Monday, April 23, 2012

Catholic Was as Catholic Remains - Michael Smith and Jaimie O'Reilly's Songs of Catholic Childhood

Yesterday, I went to Chief O'Neill's restaurant and Pub up north on Elston.  Chief O'Neill is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in my neighborhood.  O'Neill was the Superintendent of Chicago Police during the 1904 Stockyard Strikes and somehow managed to keep the violence between strikers, also buried very close to the Chief, and trainloads of strikebreakers brought in to Chicago  by Swifts and Armours to destroy the Amalgamated Meat-Cutters Union (AMC),  The Packers succeeded with the help of  social justice icons Jane Addams and Dr. Cornelia De Bey. Race relations in Chicago begin and end with the Stockyards Strike. Chief O'Neill kept the killing to a minimum.

As my legion of reader will note, I have been concentrating on issues Catholic . . .noooo, honor bright? on the square, really; this prosing only in reaction to the popular trend to treat Catholics in America, like Coptics in Alexandria.

The Sunday afternoon at Chief O'Neill's was a real pallate cleanser.
Chief O'Neill could not be bribed, unlike the iconic reformers who were patronized by the robber-barons for their help in destroying the AMC. Chief O'Neill was content to do his job and when time allowed to play, preserve and protect Irish Music.

The fine restaurant and pub named in his honor was wonderful venue for celebrated songwriter, singer, guitarist and unapologetic Catholic Michael Smith and songstress Ms. Jaimie O'Reilly to Launch their upcoming CD -Songs of Catholic Childhood. The songs and tone itself was a celebration of Catholic experience, especially those of us who remeber pre-Vatican II.  May Crownings, Christmas memories and sweet classroom moments were celbarted in songs adapted or written by O'Reilly and Smith.

Michael Smith's brilliant song The Dutchman has been recorded by singers such as the late Steve Goodman, Jerry Jeff Walker and Liam Clancy. Ms. O'Reilly has been cited by Rick Kogan as One of Chicago's Notable Persons, an accomplished performer and teacher of voice for De Paul University.

Together Smith and O'Reilly have created a two-hour song tribute to the American Catholic Experience.  This is not a nun-bashing, priest eviscerating abattoir, but banquet of sacred and touching memory of Catholic Childhood.

I hope that venues like Beverly Arts Center, Irish Cultural Center, Balzekus Lithuanian Museum, the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, and the Polish National Museum avail their facilities to these great artists.

I know that Mike Nix could pack the Beverly Arts Center with this show.  My neighborhood is Catholic Ground Zero - even the Unitarians have an Irish Castle.

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