The Medicine Sessions is a music and spoken word night run in Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland, once a month by one of our skills exchange members. It’s a wonderful addition to the culture of the South East and many people have passed its doors since it opened earlier this year. Like she does every month, Vicky, the producer of this fantastic night, has sent us an update on how it went. So here you go.
Summer arrived. Just for one day, coinciding with an Olympian clash of gold from a woman Celt, with the whole nation watching. Afterwards, in the calm, inebriation of the sun, people meandered round the streets, or laid themselves out like corpses in their gardens, their faces cast to the unfamiliar burning orb in the sky. With the sun and historical victory, came laziness, aided by beer and white wine.
As I opened up the Medicine room for the night, I noted the atmosphere and mildly panicked that this might be the first month of failure when it came to garnering a crowd. But, although slow to gain momentum, by ten o’clock, the room filled and I felt the tension lift from me as I hit the stairs down to the bar to retrieve more chairs.
Polly Barrett fitted the sunny end of the day perfectly, her delightful, cheery personality casting its own light over the darkening Medicine room. Her natural honey voice, tripped over the heads and hearts of the audience as she sang of quiet love affairs, dreaming and the fleeting friendships formed whilst busking. Polly has a beautiful stage presence, confident and genuine and she is full of good natured wit, a fact that glimmers through her lyrics along with a sharp enthusiasm for life. She is the sort of performer who seems to be exactly the same on stage, as off. Everything is there to see and hear and the bare boned picking and strumming on her lovely Martin guitar, complimented her performance completely.
The mood was changed then, with the wiry force of Joe Power, the closest thing to a Bard of old you will find in the modern age. He inhabits the pieces he performs, lives in their landscapes, stares upon the audience through each character’s eyes. The full Medicine room shuffled uncomfortably in their seats, rapt in silence. Joe is a great man for the pause, the art of knowing when to be silent in a performance is a thing that, when done well, has the power to utterly drain a room of talk and thought and hang people on your words and the atmosphere grew thick with expectation and held breath. Joe is also an animated performer, lunging round the stage, arms reaching to the sky or out to the crowd his hands, fisted or clutching at his shirt. The darkness of crows and ancient Celtic myth was ushered into the room.
By now, a party of revellers were well oiled, inhabiting a table close to the front of the stage and after the hush of Joe’s performance were desperate for a bit of a chance to be boisterous. There is nothing quite like a good, old fashioned Trad band to fire up a room again and in rollercoaster style they provided a complete contrast to the spoken word element. The Buachaills are Paddy green through and through, local lads from Fermoy, four of them, calling down all the elemental Irishy spirits and spewing them forth into the room. By the end of the night, all were well fed with the goodness collected from the day.
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