Andrew and I were slated to be the last act on the indoor stage for Art All Night 2018. Sadly, a shooting incident cut short the festival, and the door to the stage area was marked off as a crime scene. This would have been our third annual appearance at the event, a community festival badly needed in an often troubled, fiscally depressed city. For example, five of my former students (Sheree Davis, Jeri Lynn Dodson, Jermaine Johnson, Shamere Melvin, and Shakir Williams ) have been shot dead in the past few years. I would mention, as a Trenton-area native, that Trenton is no longer the city it was when I was a child. The decline began in earnest when James Earl Ray’s actions incited a riot in our city. Trenton has long been in need of federal intervention and has suffered from many years of poor leadership, underfunding, poor tax base, and suburban flight.
A former student from and (very) short-time fellow teacher at the high school in Trenton where I taught for many years, Jerrell Blakely, who was quite recently elected councilman-at-large, stated in this morning’s Trenton Times:
“There is a tendency when a tragic event occurs to pull back and retreat, but I think Trenton has to show the world that we won’t be frightened,” he said. “We can’t allow folks that mean us harm to change such a beautiful event.”
I disagree with Blakely’s naive remarks. The perpetrators are gangbanging criminals, not terrorists. In my opinion, this tragedy WILL have a frightening effect on would-be festival attendees. Art All Night’s reputation as a family-centered affair has been seriously and possibly irrevocably tarnished. I do not intend to appear at Art All Night in the future. The people of Trenton have a serious crime element embedded in their midst and this city of primarily respectable citizens needs to remove this surly element from their midst.
I am so very pleased with my oldest son, John O’Neal, who plays music in his adopted home of Monteverde, Costa Rica. Like his younger sister, he has a unique and beautiful voice which comes straight from his soul. By all indications my grand daughter, Elisabeth, will follow in his footsteps. God bless them.
March madness ended last night. The Tir na nOg birthday celebration for Trenton mayoral candidate Reed Gusciora, the last of numerous March gigs, is now behind us. My sound equipment has returned to its garret home until May or June. It is my desire to spend Mid-March of 2019 in the north of Ireland, playing music with James McCarthy.
It’s been a busy month. Many gigs. One more weekend of them to go.
Here’s a couple of pics.
In between all of the gigs, work continues on my short story collection, Clattering, and also on a commissioned historic preservation work. See below for the working cover.
All the Best,
A fun evening last night on Ocean Avenue in Belmar. We played a two-hour concert for the Belmar Public Library.
Hi All. It’s been a busy one so far, even with all of the bad weather we’ve been seeing. The photo below is from this past Saturday at Bill’s Olde Tavern in Hamilton. Three awesome operatic singers out for a bit o’ fun! We’ll be back there on St. Patrick’s Day from Noon until 2pm so please stop in.
Last Saturday night Kaitlin, Chris, Andrew, and I spent a few hours in the recording studio laying down audio tracks for the Comma Music, a Chicago-based music library company. It was fun. We recorded instrumental tunes—jigs, reels, & hornpipes. To learn more about Comma Music, visit their website.
Update March 2: The tunes we recorded for Comma Music Library or now loaded to their site. Go here and filter for Public Domain. We’re the selections directly above Mozart. If you click the top one, the rest will auto feed.
Photo taken by Fran Gentile in the 1970s on Riverside Drive near Blaugard Island/Log Basin.
What a gorgeous November fall day for our two hour gig on Witherspoon Street in downtown Princeton, NJ. We’ll be back to play in the spring.
Geraldine Dodge Poetry gave me a photo credit. The same photo also appeared in the 2016 GR Dodge Poetry Festival Program.