top of page


Rough Magic is a New York-based band sprung from Cornelius Eadys long and celebrated literary life, and from his desire to extend the boundaries of language expression to include the songs he had produced over the years and those that had emerged from a renewal of his musical creativity. In January of 2013, Eady released Book of Hooks, a two-CD and chapbook set of original tunes on Kattywompus Press. Almost by “magic,” a group of poet-musician-composers converged who shared Eady’s vision that text, melody, harmony, and rhythm all have an equally strong place in artistic expression. Rough Magic calls upon troubadour traditions and evokes the sounds and storytelling of blues greats like Muddy Waters, folk legends such as Woody Guthrie and the unexpected grooves and subject-matters of the Talking Heads. At the same time, band members hold a keen sense of innovation, as they are all working text-and-music makers engaged in building new combinations of words and sounds.


The musicians of Rough Magic have performed at poetry festivals, cafes, backyards and concert halls in New York City and internationally. The band has played alongside poetry and music greats such as Oliver Lake, Bob Holman, Sapphire, Sharon Olds, Marilyn Nelson, Nikky Finney, Toi Derricotte, and Papa Souso. In addition to Eady's prolific lyricism, the band draws upon texts by other poets such as Edna St. Vincent Millay, Aliki Barnstone and Mary Molyneux. In the fall of 2013, Eady was commissioned by the Poetry Society of America to set the poems of Sterling Brown to music. Rough Magic performed the songs at a star-studded event at Cooper Union’s Great Hall honoring iconic Black poets of the 20th Century.


Rough Magic is: Cornelius Eady- voice and guitar, Robin Messing- voice, Charlie Rauh- guitar, Lisa Liu- guitar and keyboard, 

Leo Ferguson- drums, Emma Alabaster- bass and voice, and special guest Concetta Abbate- violin and voice.



Photo Credit: Carla Licavoli

bottom of page