Adam Whiteman is a Chicago based attorney, producer, composer and record label owner. His label, Big Chicago Records (www.bigchicago.com), is dedicated to the exploration of the Chicago music scene. Albums produced by Whiteman include: A Chicago Jazz Tour, A Chicago Blues Tour, Women Who Swing Chicago, Jump ‘n Jive Chicago, Irish Music in Chicago, The Chicago Music Scene, Vintage Chicago Blues and many more. It was through his album, “Hidden Treasures: Irish Music In Chicago” that Whiteman discovered the beauty and energy of Chicago’s Irish music scene.
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Comment From the Playwright

I approached the subject matter with an intensity garnered through years of legal training. Primary sources were referenced, witnesses (i.e. Irish musicians and community leaders) were examined, and a compelling story was crafted.

During many years of re-writes, script readings and critical discussion with actors, directors and Irish musicians, I struggled to find a voice for the Chief. Brendan McKinney, the owner of Chief O’Neill’s and a true spiritual guide, told me “go see Kevin Henry”, a multi instrumentalist, story-telling actor/historian. The visit will last with me forever. In his modest home on Chicago’s south side, Kevin and I shared stories and notes about the chief. I realized I had the facts, but not the soul of the man. At the end of my visit, Kevin put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Now. Listen. Would you like to visit with the Chief?” “Um. Ok”, I hazarded. And so we hopped in my car and he directed me to the Chief’s final resting place in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. just past the grave of one Mrs. O’Leary whose cow achieved a measure of dubious fame in connection with the Chicago Fire.

At O’Neill’s grave site, tears welled up in the eyes of my new Irish friend. An idea began to take form in my mind. Kevin Henry was the embodiment of the dance music of Ireland. Not the music of the landed gentry, but the songs of the people which resided in the hearts of the people and which came to infuse the very essence of Kevin Henry. By dedicating his time, energy and personal and financial resources to the preservation of this music, Francis O’Neill, the Chief of Police, did honor to the common working man. He embodied the consummate public servant by dedicating his entire life to the service of the public. Though not even living in the same era, the Chief was able to convey to Kevin that his music and sprit were important and deserved protection.

And so, I trashed all my prior work. I cast aside the story I was trying to tell and took out the Chief’s writings and discerned the story HE was trying to tell. And it worked. Through an interview-like format, I was able to generate questions, the answers to which were supplied by the Chief’s very own writings, in his very own words. There was his voice.I asked Kevin, what he would like to get out of a show about the Chief. Without a pause he said, “just tell the man’s story. It’s good enough.”

I would like to thank all those who have been so helpful and supportive in helping to bring this important project to the stage. Without your feedback, interest, encouragement, and just downright wonderfulness, none of this would have been possible. Brendan McKinney, Siobhan McKinney, Paddy Homan, Kevin Henry, Stefan Brun, John Williams, Vicki Quade, Brad Armacost, Sean Cleland, Vera Kelly, Laurence Nugent, Kat Eggleston, Dennis Cahill, James Houghton, Bill Mort, , Liz Carroll, Kathleen Keane, Jackie Moran, Pat Broaders, Jimmy Moore, Larry Gray, Robert Marshall, Mary Lesch, Maureen O’Shea, and Noel Rice. You have all been kind and generous, and I think the Chief would be happy to know that you are continuing to help save not only the Souls of the Irish, but of all the rest of us as welI.

Adam Whiteman

 

 

 

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