There was no shortage of either yesterday at various locations around the city.
At Rothe House, Catriona Crowe edged into 1st position over Dame Judi Dench as the person I would most like to be read to from the telephone directory. Both Colin Dunne and Martin Hayes divulged insightful and amusing anecdotes about family, career and thoughts for the future. Martin did a riff on the persistent melancholia in Irish music and the audience laughed when he related the comment made to him be a psychologist friend.’ You don’t have that pain and melancholy any more, what are you going to do now?’
Ably steered by Catriona at all times, the high point of the morning’s encounter came when she read out to them somewhat lofty statements she’d found on their websites, to their obvious bemusement. Yet professional to a tee, they pulled themselves together and rose to the challenge of putting flesh on earlier observations about their craft. Throughout, they made an entertaining and lively duo.
In the garden of the Heritage Council, we were treated to a musical improvisation session by four members of the Lemon Bucket Orkestra. Michael Johnston asked the audience to suggest song titles and was willingly obliged. One song revolved around the red and black striped socks of the drummer, another about the top of the tree across the lawns. A bizarre suggestion involved a song about cutting toenails, torn bed sheets and Saint Theresa. I lobbed in one for Oscar (somewhat abbreviated),’ We are lying in the gutter but looking at the stars.’ They duly obliged with a syncopated funeral dirge that was worthy of the streets of New Orleans.
Paula Meehan delighted a full Parade Tower with readings of her poems. As with Colin and Martin in the morning, wise words plus acute and often funny reminiscences, kept the audience thoroughly entertained.
There were the schoolgirls who so ‘loved’ her poems on the syllabus, because they were ‘so short’. A friend who commented when she mentioned encroaching age,
‘the great subtraction has begun.’ We heard stories about her father’s addiction to gambling on the horses and dogs and doing crosswords. Paula wryly said he felt she’d take to the poetry as she might have taken to the drink. She was once a clue in a crossword herself, and a bet was placed at Paddy Powers, on her being the first Finglas girl to have a poem on the leaving cert, (we never found out if she was). Her love for her art and boundless energy was infectious, and her final comment when musing on retirement hit the nail on the head, ‘ No chance to retire, we Re-Wire.’
The Crash Ensemble + Guests at St Canice’s took forever to get itself into gear, not helped by an absolute non-starter of a mimed sequence. It was supported by inane images on a large flat screen TV and minimal musical and electronic mumblings. Things started to look up with Ed Bennett’s piece, a kind of reverse bolero with a blustery trombone that brought to mind a scandalous orchestral sequence in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Shostakovich.
When Sam Amidon finally hit the stage I fully woke up. His droll song about a wedding dress was just the warm up to his Epic Murder Ballad about two sisters, a drowning and a grotesque fashioning of a violin from the corpse. It was as musically Grand Guignol as you could wish for, and in fact, it felt as if you had heard a full opera, and this alone was worth the price of the ticket.