Monday, April 27, 2015

Singing Songs of the Man In Black

I'm so delighted with this painting by Michael Arthur, of me with Brandon Ross, done live onscreen at Symphony Space last Saturday during the Wall To Wall Johnny Cash bash on Saturday. It was really a great way to segue from one act to another; I wish I'd thought of it a thousand years ago. As the artist came onstage, the band name was being painted onto a larger painting of Johnny Cash, and then when the artist was done, the painting he'd made during the performance went up. Really a great idea.

It was an unbelievable honor to be asked to sing Long Black Veil and we did a version of which I am enormously proud and sure to soon record. My version is all about the Em9 chord. You'll hear.

We also did Still In Town, by Harlan Howard and Hank Cochran. Johnny didn't do the best version of the song; I fell in love with it on The Basement Tapes. My version is all about the F sus chord. You'll also hear.

While re-tuning for There You Go, I got to tell the story of the time I met Johnny Cash.

It was just after he'd been misdiagnosed toward the end of his life; it was thought he had maybe a month to live. A TV tribute was hastily arranged and I was invited to attend the performance and given an all-access pass by dear friend Danny Kahn, who manages Rosanne. Anyway, long after the show was over, everyone was heading over to the China Club, of all places, for the post-show party. I was waiting for Danny, and somehow myself alone in the room with the great man. We were both putting on our black coats. I had worn my best one, a double-breasted wool cutaway parade coat with a hook built in for your sword. He had a floor-length cape with a royal blue satin lining. We just looked at each other's coats so admiringly, smiled, said not a word.

I remember Danny, who came into the room as this was happening, saying to me later, "That was the only peaceful moment Johnny had all day."

God rest his titanic soul.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I Got The Customers To Face

This week, a little dream comes true. You may know that I've been co-creating sprawling, ambitious, thematic shows with the great Hal Willner for decades now; we invented 'em (you're welcome!).
For all those years, we've wanted to put on an evening of Allan Sherman's songs. You know who Allan Sherman is ... Hello Muddah....

These songs are so funny and so dear to my heart. When my mother re-married when I was 9, she married a Jewish guy from the south shore, a completely wonderful man who adopted my sister and me and was the greatest father ever. He knew a million ditties, but was stone tone deaf. In particular, he loved Allan Sherman's novelty numbers, hugely clever assimilationist song parodies that held the #1 spot on the Billboard charts in those days. So he directed his new Irish-Italian daughters to learn the songs and sing them on demand, in the car, at dinner, anytime. "Mit pathos!" he would cry, not that he, or Sherman, actually had a Yiddish accent. These songs were a big part of my introduction to Jewish humor. In fact, they're how I became Jew-ish, as I like to say.

We'll be singing 'em at The Stone, the avant-garde listening room on Ave C in Manhattan, on Tuesday August 26 and Sunday August 31 at 10. Hilarity guaranteed! Come on out! Nothing is more avant-garde than this!

By the way, we won't be doing Hello Muddah.... There's way better ones, trust me....