How it’s New York: The lead-up to St. Patrick’s Day in New York City
How it’s Irish: Features Irish actors, musicians and film in the annual festival that launches the St. Patrick’s Day season
Every year there is the flavor of whisky, music and drama in the air as we ease into that most Irish time of the year, and the annual appearance of the Craic Fest in New York rarely disappoints in providing the most relevant examples of the current crop of Irish talent.
Leading off the night on Saturday night March 2nd at the Mercury Lounge was the amazing talents of John Connors, Loah and Julie Feeney. I’d seen John Connors last year at the Craic Filmfest with his films Stalker and Cardboard Gangsters. John has returned to his theatrical roots and crafted a searing one-man piece “Ireland’s Call“, on the life of a young man fighting to rise above the stereotypical existence of North Dublin, Having seen a few of his film and TV performances before, it was wonderful to get to experience his connection with his material in person. He is captivating and electric, drawing the whole crowd into his world and delivering a sensitive and compelling piece. The performance and the writing are top notch, and with a host of dates around Ireland to drum up more buzz, I hope that he will be bringing it back to the Big Apple again soon!
Following him was Loah, the Irish/Sierra Leone-ian songstress, who mixes her roots and jazz stylings into a sultry and vocally soaring set that had the entire audience captivated and roaring for more.
Her set included songs from her self-titled EP and I’m very excited to hear more when she comes to the Irish Arts Center for a week-long residency with Colm Mac con Iomaire and Utsav Lal, who accompanied her on pianewhere they will write and perform new works together. Get your tickets here: Irish Arts Center Tickets. There is a lot of amazing music to come from this truly talented artiste!
Wish I could say as much for Julie Feeney, who closed out the evening. She is definitely not my cup of tea. While I did enjoy her fashion, particularly her hat which resembled a can sliced and accordioned up into a metallic crown. Her performances for the most part were a bit to eclectic for my taste. There was one piece she did, a Scots Gaelic song, that really hit home. She is a charismatic performer, with a wonderful voice and the addition of Cormac de Barra on harp was lovely.
The Fest continued with three films, “The Camino Voyage“, about the trip taken by Glen Hansard and Brendan Begley in a curragh, “Dublin Oldschool” from Dublin poet and actor Emmet Kirwan and the local film “Emerald City” from Colin Broderick about young Irish immigrants working in the construction industry, I chose to see “Dublin OldSchool” and it was marvelous.
Set in the Dance Music scene of early 1990’s Dublin, it follows a young man who encounters his long missing brother living rough in the city. As we watch his character indulging in recreational drug use, juxtaposed against his junkie brother who is trying to get clean, it’s an interesting look at the obsession with drugs and alcohol that drives the young folks in the Rave culture, and their oblivion at the effect this behavior will have on them long-term.
Kirwan (as Jason) and Ian Lloyd Andersen (as Daniel) both started out with the project as a theatre piece and Kirwan worked with director David Tynan to flesh out the characters and bring them to life on-screen. The performances are top notch with Séana Kerslake as the Jason’s ex and Sarah Greene as his best pal Lisa.
There is a rhythm to Kirwan’s writing that matches the music in the film, and they worked with DJs like Johnny Moy and other current Dublin DJs to get the right tone for the soundtrack. A number of the scenes in the film focus on Jason’s failed attempts to rise up and claim his place on the DJ decks and there is funny and fiery trip to an all weekend rave on a remote island.
The heart of the film for me was the brother Daniel, with his struggle to find himself and get clean, and watching his brother slipping into the abyss. You’ll have to go and see the film to find out for yourself who makes it out?
I got to sit down for an interview with Kirwan, and you can look for that in one of our podcasts to come. Keep your eyes out for other screenings of the film which is definitely not to be missed.