Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Weekend ... Plus!
Saturday through Tuesday
September 24 through September 27

Saturday night I went to Don't Tell Mama's to see Sue Matsuki's People You Should Know / Let's Hear It for the Boys! Sue's guests were JP Schutz, Brian Walters and Sean McVerry plus poet David Bibbey. Sue opened the show with Bob Levy's All I Really Need Is You before introducing Brian Walters, who was also the musical director. Between hysterical banter with Sue, Brian sang a very funny parody, Blah, Blah, Blah, plus two ballads he wrote, Close To Mine and The Lullaby. Brian has a genuine stage presence. And coupled with his deep, warm voice, he should make quite an impact on the New York cabaret scene!

After singing Aware by English folk singer Zoe Lewis, Sue introduced JP (John Patrick) Schutz as "for the above 40". As she said, about Brian and Sean, "I have bras older than them". They are both in their very early 20's (20 and 21). In fact John had met Brian when 9 year old Brian came up to John after a concert and asked some very impressive musical questions. They are currently working together in a Frankie Valli and the 4 Season's revue, OH WHAT A NIGHT. John started his set with a ballad, Somewhere Around the Bend, from FIONA, a musical he wrote with Neil Berg. This was a bit of a departure from the comedic and parody type songs he's known for, but it showed that he's more then capable of handling, with great flare, a tender moment. He finished with two of his novelty numbers, Rushing Things a Bit, a complaint about retail Christmas starting well before Halloween, and his signature song, Titanic Parody, a take on TITANIC: THE MUSICAL written in the styles of various name composers. Sue then brought up David Bibbey, who entertained us with a whimsical poem about his wandering ways before his marriage to his lovely wife, Douglas. Sue then launched into Mary Liz McNamara's comical song, Haiku.

The last performer of the evening was Sean McVerry who performed three of his own songs, Brooklyn Bird
ge, Soviet Union and Dejeuner (French for lunch). Each song took on a different style, from a folkies vibe to a pop/Springsteen flavor, each in a strong, rich voice. This young man has a great musical future!

The evening closed with John and Sue, along with vocal help from Brian, sang moving ballad, Someone's Always Thr
ere from FIONA. The song was inspired by a mother's reply to her young daughter about her missing father, which John overheard shortly after 9/11.

Sunday afternoon took me to Midtown for the annual Broadway Flea Market. It was smaller this year and only ran one block, 43th Street from Broadway to 8th Avenue. I walk the block twice, decide what 3 posters (the limit I gave myself) I would buy. I settled for a
poster for LOOPED, an autographed one for THE LOOK OF LOVE, for my "flop" collection and an autographed poster of FOLLIES, one of the best musicals I've seen this season. I also bought one CD, Marcy and Zina: The Album because Marcy was on hand to autograph it. Before I headed home, I stopped at Junior's so I could bring home a piece of red velvet cake.

Tuesday night found me heading to Don't Tell Mama's again, after bumping into my friend
Rob, who told me about two English singers he was going to see. LYRICAL LINGUISTS FROM LONDON: Ellen Verenieks and Frank Loman turned out to be a delightful English romp that starts with a duet of Dangerous Cabaret and then is followed solos that run from Brel and Sondheim to contemporaries such as Goldrich/Heisler and Buccchino, closing with two duets, Sondheim's Move On and a reprise of Dangerous Cabaret. My only complaint, when they sound so good together, they should have done one or two more duets. Many of the duet shows I've seen have had this same fault. Hopefully we'll see Ellen Verenieks and Frank Loman in New York some time soon!

For those who do not know, Don't Tell Mama's is a piano bar with two cabaret rooms and a more recently opened restaurant serving excellent "New American Cuisine". It is located at 343 West 46th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues). Phone: 212-757-0788 (after 4:00pm daily). I highly recommend the piano bar if one is looking for a place to hang after seeing a Broadway or Off-Broadway show and check out the cabaret schedule, too.

MJN On Line
Wednesday, September 27, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

We Can Be Kind, Thoughts of Jamey Rodemeyer

Jamey Rodemeyer

In listening to Jamey Rodemeyer talk about being bullied in his "It Gets Better" video, he sounds as if he has come to terms with his sexuality but I also sensed a good deal of loneliness. He seems to be trying to talk himself into believing what he is saying. I find it so sad that Jamey, and so many other gay youths, have to feel the great burden of hate. And what is even sadder is the fact that this hatred is often wrapped in the guise of "Christian ethos" but is as unchristian as something can be. How can one be a Christian and have a soul so filled with hate and anger.

It's also sad to realize Jamey was bullied by his peers to the point that suicide was the only way he could deal with his situation. What pain he must have felt to come to that dark place. And where was the school authorities during his torment? And why do people think it is acceptable to practice hatred. When did this mean spiritness become something these bullies feel they are entitled to use against anyone they do not agree with? And I would imagine that most often these bullies have to go out of their way to harass their victims.

I'm reminded of the words David Friedman wrote for his song "We Can Be Kind":

We can be kind

We can take care of each other
We can remember that deep down inside

We all need the same thing.

It would be a much better world if everyone would realize that all of us have the same basic need to be loved and respected and how much wasted energy goes into hating rather than loving. Didn't Jesus Christ give the one great commandment, "Love thy neighbor as thyself". But that may be the problem, the hatred and the bulling may cover a unrealized selflothing. ... because how can one love someone else if they can not love themselves?

After Matthew Shepard, there was such an outcry against antigay behavior that many thought changes would be seen ... didn't happen! More recently, Rutger freshman, Tyler Clementi's suicide raised many issues of gay harassment to center stage but seems to have little, if any, effect on the continuing verbal attacks on gay youths and the continued high suicide rate among gay teens, which runs three to six times higher than heterosexual teens. I wonder how many of those teen bullies are following their parent's examples?

I only hope that one day we will all embrace each other and learn to tolerate our differences. If someone or something does no harm to us, why should we be so intolerant and hateful? We can be kind and the world will be a better place for it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Here is my thoughts on 9/11 from 10 years ago:

SOLIDARITY : Thoughts after 9/11

To all my dear friends,

New Yorkers are a strong, rare breed, much like the European during the "Big" wars, I would imagine. For some reason the image of Marlene Dietrich singing "Lilli Marlene" kept creeping into my mind yesterday as I went about New York for the second day of this assault on our great city. Traffic was a little heavier as businesses started reopening and people found their way back into Manhattan.

Friday morning finds streets opened above Canal and mass transit running fairly well. Heavy rain has hampered the rescue efforts but has washed the foul stench from the air. Already we
are debating how, when and in what form, the World Trade Center will be rebuilt. I only hope in the midst of all this horror, we can continue to act with love and kindness towards all our fellow man. Yes steps must and will be taken, but hopefully not at the expense of further innocent lives.

Anyone who knows me, knows how important music is to my life. I can't image not turning to it in times of happiness or for solaces during times of great sorrow. Now is no different. And I want to thank the many people, for their courage and for giving to New Yorkers their music, helping heal our wounds.

Wednesday Mel Miller had to cancel the matinee of GIRL CRAZY but he managed to assemble 16 of his 18 member cast to preform before a house almost 2/3 filled. He shared a comparison between a childhood tooth ache soothed by ice cream and his show being our "ice cream". And for almost two hours, the audience could sit back and forget the horror outside our door and enjoy this delightful show and its superb cast. It was a bowl of ice cream with a cherry on top!

It was on the way home, however, that I think the impact of the lose of the World Trade buildings took on their reality for me. Up to then it was TV images, horrible but somehow, still
surreal: even the empty canyons of Mid-town and Times Square didn't seem quite real. The thought that I would wake from this "bad dream" still lurked. But taking the cross-town bus and pass 6th Avenue where to my left, should have been an electric view of the Twin Towers, now was only a void. Quite forcefully, the reality hit!

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I'd pulled a number of my favorite singers' CDs to listen to. Three songs stood out, John Bucchino's "Grateful" sung by David Campbell and two David Friedman
songs, "Help Is On the Way" sung by both David Campbell and Nancy LaMott, and "We Can Be Kind" (see below) sung be Nancy. These songs seemed to best describe my emotions and I am thankful to not only have this music but the honor of knowing these people.

words and music by David Friedman

So many things we can't control,
So many hurts that happen every day -
So many heartaches that pierce the soul,
So much pain that will never go away.
How do we make things happen?
How do we see it though?
What can we do when there's nothing we can do?

We can be kind
We can take care of each other
We can remember that deep down inside
We all need the same thing.
And maybe we'll find
If we are there for each other
That together we'll weather whatever tomorrow may bring
Nobody really wants to fight
Nobody really wants to go to war.
If everyone wants to make things right,
Then what are we really fighting for?
Does nobody want to see it?
Does nobody understand?
The power to heal is right here in our hands.


And it's not enough to talk about it
Not enough to sing a song
We must walk the walk about it
You and I - Do or die
We've got to try to get along


And maybe we'll find
True piece of mind
If we always remember
We can be kind.'

I was also grateful the the courage of both Jim Pallone, manager of The Firebird, and Audrey Lavine, singer-extraordinare, who gave a small but enthusiastic audience a place to feel secure and be part of our "cabaret family". There were only 10 or 11 people in the audience, but I sat there and felt safe and strong for awhile, with Audrey pinning small red, white & blue ribbons on us after the show.

Susan along with her husband and I sat surrounded by friends. Stegie, the Chocolate Diva carried out "business as usual", having both chocolates and lemon drops for all. After the show, Ross Patterson's wife brought their newborn, Mercer, to the Firebird for his "Cabaret Christening". And I believe Jim confirmed a date in 2005 for him!

Also, Jim again assured me that ALL shows at the Firebird will go on as schedule, with Joyce Breach tonight, John "Grateful" Bucchino on Saturday and Ben Moore on Sunday.

Jim has also started a wonderful new concept, a "no cover" informal late night show on both Friday and Saturday nights (starting at 11pm). Mark Hartman will man the piano. Natalie Douglas, who was on hand for last weekend's opening, promised to be there on Friday night and on Saturday night Mark hoped to have a Bernstein themed evening ready. Its all very informal, with singers from the audience, getting up and singing a song or two, fellow pianists, also from the audience, playing. So if you're in Mid-town, around 11pm or later, stop by and have a drink. Last week seemed like a small party, with everyone talking to everyone else between the set and people coming and going for the 2 and a half hours Mark was on stage.

As I said before, I plan on continuing to follow my schedule as closely as possible, realizing somethings will not happen, ie. the London Philharmonia, but others will. So tonight I'll
meet friends for UK's Tim MacAuthur at Mama's. Stephanie Pope at Arci's, and if I'm not too tired and the rains stop, pop by the Firebird on my way up-town. And Saturday will bring CAROL + TWO, which will have to lift everyone's spirits, and John Bucchino at the Firebird, where I won't have to worry about "getting-to" the late show. And Sunday, Ben Moore and my Firebird family one more time.

Next week, will hopefully bring a greater degree of "normalcy" to the City with the Stock Market scheduled to reopen and hopefully find much of the lower end of Manhattan reopened so people can start to regain some semblance of normalcy. I'm sorry my friends, Susan & Bill, Jay and Perry will not be able to make into New York as planned but hopefully, October will bring some calm.

I want to leave you with the words of Stephen Sondheim for his just canceled up-coming Roundabout musical. I think it offers an important message:

by Stephen Sondheim

Someone tell the story,
Someone sing the song.
Every now and then
The country
Goes a little wrong.
Every now and then
A madman's
Bound to come along.
Doesn't stop the story --
Story's pretty strong.
Doesn't change the song...

* * *
Listen to the stories.
Hear it in the songs.
Angry men
Don't write the rules
And guns don't right the wrongs.
Hurts a while,
But soon the country's
Back where it belongs,
And that's the truth.
Still and all,
Damn you, Booth!

...and so the story continues from New York,

MJN On Line
Friday, September 14, 2001