Monday, June 14, 2010

The Salon Wrap-Up for June 13, 2010: "A Girl and a Guitar"

Tracy Stark
You know that old saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?" Well, The Salon was dealt two lemons in the form of The Tony Awards and a bit of rain to distract performers from arriving and singing on our stage. Hey, we get it - it's a tough night to fill! However, for those who did came to Etcetera Etcetera last night to perform and watch others, we made it a lemon-drop-martini of an evening! And to be sure, I was on Twitter seeing the stream of Tony Award announcements, so we were kept up to date with the other events of the evening.

The theme was "A Girl and A Guitar," celebrating wonderful female singer-songwriters, past and present. Featured Guest Host and pianist was singer-songwriter-music director-MAC Award winner Tracy Stark, who effortlessly flowed from rock piano to Broadway styles with ease the entire evening. The Guest co-host was Gretchen Reinhagen, who recently performed a run of Janis Joplin's Pearl as part of the Under the Cover series (presented by Lennie Watts, with an all-girl band behind her featuring Musical Director Tracy Stark took to the piano, while bass and guitar was provided by Lisa Brigantino and Donna Kelly on drums). And speaking of Lisa Brigantino - she was our very Special Guest Performer! Her new CD, "Wonder Wheel," has now been released and she will be having a special CD Release party THIS FRIDAY 6/18 at Rockwood Music Hall. Last night, she sang a number of tunes from this CD -- if her all-band CD version has anywhere near the high energy and quality of her acoustic guitar version, I highly recommend catching her CD or attending her CD release party!

Since we were at relatively low attendance, many singers got to sing multiple times, which was a fantastic opportunity to hear people sing different styles, try new material, even pick out oldies-but-goodies to share from their repertoire books. First up was co-host Gretchen Reinhagen, who thanked us "both" for coming (ha ha), then sang the beautiful "Life's Been Kind (Memory to Wear)," an original by Tracy Stark. Then she introduced Dawn Derow up to the stage to perform in her Salon debut. Dawn has a new show, You Live, You Learn, which is continuing at Don't Tell Mama with Tracy Stark on piano, Sean Harkness on guitar, Donna Kelly on drums, plus a couple of backup singers - June 22nd and June 25th. For The Salon last night, she sang the Indigo Girls' rock anthem "Fleet of Hope," with backup vocals by Tracy. Next, Sunny Leigh rocked out with "Harper Valley PTA," a sensuously funny country music song (written by Tom T. Hall) that would eventually help Jeannie C. Riley become "the first woman ever to top the U.S. pop and country singles charts with the same song" (Wikipedia). It was a great choice for the evening! After Sunny, Sierra Rein brought out some Carol King with "I Feel the Earth Move." Then, Etceterette Jan Brennan sang the first standard song of the evening, "Not Exactly Paris," by Michael Leonard and Russell George.

Dawn Derow

Tanya Moberly

Our first girl (aka Woman) with a guitar of the evening came to perform - our own Tanya Moberly, singing and playing "All I Want," by Joni Mitchell. Tanya will be singing with Bill Zeffiro at The Borcalino Room at Flute on June 24th, 40 East 20th street. Then singer-songwriter Marc Ostrow injected some testosterone into the mix and sang his original piece entitled "Someday, You'll Make Someone Happy" (which, he said "should be played on guitar").

Marc Ostrow

After Marc, we began some repeats! Dawn Derow returned to sing an original that she wrote for her friend entitled "My Shelter from the Storm," which had a great pop rock sensibility. Our ever-smiling waiter-singer David Ballard then interrupted his work to sing "Stormy Weather." After that, Etceterette Janice Hall came up to sing the first song Judy Collins ever wrote, "Since You've Asked." Sierra Rein then sang a favorite song of her father's for his Birthday, "If I Loved You" from Carousel. After her, Jan Brennan brought a Bette Midler belter-Broadway-Baby-"tits out to here" song, "I'm Singing Broadway." Tanya Moberly returned with her guitar and tenderly strummed through The Beatles' "I'm Only Sleeping," Marc Ostrow played and sang a sweet original entitled "I'll Stay With You While you Sleep," David Ballard quickly came back (the rotation was quick, folks!) to sing "Not a Day Goes By," and Sierra Rein sang her 2nd Carol King piece of the evening with "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman." Janice Hall then turned the tables on the theme and claimed that Kurt Weill once played the guitar, then sang the bitingly funny "Surabaya Johnny." To end the first half, Etceterette Jan Brennan popped back on stage and sweetly sang "The Song is You."

Lisa Brigantino was the special guest of the evening, and epitomized the theme in every way; a girl, guitar, singer-songwriter with a great attitude, rockin' voice, interesting and playful songs, and a guitar strumming technique that made it hard to take a picture of her that wasn't blurry! She is fierce, folks! Lisa began her special guest set with her original song "This Town." After quickly and deliberately re-tuning her guitar, she sang "This Used to Be a House," which was inspired by a conversation with a homeless lady, she said. A second retuning (which was fascinating for me to watch) got her ready for her third set song, "Go And Find It," which had a great Irish brogue-rock feel. As stated above, her CD Release party will take place this Friday, June 18th at 7:30 pm at the Rockwood Music Hall, 196 Allen St, NY, NY, 10002. She will perform with a full band, which includes Tomi Millioto on guitar, Helen Destroy on drums, Jeremy Chatzky on bass, and special guest vocalists Lori Brigantino, Susan Haefner and Jerry Snee! $5 cover, 1 drink minimum. 21+ unless accompanied by parents only. On July 15 and 21st (Don't Tell Mama, 6:30pm) Lisa will perform her Cabaret act, Inside Vickie and Nickie, with her sister Lori - apparently the two of them play 9-10 instruments throughout the semi-autobiographical(ish) comedy-music-filled show.

Lisa Brigantino

After this rockin' set, Gretchen Reinhagen then stepped up and joined Tracy and Lisa to sing the lead vocals of Janis Joplin's "Me & Bobby McGee." Then it came time for Tracy's Corner, featuring songs from her own personal collection of originals (sorry if I get these titles wrong, Tracy!). First, she sang "If I Touched Your Heart," which was inspired by a friend's personal difficulties (as Tracy said, "Sometimes good stuff comes out of a bad situation). Then she played "Camera," a song that won her a 2006 Great American Song Contest Honor Award. After Tracy, Tanya Moberly sang "The Diner" by Ani Difranco. Then Irenka Jakubiak had her Salon debut, singing "I Can't Make You Love Me" made famous by modern-day lady with a guitar, Bonnie Raitt. Keeping on the female songwriter theme, Sierra Rein then sang "Fifteen Pounds (Away From My Love)" by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich.

Gretchen Reinhagen & Lisa Brigantino

Marc Ostrow then brought a brand new comedic song to the piano, one fresh from the composing desk that he described as "The Ramones meets Dr. Demento" entitled "I've Been Unfriended on Facebook." Stephen Wilde then popped in to sing "I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You" by Jason Robert Brown (cut from The Last Five Years). It was then that I announced that La Cage Aux Folles' director Terry Johnson won a Tony, and Janice Hall was quick enough to tie that into the fact that she was about to sing "La Vie En Rose"...a song in French! Jan Brennan then sang the bluesy "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?" and Irenka Jakubiak came back to sing James Taylor's "You Can Close Your Eyes." We were then treated to a week-old, bouncing baby of a new song by Bill Zeffiro, a wry but sweet song entitled "Lower Your Expectations."
Janice Hall - "La Vie En Rose"

We then had just enough time to invite Lisa Brigantino back to the stage to sing one of her funny songs, "A Motel Room in the Dangerous Part of Town." To complete the evening, we were treated to our second Tracy-Lisa-Gretchen trio, this time with Gretchen rockin' out to Joplin's "Get it While You Can," which was spectacular.

Lisa's fingers fly in a blurry flash!

And on that note: last night at The Salon, I certainly "got it" (live music performed by talented women and men on pianos and guitars) "while I could," and tonight I'm going to watch the Tony's on my DVR. Best of both worlds? CHECK!

NEXT SALON is on June 20th, next Sunday - Theme: “June Jazzathon” Guest Host/Pianist: Barry Levitt, with co-host Helena Grenot and Special Guest Susan Winter! PLUS! Bass man Ritt Henn will be there as well, so if you want him to slap his bass with you, be sure to bring an extra copy of your music for him to read. This is a great opportunity to try out some cool jazz tunes or just to be able to wear that French beret and have an excuse to grow a soul patch. Either way, works for me!

Bill Zeffiro

-Sierra Rein
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