30 Seconds At
A Chapter from our recent trip to Belfast:
A quick stop for
“take away” coffee this morning at Sinnamon on Botanic Avenue in Belfast.
We’re off to a special performance today. The Catholic and Protestant schools
are still segregated in this lovely city that is, every day, pouring new soil over
the old roots of conflict, replacing them with new seeds of compassion and community.
It’s a long process, a generational one actually, and today we get to play
a small role in it.
In the gym of a Protestant elementary
school, we gather with the students and their special guests; a busload of Catholic
school children. The two schools sit in alternating rows, so the kids are near each
other, and when they laugh and sing, two things they do quite often, they harmonize
together. Facing them, we can see the whole group turn into a gaggle of kids, not
representatives of political or religious factions; just kids.
we entertain them with songs, stories, and some discussion of their smart questions.
When we ask how many have ever written a song, almost every hand goes up! When Nanci
Griffith sings “It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go,” comparing social
issues in Belfast and America, the kids listen attentively, pondering her commentary
on the life that they live on either side of the concrete wall that divides their
neighborhoods after sundown.
Then it’s time for the kids to
entertain and enlighten us. After a skillful piano warmup, a young guitarist shows
his stuff, playing a classic rock riff. Interestingly, he skips over a string at
the same point every time, creating a jarring angularity that we all actually get
to like after a few repetitions. When I try to join in, he codas quickly and sits
down, headed no doubt for a solo career of unexpected modulations. He’s followed
by a small boy who wields a trombone which, with slide extended, exceeds his own
length by about a foot. He carefully arranges his music on the stand, and then launches
into a really spirited solo piece, aiming the horn triumphantly upward and captivating
us all with his enthusiasm and perfect intonation. After that, an ensemble dance
routine that we thought might be traditional step dancing, but turned out to be
skillful hip-hop choreography, and then the piece de resistance; a young girl who
announces that she will read a letter she composed, in the character of an Irish
immigrant to New York, describing the hardship of the passage and the migrant’s
combination of homesickness and hope for a better life in the New World. As she
reads, she transcends her “kidness” and becomes a great Irish writer.
The room is silent at the end, the Americans and Irish lost in the poignancy of
her story and the artistry of her composition. Then we all erupt in applause, and
it’s time for group photos ; all one group, not Catholic or Protestant, American,
Irish or British, just a roomful of kids and itinerant musicians who spent the morning
sharing the things they all love.
(Photo by Elizabeth Lilja)
Concert Spotlights on:
1) Outpost In The Burbs, Montclair, NJ. On Friday, Apil 12, The Kennedys return to Outpost in the Burbs, Montclair,
NJ for a special all-request concert. Our friend and sometimes musical collaborator,
Edward Rogers, opens the show.
World Cafe Live at the Queen Wilmington,
DE. Kennedys double bill with the sensational Annalivia at the Queen, in Wilmington
DE on April 18. This will be a very special show with an all request Kennedys set,
Annalivia's amazing virtuosity and stage presence, and maybe some spontaneous jamming,
presented by the World Cafe...also on the bill, Nora Jane Struthers.
This Month's Schedule:
Friday, April 12
- Outpost in the Burbs, Montclair, NJ
April 13 - Sandywoods PAC, Tiverton, RI
April 18 - Queen Theater, Wilmington, DE
20 - Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem, PA
April 26 - BACCA Arts Center, Lendenhurst, NY
Monday, April 29
- The Dakota, Minneapolis, MN (opening for Nanci Griffith)
Tuesday, April 30 - The Dakota, Minneapolis, MN
for Nanci Griffith)
HERE For Extended Schedule & Details
We're coming back on our own to Ireland
and the UK in May and June for a jam-packed tour (21 shows in 23 days!) Check out
our full schedule for details, and get your tickets