Cahal Dunne Captivates Clausen Center

Sure and it was a beautiful bit of entertainment Cahal Dunne brought to the Rosemary Clausen Center in Holstein last Saturday evening.

Green was the predominate color worn by attendees who were also handed green hankies for the traditional “Wavin’ O’ the Green”. Despite the honour to his heritage, the artist explained at the outset that Cahal means Charles/Charlie and Dunne translates into “brown”. Then with a diffident shrug of his shoulders, he said, “So, that makes me….” and the crowd finished for him, “Charlie Brown”! It was a charmingly simple opener reflected by the stage dressing – one spot on the Irish flag and one on the grand piano.

The man has such a voice and such an intimate way with his audience that he doesn’t need to parade his talent or dress it up with anything more than a change of tuxedo jackets. He has five of them – green, red plaid, gold sparkle, a striped one that a friend said made him look like a bar code, and one with swallowtails. He tells his stories the way he would regale friends over a pint at the pub or in front of a fire at home. He sings his songs with the strong honest emotions of a man who has lived them.

Take “Danny Boy” for an example. We usually hear this performed with more bathos than pathos. The former wrings out copious tears for the effect; the latter imparts deep sorrow with simple dignity. Dunne’s interpretation of a father bidding his soldier son farewell was a masterpiece.

High praise is also due to “The Old Man”, “My Son”, and “An Angel for Sarah”. This man sings to the human condition and he does it extremely well.

He is also an accomplished pianist and the crowd was not shy in acknowledging it. The biggest burst of applause came after his performance (a la Victor Borge) of a work by Mozart. Then later came his rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Concerto #1 in D Minor. His transformation from affable story teller to concert pianist was amazing. The piano smouldered and very nearly caught fire.

He also spun out a trio of Strauss waltzes with such elan that a German in the house, who sounded remarkably like Marianne Heilman, was moved to shout out, “Sehr gut!”.

Of course, there were lighter moments such as his gentle raillery of an Irishman asking his boss for a day off as his wife was going to have a baby. When he returned to work, he was asked what they had – a boy or a girl? “Sure and we won’t know that for another nine months.” was the reply. There was more of the same (most notably about Granny and her nylons) that kept the crowd laughing uproariously. Along with the stories were a couple of rollicking sing a-longs. – “Give the Woman in the Bed More Porter” and “Donald, Where’s Your Trousers?”

The evening ended with “The Journey”, a moving tribute to our armed forces, and his well known “Happy Man” which was delightful as always.

Dunne is a consummate entertainer with a captivating personality and it was a rare treat to be in the audience that night.