Michael Cooney in Concert

What: Cornell Folk Song Club Concert
When: Saturday, October 2, 1999
Where: 165 McGraw Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY
How Much: $8 / usual discounts
Michael Cooney

I don't remember seeing an article about Michael Cooney that hasn't called him a one man folk festival (OK, some might have called him a one person folk festival), so I was going to be different and call him a musical leprechaun. He has been known to wear a green coat and tails with green tennis shoes. But these days he hosts a very full, wild, and rather grizzled beard that makes him look more like a nineteenth century sea captain or a hermit than an Irish pixie, so I guess I will stick with the folk festival metaphor.

But what does it mean? Well, Michael is a versatile musician. I have seen him perform for an hour and use a different instrument for each song. And on a night where his instrumentation might not change quite so often, he still might include some blues, some music hall, a thirty-seven verse ballad, some Berryman comic classics, an old-timey fiddle or banjo tune or two, some African rhythm and melody, more than one parody, an obscure Dylan anthem, some Celtic reels and jigs, a hundred year old political campaign song, some biting contemporary social criticism, and some other miscellaneous off-the-wall material. I do have to admit I have never seen him burst into a Sarah Brightman pop aria, but he probably could.

It takes a special performer to pull off such an eclectic mix, and Michael is such an entertaining entertainer that it works. It helps that he is a funny guy and a skilled story teller. His humor can be in-your-face or subtle. He can set up a joke and catch his audience off guard four songs later with the punch line. He can also spin a fabulous tale that may incorporate a song or tune and may bring half the audience to the floor laughing and the other half weeping in their seats. Yes, Michael does it all. Why, he's, he's his own folk festival.

Give yourself a treat and join the Cornell Folk Song Club as it opens its Fall concert series with Michael Cooney. Tickets will be available at Borealis and Rebop. For more information, call Ginny at 272-3471.

(John Henderson)

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