Carmel mcmahon

Love, artistry, courage abound at Cell Salon

Paddy Smith.

By Karen Daly / Photos by Dan Brown

The mid-February Salon at the Cell drew raves from audience members and from presenters grateful for their warm support.

A night rich in monologue, personal stories, crime fiction and satire was brought to an electrifying close by visiting bluesman Paddy Smith.

Salon producer and host John Kearns opened the program with two original poems, each inspired by travel, of long and short distances. In “Leaving for China,” an homage to Du Fu, Chengdu poet of the Tang Dynasty (8th Century), the narrator describes the streets of the Bronx as he anticipates his first flight to Shanghai. “Heading Home” portrays the spontaneous creative conversation of a couple commuting home from work. John had just celebrated the Chinese New Year in China, and he came home bearing gifts of chocolate.

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Andre Archimbaud likes to say he that he has a very French name, but a very Irish heart. Tonight he read three short pieces which revealed that Irish heart: “Museless Monday” written the day that David Bowie died; “Thickets and Thorns” about losing his grandfather and “Hyperballad” about a man Andre met in Washington Heights, who was losing his life to the drink.

Jerry McTigue presented a satire piece in the form of a hypothetical ad promoting the most difficult item to sell: “Nothing.” And we bought it! Jerry got the idea from his work creating ads for real products and services. He’s also authored six books, including the “Life’s Little Frustration Book” series, and numerous articles and essays for national magazines and major city newspapers. An IAWA newcomer, Jerry appreciated our “warm and supportive audience.”

Once again the Obie-Award winner Rosina Fernoff captivated the audience with a monologue from the one woman-play “The Conversion of Alice B.Toklas” by Carol Polcovar. In this play Toklas steps out from the shadow of her late lover Gertrude Stein, and talks about her dream to become a Catholic

Crime fiction writer Gary Cahill read from his newly published short story “On A Two-Way Street” currently featured on the cover of the February issue of Mystery Weekly Magazine. Gary sums it up as “Chinese food meets diamonds and guns on the beach and the driver of your dreams.” And what else do you need to know? Gary primed the audience for next month’s crime-themed Salon at the Cell (3/20) being organized by Seamus Scanlon with Gary colluding (yes ... there is “collusion”).

Carmel McMahon.

Dan Brown wrote and directed actress Abbey Dubin in one of the night’s outstanding monologues. In “The Rolex Tudor Prince Oyster Date with Steel Blue Dial,” a child’s impulsive act has far-reaching consequences on her family relationships. Dan says the piece challenges the idea that the truth will always “set you free.” Instead an occasional dose of dishonesty might be the pathway to freedom.

Dan also took the great photos here.

Carmel McMahon made an impressive Salon debut with an excerpt from her recently completed memoir, “In Ordinary Time” about her childhood in a large Catholic family in County Meath. Carmel, who came to New York in 1993, has been published in the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, the Irish Echo and the Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction.

Another Salon newcomer, and a stylish presenter, M.C. Neuda says she probes “the darker (but not unamusing) side of the human condition in crime fiction.” Her selections tonight made the point. “Look At Me, Damn You” won an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train's July/August 2016 Very Short Fiction Competition.

“Matchstick” was published in 2017 in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and her latest, dealing with the latest technology, is “Are You Tracking?”

The fearless Sarah Fearon blew in to try out some new material for her comic real estate routine, no doubt preparing for her show on Tuesday at the West Side Comedy Club. She brought along her ukulele, too and prompted by the day’s weather, sang “California Dreamin.” And inspired, or uninspired by the news these days, she played “Imagine.” Sarah claims she needs more uke lessons, and she was delighted that the crowd joined in to sing along.

Leilani McInerney delivered a brief, mesmerizing performance in a monologue about a woman experiencing unusual side effects from medication.

The blues artist Paddy Smith brought the Salon to a thrilling close with two numbers on harmonica and vocals: “The Sky is Crying” and Paul Butterfield’s “Born in Chicago.” Paddy has been playing harmonica since he was six years old and has released two EP’s “Ran Out of Road Paddy” and “Let Those Blues In.” You have a chance to hear Paddy Smith Blues Band at the CRAIC Fest on Saturday, and we say don’t miss it.

Get ready for a busy few weeks and watch Facebook for more events. Here are two: March 6: March Salon at St. Patrick’s Bar, 22 West 46th St. 7 p.m. March 20: IAW&A crime-themed Salon at the Cell, 7 p.m.