Salon goes to bat for libraries

Mark Butler.

Text by Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer

The stars came out for IAW&A’s first fundraising Salon, The Amazing Library Variety Show on Tuesday, May 19, at The Cell Theatre. Mark Butler, the show’s producer and host, corralled members to donate their time and talent to support the work of the NYC-based grassroots advocacy group, Urban Librarians Unite. The Show was a testament to the generosity and breadth of talent in IAW&A and to Mark’s artistic, organizational and hosting skills.

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ULU Founder and Executive Director Christian Zabriskie described their work. ULU has organized 24-hour read-ins, story times for children, mini-library mobilizations, a "book seeding" campaign.

Actor/director Richard Butler, playing library lover “Mr. Dewey Decimal,” warmed up the SRO crowd with the jazzy “Librarians Really ‘Dew’ It for Me.” Pianist Ryan Shirar was the night’s accompanist.

Best-selling author of “The Westies” T.J. English read a selection from his book about Whitey Bulger that will be published in September. Then "fiercely talented” (in the view of New York Times) Maxine Linehan performed two original songs. John Kearns chose an excerpt from his novel-in-progress, “Worlds,” in which the protagonist goes to the library to discover his Irish identity.

Cathy Maguire.

Marni Rice, a chanteuse-accordionist, sang in French. Stand-up comedienne, actor Sarah Fearon brought the laughs with her routine. One of the top “trad” musicians in the country, Tony DeMarco played two reels that had our collective feet tapping.

Internationally known Irish tenor Karl Scully delighted us with his rendition of Tom Lehrer’s “Poisoning Pigeons in The Park.”

IAW&A President Larry Kirwan described the night Black 47 back-up one of Shane MacGowan’s first post-Pogue gigs. ULU’s Lauren Comito charmed the crowd with her song about the trials of a librarian. Honor Molloy read “Backwards Library,” a piece about summers, libraries and time.

Singer/songwriter guitarist John Paul Skocik performed two original tunes. World-renowned saxophonist Jon Gordon played a soulful solo of “The Days of Wine and Roses.” Cathy Maguire sang two beautiful songs, one country-inflected, one Irish.

Tony DeMarco.

The night ended with a McCourt tour de force. Malachy McCourt talked about how two poor boys in County Limerick, he and his brother Frank, devoured library books. Then he riffed about labels, about snakes and God, Adam and Eve, St. Patrick chasing the snakes from Ireland.

Frequent Salon contributor Tom Mahon perfectly summed up the event as “a rousing, rollicking night of fund-raising, hell-raising with hilarious songs and stories about libraries and librarians and books.”

The next Salon is tonight at Bar Thalia (Broadway & 95th Street), beginning at 6 p.m. The next Cell Theatre edition of the Salon is scheduled for Tuesday, June 16, at 7 p.m.