Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dublin Kerry Alliance: Keane and Sheahan in Listowel

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Eamon Keane and John Sheahan in Listowel

It   seemed an unlikely Dublin Kerry alliance. But John Sheahan and Eamonn Keane  proved to be a winning team that drew a packed house to the ballroom of the ListowelArms Hotel for an evening described as a kaleidoscope of music, song and poetry during the annual Writer’s Week

I can’t imagine coming to Listowel during the annual literary shindig and not having the pleasure of running across John Sheahan.  With his distinctive white beard, the former Dubliner  is easy to pick out among the lobby literati but this is the first time I have seen him upgraded to a main event slot.   I am intrigued by Eamonn Keane since I saw him follow a TV chat show  interview with a virtuoso turn on piano. The ex  Newstalk broadcaster has quite a varied portfolio of activities. He has a regular counselling slot on Waterford Local Radio and a recent  work for  a TV composition project  was well received .   There are not too many gigs listed on his website schedule but those few are  in prestigious venues and  usually sell out.

There was an almost palpable warmth in the air  both in the  anticipation among the audience and the rapport between the duo. Keane has impeccable local connections, Sheahan is an annual migrant  and  the evening had the relaxed informality of a soirée 'among friends', a tone epitomised in the title of the first fiddle tune.  Words were paramount whether in Sheahan’s poems of tribute to his late colleagues,  Keanes song lyrics or the humorous stories of reminiscence, sometimes poignant but never maudlin.  Both gentlemen are excellent raconteurs. There are elements of the baroque and the boulevardier  in Sheahan’s  crisp fiddle style. Keane’s first improvisation had shades of Keith Jarrett and the larky ‘trip round the piano’ masked an impressive technique.  They  were great company. It was a privilege  to be there.

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John Sheahan reads his work Eamon B Keane

Keane’s final song was Hang the Moon. In the lyrics, the theme of consolation after death resonated   with Bryan Borrough’s one man show Beowolf seen earlier in the evening at St John’s  Theatre. There were no props just good lighting and a  dialogue based on a father’s  theatrical storytelling of Beowulf to explain impending death  and offer consolation to his son . Given my antipathy to one man shows,   I sat near the aisle thinking I might nip out early so I wouldn’t  exhaust my attention span before the Keane Sheahan combo .-- suffice to say,  I stayed  'til the end.

Set List
Poem Orphans
Tune Among Friends
Tune Christchurch
Poem Echoes of the Forest
Piano Improv  She Moves thro the Fair/ Somewhere over the rainbow.
Song The Land of the White Cloud
Walking with Angels dedicated to Sr Eugene
Tin whiste   poem in memory  of Luke
Song Calling me Again
]3 Jigs inc Ms Zanussi after Iruish Washerwoman
Farewell to H. Norwegian farewell
Trip around the piano
Hang the Moon

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