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

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Out to Lunch at Belfast

I made my first festival  excursion last week to catch a couple of events at the Out to Lunch Festival. I haven't been to Belfast very often and it is so accessible now with good road and public transport routes. We made the journey by car by passing Dublin on the M50 and the journey time was 3 and 1/2 hours with a coffee stop. I hope it won't be too long before I visit again and next time, I would consider going by bus or train. There are several venues that I haven't visited yet and there is  always plenty of events  happening on the lively arts scene. I'd love to see something in the Grand Opera House and the Waterfront Hall.
If You Can Find Me: A celebration of Stephen Sondheim
The Black Box is pretty much as you'd expect. It is a large functional space with a bar on the side and a small stage.. It has a relaxed clubby atmosphere. It was full for a lunchtime Sondheim selection. There was a light lunch thrown in for the modest entry fee of £8. The dozen songs drawn from diverse shows were loosely wrapped in a obscure  narrative and showcased singers, Margaret Bridge, Elaine McDaid and Rebecca Murphy from the NI Opera Studio programme . There was some adaptation of lyrics to inject some local humour. It was good to hear Wicklow tenor Ross Scanlon in fine form .  Keith McAlister accompanied on piano.

I was back later for tenx9, a regular monthly storytelling session. The format is in the title. Nine people have ten minutes to tell a true story and there is a theme. The event was free and coordinated by Padraig O Tuama and Paul  Doran. There was queue at the venue of an inter-generational audience. The theme on the night was 'Pets' and  even if some of the tales about endearing moggies weren't that gripping, the format meant no item was too long. More about the event here
You can listen to a podcast of the evening here.

We finished the evening in a salubrious velvet clad booth at Bert's Jazz Bar in the Merchant Hotel where the mood was mellow for a midweek guitar, piano and drums trio.

Monday, January 14, 2019

New Year Round Up

Play within a play 
January is almost half way through and the short days lend themselves to hibernating and sitting in by the fire. Nevertheless, although the gadding about is somewhat restrained for time being, there are some events that I want to keep in mind so here is a round up of the first fortnight.

Met Live in cinema; Adriana Lecouvreur Cilea. I had missed the first half of the season of live cinema screenings. It isn't the same as being there. Of course not. It is in some ways much better. Imagine arriving in the stalls at Covent Garden with your bumper pack of popcorn and as for having a little snooze- well I imagine that might  be frowned on. Anyway, I loved the Met Live production of Adriana Lecouvreur. I didn't close my eyes once. The NY Times review here.  . I agree with the NYT that terrific as the main leads were, Ambrogio Maestri as Michonnet stole the show.

Hurrah for High Street Music Shops
There is much doom and gloom about the state of the retail sector in the air these days. I like browsing in music shops and it is encouraging to see  independnt music shops keep their foothold in the high street between mobile phones and the rag trade. I can't imagine going to Cork and not putting my head into Eileen Madden's emporium at Pro Music in Oliver Plunkett St. Ben O'Neill has been in business in Dungarvan for even longer, I think five decades. Michael John Ryan continues the family tradition in Tipp town. I spent a pleasant hour in John Palmer's music shop talking to him about his 30 years of great service to Waterford musicians at his shop in Gladstone Street for a upcoming article. If you have an anecdote to share about your favourite music shop do contact me.

 Radio Highlights:
Sleepless nights speed by with the aid of  ear phones and the BBC radio app.  I haven't yet got the podcast habit. It is so easy to browse the schedule to find something good. I never listen to Radio 4 Extra during the day but at night it is a perfect companion. Here were my favourites so far this year.

Great Lives Ken Dodd on Stan Laurel.

The Moth Hour Hope and Glory amazing first hand stories stories of army life from theatres around America In Poetry Extra, poet Daljit Nagra introduces poets talking about their work. You might still catch Thomas Lynch but my pick is British poet John Hegley talking about the Finnish epic poem Karavela.

My first published piece of the year is a round-up  of upcoming arts events. It  appeared in today's edition of the Irish Examiner