By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer
No foreboding at the IAW&A Salon at the Cell on the Ides of March!
In the spirit of the month-long St. Patrick’s Day celebration, we had tremendous good cheer and our hallmark mix of talent and genres. We had music from history and new music and humor that was broad as well as humor that was black. And scenes from two plays, stories, fiction, memoir and, of course, poetry and song.
IAW&A’s award for Organization of the Year from the Irish American Heritage Committee of the NYC Board of Education
The month of April will see many celebrations in remembrance of the Easter Rising of 1916. Salon producer and host John Kearns announced that the April Salon at the Cell will be built around 1916, and on Sunday, April 24, IAW&A will be part of the Irish American arts community event at Pier A Harbor House on the Battery. Details will be posted on https://www.facebook.com/IrishAmericanWritersAndArtistsInc and in our IAW&A Weekly, email@example.com
Gary Cahill returned to Salon action with the short story “For Richer, For Poorer,” a departure from the mysteries he often does. Gary first presented it at the Bergen County New Jersey Irish Festival last June. A Robin Hood priest is in over his head with gambling debts, but friends do the right thing and bail him out. The action takes place during the May 2015 weekend when Ireland stuns the world and votes to legalize same-sex marriage. As Gary likes to say, “antics ensue.” Welcome back, Gary.
Dublin-born playwright Derek Murphy presented another darkly funny scene from “Dyin’ For It.” Derek’s play is about the “extremely inappropriate grieving by the dying Wally Kelly’s wife and daughter.”
Penny O’Brien and Karin de la Penha
Played perfectly by Karin de la Penha and Penny O’Brien, the women pose the big questions such as “Do we put the Christmas tree up or not?” and “Who’s dying next?” We’re eager to find out.
With a nod to the migrant journeys of so many people today, IAW&A board member Sean Carlson shared an excerpt from his first book, a yet-untitled nonfiction narrative about emigration. Sean took us to the day his mother left home shortly before her seventeenth birthday, traveling across Ireland for the first time, boarding the ferry to Wales and arriving in London, only to realize all she had left behind. Sean’s reading tonight was made more poignant by the presence of his mother Nuala Sheehan Carlson in the audience.
John Anthony Brennan
Armagh native John Anthony Brennan read two original poems to a rapt house. “The Poet’s Glen” pays tribute to the South Armagh Gaelic poets Art McCooey, Bard to the O’Neills, Padraig McAliondain and the outlaw poet, Seamus Mor MacMurphy. All are buried in the graveyard of Creggan Church near the family vault of seventy members of the O’Neil clan. John’s “The Poet” is a tribute to Padraig H. Pearse, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rebellion.
Next, Dublin born, San Francisco resident David Nihill had us laughing in the aisles. To overcome his fear of public speaking, he decided to learn from the experts. So he left a business career to spend a year pretending to be a stand-up comedian, Irish Dave. The hilarious results of this experiment were on display tonight, and in Dave’s book, Do You Talk Funny? which is #1 in its category on Amazon. To order (and the Salon audience is likely to want to), here’s the link.
Krista Charles and Marie Reilly
Trad music stars Marie Reilly on fiddle and Krista Charles on piano presented rare music from the South Leitrim/Longford area. They began with “Scots Measures,” followed by “McCoy’s” from Marie Reilly’s grandfather’s manuscript and “The Stafford Dance” from a Stephen Grier Manuscript dated 1883. After a set of Sligo jigs, Krista Charles played the beautifully haunting piece,“Ashokan Farewell.” The duo finished with an uplifting reel, “The Bunch of Keys.”
Enjoying the craic at the break
Irish entertainer Brian Fleming comes to town for the St. Pat’s for All celebration each year and we’re glad that he includes the Salon on his busy schedule. Dedicating his performance to the #wakingthefeminsts movement in Ireland, he opened with a song, accompanying himself on the traditional Irish drum, the bodhran. Brian performed a humorous extract from Gis a Shot of Your Bongos Mister, one of his trilogy of shows performed in March at Under St. Mark’s. He performed that show and Have Yis No Homes To Go To at Under St. Mark’s 94 St Mark’s Place on Monday, March 21 at 7pm and 8:3o pm.
Ray Lindie’s terrifc short story, “The Beefeater” recounts how he unknowingly met Tennessee Williams when he mixed him a Beefeater Martini at Elaine’s. When Ray started working there, he relieved the actress Elaine Stritch, who introduced her Broadway friends. Ray has more stories about the fabled joint where he worked for a time in the 60s and then in the 70s.
The inimitable Rosina Fernhoff performed a segment from Shadows, a play by her late husband Av Inlender. Shadows gives voice to Russian choreographer Nadia Arkadina’s saga of war and repression. Years of hiding, political purges and her grandmother’s cryptic messages suppress her faith as an individual and a creative spirit.
“Death on a Beach,” a vignette from Tom Mahon’s collection, Tomorrow Never Came is based on a true story of a temporarily deranged young student who was shot and killed by police on a beach near Sydney, Australia. Tom added the dramatic twist of vacationing NYC police officers, just married, and trying to intervene by throwing sand in the assailant’s eyes. The result was tragedy for the newlyweds.
Playwright, singer/songwriter, and poet Gordon Gilbert entertained tonight by reading the lyrics to two songs he composed. “Come Home” is a woman’s prayerful plea for her love to return home safe from war. Gilbert adapted music from the wonderful intricate melody of a song by Senegalese mezzo-soprano Julia Sarr. In “To Your Heart Again,” a country/western song, a rowdy, large-living man asks for another chance, having wronged the woman he loves.
Once again John Kearns was thrilled to have Rosina Fernhoff bring to life a new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds. Picking up from the passage Rosina read last month at the Cell, the excerpt has James Logan reflecting on the life he is leaving behind in 1882 New York City and the new life he is going to begin in Philadelphia. As the ferry takes James from Manhattan to the Hoboken train station, James remembers the horrors he has seen in New York’s Five Points and knows he will not miss them. Admiring the energy and agility of the American sailors on the boats around him, he sees them as “personifications of his new country and harbingers of his new life.”
Adrianna Mateo, rock singer-songwriter and new-music solo violinist, concluded the night’s lineup with an acoustic performance of original songs from her upcoming debut album. Her next single, “August Sun,” will be available on iTunes, BandCamp, SoundCloud, and on social media in the end of March 2016. More about this unique talent at www.adriannamateo.co
Next salon is Thursday, April 7 at Bar Thalia at 7pm hosted by Sarah Fearon!
The April 19th Salon at the Cell will be a special event marking the 1916 centenary. If you have 1916 material, email John Kearns at IASalon@hotmail.com. (A few slots available.)
Also, in April 24th (sometime between 1 & 6 pm), there will be a mini-salon as part of NYC’s commemoration of the 1916 centenary on the third floor of Pier A Harbor House. Stay tuned for details.
See you soon!