Live Review: Other Voices — Irish Music and Literature (Le Poisson Rouge, NYC)

Concert Reviews, Features, Music — By on November 11, 2011 8:43 pm

By Jacob Blickenstaff
(All photos c.2011, Jacob Blickenstaff)

On October 27 and 28, Irish music series Other Voices marked its ten-year anniversary with two sold-out shows at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge. The three-hour-plus program featured an interwoven lineup of Irish and American musicians as well as several notable Irish writers. The program featured Glen Hansard (The Frames/The Swell Season), Bryce and Aaron Dessner (The National), Bell X1, Martha Wainwright, actor/director Gabriel Byrne, National Book Award-winning author Colum McCann, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, Booker Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle, and many others. Each night also featured several surprise guests including Laurie Anderson, Justin Vivian Bond, Sharon Van Etten, Trixie Whitley, and Damien Rice who made a rare live appearance.

Co-Curated by Glen Hansard, Thomas Bartlett (Burgundy Stain Sessions), and Philip King (Other Voices series editor), the concert was the first Other Voices event in America and featured unique collaborations mixing traditional Irish fiddle tunes, poetry readings, and contemporary rock music from both sides of the Atlantic. The concert as a whole was immersive and engaging in a way that the best travel experiences can be –- allowing one to recognize the familiar and foreign as an inseparable mix, re-contextualizing a place and a people in a fresh and vital way.

Proceeds from the events benefit the Fighting Words Centre in Dublin, a writing center for Irish youth founded by Roddy Doyle, author of The Commitments (the novel later adapted to the popular film that starred a young Glen Hansard.)

Irish fiddler Caoimhin O'Raghallaigh tunes up in the dressing room of Le Poisson Rouge before his solo performance.

Songwriter Damien Rice, who made his first public appearance in New York in several years, warms up during sound check.

Songwriter and actor Glen Hansard during soundcheck. Hansard served as one of the key performers, organizers and emcees for the two-night event.

Glen Hansard and Martha Wainwright go over lyric sheets at soundcheck.

Martha Wainwright during soundcheck.

Philip King, series editor of Other Voices, on harmonica accompanying Glen Hansard during soundcheck.

Singer-songwriter Trixie Whitley during soundcheck.

Glen Hansard runs through a song backstage with Thomas Bartlett.

Philip King (Other Voices series editor), Glen Hansard, fiddler Martin Hayes, actor Gabriel Byrne, Irish vocalist Iarla O'Lionaird, author Colum McCann.

Caoimhin O'Raghallaigh started both evenings with a solo fiddle performance.

Thomas Bartlett (a.k.a. Doveman) served as the de facto musical director for the event.

Singer-songwriter/folk musician Sam Amidon performed the first song of the evening.

Gabriel Byrne recited "Down By the Salley Gardens" by W. B. Yeats, accompanied by fiddler Martin Hayes.

Laurie Anderson performed her unique hybrid of music and spoken word on the second night of the event.

Brooklyn-based artist Sharon Van Etten performed on the first night, debuting a new song, "Life of His Own."

Irish fiddler Martin Hayes, accompanied by Caoimhin O'Raghallaigh.

Bryce Dessner (of rock group The National) and Trixie Whitley backstage.

Author Colum McCann and Glen Hansard going over ideas for the finale of night two.

Damien Rice, backstage.

Joseph O’Connor read a poem titled 'Songland' that referenced many New York musicians, including Lou Reed, who was in the room.

Justin Vivian Bond performed on the first night.

Damien Rice, Glen Hansard and Martha Wainwright enjoy the performance from the side of the stage.

The Lost Brothers, with Mark McCausland, left, and Oisin Leech.

Paul Muldoon gave the final reading on both evenings.

Muldoon's reading was followed by a haunting vocal interpretation of the text by Irish singer Iarla O'Lionaird.

During the finale, Joseph O'Connor took a verse of the traditional song "The Parting Glass."

Musicians and authors gathered during the second evening's finale: Roddy Doyle, Philip King, Mark McCausland, Sam Amidon, Colum McCann, Iarla O'Lionaird, Oisin Leech, Joseph O'Connor)

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