When John Byrne was growing up in Ireland in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was common to see two sets of ticket prices listed for a concert or play: regular and “unwaged.”
“That’s a nice way of describing Ireland’s half a million unemployed, and this in a country of only four and half million,” says Bryne, a Dublin transplant to Philadelphia whose “John Byrne Band” has gathered critical acclaim with the release of its first CD, “After the Wake,” in 2010.
When he returned home late last year, he was walking into the Abbey Theater and found that he had gone back in time—there, again, were the special ticket prices for the “unwaged.” The unemployed were also welcomed—for free—into Whelan’s a live music venue on Dublin’s south side.
“It made me sad, but at the same time I loved it,” says Byrne, who has been in the studio recording his second CD. “It’s a true example of people just doing what they can to help others. Giving folks who are struggling to make ends meet, living on unemployment or welfare, tickets to a show isn’t really solving anything—it’s just providing something pleasant, a comfort at a time when comfort has had to be sacrificed.”
So if you’re unemployed and looking for a little comfort, Byrne and friend Jay Januzzi from the group Citizen’s Band Radio have 50 tickets available to their February 26 show at World Café Live where Byrne will debut two tracks from his upcoming CD. All you have to do is contact Byrne through his website.
Music To Remember Tommy By
Musician, radio host, and beloved fixture of Philadelphia’s Irish community, Tommy Moffitt, gave a concert every January at the Holy Family Home in South Philadelphia. Moffitt died last May, but his memory—and the music—will live on this Saturday as a group of musicians, singers and dancers gather to continue the musical tradition.
On the bill: the Vince Gallagher Band (Gallagher played with Moffitt and hosts the WTMR 800 AM Sunday Irish radio show that preceded his), plus singers Mairead Conley, the reigning Mid-Atlantic and Philadelphia Rose of Tralee; Jocelyn McGillian, last year’s Rose; Tommy Curtis, and Mae Roney. The Cara-McDade Dancers will also perform. Tommy Moffitt’s daughters will be on hand with photos from their father’s life.
While the show is for residents, the Little Sisters of the Poor, who run the home, are opening the doors to the public. Holy Family Home is at 5300 Chester Avenue, in Philadelphia. “Anyone who wants to celebrate his legacy or spend some time with the residents is welcome to come,” says Conley, who organized the event, which begins at 2 PM.
And big news about our Rose: She was just selected one of the Irish Echo’s “40 Under 40,” which honors young people from the Irish community who have made significant contributions. In the past, other Philly-region folks have made the list, including attorney and musician Theresa Flanagan Murtagh, Rose of Tralee director Sarah Conaghan, and Irish Immigration Center Executive Director Siohban Lyons.
Stolen Car His Lifeline
His car wasn’t going to win any beauty prizes, but George Lees’s rusty, trusty two-door 1991 Buick Skylark was his lifeline. Lees’, a longtime member of AOH Division #87 and its 2008 Man of the Year, has cerebral palsy. His car was equipped with hand controls and a bench seat that made it easy for him to get in and out.
His “lifeline” was stolen this week from Belgrade Street near his home in Port Richmond and Lees, who is on permanent disability from his 24-year job at Sun Oil, doesn’t have the money to replace it.
If you have any information about the car, call the 24th police district at 215-686-3240.