That formal recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1999 merely confirmed what Irish American audiences have known for three decades: Mick Moloney’s knowledge of Irish, Irish American, and other genres of popular, roots-oriented, and historical music runs wide and deep.
His polymath appreciation of this music was on ample display at Town Hall. More than 30 performers were presented by Moloney in a fluid, engaging, and often surprising format.
One surprise in the concert’s second half was the unadvertised appearance of singer Kerith Spencer Shapiro and pianist Pedro d’Aquino. Schooled in the Jewish cantorial tradition, Shapiro delivered a delightful rendition of “If It Wasn’t for the Irish and the Jews,” a Tin Pan Alley song written in 1912 by William Jerome and Jean Schwartz. The lyrics contain such smile-inducing lines as “Talk about a combination, hear my words and make a note / On St. Patrick’s Day, Rosinsky pins a shamrock on his coat.”
This multi-ethnic musical melting pot was also reflected in “You’ll Have to Sing an Irish Song If You Want to Marry Me.” It is about an Irish woman being courted by a German man and was made popular by the most prolific recording artist in history, the now forgotten Ada Jones. With Moloney on guitar and Dana Lyn on viola, Jennifer Coates, a former NYU student of Moloney, gave a semi-operatic gloss to her singing of this song.
Irish traditional and American old-time songs and tunes were also expertly served this night. Moloney skillfully sang “You Lovers All,” recounting how an Irish woman who disembarked in Quebec found her previously emigrated beau by accident in the first pub she sauntered into.
Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, a talented vocalist and flutist from Dingle who will replace Ciar_n