Mitch Traphagen’s photos from Artist Without Walls’ “Love Force” benefit Showcase for Stars of Hope at Sid Golds Request Room.
Vera Hoar’s photos from Artists Without Walls’ Showcase at The Cell Theatre, May 24, 2016
Mitch Traphagen’s photos from AWoW’s Showcase at Sid Gold’s, March 29, 2016.
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.
Photos by Vera Hoar
Vera Hoar’s photos from Artists Without Walls’ Showcase at Sid Gold’s, February 4, 2016.
Today 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.
On 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.
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.
Artists Without Walls is thrilled to have so many talented artists on stage every month. But some equally talented folks, while not as visible, have been an integral part of AWoW’s success and growth.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank a number of them.
Top Row, left to right: Mitch Traphagen, Joe McElligott and Marty Plevel
Middle Row, left to right: Vera Hoar, Cat Dwyer and Tom Myles
Bottom Row, left to right: Paul Bevan, Lynnell Herzer and Mary Ann Pierce