Irish American Writers & Artists

December 19, 2014

12.16.14 IAW&A Salon at The Cell: Our One-of A Kind Holiday Extravaganza ‪#‎iawasalon

Filed under: dance,Essay,Events,Literature,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 9:47 pm

“Excellent. So moving and so much fun. A true variety show!”

by Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer

The IAW&A December Salon at The Cell has become a don’t-miss event on the Holiday Calendar. Salongoers know they’ll find an array of talented artists bringing their gifts of music, language and dance, genuine good cheer and a unique setting in the Chelsea performance space. This year, the high-energy SRO crowd got all that, plus some Christmas treats. Santa made an appearance in black sequins; we sampled Wren Day, right here in NYC; environmentally conscious elves, award winning songs, jazz riffs, laughs and a tour de force by Honor Molloy were on the program.

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We congratulate John Kearns on his two-year anniversary as Salon producer and thank him for his excellent, generous work. (He’s probably blushing by now.)

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First time IAW&A presenter Gordon Gilbert Jr. braved the leadoff spot with poignant monologues about loss and growing old. They included “Heaven” in which a woman enjoys life after the death of the husband who had abused her verbally for over sixty years and “I Do Not Fear the Dark” in which an elderly jazz musician has just learned he has Alzheimer’s. Gordon read his lyrics to a song about facing the holidays alone, “Waking Slow.” Currently at work on two novels and poetry, Gordon performs regularly at spoken word events. In February, he will resume hosting monthly events celebrating Beat Generation writers at the Cornelia Street Cafe.

To learn more, contact him at gordonagilbertjr@usa.net Gordon’s comment about the night – “What a wonderful evening! What wonderful people!”

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A merry combo, comic performer Sarah Fearon teamed up with world-class jazz musician Jon Gordon to present “The Real Holiday Letter.” A spoof on the classic year-in-summary Holiday bragging letter, Sarah’s version shows what the letter would really say if it were truthful. Jon Gordon’s twisty saxophone accompanied Sarah with “We Wish you a Merry Christmas,” “Jingle Bells” and other Christmas standards. Jon finished the set with famous tune “Christmas Time is Here.”

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Playwright John Cappelletti brought two professional actors, Barry Sacker and Maura Knowles to play elves in his vaudeville “What’s Bode?” Concerned with the polar caps melting at an unprecedented rate, (thus causing the oceans to rise dangerously and eventually end civilization as we know it) Santa’s tiny helpers think they can save the world. They plan to prevent jolly St. Nick from making his annual journey and shut down Christmas. The elves hope to teach us to respect Mother Nature, the environment and her people and animals. Christmas stockings will only have dirty lumps of coal, along with crude, shale and nuclear waste. John says the situation is nothing to laugh about, yet the audience couldn’t help laughing at his clever dialogue.

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Salon producer and tonight’s host-with-the-most John Kearns chose a Christmas themed excerpt from his novel-in- progress, Worlds. In Center City Philadelphia in the early 70s, Janey Logan takes her children to meet their father, James, and to see the Christmas light show and Santa Claus at John Wanamaker’s department store. During the show, which depicts many of the famous Christmas stories like the Nutcracker, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman, the children, Kitty and Paul, alternatively bicker and look out for each another.

honor

Honor Molloy’s gift to us was her reading of “Sixpence the Stars”–a story from her novel Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage. http://www.smartygirlthebook.com Often referred to in our wee community as The Little Oranges, this jaunty trip winds its way through Dublintown on Christmas Eve, 1966. There’s the nativity tale as told by a fruit dealer on Moore Street–Dublin’s open-air market. Molloy takes the audience back through time, when mechanicalized toys and Cheeky Charlies were hawked with wild cries and even wilder abandon. Watch Honor perform it here and share her gift with friends: www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1y1jAmgRCE 
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sheeahan

Singer songwriter Michael Sheahan charmed us with his award winning Christmas songs from his three-time award winning Christmas Book, CD and Dance DVD “Mr. Holidays Presents The Roof Top Hop.” If you need a gift for a youngster, purchase by calling 1-800-2476553 or www.bookmasters.com/marktplc/03080.htm Michael also performed songs from his latest Christmas CD “Some Things Never Change,” available here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/some-things-never-change/id572999634

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Before the break, IAW&A President Larry Kirwan greeted the crowd and described the origins of the IAW&A and the growth of the Salons. Larry encouraged the audience to introduce new people to the group. Where else can you find such community and experience an evening like tonight that’s free? We do take voluntary contributions to cover expenses at The Cell.

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marni

A uniquely talented artist, a vocalist, accordionist and writer, Marni Rice, gave a thrilling rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Marni sang a lively original song called “The Market” and an Edith Piaf song, “Fais-moi Valser” (Let Me Waltz) Find Marni at www.dejouxmusique.com

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Padraig Murphy read a thrilling excerpt from his novel Placebo, a story about loss and recovery that gave us a peek into the backwater places in the Caribbean rarely seen by tourists. We come face to face with the remote, startlingly simplistic birth of a force 4 hurricane. We see Padraig’s protagonist pass unaware into harm’s way, leading to major consequences. You can find the book on Amazon and find Pat on FB at Padraig Murphy Writer.

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An IAW&A Co-Director, Kathleen Donohoe read from her essay about growing up in Brooklyn and becoming a writer, long before ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘writer’ were synonyms. We’re excited to see Kathleen’s novel The Ashes of Fiery Weather, the story of six generations of women in a family of firefighters, that will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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Marcia Loughran presented three poems– a new one, “Bargaining with God at the Price Chopper,” and a couple on one of her favorite themes, Marriage: What Nobody Told You. Marcia says she was honored to be at the Cell and enjoyed her fellow readers, dancers, singers and performers immensely. And we’re honored to share her work.

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wren dancers

Dressed in bright ribbons and traditional disguise, Maura Mulligan and her dance students Bill Duggan, Deirdre Batson, Ryan Cahill, Hara Reiser and Vera Wrenn recreated the traditional Irish and Welsh celebration Wren Day. On Wren Day, December 26, young people in colorful costumes went from house to house performing. In old times, a wren was sacrificed but over the last 100 years, the holiday has been celebrated with music, song and dance and no murder victim. Maura and company expertly danced “Peeler and the Goat” and “The Galway Reel” and Maura performed a sean nós (old style) dance known as “The Brush Dance.” Ryan Cahill and Vera Wrenn told the story through their lovely singing of “The Wren Song.”

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The talented fiddler, Marie Reilly who recently released a second CD, “The Road to Glannagh,” accompanied the group. Maura’s memoir, Call of the Lark is available from http://www.greenpointpress.org Her spring session of weekly dance classes begins Friday, February 6. More at: http://www.mauramulligan.com

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Another ensemble, Mark William Butler and his band of merrymakers closed out the festivities with three of his original Christmas songs and one naughty bit of comedy business. With ace accompanist Tyler Knauf on the ivories, Elizabeth Inghram started things off with a beautifully mournful rendition of “The Christmas I Remember” from Mark’s show Christmas Anonymous. Richard Butler then shimmied down the chimney, donning a dress and flashing his gams as an angry, cross-dressing, not-so-secret Santa, and then bringing the house down with the rousing neo-burlesque number, “Look At Me.” Then Mark joined Elizabeth, Richard and Tyler, wrapping up the party with the uplifting holiday anthem, “Christmas Is You,” also from Christmas Anonymous.

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How ‘bout a Christmas shout-out to Mark? He’s another tireless IAW&A contributor; he helps stage manage the Salons, and edits the popular IAW&A Weekly. (iawaweekly@gmail.com).

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As you can see from the pictures, the merriment continued at the Salon afterparty at the Half King restaurant. No posts about the party, though. What happens at the Half King, stays at the Half King.

Merry Christmas from IAW&A!

star
Hey, how much for that star?

See you January 6 at the Bar Thalia.

December 12, 2014

12.2.14 IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia: Tales of Generosity, Dignity, Bravery, and Puppy Love

Filed under: Essay,Irish Politics,Literature,Music,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 10:08 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer

One guarantee of the IAW&A Salon is that the night will never be repeated…that particular mix of artists and forms and audience won’t happen again. We often find surprising threads that connect many of the night’s presentations. At the 12/2 Salon at Bar Thalia, we had generosity and dignity, from Sean Carlson’s valiant young uncle to the patrons of Murphy’s Bar in Kevin McPartland’s piece to Jon Gordon’s “Jazz angels” and Malachy McCourt’s benefactor.

And strong women were represented, in a salute to the iconic Maureen O’Hara, and in person by three new IAW&A Salon participants:

  • Jeanne D’Brant,
  • poet Maureen Daniels, and
  • Sophia Monegro.

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 Sean Carlson

Opening the Salon with a heartbreaking reading, Sean Carlson shared excerpts from another chapter in his yet untitled family memoir. Transporting us again to the Irish countryside in the 1950s, Sean captured the suffering of his uncle Jack as he struggled with an illness during his teenage years — especially painful during the Christmas season. Learn more about the book and subscribe to his email list here: www.seancarlson.net.

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Kevin R. McPartland

Frequent salon contributor and author of the novel Brownstone Dreams, Kevin R. McPartland was next up. Kevin read a tender short story titled “The Sad Lament of Bicycle Johnny.” Set in a friendly Irish pub called Murphy’s in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, the tale tells of a down- and- out drifter whose trademark is a worn-out bicycle.

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Sophia Monegro

Sophia Monegro is an English major and Mellon Mays Fellow at City College of New York, where she studies with Brendan Costello. In her first reading at IAW&A, she shared a short story. Sophia wants to contribute to the literary community by voicing her unique Hispanic, feminist perspective.

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Jon Gordon

For Sue, Jon Gordon took Malachy’s advice about “just telling the story” and dazzled the crowd with two anecdotes from his work-in-progress

Jazz Lives about the generosity of artists to each other. One story told how the drummer Art Blakey and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie took saxophonist Phil Woods aside and told him they cared about him and believed in him and how that changed his life. Jon’s other story was how Jackie Gleason broke the color barrier in the studio scene in NY in 1951 by insisting that his new TV show hire to the great jazz bass player Milt Hinton.

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John Kearns

Salon producer and host John Kearns read a brand-new excerpt from his novel-in-progress, Worlds that brilliantly told some grim Irish history. In steerage on his way to America, Seamus Logan tells stories he heard as a boy about the Rising of the United Irishmen in 1798. After the French landed in Killala, Mayo, together with the local rebels, they had some initial success, which ended a few weeks later with the surrender of the French and the slaughter of the Irish. www.Kearnscafe.com

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Maureen Hossbacher

Maureen Hossbacher paid tribute to that other Maureen –- legendary actress Maureen O’Hara, recent recipient of a long overdue Governors Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for her body of work. Noting especially O’Hara’s roles in two classic films, Miracle on 34th Street and The Quiet Man, Hossbacher sang the theme from the latter, “Isle of Innisfree” ably accompanied on guitar by John Kearns.

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Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon’s true story happened on Key Biscayne in the ‘60s while he was a student at the University of Miami.  “Max the Dog” will be part of Tom’s collection of vignettes, Delusions.  Max, a scruffy, yellow mongrel fell in love with an English springer spaniel named Daffney, who was deaf, though Max didn’t know. His lover’s owner threw a party one night and after everyone left a man attacked her owner.  Max bit the man viciously and saved her owner, but Daffney, being deaf, slept through it all and never knew what a heroic little dog Max truly was. They became inseparable with Max doing everything Daffney needed, even when she didn’t know she needed him. Max hoped she’d value him more someday, but she never did, and that was his delusion.

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Maureen Daniels

Professor Maureen Daniels read  few of her poems for us, including one about the birth of her son.

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Christy Jones

Christy Jones, actor, writer and former cabbie, read more of his memoir, Taxi! A child in Ireland, Christy meets his Aunt Madge for the first time. Madge, who played the piano, had returned from England as the war was ending. The young Christy elevated Madge; she was a performer, she was also his godmother. He wanted to learn the piano. His mother bought an old one at an auction. But they never had it fixed or tuned. Christy says plaintively, “There were always notes missing.”

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Jeanne D’Brant

First time presenter Jeanne D’Brant shared a gripping tale of the rigors of her travel through the Khyber Pass, from a chapter in her book, Heartlands of Islam. A holistic physician, professor and world traveler, Jeanne leads adventure tours to the rainforests of Central America and writes for scientific publications.

mal Malachy McCourt

Malachy McCourt told a story that could be called “How Malachy Got His Christmas Wish After 75 Years.” As an impoverished child in Limerick, Malachy would pray for a train set, but his wish was never granted. He told this to a journalist who interviewed him years later in New York. The journalist invited Malachy and his wife Diana to lunch at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central, and after lunch, they went to the NYC Transit Shop in GCT, and guess what, Malachy was presented with a train set! Many people would say the story demonstrates the power of prayer, but our Malachy says it messes up his atheism.

Next one-of-a-kind night: December 16 at The Cell, 7pm.

 

 

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