By Eileen Murphy
Well, music lovers in Boston must have spent the last few months on their knees rattling off novenas to beat the band, because it looks like their prayers have been answered. We just heard that Van Morrison will headline the Beantown leg of the Guinness Fleadh, which takes place Saturday, June 19 at Suffolk Downs racetrack.
According to a spokesman, Morrison made the surprise decision after enjoying a "wonderful experience" at last weekend’s San Francisco Fleadh. This, coupled with overwhelming (and we do mean overwhelming) popular demand, has enticed the phenomenally popular Belfast bard to the Guinness ‘do.
If you don’t already have your Fleadh tickets, you’ll want to get your credit cards in gear. We hear that there other very special surprise guests. Even given our sophisticated investigative methods — specifically, whining, "Come ON! Who izzzzzz it?" at the publicists ad infinitum — we haven’t found out the names of the special guests. But we’re assured by those in the know that these guests are very special, indeed.
Morrison will be appearing at Jones Beach in New York, and, unfortunately, there are no plans for him to perform at the Big Apple’s Fleadh. So, New York — start lighting those candles. (Hey, you never know.) But if you want to be sure of seeing Van at the Fleadh, please come to Boston . . .
Guinness Fleadh ticket winners:
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Chicago — Erin Kane, Winfield, Ill; Michael Meehan, Chicago, Ill.; Rachel O’Keefe, Killmallock, Co. Limerick.
Boston — John F. Rooney, Worcester, Mass.; Mary Moruzin, New Fairfield, Conn.; Kenneth Peterson, Worcester, Mass.
New York — Patricia Alvarez, Glen Head, N.Y.; Gerard Holmes, Clifton, N.J.; Mark Roach, Norwalk, Conn.
There’s still time to enter to win a pair of tickets to the Boston and New York Fleadhs! Deadline for Boston entries: Monday, June 14. New York deadline: Monday, June 21. Enter via fax (212) 686-1756. Via mail: Guinness Fleadh [specify city] c/o Irish Echo Newspaper, 309 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016 or email email@example.com. Email subject line must read last name, first initial, city preferred. All entries must contain name, address and daytime phone number. More winners next week!
The return of BallyK
Those of you who’ve been wandering around in black, mourning the demise of poor, cranky Assumpta Fitzgerald can take heart — the new season of "Ballykissangel" starts tonight on WLIW-Channel 21, and on PBS stations around the country (check local listings). And while nothing can match the grand, scandalous passion between Dervla Kirwan’s saucy barmaid and Stephen Tompkinson’s parish priest, nor equal its heart-rending conclusion, life does go on. Really. Trust us.
We’ve seen the first couple of episodes, and already we’re smitten with Lorcan Cranitch, who plays recently returned widower Sean Dillon. There’s a sexy air of mystery to him that should send many feminine hearts aflutter, while guys always appreciate a male sex symbol who doesn’t quite have all his hair. (It just confirms their own incredible gorgeousness, you know.)
Also new in town is Fr. Aidan, who’s played by Don Wycherley. His character was, until recently, a cloistered monk, who’s now trying to cope with the outside world. Then there’s the priest’s sister, Orla, played by Victoria Smurfit. And before you ask: yes, she’s one of THOSE Smurfits, which means life is not fair at all because she’s beautiful, talented and rich, to boot.
Orla seems to be quite the operator, and should be a match for the town’s cute hoor, Brian Quigley. Other new characters include Emma Dillon, a big city girl trying to adjust to life in the country, and Danny Byrne, described in the press materials as "a brooding bad boy from a Dublin housing estate." All together now: ooooooooooh.
The first episode is strange, since the town is still coming to terms with the Peter and Assumpta affair, and her tragic demise. Brendan and Padraig meet Orla, who introduces herself as the new priest’s sister.
"Sure, that’s what they all say," snickers Padraig.
There’s great hullabaloo about the impending auction of Fitzgerald’s Pub, with yuppie bidders threatening to turn it into a wine bar, a brasserie and lord knows what. We won’t tell you what happens, but we think you’ll be able to fill in the blanks.
By the way, those of you who just can’t get enough of the doin’s in that little village might want to check out the official BallyK fan site, http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/9171/BallyK.html. It’s a great place to catch up on the latest storylines (and we do mean the latest — if you’re not careful, you’ll find out more than you want to know), plus backstage gossip, links to the stars’ websites, etc..
Our favorite part of the website has to be the fanfic — short for fan fiction — section. It offers sort of a parallel BallyK universe: one in which that fusebox thing was just a nasty scare, Leo’s a creep, Peter leaves the church and Assumpta hires him to help out in the pub. The stories are posted in script form, and reading them is oddly comforting. The author, Becks, who also runs the website, has a great feeling for dialogue, and keeps things moving along nicely.
So, onward and upward, "BallyKissangel." But, Peter, Assumpta, we still miss you.
We hear that the very talented Susan McKeown will be performing with that one in 10,000 Maniac Natalie Merchant this week in New York City. The shows are tonight, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Neil Simon Theater. Call TicketMaster at (212) 307-7171 for showtimes and tickets.
The shows are being recorded for a live album — Merchant’s first — and a television special. McKeown will appear throughout, performing on songs such as "Kind and Generous" and "Frozen Charlotte."
McKeown’s growing legion of fans can also catch her at the New York Guinness Fleadh on June 26. She’ll be on the VH-1 Stage from 3:45-4:30 p.m. She’ll also do a gig at the Town Crier in Pawling on June 27 with the hot new Irish tribal group, Kila.
And while we’re talking about upcoming gigs, don’t forget that our all-time favorite singer, Ronnie Drew, will make a rare New York appearance tonight at Rory Dolan’s in Yonkers. Don’t know about the rest of you, but wild horses wouldn’t keep us away. Neither would a scantily clad Liam Nee . . . well, actually, that might distract us. For a minute, anyway.
As if anyone needed another reason to run to see the recently discovered Tennessee Williams play, "Not About Nightengales," we hear that the backstage drama far outstrips what’s onstage.
The show, which was nominated for an armful of Tony Awards (and won none), also features a real-life feud between costars Sherri Parker Lee and Finbar Lynch.
It has been reported that Lee complained to the performers’ trade union, Actor’s Equity, that Lynch slapped her on the hands — for real — during an onstage fight scene, and there are reports that he has screamed at her backstage. Lee has filed a grievance with the union, and has, at least once, shown up to work with a bodyguard. So says the New York Post, anyway.
Of course, all this roiling anger has made things "incredibly tense" backstage. Logic dictates that it must be visible onstage, or these really are the world’s greatest actors. Stay tuned . . .
Seal of approval
Well, somebody had to say it, and we suppose Pierce Brosnan was the logical person to do it. We refer, of course, to reports that Pierce has acknowledged Sean Connery as the "definitive" Bond. Of course, we, personally, feel that no one can possibly top George Lazanby . . .
The tenors are coming!
The Irish Tenors, whose PBS concert special was a huge hit around St. Patrick’s Day, are set to tour the U.S. and Canada this summer. Confirmed dates so far include: