On Thursday, May 10th, 12:30pm, Artists Without Walls, in conjunction with Lehman College’s City and Humanities Program, presents “Women Who Have Overcome,” a discussion with three women who, despite being presented with major obstacles at different points during their lives, have gone onto successful careers in the arts and education.
Jazz pianist/vocalist Mala Waldron, poet Connie Roberts and singer/songwriter Theresa Sareo will be discussing their lives as well as sharing their talents with the audience. Charles R. Hale will moderate the event. Special thanks to Professor Joseph McElligott for sponsoring this program.
The event will be held in the Lovinger Theatre at Lehman College. For directions to Lehman, click here.
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,
“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.
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, 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.
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.
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
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.
“I’ve just come back from one of the coolest gigs I have had the pleasure of performing. It’s called Artists Without Walls. What an excellent, upbeat, positive group of individuals. Thanks Clyde Berger for turning me onto them. Great positive reception to my music too.” Toby Tobias
And upbeat it was. The evening began in rocking style with Terry McCarthy and his new acoustic band featuring Gerry Griffen, Andy Sandel and Tom Monaghan. Terry played three songs from his latest release The Charm: “By Any Chance,” “Sorrow Salsa” and “Just Today.” As an encore Terry debuted “Anything to Have You Here.” Click here to listen to Terry’s music.
Connie Roberts read three poems from her newly released collection Little Witness. “This is the poetry of rock-hard experience. It will skin your soul,” New York Times journalist Dan Barry wrote. Her first poem, “Inheritance,” memorialized 35 children and one old woman who perished in an orphanage fire in Cavan town in 1943. Her poem “For the Love of God” was an homage to an orphanage housemother, Miss Winifred Carberry, who took care of her as a child. And, just to prove that there are in fact a few happy poems, alongside the Irish-miserable-childhood ones in Little Witness, Connie finished with a life-affirming piece entitled “Campground: The Adirondacks.” Little Witness is available by clicking here.
“Well done to you and your team of volunteers. Community! I really enjoyed performing, and was mighty impressed with the talent. Such a diverse group of artists displaying their multi-talents,” Vincent Cross said.
Vincent, mixing guitar and harmonica, performed his sombre songs of jealousy, murder and biblical redemption, “Childish Things,” “Cursed,” and “Bowed Down” with a voice both high of tenor and plaintive in tone. Picking the guitar with melody, chords and bass lines, the hard knock songs of the wayfarer came to life.
“Spirit of Vaudeville,” performed by Richard Stillman and Flip Peters, captivated the AWoW audience. Richard is a entertainer in the style of the jazz age performers of the 1920’s. His combination of banjo playing, tap dancing, singing, ukulele strumming, storytelling, harmonica & bones playing and juggling is a joy to watch. Flip Peters is an excellent jazz guitarist and accompanies the show with great skill. We look forward to the full show on June 11th at the Concert Space at Beethoven Pianos, which Project 142 is sponsoring.
First time AWoW performer South African-born singer-songwriter and musician Toby Tobias followed with and a performance style that could be described as a colorful combination of African rhythms interspersed with American country, folk and jazz, with lyrics that are both thought-provoking and uplifting. His music was thoroughly enjoyed by an appreciative audience, especially ‘Madiba’, a song Toby wrote in dedication to Nelson Mandela. Toby has been living in the United States for 27 years and performs his brand of music throughout Long Island, Brooklyn and the tri-state area. Click here to check out his music.
John Shea read a short story “The Guilt and the Ghosts” from a new collection of the same title with accompaniment from fiddler Jenny Evans. “John’s short story was pure poetry! Simply brilliant. I loved the rhythm, the wit, the pathos–it had it all going on. And I loved Jenny’s accompaniment on the fiddle. It reinforced all of the aforementioned. Fantastic collaboration.” Connie Roberts
Shu Nakamura performs solo with his band “the Ninja Orchestra” and collaborates with other artists regularly in NY area and Japan. Shu plays what he calls “folk-root” music, as well as rock material such as the two songs that rocked the house, “Train Song” and “Rain Dance. ” Shu was then joined by AWoW’s cofounder Niamh Hyland who sang a stirring version of the Irish classic, “Wild Mountain Thyme” and closed with a rousing rendition of “Resurrection.”
All photos by Vera Hoar. AWoW’s next Showcase will be at The Cell Theatre on Tuesday, May 26th, 6:45pm.
“This is a note of thanks to Artists Without Walls for supporting my efforts through pictures and words these past months. I’ve been working as an actor for at least twenty five years now and I’ve never before been involved in anything quite like this. AWoW is a unique blessing. So happy to be a member.” Jack O’Connell, actor, New York
Here’s the lineup for AWoW’s April Showcase:
Vincent Cross, who first performed with AWoW in its show “Rise Up Singing: Women in the Labor Movment,” will be performing at his first Showcase. Vincent will be drawing from the purist of mountains springs to present original urban Americana stories. Said, Vincent, “These will be performed in the high lonesome sound on guitar/banjo.”
Connie Roberts, a County Offaly native, emigrated from Ireland to the U.S. in 1983. She has won many awards for her poetry including the Patrick Kavanagh and the Listowel Writers’ Week awards. She will be reading from her just released debut volume, Little Witness, a collection of poetry inspired by her experiences growing up in an industrial school (orphanage) in Ireland.
Here’s what Jack Silbert, DJWriter at satin wound.com said about singer/songwriter Terry McCarthy. “Terry really turns on the charm on his album, The Charm, with a warm strum and even warmer vocals throughout. With tremendous backing musicians, the record presents a wide variety of sounds, never falling into a folky funk….but the secret weapon is McCarthy’s sharp, melodic songwriting, on Beatlesque tracks such as “Loneliest Boy” and the should-be-a-hit “Just Today.” Terry will be joined by Andy Sandel , Gerry Griffen and Tom Monaghan.
Richard Stillman and guitarist Flip Peters will be performing numbers from Richard’s show,”The Spirit of Vaudeville,” including a tap dancing Charleston played on tenor banjo, a short story that finishes with Richard tap dancing while playing the harmonica & bones while juggling and a novelty ukulele routine. “The Spirit of Vaudeville” won a Best Concert Award at the 2014 United Solo Theater Festival.
Toby Tobias was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. Toby has immersed himself in all genres of American Music of the last fifty years. His interest in African Rhythms & World Music, coupled with his keen ear for highly intuitive arrangements, has been the hallmark of his writing and performance styles, and he has garnered a strong following of listeners on Long Island and beyond. He will be performing a song called ‘Madiba’, dedicated to the life of Nelson Mandela.
Shu Nakamura, a Japan born – Brooklyn based musician, guitar player, multi-instrument player, composer, singer-song-writer, music producer. Shu moved to NY in 1999, has been a NY music scene layer. He just returned from his 2015 Japan tour with his rock band called “the Ninja Orchestra”. Shu will be performing his original material, as well as teaming up with Niamh Hyland for a tune or two.
The bar opens at 6:45, the show begins around 7:15. Hope to see you at The Cell Theatre, located at 338 W23rd St.
In this week’s New York Times Style Magazine there is a piece about the 78-year-old experimental performance artist Joan Jonas, who lives in a loft in SoHo and who, since the late-60s, has been practicing her own unique art form: “Jonas has pursued a category-defying, perpetually exploratory practice that melds performance, drawing, film, video, sculpture, installation, sound and literature.” Jonas is a woman not constrained by any discipline. She would have fit in well with the sisterhood of artists—visual, performance, and musical—at the Artists Without Walls: Gallery Series, featuring Kathleen Bennett Bastis’ Permutations at the First Street Gallery, NYC this past Friday night. Mixed media artist Kathleen Bennett Bastis, singer-songwriter Martina Fišerova, violinist Annette Homann and performance artist Allison Sylvia, like Jonas, do not fit neatly into a pre-packaged brand: all are difficult—in the best way possible—to pin down. The aptly named exhibition Permutations served them all well. There was alteration and transformation in spades on the night!
The “art gallery etiquette” was thrown out the (second floor) window: no need to speak in hushed tones as you observed the marvelous surrounding art work in the white on white space. Laughter and conviviality abounded. Kathleen set the tone when she, in addressing the crowd, held up an AARP magazine with an image of Bob Dylan on the cover. Yes, indeed the times are a changin’. Kathleen beautifully (and magnificently) harnesses that sense of flux in her work, transforming and reimagining all kinds of detritus. “She’s the real deal,” someone leaned over and whispered to me. And we AWoWers that night had the best deal in town.
Martina Fišerova was the first of the evening’s entertainers. And boy did she entertain. In her green, tulle pixie dress and black boots, with guitar in hand, she worked her magic, opening with one of her classic quieter pieces, but, with encouragement from the crowd, embraced her wilder side toward the end, with a dazzling display of guitar work and what can only be described as supernatural vocals. It was riveting to watch and hear.
Allison Sylvia followed on Martina’s heels. Allison, a recent graduate of NYU, is a thinking young woman who melds song, dance, poetry, and chant (for now) in her work—I’ve a feeling she’ll push the envelope even further in future performances—also had the crowd on the edge of their seats. A year or more ago, I’d read snippets from journal entries Allison had written—character sketches she committed to paper as she rode the subway between Manhattan and Brooklyn. And lo and behold, there she was Friday night dramatizing these characters—cello players and unrequited lovers—for an enthralled audience. Just as Kathleen had done in her multi-media pieces, Allison transformed her scraps into art.It’s exciting to watch her perform. And mark my words, she’s only coming into her own.
Annette Homann, our very own lady-in-red, violinist extraordinaire, rounded out the evening’s entertainment. Over the past few years, I’ve seen Annette perform numerous times. She is an amazing musician, a powerhouse of talent. And when she steps on stage, not only are we captivated by her beautiful music, but we are held in the palm of her hand by her beautiful (and beautifully authentic) personality. Her mischievous wit (watch out for that twinkle in the eye!) and hearty laugh wins us over every time. Barefoot and resplendent in a flowing red dress, Annette, segued flawlessly from classical music to pop; in the latter, impishly gyrating exaggeratedly to the swells of Adele’s Skyfall, all to the sheer delight of the audience. This joie de vivre is trademark Annette: a consummate performer. She’s having a damn good time on stage; consequently, so do we.
AWoW co-founders, Niamh Hyland and Charles Hale, did an amazing job as always co-hosting. Their job is very important, as they create the space—literally and figuratively—for artists of all stripes to be their best selves, to push boundaries, to experiment, to collaborate in a safe, nurturing environment. They are also the glorious pied pipers whose charm keeps bringing us back again and again to these marvelous events.
I think Friday night we all left the Permutations exhibition more than a little transformed. Thank you Kathleen, Charles, Niamh, Martina, Allison and Annette.
THE WONDERFUL DEBUT BOOK OF CONNIE ROBERTS’ POEMS, “LITTLE WITNESS”
written by Charles R. Hale
Given a cruel childhood how does anyone function psychologically at a far greater level than his or her experiences might predict? It’s a question I’ve often pondered when thinking of my grandfather Allie’s extremely difficult youth.
Recently, I had a discussion with poet Connie Roberts about this same topic. Connie suffered through an equally difficult childhood but survived as one of the most talented, vivacious people I’ve ever met. I asked her when she was going to write a memoir and she said, “I have. It’s all in my poetry.”
Now you have an opportunity to read this great woman’s work. The winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award as Ireland’s top poet in 2010 and winner of the Listowel Writer’s Week Poetry Collection Award, her debut book of poems Little Witness has been published by Arlen House Dublin. You can buy a copy and learn more about Connie by clicking here.
Here’s what Dan Barry wrote about Connie’s work in the NY Times: “The concrete language of Connie Roberts hits you hard; leaves a mark. You smell the brutal father’s soured Guinness breath before his next abomination; you taste the succulent orange spirited into an orphanage bed; you feel the sting of a nun’s wooden spoon, the warm piss of fear, the run of blood. In her vivid recounting of a childhood spent in one of Ireland’s notorious industrial schools, truth hides behind no “masquerade of metaphors.” Roberts honors children, holds adults accountable, and finds acceptance, all with a reportorial rigor that, through her soaring language and big-hearted vision, achieves poetic art. This is the poetry of rock-hard experience. It will skin your soul.”
Charles R. Hale will be presenting “Breathing from an Ancestor’s Space and Time,” a series of short films that combine family stories and historical events, including his latest film, which tells the story of his family’s sixteen year old neighbor who was sentenced to die in the electric chair. Lehman College, The Studio Theater, 250 Bedford Blvd, West. Bronx, NY. Thursday, 11/6, 12:30-2.
Serena Jost will be performing at Rockwood Music Hall, 185 Orchard Street, on Nov 6th at 8 pm. Get your tickets asap, just $10 (less than your lunch) and help her pack the joint. For ticket info click here
Niamh Hyland’s band Lily Sparks will be doing a very special live show for the New York, International Pop Overthrow festival at Bar Matchless (557 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn), thisThursday Nov 6th, 9:15pm. Have a listen to some tunes www.lilysparks.com
You’re invited into Deni Bonet neighbor’s living room in Uptown NYC for her second International online streaming concert, coming to you LIVE over the Internet via Concert Window. Deni had such a great response last month that she’s doing it again THIS THURSDAY at 9:30 PM! Tune in to to hear brand new tunes from her upcoming instrumental CD, as well as a few old favorites. She might even take requests. Robin Pahlman will be joining her on guitar & it’s just like you’re there in the room with them! Sign up now and get an online reminder when it’s close to showtime. PAY WHAT YOU WANT. You can even wear your pajamas! For details click here.
And beginning next weekend, November 7-9 there’s this special event: In association with Glucksman Ireland House Nyu – and Poetry Ireland, the Irish Arts Center’s sixth annual PoetryFest, which celebrates Ireland and America’s great literary connection by showcasing an unparalleled array of much-published and award-winning poets. The event takes place next weekend, November 7-9th. The only New York festival of its kind, PoetryFest immerses participants in an intimate and creative atmosphere filled with readings, storytelling, book signings, conversations, and more.
Jenai Huff and Eugene Ruffolo in concert, Friday, November 7 at 7:30pm. Doors open at 6:30pm. It is in Jersey City and only 5 minutes walk away from the PATH train. It is located in the prestigious Paulus Hook area of Jersey City. (Contact Jenai Huff at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for information or reservations. ) Eugene and Jenai will be performing two sets and introducing new songs there. There will be plenty of delicious treats and wine to accompany the harmonies, the stories and the laughter. Eugene is a highly acclaimed singer/songwriter and session singer from NYC and Jenai who hails from CA, but is now a NYC resident, is an AWOW favorite. There is a lot of information on the Facebook event about the each of them or on the host’s website
And in the following week, AWoW is happy to announce its first evening at Rockwood Music Hall, Wed, 11/12, 7pm. We’ve assembled a great array of talent: Deni Bonet, Warren Malone, Aisha Badru, Jack O’Connell, Tara O’Grady and Sasha Papernik. Please come out and support these terrific artists. Our goal is to sell out the room and recognize our very talented members. Tickets are $20 but $15 for AWoW members using the code…awwmember. Click here for tickets