I didn’t know what to expect, but an hour later I was happy that I’d been at the opening night of the Bark Cafe in Alan Hanna’s Bookshop in Rathmines. The small space, at the back of the always friendly bookshop, was hosting its first evening performance and it went off with a real bang. Long may it continue as the city is crying for good, small venues and that is what you get in the Bark.
After a warm introduction from proprietor Charles (The Bookmesiter) Hanna, we sat back and were royally entertained by Canadian poet, novelist and singer Robert Priest. First of all he said that he had not been to Dublin since 1977, but he remembered Trinity College when he passed by. That’s understandable, as the place has been leaving impressionson on people for years! He read poems from his book Rosa Rose, and selected a few from his latest work Previously Feared Darkness. Some were long, but most were short, and to the point. He is not one for wasting words and his sharp observations of life and its vagaries are all the better for it. ‘Less is certainly more’ and Robert Priest is a master. In fact, his wordsmithery was particularly appealing to the small but rapt audience who clapped and cheered after each offering.
A Priest and his flock….
And if all that wasn’t enough he picked up his acoustic guitar and the evening really took-off. We heard that he had co-written a hit single for Alannah Myles (credibility!) and he sang a number of songs from his recently released Feeling the Pinch. His take on life and its foibles seemed even clearer as he went through The Bomb In Reverse, Song Instead Of A Kiss and the up-tempo Who The Fuck Knows which we all sang along to. Oh, what a magical moment! After the show Robert signed CDs and books and said, happily, that the night had been the best he’d ever had. Now that’s saying something, but the atmosphere in the Bark was woof, woof, wonderful! And the big question. Will he be back again? Hope so, but hey, who the fuck knows!
Bark rating – woof, woof, wonderful!
‘Do it again….and again, please. ‘ That’s what the shouted, long and loud, the other night in the Purty Kitchen as Aja finished their fantastic set.
On a cold November night the atmosphere in The Loft was red-hot, as the band worked their way through a catalogue of Steely Dan’s songs with real vigour and skill. The eight-piece outfit have been paying tribute to the American band for more than five years, and the quality of their playing (from some of the country’s best-known musicians) was a real treat. The place was packed and, not surprisingly, the audience knew the music and cheered every solo – guitar, drum or saxophone – with knowledgable appreciation. I’m sure if Donald Fagen or Walter Becker had walked in they would have been impressed with the sound and the warm response it got.
Aja – Reelin’ in the Years
We heard songs from early albums Can’t Buy a Thrill and Countdown to Ecstasy through to the more jazz-inspired Gaucho and Aja, and all were performed with confidence and a faithfulness to the originals. If you are a Steely Dan fan then you should get yourself along and see Aja in action – it’ll put a smile on your face, and you’ll be Home at Last!
Miro’s house, Palma
It was the colours and shapes that did it. The first time I saw a painting by Joan Miro I was intrigued, and it made me smile. I think it was the dreamy, atmospheric quality that I responded to, and since then I have seen many of his paintings in different galleries. All are different, but they still have that playful air that is exciting.
He was a contemporary of Picasso and expressed contempt for conventional painting methods which he considered a way of supporting bourgeois society. As such, he developed his own style which many view as belonging to the Surrealism school of art, of which the most famous is another Spaniard, Salvador Dali. He was a multi-talented artist, and produced many works of sculpture and ceramics.
He left France at the start of World War II and lived between Barcelona and Palma, Majorca. It was here that he started his series of twenty-three paintings known as Constellations. It won praise from Andre Breton (the founder of Surrealism) and revolves around celestial symbolism with particular focus on women, birds and the moon – dreamy! While I was in Palma recently I went to see his house which he bequeathed to Palma and the superb gallery and studios. Being able to walk around the space where he created these wonderful paintings was a real treat and a must-see for any Miro fan – dream on!
The artist’s studio – where the magic happened….