By Mark Hallum
Big City Music Festival returned to Long Island City’s LIC Bar, where 24 musicians and groups from across the city gathered to showcase their original song-writing talent Saturday and Sunday. The two-day event comes along every two years and was founded by Niall Connolly, an Irish immigrant who sought to bring a little bit of home to the city. Among performers gaining in notoriety were Warren Malone, August Wells and Youth in a Roman Field.
Connolly came to the United States a decade ago, and as a musician began to miss the Hibernian custom of sharing songs among friends and family at gatherings. Big City Folk started as a collective network of songwriters who gathered at a Wednesday night club to do just that and the festival, which happens every two years, grew from there.
Warren Malone, a British-born musician, performed his songs and promoted a new album which recently earned the attention of Pulizter Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, who invited him to play with Rosanne Cash and Loudon Wainwright III at the Irish Art Center Sept. 19. Malone will be performing again at the LIC Bar , at 45-58 Vernon Blvd., Aug. 31 for a night of rockabilly sound.
Malone pics expertly on the acoustic guitar and tells stories about the relationship between him and his wife. He explains that the performers at the event are part of a tight-knit community and Big City Music Festival is a joy for all the musicians involved because it allows them reach a broader audience while reconnecting with peers who may have drifted apart.
Hundreds of people drifted in and out of the Queens establishment over the course of the two-day event, without the heat wave having much of an effect on attendance, Connolly said.
Troubadour Jasper Lewis took to the stage and made the audience laugh and clap with the humorous bent of his songs.
“That’s the Big City Music Festival. It’s a train of acoustic guitars, coming full-speed into your face,” Lewis said.
Ken Griffin was formerly the lead singer and guitarist for Irish noise pop band Rollerskate Skinny, which achieved fame in ‘90s for their album “Shoulder Voices.” August Wells is the name of Griffin’s new band, a duo between himself and Queens-native pianist John Rauchenberger. As the sun went down and the shade rolled in, the heat abated. Many people at the venue found it more comfortable to sit outside When the clean sounds from his vocals mixed with the strumming on his tFender Telecaster, the audience was able to get a taste of the iconic band he was once a part of.
Youth in a Roman Field closed the event. The string quartet is headed up by Claire Wellin, who performed in the Broadway musical “Once,” which was the winner of 8 2012 Tony Awards.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall