Left to right: Mary Lyn Maiscott, Samantha Echo, and HooP, perform Angel Tattooed Ballerina at the Killarney Rose. Photo © Michael Paul.
Bloomsday on Beaver Street is a family affair in the Rosen-Maiscott household. I take care of the literary end of things, and Mary Lyn
, whether she knows it or not, is the musical director.
This year, Mary Lyn and guitarist Gary "HooP" Hoopengardner
--vice president of the New York chapter of Guitars Not Guns
, an organization devoted to stopping school violence--returned to the Killarney Rose, along with backup vocalist Samantha Echo
, who also sang two of her own songs.
The musical themes for the night were literature, Ulysses
, and transgression, and every song performed referred to at least one of them. Mary Lyn opened with You Can't Do That, the Beatles classic that she sang 13 years ago, at the publication party for my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man
. (You can hear it on her CD, Blue Lights
.) Samantha provided the soaring backup vocals for Mary Lyn’s next song, the just completed Angel Tattooed Ballerina, about a boy who wants to be a girl struggling with his (or her) sexuality. And she ended the set with Madam Olenska, a tribute to the scandalously divorced central character in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocense
, published in 1920, the same year as Ulysses
The second set, which followed the readings, began with singer-songwriter Ray Fuld performing two originals, including a tune about a Brooklyn hooah
, which seemed to be the perfect complement to my reading from Bobby in Naziland
Next up was Samantha, who’d studied Ulysses
in college, and sang her song about Gerty MacDowell, the character who was responsible for provoking Leopold Bloom to an act of public onanism, which was the passage that got Ulysses
banned in the United States. (You can see Samantha perform regularly at the South Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, just a couple of blocks from Beaver Street.)
Finally, Mary Lyn and HooP returned for two more songs, Toxic City, Mary Lyn’s paean to Paris, where Ulysses
was originally published, and Crucified, a religiously transgressive song about sex.
All in all, it was a night of good music and good literature, and you should have been there. But if you weren’t, we will have video in the coming weeks, and there’s always next year. Never too early to make plans.