“The Cell is a cracking little space, with the AWoW audience all jammed in and willing me on – it was hard to go wrong. Such a fun night! Loved the mix of music, poetry, and clowns like me!” Comedian Maeve Higgins
Billy Barrett opened the evening with a chapter from his memoir Highway Star called “Candygate.” A hard-driving, tough-talking expose that at times takes on the quality of a who-done-it noir piece like LA Confidential. He seems determined to yank all the demons from his closet…yours and his.
Patrick Kavanagh award winning poet Connie Roberts, in collaboration with North America’s premier uilleann piper Jerry O’Sullivan, read her poem “Mosaic”, about the tragic fate of Grace Farrell, a young Irish emigrant who froze to death in an alcove of Saint Brigid’s Church in the Lower East Side, NYC, in 2011. She followed it with her poem “Letterfrack Man”, a response to Seamus Heaney’s iconic poem “The Tollund Man”, in which she memorializes the “sacrificial” body of Peter Tyrrell, who fought to highlight abuses in Irish industrial schools, before self-immolating in a London Park in 1967. Niamh Hyland finished with a powerful and poignant ballad about Peter Tyrrell, Connie’s reworking of the classic U.S. labor ballad “Joe Hill.”
After writing, directing, producing and acting in three full productions at Theatre Row in the past eleven months – Pompa Pompa!, Kill the Bid! and Death, Please! – Brendan Connellan unveiled a new (and dark) short play – Gash – featuring himself and the very talented Alessia Sushko, Miguel Vias (in his first stage appearance in 4 years) and Tara O’Grady. Sometimes, a birthday surprise goes beyond party hats and blowing out candles! It may involve some light torture.
Warren Malone is a New York based singer/songwriter who is originally from Manchester England. According to Warren, “I love to sing—I sing all day, everyday—write songs and play guitar. I love traditional folk music as much as I love a great pop song. The first record I ever put on was a Hank Williams’ record when I was four years old. As a kid I loved Elvis.” And Elvis’ “Burning Love” was the third of three spellbinding tunes that this talented performer–not to mention witty and charming–sang. Have a listen to Burning Love.
Comedian Maeve Higgins told a story from her book, called “Malevolent Dolphins.” “It was the first time I told it on stage so I was excited about that,” Maeve said. “I followed a few amazing acts – Connie Roberts and the piper were stand outs for me. Connie’s poems are so moving, truthful and she somehow also manages to be funny – great. Anyway I did my bit, had great fun doing it.” Maeve forgot to mention one performance…her own. Maeve had the audience in stitches. Brilliant.
Salina Sias opened the second half and immediately charmed the audience with her spontaneous sense of humor – she had the listeners both relaxed and excited, laughing and waiting impatiently for her first song. What they got was a stirring rendition of her original song, “A Picture Of You.” It was followed by “Addicted,” a sexy, quirky number that speaks to the human capacity for delusion. Cellist Noah Hoffeld accompanied Salina’s voice and guitar. Both of Salina’s songs are off her upcoming record, New Day Comin’, which at this point is only available at her live shows. Salina is currently preparing for her “Addicted” tour and hopes to add a few Irish and Mexican tunes to her next AWoW set.
Kate McLeod read a poignant, personal essay–working title “A Crime Against Crimes”–about her last summer at a camp that she attended for six years. Recently, she and a buddy jumped the locked gate to revisit the camp. It was then that her memory was flooded with two incidents that happened to her. “One thinks these things are small and insignificant–minor– but they are the ones that stay with us and haunt us through life,” Kate said.
The coupling of Connemara’s Pat Coyne with NYC’s Bernadette Fee was enchanting. Both musicians are rock solid performers in the Irish Traditional world. Pat’s distinctive singing and extraordinary guitar playing have been exhibited over the years with the Sean Keane Band and Bernadette’s fiddling has been heard at NYC seisiúns and céilidhs. The music these two produce is timeless. They began with two lively reels, “Paddy Taylor’s” into “McFadden’s Handsome Daughter.” This was followed by Pat’s captivating rendition of Don Stiffe’s song “Someone Special.” The third piece was the step of the “Killkenny Races” with Bernadette showing that playing the fiddle and dancing can be done at the same time. This was done with Pat’s tasteful accompaniment. They finished with two more reels “Tim Maloney’s” and the “Green Mountain” to the cheers of a very appreciative audience.
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All photos by Vera Hoar and Cat Dwyer.