Live at The Roundy with the Polskadots!!!
Lets see, where did I leave off….
After recovering from the adventurous weekend in West Cork, we prepared for our June 5 concert with the Polskadots – the Cork band I co-founded in 2005 which has now become a much-loved band in these parts playing a mix of gypsy music from around the world. Hard as it was for me to leave Cork after the Polskadots really began to kick off, I promised that as soon as I had my own band, I would return for a collaboration. This joint show was the collaboration and the main incentive for the whole tour. We played at one of Corks sweetest medium-sized venues, The Roundy (see www.goldiefish.ie/events.html). We had a fantastic turn-out of all the Polskadot friends and fans, and then a few more. I forgot to mention that my band was featured on UCC campus radio the previous day (see www.kencotter.com/bigbrunch.htm), so perhaps a few of the program listeners joined us for the evening.
Our lovely host, Graziela (Cork’s resident Brazilian belly dancer) was in front of the stage with some of her bellydance students and together they danced choreographed steps to our song, “The Lemon Seller”, which she had taught at her class the day before. Can I even express the joy that it brings me to look out into the audience during a performance and see the smiles of people dancing to our music that has inspired them to create something from it, such as a dance performance? I live for this circle of inspiration, when one artists creation inspires anothers. This is when I have no doubts about my creative and muscical path.
The Polskadots followed our set with a smashing one of their own. I joined the dancers at this point and we danced the night away. Every few songs, one of the Dots called me to the stage to sing vocal harmonies. Many of the multi-part harmony songs that the Dots perform are songs I taught them in 2005. It is again, so much fun to see how they have made the songs their own. We even had a battle with the one song that was in both of our sets that night – “I Dreamt You Returned” was played by both bands. So Eileen in the Dots announced before they played it that the audience was expected to text (SMS) their vote of which version of the song they preferred and we would announce the winner at the end of the tally. All in good humor… You can see a photo of us performing at the Roundy below.
The next day brought more good times as I was invited over for a delicious, home-cooked Turkish style breakfast by the Turkish queen of Cork, herself – Sevinch. One of the Polskadots original fans, she had made her appearance at the Roundy show just as I was singing the first of my Turkish songs, ‘The Anatolian Butterfly’, and as soon as she made her way to dance in front of the stage, the song took flight. She LOVES the Turkish music we play and comes to be fed by a part of her culture that is hard to come by in Ireland. She feels the passion of the songs with me, and she sings the lyrics back to me. It is such a joy to have her in the audience! And breakfast with her was just a continuation of that joy. We were also joined by another friend and musician, Stella Rodriguez, who is Dutch/Portuguese/Indonesian, plays the fiddle and directs her band in Cork called ‘Lazik’, another Eurofusion project that popped up around the time of the Polskadots birth. We sat eating in Sevinch’s back yard and soaked in the patches of sun that found their way between the passing clouds, until we were down to tea and coffee and the rain started to come down. That’s Irish weather for you! But I am not complaining because we really lucked out in terms of weather during the trip at large.
Despite being quite full from Sevinch’s Turkish feast, I met one of my Irish singing teachers from 2005, Máire Ní Chéileachair, for lunch in the upstairs cafe at one of Cork’s gems – The Old English Market. The market place is like a permanent farmers market with wonderful displays and selections of fresh fish and seafood, produce, meats, cheeses, breads, pastries, coffee and prepared foods. We sat on the mezzanine and you can relax while watching the hustle and bustle of shoppers below. In addition to all her singing activities in the
community, Maire teaches in primary school and this was her first week of summer holidays. Her summer plans involve quite a bit of singing and she will be the featured singer in the Cork singers club next month as well as featured in Martin Hayes’s traditional music festival in West Cork in August.
On Friday evening, we rallied the troops to attend a local concert at the pub called An Spailpin Fanac, and everyone danced wildly, laughing in between rounds, to the music of The Critters (Down home old timey country music with an Eastern flare) and The Fireflies (good old crazy loony Klezmer music into the depths of the night). Probably one of the funniest nights out of the whole tour, I even have some small videos of the dancing that was going on (but cant figure out how to get them off my camera). It brought the clown out in all of us.
I taught another singing workshop before the concert, this time at UCC with a group of 8 singers from Cork. It went very well and I was reminded how much I enjoy teaching a group to sing in mulit-part harmonies. There is a small but hungry community in Cork for a multi-cultural choir, similar to the groups I teach in the Bay Area, and they requested I return to teach again, or even lead a choir there. One of the men, well, the only man who attended was 84, a sean-nos singer and uillean (means ‘elbow’ and refers to the traditional Irish bagpipe) pipes player and invited me to his trad session the following week. He was in great form, and gladly sang for the group at the end of the class. I was honored by his attendance.
So much goes on in every day during a good tour!!!
You can read more about us in a couple of Cork blogs: