girl in the house! She looks forward to his forthcoming book:  When I’m Sober I’m Not Drinking.

 

Malachy McCourt is the hardest working storyteller on both sides of the Hudson: a seanachie like no other in the Irish tradition. Himself through and through. Malachy imparted his magic through song, poetry, storytelling and observational wit that doesnt quit to an immediately enchanted audience at SOPAC on Saturday March 9. I have to admit when I first heard about, Loving Life and Laughing at Death……..in NJ of all places! I thought, “Malachy must be working on the sequel: The O’Soprano’s of the Oranges. And he’s coming to South Orange to try out new material on us.”
Here is the take away from the show.
1.  You can love life while laughing at death in New Jersey, all the while discovering no less than 75 ways to say it.  Malachy read a roaring out loud list of words, expressions:

Read more »

Friday, March 23, 2012

Concert Report: Black Brothers lead Bay Area St Patrick’s Day music Festivities

Shay and Michael Black with fiddler Bobbi Nikles
How It’s New York:  Many of the players there come here, and vice versa.
How It’s Irish:  March is the Irish musician’s season!  Check out the bounty the Bay Area got this year!

Tom Clancy brings San Francisco’s St. Patrick’s Day to New York in his post! A report on the Black Brothers in concert and a mouth-watering list of all the traditional players serenading California this month!

The Black Brothers annual St Patrick’s Day engagement at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley is the highlight for many Irish music fans. This has been ongoing now for longer than Shay and Michael (and many of the regular attendees) can remember. It’s always a vocal extravaganza: many songs feature what Shay calls, “…big fat choruses,” that require audience participation.

Inside the New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

 

Waving to the Parade Committee
How It’s New York: It’s the 251st New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, celebrating the patron saint of Ireland and the Archdiocese of New York.
How It’s Irish: The biggest civilian parade in the world honors the man who brought Christianity and literacy to Ireland.
Blogger John Kearns explains why he is “so bound and determined to march on a beautiful day or in the driving snow.” Surreptitious bathroom usage! Sneaking beer in coffee cups!
It’s a chance for the Irish, the Irish-Americans, and the Irish-for-a-Day to give one another a warm welcome.

 

Late one Saint Paddy’s Night past, amid all of the discarded cups and cans, the seashells filled with cigarette butts, and the other debris left behind by the revelers at Marty O’Brien’s Public House, Kevin McKee, my friend from Chicago whom I only see on Saint Patrick’s Day, was about to take his leave. Since we had had such a good time, as we always do, I made a suggestion.

“Y’know, we should keep in touch during the year.”

“No, John,” said he. “I’m afraid that’s not possible.”

Read more »

Monday, March 26, 2012

Theatre Review: Weeping for the Great (and Terrible) Gatz

 

Jim Fletcher, Scott Shepherd (Joan Marcus)
How It’s New York:  Not only is Gatz performed at the Public Theater, Joe Papp’s vision of a theater that would bring Shakespeare to the people along with bold new works. Elevator Repair Service is a Brooklyn based collective.

How It’s Irish:  F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, was Irish American, and the book’s roots in Irish dreams have never been clearer or more painfully realized.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald.

  I spent much of Gatz weeping quietly. At one point I worried I was about to break out in sobs. Certainly I was whimpering audibly. It’s important to put this upfront.

Read more »

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Film Review: Short Films at the Craic uplift!

How It’s New York: Part of the 14th annual Craicfest, a New York festival of Irish movies and music, this segment featured some award-winning shorts (Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals) by Irish and Irish American filmmakers.
How It’s Irish: As we said above, this was a craic off the old block.
Orla O’Sullivan reports on the short films shown at the Craic, finding them “the most uplifting cinema I’ve seen in a long time.”  Rent them now!
The films presented well lived up to name of the festival: ‘craic’ which is Irish (‘Gaelic’) slang for ‘fun’. Put another way, “The craic was ninety,” as they say, on March 9.
(Read our interview with Craic Impressario Terence Mulligan here, and listen to him on the podcast!)
All six films were delightful in their own way. Two longer films, with very familiar lead actors, served as bookmarks for the other four.
In The Shore, which won an Academy Award for short films (Director Terry George’s remarks here!) Ciaran Hind plays an emigree who didn’t return to Northern Ireland for decades. We learn that this is largely because his closest friend married his former fiancee, an unresolved issue. The resolution invovles a hilarious scene where he and his videotaping daughter are mistaken as spies from the unemployment office investigating the old friend. The moonlighting pal runs for it. The scene almost descends to Waking Ned Divine kitsch, but rights itself just at the end.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Book Review: Fambilly Planning: Michelle Woods Reviews Smarty Girl!

How It’s New York: author Honor Molloy is a New York resident and celebrated reader at the Irish American Writers’ and Artists Salon.  She also occasionally blogs for us!

How It’s Irish: Molloy was born in Dublin and her new novel, Smarty Girl, takes place in Bohemian 1960s Dublin.
Hear a snippet from the audiobook of Smarty Girl on the March 16 podcast!
Here’s Honor on her father and the Nelson Memorial, too!
 
Michelle Woods reviews Honor Molloy’s Smarty Girl, about a 1960s Dublin childhood, and finds the language intoxicating– and intoxicatingly dangerous.  “The fancy tomorrows are all there is, and they only seem to exist in words.”

Read more » 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Great Book of Gaelic Ushers in Tartan Week

How It’s New York:  The Great Book of Gaelic is being shown at Ellis Island Immigration Museum through April 8.  Ellis Island was  the first American site for immigrants for so many, before landing in New York.  And the Tartan Week events are New York based as well.  April 6 is National Tartan Day!

How It’s Irish:  The book includes poems chosen by Irish as well as Scottish poets, and also demonstrates the closeness of the Gaelic cultures– the languages had almost no differences until the 16th century!
A version of this article appeared in this week’s Irish Examiner USA!  Just when St. Patrick’s day is over, and the March season begins to draw to a close, the Scottish season begins: Scotland week, or Tartan week, culminates in the Tartan Day Parade on April 14, with Grand Marshall Brian Cox. All kinds of Scottish events will be going on, including Whiskey Live! Single malt tastings on April 11, Scottish plays at 59e59, an evening with the Scottish band Scocha at St. Andrews Restaurant on April 12, and much more (events are listed at www.tartanweek.com) . One of the most exciting events kicking off the celebrations, is an exhibit from the The Leabhar Mor/ Great Book of Gaelic at Ellis Island Immigration Museum through April 8. This remarkable anthology has been touring the world since its debut in 2002—what we have here is not the book itself but some of its artwork, with readings and performances on April 3 and April 5 (details below).   And at the exhibition on Ellis Island this weekend there will be storytellers, jugglers, clarsach players, pipes and drums!

The book consists of 100 Gaelic poems chosen by 50 of the most noted poets in Ireland and Scotland, with artistic responses by 100 artists, and beautiful
calligraphy as well.
Read more »

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hauer ya gae! Tartan Week Celebrations, Part I – the Ceilidh

Mike Ogletree and Caitlin Boyle boogie down

How it’s New York: In its 10th year, this is NYC’s version of the national observation of all things Scottish – with a cast of thousands…of proud, fun-loving New York Scots.

How it’s  [Scottish] Irish: In Scotland, April 6th marks the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath  in 1320 at Arbroath Abbey, when Scottish nobles declared Scotland to be an independent nation with the right to live free from rule or oppression by other countries. It also claimed that Scottish independence was the right and responsibility of the Scottish people, not the King – and that the nobles would choose another king if they had to.

This document was used as a basis for the American Declaration of Independence.

Tartan Day in Scotland was inspired by this historical occasion to celebrate all that is good about Scotland – its people, its heritage, its history, its culture, and its amazing legacy.

Sue Sylvester attends the pre-parade ceilidh at the New York Caledonian Club and finds herself in awe of Scottish people!
After an entire week of amazing events and activities (including a kilted 10k run!), local Tartan Week celebrating wound up NY-style: with a parade up the Avenue of the Americas. But never let it be said that an occasion in NYC was ever that simple: there was the pre-parade dance, a special ceremony in a church beginning with bagpipes and ending with brunch, and lots and LOTS of post-parade parties, proudly hosted by NYC’s two largest Scottish societies, the New York Caledonian Club and the St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York.Read more »

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dan Neely on Recently Forgot, Never Departed Mentoring Roles

(@Helen Norton-Russell)

 

How It’s New York: Jack Coen (who was based in the Bronx), John McGann and Barney McKenna  inspired and taught some of the musicians playing around the city today.  .
How It’s Irish: They were all Irish and played Irish music.

This column appeared in the April 18, 2012, edition of the Irish Echo.

Daniel Neely, music columnist for the Irish Echo, thinks about  greats who have left us, and how their losses will hit us: Farewell to John McGann, Barney McKenna, and Jack Coen.

Recently, the Irish traditional musical community lost several important and cherished musicians in rapid succession, including Boston-based mandolin and guitar player John McGann, Dublin-based banjoist Barney McKenna, and Bronx-based flute player Jack Coen. Individually, each passing is remarkable and together they’re overwhelming, but this unfortunate confluence offers us a moment to briefly step back and reflect on how these losses affect some from the younger generations.

Read more »

Friday, April 27, 2012

A new film by IAWA leader Charles Hale!

How It’s New York: Charles R. Hale runs the Irish American Writers and Artist’s Salon, which is a New York treasure. Many terrific writers, actors, musicians show up there every week!
How It’s Irish: the subject of the movie is Charles’ search for an ancestral grave. The film also looks at the concept of Original Sin. Religion, heritage, death, love…..

Charles R. Hale debuted his short film “The Death of Baby Florence” at Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon at The Cell April 17. The film focuses on Hale’s search to learn the burial place of his maternal grandparents’ third child and his attempt to honor their pain. For religious reasons–the child wasn’t baptized–she was denied burial with her family. Hale traces the issue of Original Sin from St. Augustine, through eighteenth century Ireland and New York City to the baby’s death in 1925. The film runs for eight minutes.

MAY

Thursday, May 17, 2012

iBAM! Chicago Irish at Its Finest

How It’s New York: L.E. McCullough is not only a noted musician and author; he’s also a regular at the Cat and Fiddle Session at St. James’ Gate in Maplewood, NJ, and a playwright whose work has been staged locally (see our notice of his historical play First Mothers: the Women Who Raised America’s Presidents here)

How I’s Irish: iBAM! stands for Irish Books Art Music! The theme of the 2011 conference was “Handing Down the Tradition,” and that emphasis on carrying the past into the present is very Irish. Participants include such acclaimed musicians as Matt Cranitch, Paul deGrae, Martin Hayes, Liz Carroll and authors including Maeve Binchy and Fr. Andrew Greeley.
 
L.E. McCullough went to iBAM! to present “Irish Traditional Music: Where It’s Been, Where It’s Going”  and ended up particularly impressed with the authors: 
“Anyone who thinks the “Golden Age” of Irish and Irish-American literature has passed should re-consider.”

Read more »

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dance: Dancing All Day at The New York City Irish Dance Festival

Darrah Carr Dance company members perform Cuimhne Fado. (@Brian Rossi)
How It’s New York: This fun day of dance took place outside at Riverside Park, with, as Darrah Carr tells us, “the sparkling Hudson River in front of us.”  It was presented by New York’s own Irish Arts Center.
How It’s Irish: It is an Irish Dance Festival, showcasing the variety of Irish dance– mixed with the many cultures of Manhattan!
Darrah Carr of Darrah Carr Dance, reports back on the RiversideDance from May 6:
“…the New York City Irish Dance Festival provides a rare and important opportunity for dancers to gather in a non-competitive environment where they can learn from and appreciate each other’s skills”

Read more »

JUNE

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Music: The Teetotallers are a True Trad Supergroup

How It’s New York: The lads are each NYC faves, and are playing in the Tri-State area, including Joe’s Pub, Sunday June 3.
How It’s Irish: Martin Hayes on fiddle, John Doyle on guitar, and Kevin Crawford on flute are all Irish, and are three of the best Trad players in the universe! Duck for the papparazzi!

A version of this article first appeared in Irish Examiner USA, on May 29.  I spoke to Kevin Crawford and Martin Hayes; you can hear them on this week’s podcast!  The lads are at Stratford Theater in Connecticut tonight and at Joe’s Pub, NYC, tomorrow!

“They’re all virtuoso players, all funny and entertaining on stage, all instantly recognizable when they play. 
 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: Some Enchanted Evening…of “Food and Pleasure”

Florence Fabricant, Drew Nieporent, Gabriel Kreuther, and Bill Yosses
How It’s New York: “Pen, Paper and Palate” takes place in New York City, the brainchild of Ruda Dauphin. The May, 2012 installment included  two of the City’s premiere chefs, a restauranteur, and a food columnist.
How It’s Irish: The program was presented jointly with the Irish Arts Center. The debonair Frank Delaney, born and bred in County Tipperary, was the moderator.
Sue Sylvester attends a delicious panel about food that feeds her soul but sadly not her tummy:
“The feeling was nothing less than an intimate dinner party with friends – who happened to be among the culinary elite…”

In the shadow of MoMA, there nestles at the base of the building at 13-15 West 54th Street a promising little restaurant called La Petite Maison. Within its Euro-white walls, a third Pen, Paper and Palate event celebrating Irish, French, and American writing, culture, and food took place on May 8th (we’ve also written a bit about earlier Pen, Paper and Palate outings, Writers as Witness, and the first one last May!).

Read more »

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Music InteReview: Joe (Henry) + Lisa (Hannigan)= lovely sounds (June 14 &15 at Highline)

(@James Minchin)
How It’s New York: Lisa Hannigan and Joe Henry are performing at Highline Ballroom, one of New York’s sweet downtown venues, on June 14 and 15. The pairing will attract music lovers who know her, and some who don’t.
How It’s Irish: Lisa Hannigan is Irish, and began her career singing with Damien Rice. She’s since performed with the Chieftains, among others.
 
Lisa Hannigan continues to make grown men sigh. Here’s our interview with Joe Henry, who appears with the lovely songbird at Highline Ballroom June 14 &15.
 
No big surprise: in the interview we did with Lisa in October, we pointed out how other musicians adore her, and how when we asked on Facebook what to ask her, we heard back “will you marry me?”
 
An earlier version of this article first appeared in Irish Examiner USA.

And stay tuned for Lisa’s emailed responses, too!

Everybody Falls In Love With Lisa Hannigan Producer and singer/songwriter Joe Henry said “I admire her as much as any human being; I think she’s absolutely fantastic.” 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bloomsday: a gorgeous day for and at Ulysses

Colum McCann and Aedin Moloney (@Ray Foley
How It’s New York: It all has the feeling of a street-fair– if you get lost when you get off at Wall Street, you can just follow the sound of happy laughter. Many, many tables outside, and at them, it seemed, was everyone you knew!
How It’s Irish: Bloomsday is a holiday named for Leopold Bloom the mayor of Dublin in James Joyce’s book  Ulysses. These Bloomsday readings took place at Ulysses Folk House, which is owned by Danny McDonald and is one of the best pints poured in the city.

As we pointed out here, the readings at Ulysses Folk House which start at 1 p.m. every year are a highlight of Bloomsday. You couldn’t have asked for a better day this June 16, which was sunny, blue skies, a nice breeze and fluffy white clouds going by.

Ulysses (@Ray Foley)

Spotted: Origin Theatre Company’s George C. Heslin; Fallen Angel Theatre’s Aedin Moloney (whose Molly Bloom soliloquy was, as always, outstanding); organizer and author Colum McCann; Black 47’s Larry Kirwan, Singer Moley Ó Súilleabháin, author Honor Molloy (who just reviewed Brendan Fay’s documentary Taking a Chance on God), author Joesph Goodrich (who blogged about the luncheon at the Irish Consulate for us), photographer Ray Foley and artist Kim Umichaya, Irish Echo’s Peter McDermott, author Pete Hamill, musician Tony DeMarco, author Maura Mulligan, harper Cormac DeBarra and many many more!

**

(@Ray Foley)

JULY

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Music: Happy Tune-iversary, from L.E. McCullough: My other birthday cake is made out of chiff

Miles Krassen (l) on fiddle, L.E. McCullough (r) on whistle, Bloomington, Indiana, Feb. 1974.
How It’s New York: L.E. McCullough is a regular player in tri-state sessions. See his post on the the 2042 fleadh here!
How It’s Irish: This is the story of a tune-iversarry– how that first Irish tune worms its way into your heart and soul. And it was inspired by time in Dublin.
What was YOUR first tune? L.E. McCullough marks the day that he first learned “Tabhair Dom Do Lámh.”

He says:  My Other Birthday Cake is Made Out of Chiff  (with a Dab of Fresh Fipple Icing)

July 3 is my favorite day of the year. No, it’s not my birthday, or my wedding anniversary to my beloved bride, Lisa. Not even our cats’ birthdays. Or wedding anniversaries.
Read more »

Monday, July 9, 2012

Books: Michelle Woods reviews “Call of the Lark”

How it’s New York: Author Maura Mulligan teaches Irish dancing and Irish in New York, and is a frequent reader at Irish American Writers & Artists Salon.
How it’s Irish: Mulligan gives a bracing picture of life in Mayo in the 1940s and 1950s and immigration to New York.

Books Editor Michelle Woods finds Maura Mulligan’s memoir Call of the Lark fascinating: The book, she writes,  “evokes an era not long past where the alternatives were really stark in Ireland”– with wry humor.

“You might be better off not getting married at all,” Maura Mulligan’s mother told her when she was a kid. “Tis a hard life, trying to rear a crowd like this.”

Mulligan, in her fascinating new memoir, Call of the Lark  is not kidding about not getting married – except to Christ. Mulligan, an immigrant to New York from Mayo, joined a convent not long after arriving, following in the footsteps of her sister Mag.

The controversy this week (one of the many) was Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic about whether women really could have it all – the jobs, the kids. Mulligan evokes an era not long past where the alternatives were really stark in Ireland. Three of her siblings entered the Church, one got married, and two died from alcohol.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Theatre Review: DruidMurphy is Terrible (and Great)

Marie Mullen in Famine (@Stephanie Berger)
How It’s New York: DruidMurphy is part of the Lincoln Center Festival, one of NYC’s culture extravaganzas bringing performances from all over the world to us here in the city.
How It’s Irish: Tom Murphy is a quintessentially important Irish playwright, and this cycle is brought to us by Galway’s Druid Theatre (hence the name, DruidMurphy).
A version of this article first appeared in Irish Examiner USA, July10.
The last day of the cycle is Saturday the 14th. Don’t wait! They are terrible to bear and 
impossible to forget.

Home Is The Place Where…

TerribleThe plays by Tom Murphy that make up the cycle called DruidMurphy in the Lincoln Center Festival, which run through July 14, are terrible.

They cause alarm, fear, and terror.

They are awful.
And wonderful.

Read more »

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Concert Review: Glen Hansard, Camp Counselor

Glen teaches us “You’ve got, you’ve got my love…”
How It’s New York: Glen Hansard has been living in New York for the past year (though sadly he seems to have given up his East Village apartment, which means losing some of his John Lennon cred with me).
How It’s Irish: Glen is a Dub, and he was supported by his band The Frames, an Irish band that never quite hit here. Maybe that will change.
I was totally bowled over by Glen Hansard’s first solo CD, Rhythm and Repose, as you can tell by this InteReview, and the podcast I did with him. That was nothing compared to the concert..
 
 I spotted singers Michael Brunnock and Susan McKeown, and filmmaker Niall McKay, at (le) Poisson Rouge on June 28. Irish Arts Center’s Rachael Gilkey and Aidan Connolly were at The Beacon on the 29th.  If you missed Glen Hansard him last month, travel to wherever he’s playing and see him. Seriously.
I cried at Glen Hansard’s concert.

Not because my feet hurt, though I’d been standing for four hours (one on line around the corner before the doors opened).

Read more »

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Music: Michael Fitzpatrick interviews Michael Brunnock

@Debra Reschoff-Ahearn

How It’s New York: Michael Brunnock lives in NYC, and is a member of Fairplay Collective, a group that includes Brendan O’Shea, Mark Dignam and Jenna Nichols.

How It’s Irish: Michael is from County Meath, and got his start as a singer in school there.
We’re delighted to welcome Michael Fitzpatrick, from Irish Examiner USA, to the New York Irish Arts blogger list! 
Born and raised in Dublin, Michael writes about popular culture for the paper with weekly, commenting on movie and music news, and sometimes we have to fight it out over who gets to talk to the rock stars…
He’s also doing some true crime writing too. Stay tuned!

Michael Brunnock is launching his CD The Orchard at Rockwood Music Hall this Friday, July 20th. We reviewed his appearance at SongLives at Irish Arts Center here. If you’re not in the Catskills this week, go to Rockwood! Catch him before he soars to international fame. Seriously.

A version of this article first appeared in Irish Examiner USA.

New Album for Award-Winning Meathman

There’s an old song by the late new wave bandleader Ian Dury, called “Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3.”
Read more »

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Music: Mike Farragher talks to OurLand’s Joe Hurley

Irish Consul General Noel Kilkenny and Joe Hurley
How It’s New York: It’s all taking place in Lincoln Center, and it’s an outdoor summer event. Olympics, shmolympics.
How It’s Irish: Just look at the line-up! Aedin Moloney, Honor Molloy, Joe Hurley, the cast of Once,
Everybody’s going to the OurLand Festival tomorrow– everyone! it starts at 2 and goes until 10, it’s in Lincoln Center, it’s free, and it’s all coordinated by Joe Hurley.  We reported on the launch party here, and John Lee has done a little preview, too. Here’s Mike Farragher’s Interview with the man himself!

A version of this article was first published in IrishCentral.

On Sunday July 29th, for the first time in NYC, Lincoln Center Out of Doors will present a day long, multifaceted festival of Irish culture. “Our Land” will celebrate the artistic, literary and musical heritage of Ireland, the mark it made on America and the continuing cross-cultural ties that bind the two countries.

“It’s well established what the Irish American contribution is to this country and indeed other cultures,” says OurLand curator and all-around rock star Joe Hurley. “ This festival celebrates that”

 

AUGUST

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Books: Charles Hale wraps up the latest IAWA Salon

How It’s New York: Irish American Writers &Artists  is a NY institution, and these salons attract some of the most creative talent in the city.
How It’s Irish: Some of the artists are Irish from Ireland, some are Irish-American, and many write and sing about the Irish and Irish-American experience. Also, there’s wine.
IAW&A director Charles Hale wraps out the Salon that took place at The Cell on the 24th of July. The next one is Tuesday, August 7, at the Thalia Cafe at Symphony Space. Be there! if you’re new to town and artistically inclined, this is the best shortcut to getting in with a super crowd.
A beautiful photo gallery from the Salon, taken by Cathleen “Cat” Dwyer, is visible here!

Music was featured during last Tuesday night’s Salon at The Cell. Brothers Moley and Owen Suillebhain offered a blend of ancient Irish sacred songs with modern pop tunes and mesmerized the audience with a brilliant musical performance. Particularly moving was a Gregorian Latin Chant, “Caminus Ardebat.” Liam O’Connell, the first rap artist to appear at a salon, inspired the audience with his pulsating sounds and rhythms and the opening of my video, Fathers, Sons and Baseball, was set to the American baseball classic, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Singer, songwriter Tara O’Grady opened the show reading from her unpublished memoir Transatlantic Butterflies & the November Moon, a story that takes the reader on a journey across America, where Tara replicated her Waterford Granny’s 1957 road trip in a Chevy Bel Air, searching for the spirit of the immigrant grandmother she never met, as well as the spirit of America during a time of economic uncertainty. She convinced Chevrolet to pay for her symbolic migration. The iconic car company was inspired by her quest to chase not only her Granny’s spirit, but also the spirit of America to find out if the American dream still exists.
Read more »

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dan Neely on What I Did On My Ireland Vacation.

How It’s New York: Dan Neely runs the session at Lillie’s, and is the Artistic Director of the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra.

How It’s Irish: He’s writing this FROM Ireland, and it’s ABOUT Ireland! Go Dan!

In which Dan Neely tells us about Clare, people he’s met, and… ostriches and emus…

New York Irish Arts Folks,

I’m writing to you from the north part of County Clare where I’m on vacation with my family.  Good news is that Ireland is still here!  Bad news is that an invasive species has invaded the county.  (More on that later.)

First thing’s first: if you’re ever in Ballyvaughn on a Wednesday, keep in mind there are some nice tunes at Greene’s. Seán Tyrrell is the host and he does it with a great backer named Fergal (I think?) and the extremely fine fiddle player Liam Lewis (who, I understand, learned from the notoriously cagey Paddy Fahy).  Incidentally, Seán will be kicking off the Don Meade’s “Blarney Star” fall season at Ireland House on September 21.  It’ll be a great evening of music, so I’d say you’ll want to make it out for that one.

Music: One of the best weeks there is, Catskills Irish Arts Week!

How It’s New York: It’s a New York Festival, although it attracts players and performers from all over the world. Most of the people you love to play with in NYC and the tri-state manage to come up for at least a day, if it’s at all possible.
How It’s Irish: Catskills Irish Arts Week is focused on maintaining the traditional music and arts of Ireland. East Durham is called the Emerald Isle of the Catskills, and many of the teachers come from Ireland, as well!
I was only able to make it up for part of the week this year, but even for a few days it was a wonderful, wild ride!  Here’s the write-up that was in Irish Examiner USA  about it last week! (we also previewed the week here!)

As Joanie Madden introduced a whistle tune she’d taught during the week, on Thursday, July 19, during the concert at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, a group of her young students whooped and hollered.

They were sitting on the ground, because the chairs near the front were all taken. Some of the kids played air-whistle while Joanie played.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Music: Dan Neely wraps up Elkins!

How It’s New York: Dan Neely, who runs the week, is a New York trad maven, and many of the teachers come up to NY and play for a week or two after. Dan and some of the teachers raced back the final day to play at Lillie’s, at the session that he runs!

How It’s Irish: It’s Irish/Celtic WEEK, and the music is there is traditional. Many of the teachers came directly from Ireland, too.
 

Dan Neely, the new Artistic Director of Augusta Irish/Celtic week at Elkins, wraps up the week. An earlier version was originally published in the Irish Echo, August 6.

Augusta has many great teachable moments

The craic was mighty last week in the West Virginia mountains!  As I wrote back in April, this year is the 30th anniversary of the Augusta Irish/Celtic Week, the first program to celebrate traditional Irish music and heritage in the United States.  As the week’s new artistic director and coordinator, I am happy to report that this year’s event went off with a bang.  It was a pleasure getting to know the people and the culture of the Augusta Irish Week for the first time, and I look forward to building on its great energy, next year and beyond.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Larry Kirwan remembers a teenage summer of love and music

 

How It’s New York: Larry Kirwan is a New Yorker now, and in fact his play Hard Times will open soon at The Cell.
How It’s Irish:This prose-poem recalls a teenage summer in Wexford, the romance mixed with music and shyness is quintessentially Irish.
An earlier version of this post was published in The Irish Echo blog, August 9. Larry Kirwan remembers how his aunt’s jukebox almost brought him love- and nothing says love to a teenager like loving the same music.
But I loved everything that girl played on the battered jukebox. It was as if we were twins of taste separated by birth.

Waterloo Sunset

It was one of those warm Irish summers. Or do all teenage summers seem warm in the rear mirror?

I spent much of that August in Rosslare Strand hanging around my Aunt’s seaside café while the jukebox pumped out future classics from scratchy 45’s.

Wexford was mad about music and moved to the inexorable beat of Luxembourg, Caroline, and the BBC. No one would be caught dead listening to Radio Éireann, except when the county hurling team made it to the All-Ireland Final, and that was rare enough.

You can still catch echoes of those long-ago radio hits in the lanes and backstreets of Wexford town. Teddyboys on the cusp of 70 saunter by whistling Buddy Holly tunes; while skinheads who have long since hung up their bovver boots strut past in Ska unison.

Read more »

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Music: Tony Horswill on “Brummie Irish” and a new music week in Birmingham

Session at The Spotted Dog. Do you see Tony?

How It’s New York: Tony Horswill is a beloved figure in music in the tristate; he leads the Cat and Fiddle Session at St. James’ Gate in Maplewood, NJ, with Tom Dunne, and also plays in the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra.

How It’s Irish: Tony is a “Brummie,” which is Birmingham Irish, we learn, and he reports back on a new summer school, the Pat and Anne Molloy Summer School.
Tony Horswill was missing from the weekly Cat and Fiddle session at St. James’ Gate in Maplewood, NJ, recently (my home session). Where was he?
In his hometown of Birmingham– immersing himself in Irish fiddle at the brand new Pat and Anne Molloy Summer School.
Noreen Cullen taught a hornpipe, he says, all delivered in a paint-peeling Brummie accent peppered with infectious and uncontrolled laughter. This lady is no respecter of a hangover.”

Read more »

Friday, August 24, 2012

Heritage: Is there an Irish-American vote?

Barack Obama at The Dubliner pub, D.C., St. Patrick’s Day 2012
How It’s New York: Much of New York was built by the Irish, and the Irish-American vote has deep roots here. See, for example, the new BBC America show Copper (yeah, do see it, we love it!)
How It’s Irish: Paul Ryan and Joe Biden are playing up their Irish roots. We asked Irish-American Brendan W. Gill, one of the Irish Echo’s Top 40 under 40 last year.
An earlier version of this post appeared in Irish Examiner USA, Aug. 21, 2012.

What Is The Irish Vote? Brendan W. Gill On Paul Ryan

The selection of Paul Ryan for Republican Candidate Mitt Romney’s Vice-Presidential running mate on August 11 has sparked the Romney campaign.
Handsome, tall, young (only 42), articulate and experienced (Ryan’s been in Congress since 1998), Ryan seemed an ideal friendly face to the more reserved and, to some, off-putting Romney.

Read more »

 Monday, August 27, 2012

Dance: Peggie Madden-Marano on crazy Irish Dance moms

How It’s New York: Dance Moms, the television show. Heard of it? It’s set in Pittsburgh, but we’ve got them in NY too. Some of them are Irish Dance Moms, as Peggie Marano explains.

How It’s Irish: It’s Irish dance, and it has its own weird, wacky and wonderful traditions, including the dreaded wig.
(for more on Irish dance competitions, read our review of the film Jig and listen to our podcast with the movie’s director Sue Bourne, teacher Lisa Petri, and dancers Joe Bitter and Julia O’Rourke).
Welcome Peggie Madden-Marano! a self-described Dance Mom, she has her own blog, flipyerwig.blogspot.com, and we’re thrilled to have this inside view of the North American Dance National! Learn about the “donut,” and how competition can make a sane woman turn into Mary Poppins on Zoloft with a New Jersey accent…

While the rest of the sane world was enjoying the birthday of our fine country on July 4th, I was trapped with a gaggle of crazy Irish dance moms at the North American Dance National Championships in Chicago.
Read more »

Friday, August 31, 2012

Music: Local Talent Shines in Iris Nevins’ String Theory

How It’s New York: Iris Nevins not only programs concerts at the Irish American Association of New Jersey (IAANJ), she also plays locally (a regular at the happy happy happy Cat and Fiddle Session at St. James’ Gate in Maplewood on Sundays), teaches jewelry-making at Catskills Irish Arts Week, and plays at many festivals. She’s joined by excellent local musicians. We interviewed her about the IAANJ sessions in Rockaway for Irish Examiner USA a few years ago, read it here.
How It’s Irish: This is a CD fo Celtic music on harp and guitar.

Irish Nevins’ String Theory is a sweet addition to your ipod! You can buy it at www.hearts-content.net.

String Theory, an album of Celtic tunes on harp and guitar, has a sweet, delicate vibe. Iris Nevins programs concerts at the Irish American Association of New Jersey (IAANJ), and is well known in the area as a guitar player, jewelry maker, and, for the past few years, a harper. Her CD Celtic Dreams is a charmer, and now String Theory captures an ethereal sweetness.

SEPTEMBER

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sad News: the passing of Linda Hood

That’s Linda on the flute, behind Dan

Shocking news this morning… Dan Neely reports that Linda Mason Hood has passed. We don’t have details yet but it seems to have been sudden. Only yesterday she posted to facebook about the passing of Mike Rafferty… and a few days ago had a very funny cartoon which we’ve included below as evidence of her sweet yet sly sense of humor. Linda was the author of the “Truffles, Turtles and Tunes” blog that we “like” and read here. She also was the singer on “Waltz Me Around Again Willie” which was the featured tune when we did our very first podcast, which included a feature on Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra’s first CD When Maggie Dooley Learned the Hooley Hooley (our review of the launch is here).  It’s a shock, and she will be very, very missed.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I’ve got the horse right here: the Ballinasloe Horse Fair in pictures

How It’s New York: New Yorkers love their horses, especially racing, whether it’s Aqueduct, Belmont, or the lovely Saratoga upstate. Just think of Nicely Nicely singing “I’ve got the horse right here, his name is Paul Revere” in “fugue for tinhorns” at the beginning of Guys and Dolls.

How It’s Irish: and the Irish, of course, are well known for their love of horses, breeding them, racing them, caring for them. Who invented the word “steeplechase,” after all? (Wikipedia notes: The first steeplechase is said to have been the result of a wager in 1752 between Cornelius O’Callaghan and Edmund Blake, racing four miles (6 km) cross-country from Buttevant Church to St. Leger Church in Doneraile, in Cork, Ireland.)

John Cash, a photographer in Ireland, shares this photo essay from the Ballinasloe Horse Fair in County Galway. We look forward to more pictures from Erin to come!

Friday, September 21, 2012

TV InteReview: You’ve Got Me, Copper

How It’s New York: The show is set in NYC, in Five Points in 1863. Its story is quintessential New York: immigrants jammed together hustling to get by.
How It’s Irish: Irish music, Irish-American cop(pers) abound!

Are you watching Copper, on BBC America yet? If the music sounds familiar, it’s because it’s serious trad: Joanie Madden and Eileen Ivers and John Whelan, among others! The show airs on BBC America Sunday nights at 10. We spoke to composer Brian Keane, and to coppers Tom Weston-Jones and Dubliner Kevin J. Ryan.  

“…they’re tough bastards. The Irish, Scottish, Celts, are just grafters – hard workers, who know right from wrong, and they’re tough guys. ” -Kevin J. Ryan

An earlier version of this article was first published in Irish Examiner USA, Sept. 18, 2012.

Read more »

Monday, September 24, 2012

Theatre: Larry Kirwan’s “Hard Times” Resurrects a Forgotten 19th Century Community and Brings a Modern Audience to Its Feet

How It’s New York: Hard Times takes place in a bar in Manhattan’s old neighborhood of Five Points and is running through September 30th at the Cell Theatre in Chelsea.

How It’s Irish: Hard Times was written by Wexford man, Larry Kirwan, playwright, novelist, author, and leader of the band Black ’47.  It is set during the riots and protests staged by Irish immigrants during the American Civil War.

John Kearns reviews Larry Kirwan’s American musical, Hard Times, which runs through Sunday. They added an extra matinee on Saturday, the 29th, due to demand. It is SOLD OUT but well worth your going along and trying to find an empty seat. We’ve put up some other posts about it too, you can read an interview with Larry here and see a promo here.. John finds the play goes by too fast, and particularly loves the music, which he calls the play’s “heart and soul.”

Friday, September 28, 2012

Theatre: 1st Irish so far

Pat Kinevane in Silent (@Ger Blanch)

How It’s New York: The 1st Irish Festival is a New York event, conceived in New York, for a  New York audience.
How It’s Irish: It’s the 1st IRISH Festival, with plays by Irish and Irish-American writers.

Here’s my wrap-up of what I’ve seen so far in the Festival: these plays close this weekend, except for one that has already closed, but will be in the upcoming Solos Festival in October. New plays in the Festival have started: For Love, Jimmy Titanic, Brendan and House Strictly Private. The Festival ends this weekend, with the closing ceremony on October 1!

A version of this article was first published in Irish Examiner USA, Tuesday, Sept. 25.

The 1st Irish Festival, now in its fifth year, is halfway through.
Some of the shows have closed, others will be closing next week, and others will begin this week.
For details and to buy tickets visit www.1stirish.org.
Here’s our take on what we’ve seen so far:

Silent

Running at Irish Arts Center, extended through September 30. Presented by Fishamble: The New Play Company in association with the Irish Arts Center

Written and directed by Pat Kinevane and directed by Fishamble’s Artistic Director Jim Culleton, the play is a one man show about a homeless man, Corkonian Tino McGoldrig, who was named for Rudolph Valentino.He reflects on his closeted homosexual brother, who killed himself after some aborted (and hilarious) attempts on his own life, his failed marriage, and kindness.

OCTOBER

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Iconic NYC Photo Published 80 Years Ago Still Intrigues

 

How It’s New York:  Ironworkers with attitudes, sons of immigrants, rugged individuals risking their lives for an honest job during the Great depression, 68 floors up in the bones of 30 Rock, Central Park spread out behind…it’s one of those images that embodies NYC.
Photo credit: Bettmann/Corbis

How It’s Irish: Good chance that most if not all of these lugs were Irish Americans, and there’s a particularly good case to be made for the two that bookend the group. And Peter Quinn put the pic on the cover of his book on Irish America, Looking for Jimmy, and that’s good enough for me.

Eighty years ago, on Oct. 2, 1932, the New York Herald Tribune published the now iconic photograph of 11 ironworkers, casually dangling their feet hundreds of feet above 5th Avenue while breaking for lunch on an exposed steel beam they had likely riveted into the framework of the rising 30 Rockefeller Center.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Theatre: Paperboy is a Belfast Bildgunsroman

How It’s New York: This reading was part of the 1st Irish Theatre Festival.
How It’s Irish: Tony Macaualay;s book is about The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

With this blog post we welcome “Mrs. Crotty,” aka Jane Kelton, an artist who plays the flute in the local scene. Tony Macaulay’s memoir of being a Protestant boy delivering papers in Belfast would make a good film, she thinks:
  “If John Ford were alive, he’d probably option it: How Green/Orange Was My City”

National Arts Club, September 17, 2012.

 

Read more »

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Oscar Wilde in America

 

 

 

Oscar Wilde
In America

Why It’s New York Irish Arts: It’s a cross-post from Oscar Wilde In America by guest blogger John Cooper, because it’s Oscar Wilde’s birthday.
How It’s New York: Oscar Wilde arrived in New York for a lecture tour of America in 1882, and he spent more time in New York than anywhere else.
How It’s Irish: Oscar was a celebrated Irish poet, dramatist and wit.

In this post we look at how Oscar’s visit was conflated with that of another visiting curiosity, Jumbo the elephant. Links also to research sections of the Oscar Wilde In America web site.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Judy Collins’s O’Neill Award Celebration Reunites Folk Legends, Inspires Artists

How It’s New York: The 2012 Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award celebration took place at the Manhattan Club above Rosie O’Grady’s, a convivial Times Square fixture for almost 40 years, and a short walk from the birthplace of Eugene O’Neill.

How It’s Irish: The award was bestowed by Irish American Writers and Artists Inc. (IAWA) upon folksinger, activist, and author, Judy Collins who has stated, “I have always believed that, in my heart, I am first and foremost a storyteller descended from a long line of Irish storytellers and balladeers.”

 

John Kearns reports on what was by all accounts a fabulous night as IAWA gave its Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award to Judy Collins! IAWA has a NJ Salon coming up next week, Oct. 25. Are you a mamber yet?

On Monday, October 15, 2012, in the middle of the one of the year’s great celebrations, the Eugene O’Neill awards ceremony, 93-year-old folksinger, songwriter, and fighter for civil rights, peace, and the environment, Pete Seeger, stood strumming his enduring banjo before a hushed audience of over 200.

“If the world is still around in another 100 years,” he declared, “it will be because of the arts.”
Pete Seeger

And the large crowd in attendance at the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award at the Manhattan Club above Rosie O’Grady’s on a rainy Monday night was testament to the truth of Seeger’s declaration.  The crowd, representing all genres of the arts, had gathered to celebrate Judy Collins’s lifetime of artistic achievement and to show its commitment to further such achievement.  The spirit of inspiration, encouragement, generosity, and cross-pollination was abundant in the friendly atmosphere of the Manhattan Club.  Indeed, Judy Collins’s long-time friend on the folk music scene, Tom Paxton, was on hand to honor her,.  Even the City of New York showed its support for the arts: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn issued a special proclamation in honor of the event.

Read more »

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Music: Celtic Colours, Part One

How It’s New York: Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada is on the same seaboard as New York, and although it’s a long drive, it’s a short flight. Many players from New York attend and perform at the Celtic Colours Festival every year. In fact, I sat behind old-time fiddler Bruce Molsky on the plane from Newark.
How It’s Irish: Celtic culture has lived on in Cape Breton for a long time, in part because of the isolation. It’s Scottish more than Irish (Irish is more in Newfoundland), but of course many of the tunes are the same, and some terrific Irish players are there each year. This year’s Irish contingent included John Doyle, Nuala Kennedy, Alan Kelly.

This was my first year as a press delegate to the Celtic Colours Festival in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, but it will not be my last. It was inspiring, exhilerating and absolutely energizing, despite (or maybe because of?) driving hours through woods on the water every day, and staying up way too late watching performances at the Festival Club. This report was written for Irish Examiner USA while the week was going on. There will be more reports, reviews and pictures and video to come– and I’ll be pointing out the musicians when they come to town. For example: Battlefield Band are at DROM on Monday. Don’t miss!

A Celtic Smorgasbord In Nova Scotia

As I write this, I am in Baddeck (pronounced, BadDECK), Nova Scotia, on my second full day of the Celtic Colours Festival.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Theatre: The Talk of the Town

@Pat Redmond

How’s It’s New York: The title The Talk of the Town is taken from the name of the social diary of the New Yorker, the first job with the magazine for Irish writer Maeve Brennan.  Herself a New Yorker for most of her life, the play is set in New York in the ’50s and ’60s.

How it’s Irish: Maeve Brennan grew up in Ireland, and moved with her family to the US at the age of 17. Though she made visits to Ireland throughout her lifetime, her work remained largely unknown there, despite the fact that much of her fiction was set in the Dublin of her childhood. The Talk of the Town is written by Irish writer Emma Donoghue, whose novel Room became a world-wide bestseller. The play is premiering at the Dublin Theatre Festival.
Intrepid blogger and Corkonian Lucy Healy-Kelly, who, like New Yorker writer Maeve Brennan, has been a “young Irish girl in the City,”  takes NYIA to the Dublin Theatre Festival, and this much awaited premiere by Room author Emma Donoghue:

“…a wordy play about a wordy woman… Donoghue’s crisp dialogue frequently sparkles…”

 

At one point in Emma Donoghue’s The Talk of the Town, the character of Maeve Brennan implores of her long-suffering editor Wallace Shawn, “Do you know how much of me it takes to write these stories? Not how much time, but how much of me?”

Sunday, October 28, 2012

NJ Irish American Writer and Artist Salon Flourishes


How It’s New York: The Irish American Writers and Artists is a group that began in NYC; this is a NJ installment of the popular writers’ salons.
How It’s Irish: Writers and their topics are Irish-American.

The second monthly installment of the NJ Irish American Writers and Artists Salon at the Irish American Cultural Institute showed a threefold increase in performers and attendees from last month, which means a new creative tradition is thriving in the soil of the Garden State!

The next Salon will be held from 7-9 on Thursday, November 30 at the Irish American Cultural Institute (1 Lackawanna Place, Morristown, NJ), mere steps away from the Morristown train station.

NOVEMBER

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dance: Rian is extroardinary

Dancers of Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre in Rian

How It’s New York: Rian is presented as part of the white light festival, an international festival that takes place from Oct. 18 through Nov. 18 at Lincoln Center. This year its focuse was on, according to their press materials, “music’s unmatched capacity to illuminate the many dimensions of our interior lives.”

How It’s Irish: Rian is a collaboration between the Irish company, Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre, and Irish master musician Liam Ó Maonlaí, who brought over a group of top musicians including Eithne Ní Chatáin, Cormac Ó Beaglaoich (that’s Brendan Begley’s son; Brendan was in Masters in Collaboration with Joanie Madden last year; hear a bit of it on this podcast;  and now tours with Oisín Mac Diarmada); Maitiú Ó Casaide, and Peter O Toole.

Ever hear an jig that makes you want to jig? or a reel that makes you so happy  you just want to MOVE? But you don’t know Irish step dance or set dance and you can’t really pony to it (well actually, you kind of could, since most Irish Ceili dance is a three-step not that different from the pony). So you kind of bounce on your toes. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Theatre: The Freedom of the City is about this city, too

Cara Seymour as Lily (@Carol Rosegg)

How It’s New York: With “Occupy Wall Street” not too distant a memory, there’s an urgency and a relevancy to a play about people oppressed for protesting.
How It’s Irish: The Freedom of the City, by Brian Friel, is set in Northern Ireland during theTroubles, and is presented by Irish Repertory Theatre, through Nov. 25

Not just “Waiting for Gunfire,” Brian Friel’s play The Freedom of the City, about three innocents caught up in a Dog Day Afternoon not of their own making is full of laughter, even as it demonstrates how “individual voices are always in danger of being shouted down by those with microphones.

A version of this review was first published in Irish Examiner USA, on Oct. 23.

Just before intermission, a man sitting in front of me at Irish Repertory Theatre’s enthralling production of Brian Friel’s 1973 play The Freedom of the City turned to his companion and said that the play made him question the information we’ve been receiving about what really went on in Libya.
Friel would love that comment. Although it’s 39 years old, and the situation in Northern Ireland has changed for the better since 1970, when the play takes place, The Freedom of the City has immediacy.  

Music IntReview: ‘The Anvil’ pays tribute to father’s memory

How It’s New York: Marie Reilly is the Protocol Officer of the Irish Consulate in NYC.
How It’s Irish: Reilly is from County Longford, and the tunes on the CD are trad but relatively uncommon.

Dan Neely attended the launch of Marie Reilly’s CD The Anvil a few months ago, and reported on the launch and the very unusual and fascinating CD, which he calls a “delight”:

Comprised of tunes from South Leitrim and Longford, much of the music was taken from manuscript collections compiled in those areas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.   which captures tunes Marie learned from her father.

This article was originally published in Irish Echo, May 9th, 2012

Marie will be playing at the Concert for the Mercy Centre, which will now also benefit victims of Sandy in the Rockaways, on Monday, Nov. 19 at the Irish Arts Center.

In New York City, we’re privileged to have strong institutional support for traditional music.  Organizations like Irish Arts Center, Glucksman Ireland House and the New York Irish Center, for example, each do myriad things for the advancement of the traditional arts in New York City and their work is of great benefit to the community at large.  Another such entity doing great work is the Consulate General of Ireland in New York, led by Consul General Noel Kilkenny and his wife Hanora O’Dea Kilkenny.  Since arriving in New York in 2010, the Kilkennys have shown an unusual commitment to Irish music and dance by opening wide the Consulate’s doors to the community countless times.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Concert Review: Anticipating Julie Feeney’s new CD “Clocks” at Highline Ballroom

How it’s New York:  Highline Ballroom is in NYC, and Julie Feeney has played in NYC before, where we love her! Listen to Julie on this podcast, and read reviews that have been put up about her here and here.

How it’s Irish:  Julie Feeney hails from Galway, Ireland. While her songs are original, she can sing mouthmusic and trad as well, memorably singing a little mouthmusic at “Pen, Paper and Palate” last year.

Blogger Kathy Callahan saw Julie at Highline a few weeks ago and found Julie mesmerizing! Kathy, like me, lives in New Jersey where it’s been a disaster area (literally). Thanks to Kathy for getting this to us in time for the CD release in Ireland!

Julie Feeney is a musical tour deforce with a heart of gold and abundant energy to share. She mesmerized an entire audience across generations at Highline Ballroom NYC October 24 -as she sashayed her way around the stage and deep into the room and hearts of fans while whispering inspirational nuggets in their ears and for all of us to hear.

Sandy hits New York Irish Arts

Downtown Millburn, post-Sandy. Dark.

How It’s New York: This is about Hurricane Sandy, which hit us here big time on October 29. The world was watching.
How It’s Irish: Many of the people hit are Irish and Irish-Americans living here, particularly in Breezy Point and the Jersey Shore.

As everyone who reads this blog surely knows, those of us in the tristate area were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy on October 26. I posted a lot about it on our Facebook page. I’ve also written a few stories about it for The Montclair Times: here’s one on  supply shortages— a pub ran out of Guinness! one on me buying a generator, and one on keeping animals warm.
I could go on: I wrote about gas rationing and shortages, and then the messy trick of trying to vote when voting places had moved. But you get the idea.

The worst of it is over now, and I’ll be putting up more on FB and in the newsletter (if you’re reading this on the web, subscribe to our newsletter too– it’s where we do our ticket giveaways!). One post cannot by any means tell the whole story, but here is how the hurricane hit some of the people we know–there will be more to come, and announcements about relief concerts and benefits. Stay tuned!

DECEMBER

Monday, December 3, 2012

Heritage: “Artists Without Walls” at Lehman College

Niamh Hyland
Niamh Hyland

How It’s New York: Some of the best performers in town performed at New York’s Lehamn College, with many you’ll know from the Irish American Writers and Artists Salon.

How It’s Irish: This was a celebration of Irish heritage, with Irish performers including Niamh Hyland and author Peter Quinn.

Charles R. Hale moderated “Artists Without Walls” and reports on a fascinating night of music, literature and heritage!

Thursday night I moderated an event at Lehman College called “Artists Without Walls.” Artists Without Walls evolved from the notion that while it is important we honor our own culture and heritage–mine is Irish–I believe the more we adopt a multicultural approach, including collaboration between various cultures, races, religions and ethnic groups, the greater the likelihood that creativity and innovation will occur and flourish. Thus, “Artists Without Walls,” is a state of mind where there are no barriers between cultures or barriers to innovation.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

An Irish Cross-Cultural Christmas in NY

 

How it’s New York: It’s in Hell’s Kitchens, it’s an NYC tradition, it’s a melting pot of musical influences, it’s a tough ticket to come by and in an Off-Broadway theater.
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How it’s Irish: There’s Mick Moloney for starters, then just look at the line-up and guest stars and what about the venue? Hey, the show has the word “Irish” right in the title.

John Lee raves about Irish Christmas at The Irish Arts Center… in its fifth year and going strong! (Gwen wrote about it for Time Out when it debuted) Mick tells John: “The mid-winter solstice has always been, culturally, a time for reflection on the big issues we all live with, particularly the themes of life, death and renewal. 

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Cheer in Song: A Winter Wonderland Roundup

How It’s New York:Holiday CDs are everywhere, played in every restaurant, elevator and shop.
How It’s Irish:  And lots of them are Irish

Mike Farragher is nice to Celtic Woman, before he raves about Ashley Davis,whose lovely CD Songs of the Celtic Winter got packed up with Christmasy things, and has been like an early gift to him when he found it again.

Therese Cox wrote an excellent review of Ashley in concert last year, dsecribing the event as “a sustained journey into a beautiful netherworld of plaintive verses and haunting choruses…

Mike goes on to look at Anita Daly’s excellent compilation,Together for Christmas: A Contemporary Celtic Christmas Collection.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which must mean a fresh new assortment of Irish holiday music is heading for your stockings (as long as you’re not deserving a fresh delivery of coal)!

 

 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Film: Unbelievable but True, Mystery of Faith and Intention: Springsteen and I

How It’s (New York) New Jersey: The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, is from New Jersey. Which is a whole separate state from New York, and it’s not a joke when we call it The Garden State. Seriously.
How It’s Irish: This contribution to the documentary Springsteen & I is by Kathy Callahan and Charles R. Hale, both members of the Irish American Writers and Artists and regulars at the Salon. The video tells a lovely story by Callahan, with Hale narrating, with some inspiration from the  Freedom Tower and the Irish hunger memorial  Bruce for president.

Kathy Callahan shared a memorable experience with Bruce Springsteen and his right hand man Terry Magovern. Recently, Bruce Springstten and producers of upcoming ‘motion picture documentary; put a call out for inspiring video stories to be included in ‘springsteen and i’  Here is Kathy Callahan’s contribution to the film.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Music: Favorite Celtic and Irish Christmas CDs

How It’s New York: New York is Christmas town in December, what with the tree at Rockefeller Center and the beautiful shop windows on Fifth Avenue (there was a line just to see them in front of Saks last week!). And music is everywhere.

How It’s Irish: Some of these CDs are from Irish artists, and many include traditional carols that are Celtic. And of course, some of these Irish artists live in NYC.

There are new Celtic/Irish and every other kind of Christmas CDs issued every year. It’s beautiful music, so why not?
These are some of my perennial favorites, in no particular order.  And only some: there are some terrific CDs not on this list because I had to stop somewhere, but special mention to Mary Coogan and Liam Tiernan,  who have beautiful Christmas CDs, as well as Moya Brennan and…

These discs sound great in the winter, of course, but I love the sound of them in July when they bring a welcome  breath of sparkly cold (iPod shuffle can sometimes pleasantly surprise you!).