14th May 2010

The European Cabaret…

Europe:  we are on the arse end of it, you might say, but we like that – and at the same time we’re glad we are a part of it.  Especially when this month’s cabaret was generously sponsored by Eumatters.  We took the theme and ran with it – from Czech folk song to German film, and French classics.  But it wasn’t all Gaulois and weinersnitzel.  Home-grown talent from Enniscorthy, Galway, Dublin and Cork balanced it out.

(Photos by Filip Naum and Arek Wnuk of Cold24 Photography)

First up, as usual, Helena Mulkerns and Cyril Murphy brought a little Southern Europe to the room with the latin classi, “Besame Mucho” and Piaf’s “Milord”.

Our first guest was the wonderful Markéta Malcová, whose mezzo-soprano tones brought beautiful renditions of a Czech folk song and a gypsy song.  Markéta, who graduated from the Conservatoire of Music in Prague, has performed Early Music in Europe both as a soloist and in ensembles, such as the Prague Cathedral Choir and the Prague Chamber Choir.  Since 2002 Marketa has been living and teaching music and singing in Co.Wexford, is, indeed, the vocal coach of several performers who have appeared already at the Cáca Milis. Markéta regularly showcases her pupil’s talents in concerts and workshops around Wexford so keep an eye out.

Then two of the fabulous and infamous Poetry Divas treated us to some truly illuminating, witty and heartfelt poetry, delivering their wares in classic vaudevillian style, with a breakneck repartee exchanging between the pair in between poems.  Namely – Kate Dempsey, described as “a seasoned poet, both salt and vinegar,” who has been widely published in Ireland and the UK, and Niamh Bagnell, who reads poems out in public whenever she gets a chance and hosts a weekly arts based radio show on Liffey Sound.   Formed in 2008, The Poetry Divas have read in their own inimitable and sparkly style at festivals and cool events all over the country. See more at Kate’s blog:  www.EmergingWriter.blogspot.com and Niamh’s:  www.variouscushions.blogspot.com And don’t miss them if they’re playing near you because they rock.

A man described as “Wexford’s best kept musical secret” – one Mr. Paddy Keogh of Enniscorthy – got up on the boards next, with Cáca Milis stalwart Eddie Crean of Ain’t Misbehavin’ accompanying him on guitar.  He sang a masterful, self-penned set, leaving the audience in great anticipation that he will be playing live gigs around the South East this summer.

Ciné Sweetcake is one of our most popular sections: screening new short films and animation.  For May, our filmaker was Arne Witt, a German born, Wexford based artist who has worked in a variety of media.  Arne seeks “what the camera is not showing us: the picture between frames, so-called “missing links”. Tthis crack in the matrix is a chance for our own fiction.”  This 7-minute work blended sound and vision in a discomfiting and unusual manner that caused quite a controversy in the crowd. Arne’s upcoming exhibition “Con Structure” opens in Ballina Arts Centre opens on 8th July.

The undoubted hit of the evening – and very much so for the female contingent in fact, was Ultan Conlon, who arrived in at minimal notice to play the Cabaret.  Having been introduced as hailing from Kilkenny, he quickly set the audience straight (Galway) and proceeded to charm them further with some excellent material.  Ultan’s album, ‘Bless Your Heart’ was launched to critical acclaim in Nov 2009, and he’s been touring Ireland and uk extensively since. Interestingly, the late John Martyn requested to record one of Ultan’s tracks with him just before he died, resulting in the beautiful ‘Really Gone’ which was sadly Martyn’s final release.
As is the priviledge of the Cáca Milis to have a close association with Wexford’s Khelashi Dance group, Kate McKenna of Khelashi Dance gave us a graceful and sensual rendition of a silk fan dance: Kate, who was for a time the Piano player for the Cáca Milis, also plays harp and teaches music. Don’t say we haven’t got the best lined up for you at the Cáca Milis!

Fulfilling an ambition long-held (since Bowie’s Berlin dabblings) Helena and Cyril undertook the German cabaret classic, “The Alabama Song”, made famous by Weill’s wife Lotte Lenya, and interpreted by everybody from The Doors, to Marilyn Manson,  You’ll be able to check it out for yourself next week, when we load up our new video links page.  A little Leonard Cohen followed, and then it was time for something completely different:

As it was also the eve of Africa Day – musician Jennifer Byrne dropped by with a Zimbabwean traditional instrument – the mbira.  As she played what looked like an intriguing sub-Saharan bodhrán, the audience were rapt at the twinkling, tumbling multi-layered sound.  It came across almost as if there were a tiny orchestra of musicians inside the globe, which is fashioned from a hollowed out calabash.

Jennifer spoke of the instrument and showed the audience its workings – a magical turn that will be repeated.  If you missed her this time, Jen is also playing the July Cabaret.

For the evening’s playout, the Cáca Milis celebrated the release (in the shops today) of Born Stubborn the debut album from Alice Jago – back by popular demand after a previous appearence some months ago.  Alice’s album has been getting rave reviews.  Hot Press called it “an exquisite debut .. a breezier Gillian Welch, a folkier Rickie Lee Jones”, and she’s currently touring to promote it, so check out her website for dates.