Mondo Marveloso: an Interview with Tom Corrigan at Tiger Lounge
Musicians, poets, artists, stand-up comedians, cabaret girls, a small room filled with psychedelic decorations and the audience just as crazily dressed as the surroundings, one wonders who would concoct something of this calibre. The night is called Mondo Marveloso, and it was put together by a musician named Tom Corrigan, whose beautiful blue grass melodies played on a fiddle waft down from the dilapidated stage. The night occurs one Monday a month, in which a plethora of artists in different fields come together to show off their talents, and Tom plays a different instrument with sounds so antithetic from each other that you’d wonder if it was the same guy if not for his crazy apparel. I sat down with Tom to learn more about him and this night that he had put together:
How many instruments do you play?
Four or five: guitar, violin, piano, and fiddle. I sing, too.
At what age did you begin playing music?
I think I was six when my parents insisted I had piano lessons. I was a little older, maybe ten, when I started playing the violin. I began teaching myself guitar at the age of fourteen when I discovered rock music.
What kind of music do you play on each instrument and what got you into that type of music?
On my fiddle, I play ‘old-time’ music. This is traditional music from the United States. Many of the tunes I play are from Kentucky and South Carolina. I have always listened to a wide range of musical styles. It fascinates me to hear the influences of revered song writers in much older music. Bob Dylan, for example, was influenced by ‘old-time’ music.
With my guitar and when I sing, I tend to play arrangements of rare 1960s tunes, music that has been forgotten and, I think, deserves another listen.
In what types of places have you played?
I’ve played at many bars, pubs, and on the street in several cities in the Northwest. ‘Busking’ is good practice.
Tell me about the Mondo Marveloso that you helped put together
‘Mondo Marveloso’ is a Manchester cabaret night held once a month at a bar called Tiger Lounge. The organizer was in the final weeks of his degree, so I volunteered to help for a while. I brought in tons of artists, musicians, comedians, and poets to give the night a diverse feel, and so that everyone who came could enjoy an aspect of it. I play in them because it gives me more chances to practice.
What gave you the idea to make it a psychedelic night?
One of my passions is the music, art and culture of the late 60s, especially that which can be described as psychedelic. It’s something I know a lot about and it makes an interesting theme for a cabaret night.
Who are some of your influences?
Leonard Cohen, Syd Barrett, Ray Davies, Bob Dylan
How, if in any way, does your music link with the fine art world? And do you view your music as a performance piece?
Yes, I view my playing as a performance piece. And, I think, like John Cage’s theories on chance and randomness, my music, especially bluegrass and acoustic guitar, are very much linked to the fine art world. Bluegrass originated, like jazz, with each instrument taking the initial melody and playing around it, improvising until a coherent song is produced. It’s all random.
Old-time music relates the same way, because even though it completely contrasts bluegrass, traditionally, an old-time band is formed based on what instruments are available (as long as they have the fiddle player), also depending on chance.
What’s up next for you?
I’m hoping to play with an old-time musician who goes by the name Andrew ‘blind boy’ Butler. He isn’t blind.
Tiger Lounge is located at 5 Cooper Street, Manchester, M2 2FW
Telephone: 0191 236 6007
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Alexx Shaw is a freelance writer in London.