“WE ALL COME TOGETHER AND LIFT ONE ANOTHER”–A NIGHT at SID GOLD’S by LIV MAMMONE

Marty Plevel and Connie Roberts

Marty Plevel and Connie Roberts

This past Thursday, a select crowd, awash in warm yellow light from the small stage at Sid’s Piano Bar in Manhattan, exemplified the name of this organization we’re all so pleased to be a part of. The performers, each revealing what love means to them, dissolved the walls between themselves and the audience and played, instead, to dear friends. The evening became less about the love in each chosen piece than what we all feel for each other as Artists Without Walls keeps bringing us together.

 

.

Martina Fiserova kicked off the night of love laced songs with a beautiful rendition of her song  “And Fly” while accompanying herself on guitar. She dedicated the song to the evening’s sponsor Marty Plevel and Marty’s good friend Max Siegel who was also in the audience.  Martina then gracefully transitioned to the piano for two additional spellbinding original songs,

Martina Fiserova

Martina Fiserova

“Misunderstanding” and “A Well”. You could hear a pin drop as she tickled the ivories with passion while showing off her vocal range and unique phrasing.  To round out her stellar set, she performed, for the first time, in honor of the occasion, a superb rendition of Joni Michell’s “Love,” which was originally released in 1982.  As she wrapped up the song with the lyrics “Of faith and hope and love, And of these great three, Love’s the greatest beauty, Love, Love, Love” she set the tone for the evening and had the audience in the palm of her hand.

 

.

Liv Mammone and Noah Hoffeld

Connie Roberts, Liv Mammone and Noah Hoffeld

After accompanying Connie Roberts in her stirring reading of “Raglan Road,” cellist Noah Hoffeld opened his set with an original tribute to David Bowie, for cello and loops. He used the loop pedal to create an atmosphere of mystery and played a moving elegy for his departed hero. He was then joined by a great visiting guitarist, Nathan Finkel from London, who played on two rocking ballads from Noah’s album Play Human– ‘Stay the Same’ and ‘A Woman and a Man.’ Their highly distinct tones were filled with longing.

 

.

Annette Homann

Annette Homann

Annette Homann, though unsure of how her act would play out in the confined space of Sid’s, literally leapt from the stage in a whirl of glitter, stomp, and sway. Her “romantic partner” for the evening was a brand new electric violin, which she made wail on Marc O’Connor’s “Caprice No. 1 in A Major” for solo violin, “Feeling Good” and a medley centered around “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” that had us all grinning to split our faces and a few brave souls on their feet dancing. Annette herself was a dervish of Matrix-like leans and a grin that could have generated the bar’s lights. She filled the room with joy.

 

.

Liv Mammone

Liv Mammone

.

The day after our gathering, Charles Hale told me that he frantically whispered to Niamh Hyland during Annette’s wild joyousness, “Who’s following this?” She answered, “Don’t worry, it’s Liv. We’re covered.” I am still humbled by such faith, especially given that I was so unsure of my place at a performance on the theme of love. I chose a new piece for the occasion, “After Seeing a Facebook Post that Proclaimed ‘Stop Romanticizing People who Hurt You!’” and a piece written for my sister. While I cannot review myself, I saw a woman in the front row clutching her chest and shouting, “Oh my God!” What else can a performer hope for?

.

My mentor Connie Roberts then returned to the stage unaccompanied, as always the picture of elegance and refinement as she sparked life into WH Auden’s poem “Funeral Blues” with a slow, steady timbre that allowed each word to hit the listener like its own sharp pain. We poets were, neither of us, certain how to keep the sadness of love from our performance choices, but I am grateful Connie grounded us with this blessing.

.

Niamh Hyland

Niamh Hyland

I am never prepared for the voice and stage presence of Niamh Hyland, much less to have to describe it. (It’s very possible that I’ve written and rewritten an ode to this idol of mine that has been sitting around for months…) It is equal parts a warm hearth and a wolf growl. Backed by the expert fingers and almost unfair coolness of guitarist Shu Nakamura, Niamh treated us to Queen’s “Love of my Life,” got us singing with her on “House of the Rising Sun,” and

Shu Nakamura

Shu Nakamura

broke every heart with “Wild Mountain Thyme.” She then quickly decided that all the night’s musicians should return to the stage to lead the crowd in an improvised rendition of Bowie’s “Modern Love.” This, I believe, is what is best about Artists Without Walls. Not only is each voice deeply distinct, but it is the way that we all come together and lift one another. Nothing else exists like it.

 

Photos by Vera Hoar

 

HONOR MOLLOY COMMENTING on ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS

As Artists Without Walls celebrates its fourth anniversary this month, we’ve asked members to share a few thoughts about their experience with the group. Here’s what playwright and author Honor Molloy wrote:

.

WAT 12 Honor Molloy“At least once a month, Artists Without Walls offers thrilling cultural gatherings that feature musicians, poets, singers, sculptors, world class violinists and pianists, dramatists, dreamers, even an expert at gyrotonics. There’s so much more – there’s camaraderie, revelry, and reverie. For fulfilling your aspirations and for inspiration:  AWoW is the place to be.”

.

Honor Molloy spent ten years working with Simon & Schuster Audiobooks, immersing herself in storytelling, meeting actors, producers, writers, and publishing professionals. She started writing a memoir which eventually became the autobiographical novel Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage. Once published, she discovered New York’s Irish American community and has come to terms with that kid who left Dublin all those years ago—washing up in, as she calls it, “the cultural wasteland that is Allentown, PA.”

 

 

VERA HOAR’S PHOTOS from ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS’ SHOWCASE at SID GOLD’S

Vera Hoar’s photos from Artists Without Walls’ Showcase at Sid Gold’s, February 4, 2016. 

 

Marty Plevel and Martina Fiserova

Marty Plevel and Martina Fiserova

 

Shu Nakamura

Shu Nakamura

 

Niamh Hyland, Connie Roberts, Shu Nakamura and Annette Homann

Niamh Hyland, Liv Mammone, Shu Nakamura, Connie Roberts and Annette Homann

 

Liv Mammone and Noah Hoffeld

Connie Roberts, Liv Mammone and Noah Hoffeld

 

Niamh Hyland

Niamh Hyland

 

Liv Mammone

Liv Mammone

 

Eric Hoover and Pandora MacLean Hoover

Eric Hoover and Pandora MacLean-Hoover

 

Martina Fiserova

Martina Fiserova

 

Charles R. Hale

Charles R. Hale

 

 

 

ERIN LAYTON COMMENTING on ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS

As Artists Without Walls celebrates its fourth anniversary this month, we’ve asked members to share a few thoughts about their experience with the group. Here’s what actor and playwright Erin Layton wrote:

 

—–

.

Erin Layton

Erin Layton

“April 2015. New York City: I need to raise $15K to bring my one-woman play to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. This feels insurmountable. I have a few ideas aside from crowd-funding in order to raise what I perceive as a struggling artist to be above and beyond any appropriate ask for a solo show. One of my ideas is to throw a benefit. I write an email to Charles Hale, co-founder of Artists Without Walls in a panic and suggest that maybe somehow could I possibly ask for Charles and Niamh to assist me with potentially putting on this benefit and kindly pool interest from the AWoW community… I’m sweating:

 

“Sure, Erin. What are you thinking?” Charles writes back.

 

Loyalty. This is word that most prominently comes to mind when I think of AWoW. No other community and its founders that I’ve ever encountered in my eleven year track as a struggling city theatre artist, have so championed, so supported, so stood behind and held up as a presence of strength, warmth, humility and perseverance as AWoW. I am honored to stand as one among a line of artists – musicians, poets, writers, singers, solo performers, dancers – who truly represent the cream of the crop. Bravo, Charles and Niamh. And thank you for making all of us feel like heroes.”

 

—-

 

Erin Layton, originally from St. Louis, MO,  is a writer and sole performer of a one woman play, MAGDALEN about the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland.  MAGDALEN premiered at the New York City International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) in August 2012 and was listed as top FringeNYC reviewer pic in nytheatre.com’s Indie Theater Now.  MAGDALEN was also the recipient of the Best Documentary Script from The 2013 United Solo Festival. This past summer Erin’s performance of MAGDALEN received rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe: “The highest level of performance” – The Public Reviews and “A well crafted, sympathetic piece of theatre” – The Scotsman. 

 

 

JACK O’CONNELL COMMENTING on ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS

As Artists Without Walls celebrates its fourth anniversary this month, we’ve asked some members to share a few thoughts about their experience with the group. Here’s what actor Jack O’Connell wrote:

—–

.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 5.35.20 PM“An Artists Without Walls Showcase: What a great place to keep one’s instrument tuned.  Singers, musicians, storytellers, dancers and actors find a safe and warm haven here.  As an actor, I have tried new, and for me, unusual presentations at AWoW’s Showcases, a number of which I’ve always wanted to try but would only try in my room, some out in the garage.  The reason? No Q and A; No “feedback.”  I’m at the point in life where I can live without “feedback.”  That would also cut into the evening’s schedule of events. 

 

An eclectic evening is always in order in the beautiful, well kept, Cell Theatre.  There have been so many great presentations that I’m loathe to mention just one, but I will:  David Sharp’s piece on Tennessee Williams.  Original, well prepared, respectful of the allotted time limit, and funny as hell. 

 

In these days of sophisticated communication it’s refreshing to witness this sort of communion among flesh and blood folks. Bottom line, I’m very happy to be part of Artists Without Walls.”

 

—–

 

Veteran stage, film and television actor Jack O’Connell, an AWoW charter member and frequent performer, has appeared in many popular TV programs including The Sopranos, Law and Order, Blue Bloods, and Boardwalk Empire, and films such as “Doubt” with Meryl Streep, “Men In Black” and most recently in the Coen brothers, “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

WHAT THE …”L” by RON VAZZANO

I was so looking forward to the “L” in the logo, and in every promotion and ad. But in announcing Super Bowl “50” this year, “they” have decided to deep six this whole Roman number thing from here on in, and go Arabic.

 

Though given the troubles in the Middle East, don’t be surprised to hear someone declare: “When I’m President we won’t be using Arabic numbers, I can tell ya’ that right now.”

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 7.42.03 AM

 

I was so ready to point out that this would be the last time that a single Roman numbered letter would be used to designate a Super Bowl, until “C”! In other words, until 2066. When those of us of a certain age, will certainly be dead. (Don’t you hate when that happens?). And that it has now been 40 years since the last single letter marked still another over-hyped and much anticipated Sunday—“X” (a game played in MCMLXXVI).

 

With “X” being an unknown factor, it is unsurprising that I have no recollection of that game. But really, by that point I had stopped caring, what with so many more important life events just up ahead. Like Divorce “I” and then just prior to Super Bowl XLV, Divorce “II”.

 

Of course I remember the first Super Bowl very well. It was trumpeted in all the on-air TV promos, as if the Second Coming. Though hype is not exactly something that hasn’t existed throughout the ages. (“Mary Stuart gets the ax tomorrow. News at XI!”).

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 7.41.41 AMI also remember Super Bowl II, and most especially “III”, when Joe Willie Namath guaranteed that his New York Jets from the upstart American Football League would—and did— defeat the powerhouse Baltimore Colts of the supposed superior National Football League. The Jets were 17 points underdogs that day. That’s a lot of points. Even in Latin. Though I had forgotten how dorky its logo.

 

The other single letter one, “V,” was the first following the AFL-NFL merger, and it would forever serve as the official league championship game. For the record and for those keeping score, those aforementioned Colts, on a field goal by Jim O’Brien, beat the Miami Dolphins in the final five seconds, 16-13.

 

While I often lean towards nostalgia and love traditions and rites of passage—I even look forward to my annual flu shot—the loss of those Super Bowl designations, are really no skin off my un-Roman nose. (All my Italian roots aside). The use of Roman numbers in titles, events, sequels, dates and the like, has always struck me as a bit pompous. As if to announce that, “This is really important.” Whereas, in its rather convoluted alternative to Arabic numbers, it suggests just the opposite to me.

 

MCMLXXXVIII as a date for example— which is about the length of a freight train and looks like something foreboding out of ancient history—is simply 1988; the year that Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was released. That’s why I wryly suggested once, that given the humility of Pope Francis I, he might consider referring to himself as Francis1. Or even better, using lower case…francis1.

 

You don’t even want to know about a Roman calendar and how it is organized, and its days counted. But if you do, you can reference it in a short piece I once offered on the subject called, Kalends and Nones and Ides Oh My! (March, 2013, Muse-Letter)   

 

To cut to the tackle, the monthly date for this year’s Super Bowl would be expressed via a Roman calendar as “VII Ides.” In English and Arabic…February 7. And as I’ve also said before, (with a license I got down at the DRM; the Department of Repeating Myself), this method of date keeping also suggests still one more reason for the fall of the Roman Empire. (Though not of the Roman Polanski).

 

As for the game itself? Like so many who will watch—and are not in any betting pool— I’ll have no rooting interest in the participants or the score. Or even the ads really (“been there; done that”). Just pass the chicken wings and let’s raise a Bud (remember the “Bud Bowl?”), to the days of Roman numbers past. Who the “L” needs ‘em!

* * *

Ron Vazzano, a writer, poet and actor, has been a frequent contributor to this website as well as performer at Artist Without Walls monthly showcases.

 

KATHLEEN BENNETT BASTIS COMMENTING on ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS

As Artists Without Walls celebrates its fourth anniversary this month, we’ve asked some members to share a few thoughts about their experience with the group. Here’s what Kathleen Bennett Bastis wrote:

 

Kathleen Bennett Bastis

Kathleen Bennett Bastis

‘The first time I went to an Artists Without Walls’ event I was immediately struck with the sense of community – a palpable vibe that seemed to take “ego” out of the equation – casual yet professional. The talent pool performing at an AWoW event is deep, many with impressive pedigree, bringing a broad range of musical and theatrical artists, dance, spoken word and comedy to their stage. I’m not sure there is anywhere in the city that a spoken word artist shares the stage with a belly dancer. The enthusiasm, variety and the high level of talent rarely wanes and keeps me coming back month after month.”

 

Mixed media artist Kathleen Bennett Bastis’s work is inspired by the distinctive character, energy and form found in the fragments of discarded, washed up, broken or otherwise overlooked materials which she salvages from the street, river bank and scrap yards. Their unique shape, texture and hue guide her creative process as she reinterprets the history of this detritus and constructs a contemporary visual narrative.  Click here to visit her website. 

 

 

 

 

ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS’ MEMBERS AROUND TOWN THIS WEEK

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 9.59.32 PMToday at 2:00 PM EST the curtain will rise on the seventh sold out Writers Read live event, “The First Time” at The Cell theater on West 23rd Street in New York City. In keeping with the theme, for the first time we’ll be beta testing a live stream via our Writers Read YouTube channel. If you’d like to see the show, please log in at 1:55 PM EST by clicking the link here.

—–

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 7.54.26 AMOn Thursday, February 4th, Marty Plevel and Artists Without Walls will be bringing AWoW’s Showcase to Sid Gold’s Request Room, 165 W26th St., one of the hottest new piano bars in town. Marty, a generous supporter and promoter of AWoW, will be presenting a night of musical and spoken word performers, including Martina Fišerová, Noah Hoffeld, Annette Homann, Liv Mammone, Connie Roberts, & Niamh Hyland.

 

Doors open at 6:30pm and performances will start at 7:00pm sharp, so come early with your friends to grab a seat, catch-up with other AWoWers and sip on a delicious cocktail. Entry is free, but donations supporting Artists Without Walls are greatly appreciated.

 

—–

 

2016-02-05-4Annette Homann will be performing “Dancing and Singing with Violin,” Friday, February 5 at 7 PM. Bloomingdale School of Music, 323 W 108th St, New York, New York 10025.  This is a free event. 

 

Also on February 7th, 3pm, at the Bloomingdale School of Music, 323 W 108th street, NYC, Annette will be performing in a program called “Pop Arrangements for String Quartet.”  This is a free event.

 

GREAT PERFORMANCES at AWOW’S SHOWCASE at THE CELL THEATRE, 1/26/16

Izzy Levine and Ella McDonald

Izzy Levine and Ella McDonald

Superb night of entertainment at Artists Without Walls’ Showcase this past Tuesday night at The Cell Theatre. Some familiar faces as well as some new and all extremely talented. Singer/songwriters Izzy Levine and Ella McDonald, high school students from Montclair New Jersey, made their New York City debut, displaying beautiful vocal harmonies and poise.  The talented team performed three songs in front of an enthusiastic, full-house audience. Remarkable musicians!  I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about them in the future. 

 

Ron Vazzano

Ron Vazzano

Ron Vazzano opened the night with a series of seven poems, collectively entitled Notes on Slumming Through the Continuum, which was accompanied by a dramatic visual presentation. The poems were said to be inspired by a quote of his own making, “Time waits for no man in its mad rush to infinity” (to which he noted, “Yes, in a ‘Trumpian’ fit of self-adoration I’m actually quoting myself”), it was highly applauded by an audience that seemed to hang on every word.

 

Mountain Maidens

Mountain Maidens

The Mountain Maidens, including Lorraine Berger, Candice Baranello  and Marie Mularczyk O’Connell, captured the Awow audience with tight modal Appalachian harmonies wonderful energy and spirit.  The room soon became a magical “sing along,” with old familiar mountain tunes and high energy remincent of a Pete Seeger concert. The audience loved the ancient sounds, particularly the “magical two sisters’ sibling rivalry” and its funky lyrics.

 

Mary Tierney and David Loughlin

Mary Tierney and David Loughlin

Laughter filled the room as David Loughlin and Mary Tierney took the stage in David’s play, THE SENIOR CASE MANAGER. Mary’s touching, yet comedic portrayal of a woman’s desperate need for love, and David’s beleaguered civil servant, who clings to his sanity in a world where the sane don’t always survive. Their quest for love touched our hearts, and made us laugh—what more could one ask for on a cold winter night?

 

Richard Stillman

Richard Stillman

Multifaceted performer Richard Stillman and guitarist Flip Peters gave us a wonderful taste of Jazz Age Vaudeville. Richard started off with a story about Moishe Fiedlespieler and the All Star Klezmer Hot Shots and then went into a tap dancing hat trick dance. Then he wove the narrative into an Irish theme and broke into an Irish step dance while simultaneously playing jigs and reels on the mandolin. The final song was about an old time song and dance man in need of a bit of rejuvenation. Richard’s mix of storytelling, singing, instrumental music and tap dancing always leaves AWOW audiences with a warm glow in their hearts. Richard and Flip will be performing their Spirit of Vaudeville show in Brooklyn, NY on Feb 16, in Montclair, NJ on Feb 21 and in Watchung, NJ on Apr. 16. For details click here.

 

Craig MacArthur

Craig MacArthur

Craig MacArthur, actor and Fitzmaurice voice work instructor, made his AWoW debut on Tuesday with a riveting performance from “Misterman” by Enda Walsh. Using multiple voices and dialects Craig held the audience rapt with a stunning performance. The full show, which runs 85 minutes, had its Western Regional premiere in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, last year. Upcoming roles for Craig include Kaffee in A “Few Good Men” by Aaron Sorkin.

 

The next Artists Without Walls’ Showcase–its Anniversary Showcase, which will be a great evening of entertainment–is on Tuesday, February 23rd at The Cell Theatre. Also, next Thursday, February 4th, keep in mind “Marty Plevel and Artists Without Walls presents “A Night at Sid Gold’s.”

 

Photos by Mitch Traphagen. 

 

 

MITCH TRAPHAGEN’S PHOTO from ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS’ SHOWCASE at THE CELL THEATRE, 01/26/16

Mitch Traphagen’s photos from Artists Without Walls’ Showcase at The Cell, 1/26/16.

.

Allison Sylvia and Craig MacArthur

Allison Sylvia and Craig MacArthur

 

"Mountain Maidens" Lorraine Berger, Candice Maranello, and Marie Mularczyk O'Connell

“Mountain Maidens” Lorraine Berger, Candice Baranello, and Marie Mularczyk O’Connell

 

Mary Tierney and David Loughlin

Mary Tierney and David Loughlin

 

Niamh Hyland

Niamh Hyland

 

Richard Stillman and Flip Peters

Richard Stillman and Flip Peters

 

Charles R. Hale

Charles R. Hale

 

Izzy Levine and Ella McDonald

Izzy Levine and Ella McDonald

 

Ron Mazzano

Ron Vazzano

 

Artists Without Walls January 2016 Showcase held at the Cell Theatre in Manhattan, New York City on January 26, 2016. Featuring artists Ron Vazzano, Richard Stillman and Flip Peters, Craig MacArthur, Izzy Levine and Ella McDonald, The Mountain Maidens (Marie Mularczyk O'Connel, Candice Baranello and Lorraine Berger), Mary Tierney and David Loughlin. Presented by Charles Hale and Niamh Hyland

Craig MacArthur