“A muggy summer evening on Ludlow Street, a packed house, and a serving of artistic delights–what you get when you mix AWoW with the Lower East Side.” said Jim Rodgers, as the crowd from the Living Room spilled onto the street.
Sarah Fearon kicked off the successful evening of performers with a funny set of stand up. She offered her theories, with a twist, on the subjects of the economy, yoga, being a people person, optimism, hoarders, why she can’t read the newspaper, and why she will be shopping for a “smart clone.”
As the crowd filled to standing room only, the cocky slink of Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly rumbled through the crowd. It was Billy Barrett time. Highway Star’s his anthem and he loves to sing it. Last night he tracked the bloated stretch of an LA Superfly. “Coulda killed him, didn’t…” so now in the May swelter of a New York City nightclub, we can all have a good laugh about it.
Singers/songwriters Tara O’Grady and Sasha Papernik collaborated on vocals and piano. These songbirds have modernized the music of their cultures and given them new life. Sasha joined Tara in beautiful harmony on a soulful version of “The Water is Wide,” from Tara’s first album Black Irish. Pianist Sasha, whose parents were born in Moscow, Russia, then treated the audience to a song from the famous Russian cartoon, “Cheburashka.” You can hear Sasha live with her ensemble at Cornelia Street Cafe on July 8th at 8:30pm and Tara with her full band at Swing 46 Jazz & Supper Club on June 19.
Three unscheduled guests added spice to the event: Karyn Oliver–part Joan Osborne, a touch of Janis Joplin and a bit of EmmyLou Harris – effortlessly oscillated from bluesy to country with two songs, “Candy Dish” and “Right Now.” Her musical inspiration comes primarily from the eclectic mix of music to which she was exposed while growing up in the musically diverse culture of Washington. Tami Lynn, who scored a big hit in the seventies with the song “I’m Gonna Run Away From You,” sang a soulful, “Smile,” while AWoW favorite and spoken word artist Koro Koroye performed two of her poems, “Michele” and “What’s In A Name.”
Awow co-founder and Irish born singer/songwriter Niamh Hyland, beat-boxer Anand Gan and guitarist Art Lamonica followed. Demonstrating her versatility and wide range, Niamh sang the blues, stylizing two tunes with smoky overtones and emotional punch. The songs “When the Moon Hangs Low” and “Ray Anne” were co-written by Niamh, Anand and Arthur.
Singer/songwriter Silbin Sandovar performed “Loving In The Worst Way” and “Beggars” The first tune is newly written and has not been recorded yet. The second is on my album “Brian & Silbin and Friends” “Good times, very cool event,” said Silbin and the end of the evening.
Jim Rodgers read from his novel Long Night’s End, where Johnny Gunn is back playing with his band on the Bowery, drinking heavily and trying miserably to forget the recent tragedies visited upon the good people of Sunnyside, Queens. It appears, however, that Johnny’s own self-destructive behavior is the real threat to his survival and that of his family. Another slice of the dark side from the urbane Mr. Rodgers.
The O’Connells, no strangers to AWoW Showcases, closed out the show. Henry hammered out some piano loops while his brother Liam beat-boxed and rapped “If Your Mother Only Knew.” Film and television actor Jack, O’Connell—Henry and Liam’s father—got into the act, performing a monologue from the Lyle Kessler play “Orphans” which just completed a shortrun on Broadway, while Henry knocked out Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” on the piano. Jack’s character, Harold, tries to explain the dangers of going too far for financial gain. It’s a story about his orphaned protege who dies from pneumonia after selling his last two newspapers that he wore for insulation during the winter. Later in the evening Jack said, “As a father I thought the use of this metaphor could also be applied to the music industry and the “Rap” world that my sons have flirted with.
With that, the evening, which Liam O’Connell called, “high energy, high attitude,” came to a close. Future AWoW events include “The Ethiopian Street Children’s Benefit” a collaboration with the HOpe Charity at the Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel on June 19, 6pm–Niamh, Koro and Honor Finnegan will be performing–and an AWoW Showcase on June 25th, 7pm at The Cell Theatre.