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Thursday 19 April 2018

A stylish, old fashioned way to pass an evening


Grainne Farren

"THIS is a lovely way to spend an evening," sang Honor Heffernan last Monday night in the John Field Room of the National Concert Hall. Very true. How better to spend an evening than listening to Honor with Jim Doherty on piano and a rhythm section of Dave Fleming on bass and drummer Myles Drennan?

The latest of a string of concerts under the 'We're Old-Fashioned' banner paid tribute to two composers -- Jimmy McHugh and Hoagy Carmichael. McHugh was a half-Irish Bostonian whose hits are better remembered than his name. Don't Blame Me, a beautiful song with lyrics by Dorothy Fields, got the special Heffernan treatment, enhanced by her sense of pace and feeling.

The bassist came into his own as sole accompanist to I Can't Give You Anything But Love. When it was time for McHugh's biggest hit, The Sunny Side of the Street, Honor opted for the bouncy Nat King Cole Trio version, turning the words around to "the side of the street that's sunny".

All the best singers love Hoagy Carmichael. The second half began on a high with Stardust. Jim Doherty, whose eloquence at the keyboard is matched by his knowledge of songwriters, informed us of Hoagy's narrow escape: he nearly became a lawyer!

After a poignant I Get Along Without You Very Well, the trio played the instrumental New Orleans -- written for Bix Beiderbecke, though the trumpeter died before he got a chance to play it. Des Smith appeared as a guest to sing Old Buttermilk Sky, sounding very like Hoagy himself.

It was Johnny Mercer who wrote the lyrics to Skylark, and Honor did full justice to words and music. This was the evening's highlight, eclipsing even Georgia on my Mind.

If you missed the 'Old-Fashioned' team this time around, they'll be back in the John Field Room in April.

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