Wednesday, 6 June 2012

New Chicago musical explores Chief O'Neill's contribution to saving Irish music

Chicago Police Chief Francis O'Neill 1901–1905Chicago Police Chief Francis O'Neill 1901–1905 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Chicago's past is filled with characters and events that seem ready-made for the stage, and as the city's theatergoers eagerly await the Wednesday raising of a certain ill-fated ship in the form of Lookingglass Theatre's musical "Eastland," audiences are already having a grand historical time at "Music Mad."

"Music Mad," performed Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through June 28 at the charming and terrific-on-every-level Chief O'Neill's Irish Pub & Restaurant (3471 N. Elston Ave.), is based on the life of the man for whom the bar/restaurant is named.

Francis O'Neill left Ireland at 16 in 1865, joined the Chicago Police Department in 1873 and was its chief from 1901-1905.

Though I hear tell he was a fine chief, this show is about his lifelong desire to preserve and catalog Irish music, which manifested in the largest collection of Irish music ever printed (long title too: "O'Neill's Music of Ireland: Eighteen Hundred and Fifty Melodies, Airs, Jigs, Reels, Hornpipes, Long Dances, Marches, Etc., Many of which are now Published for the First Time. Collected from All Available Sources") and many other books.

The man behind the show is attorney Adam Whiteman, and this is how it came to be: "I started a record label (Big Chicago) a decade ago, and one of the releases was "Hidden Treasures: Irish Music in Chicago." In putting that together I deeply explored the scene. I was amazed at the depth of talent and the beauty of the music. One of the people I came across was Brendan McKinney, who plays the Uilleann pipes" and who, along with wife Siobhan, opened Chief O'Neill's in 1999.

"I asked him, 'Who is Chief O'Neill?' He told me and that was that. The story was so compelling it had to be told."

In order to do so, Whiteman, a man of great enthusiasm and persistence, reached out to members of the Irish music community.

Says the brilliant singer/actress Kathy Cowan: "I got a funky e-mail from this guy Adam Whiteman, and (I'd) never heard of this guy. All it said was, 'I need your services.' Once I learned what he was up to, I was in."

He also recruited musicians Laurence Nugent, Jim DeWan (also music director), Farley Masterton and Joe O'Regan; actors Brett Tewell (who plays O'Neill), Mike O'Brien, John Moran, Tim O'Sullivan, Paul Brennan, Katie Mae Cochran and teenager Deirdre Kozicki. The show is directed by Stefan Brun, co-founder and co-artistic director of Prop Thtr, just north of the bar on Elston Avenue.

The play is in the form of an interview with O'Neill.

"That allows scenes to come to life with other actors and in song," says Cowan. "I play O'Neill's wife, and that is great fun, as was learning what a lovely human being he was."

The musical contains four original songs by Whiteman and any number of traditional Irish tunes.

Says DeWan, "So much of this music would have died out if it had not been for O'Neill."

Adds Whiteman, "He was a police officer and he did his duty. He was sworn to serve and protect — and he did. He protected this music for all time."

Hear from authors John Aranza, Brian Gruley and Julie Hyzy, among others, on "The Sunday Papers With Rick Kogan," 6:30-9 a.m. Sunday on WGN-AM 720.

"Chicago Live!" is hosted by Kogan and takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday at the UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., with, among many guests, actress Phylicia Rashad and TV pioneer Tom Weinberg. To see highlights and get tickets, go to

Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

Music Mad: new Chicago musical explores Chief O'Neill's contribution to saving Irish music -

1 comment:

city said...

.. thanks for sharing.


accordion achill activities Affiliate Program Alan Kelly Alan Shatter Alasdair Roberts Alison Krauss All Ireland Fleadh Altan Andy Irvine antrim archive armagh Arthur McBride Arts Arts and Entertainment Arts Council Arty McGlynn Athlone Baltimore band banjo Bantry Barney McKenna Baroque music Bill Whelan Bluegrass music bodhran Bodhrán bouzouki brendan begley Brendan Dolan brian boru Brian Conway Brian Cunningham Brock McGuire Band bunsatty Caoimhin O Raghallaigh Cape Breton Castlebar Cathy Davey Cavan cd ceili Céilí Band Céilidh celtic Celtic music Celtic rock ceol charlie lennon Chicago chieftains christmas Christmas music Christy Moore ciorras clancy Clancy Brothers classes classical music comhaltas Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Compact Disc Compass Records concert concertina Concerts and Events Connemara Conradh na Gaeilge Cootehill cork Cork County Council Cork University Press Cormac De Barra County Clare County Leitrim Dáithí Sproule Damien Dempsey Dán Dance Dancing at Lughnasa Danny Boy danu Dave Swarbrick De Dannan Declan Sinnott Deezer Derry dervish dkit Dolores Keane Dónal Lunny Donegal Donegal Fiddle Tradition Donnacha Dennehy doolin drisheen Drogheda Drumkeeran drums Drumshanbo dublin Dubliners dun uladh Dundalk early music East Clare Ed Reavy Education Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin Eileen Ivers Eleanor McEvoy Electric Picnic emer mayock ennis European Union Fairytale of New York Feakle feis Feis Ceoil felix dolan festival Festivals fidde fiddle Fiddling Film festival Fleadh Fleadh Cheoil Fleadh Cheoil Competition Céilí Band Jig Comhaltas Fleadh Cheoil fleadh nua flute Folk music Folk music of Ireland folklore france outdoors Francis O'Neill Frank Harte Frankie Gavin frankie kennedy free download Gaeilge gael-linn Gaelic galway Galway Arts Festival galway bay George Bernard Shaw gig glor goodman manuscripts Grammy Award Green Linnet Records group Grouse Lodge Guinness guitar harp hinse history holidays hornpipe Iarla Ó Lionáird iPhone Ireland irish Irish American irish arts centre irish dance irish flute Irish language irish music Irish people Irish Recorded Music Association irish times irish traditional music Irish Traditional Music Archive irish whistle IrishCentral IrishTimes Israel itma Ivan Goff jack coen JAMES JOYCE James Joyce Centre Jig jigs Joanie Madden Joe Derrane John Carty John Doyle John McCusker John McKenna John McSherry john spillane John Wynne Julie Fowlis Junior Crehan Karan Casey Karen Matheson Kathleen MacInnes Kevin Crawford Kilfenora Kilfenora Céilí Band Latin America Le Vent du Nord learn Len Graham Leopold Bloom Lieutenant of Inishmore Literature Liz Carroll London London Irish Centre Lord of the Dance louisburgh lunasa Lúnasa MacTalla Mor Maggie MacInnes Máirtín Ó Direáin mairtin o'connor Máirtín O'Connor Malawi Mandolin Margaret Bennett Martin Carthy martin fay Martin Hayes Martin McDonagh Martin Quinn Mary Bergin Mary Black Maryland Massachusetts Matt Molloy mayo McMahon Merry Sisters of Fate Michael Flatley Michael Rooney Michael Tubridy Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin Micho Russell Mick Moloney mick o'brien milwaukee Monaghan Moya Brennan mp3 Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh music Music festival Music of Ireland Musical composition Natasha McShane Neil Young New York Noel Hill Northern Ireland npu NUIG o'carolan omagh Orkney Paddy Fahey paddy keenan paddy moloney paddy o'brien Padraig Rynne passionfruit theatre Paul Brady penny whistle pennywhistle Peter Horan Philadelphia Philip Duffy piano pipes Planxty podcast Poetry Pogues Quebec radio radisson Raidió Teilifís Éireann recording reel reels riverdance Robert Downey Jr Ronan Browne Ronnie Drew Roscommon rose of tralee rowsome Royal Irish Academy of Music RTÉ Concert Orchestra Ryan Molloy Saint Patrick's Day school scoil acla Scoil Éigse scotland Seachtain na Gaeilge Sean Nós Seán Ó Ríordáin Séan O'Riada séan potts sean tyrell Sean-nós song session Set dancing Shanachie Records shannon shannonside Sharon Shannon shetland show singer Singing Skara Brae Sliabh Luachra sligo solas Sorley MacLean st.patrick stephen ducke Streaming media Stuart MacRae summer school teada teetotallers tg4 the forge theatre Tin whistle Tommy McCarthy Tommy Peoples Tommy Sands Toner Quinn Town Hall Theatre trad trad music traditional Traditional Folk and Celtic Traditional music tradschool trocaire Tulla Tulla Céilí Band tune makers tunepal tutorial tv uilleann pipes Ulysses University of Limerick vallely Van Morrison venue Vermont video Violin W. B. Yeats Waterford westmeath whistle willie Willie Clancy Willie Walsh workshop workshops world fleadh