Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Salon Wrap-Up for November 7, 2010 "Here Comes the Holidays!"

It started to feel like the Holidays, what with the weather being colder - let alone looking like Christmas (apparently the moment the Halloween costumes are off the racks, the ornaments and fake snow are on display). To get us into the Holiday mood, songsters Sue Matsuki and Edd Clark co-hosted the evening's Salon, dubbed "Here Comes the Holidays!" It was a welcome warning, and they helped us through some traditional (and even some non-traditional) holiday fare. Mark kicked off the holiday flair by wearing an $8 plastic holiday tie! Nothing but class here at The Salon...! Actually, Peter Mark, Founding Artistic Director of Virginia Opera, and his wife Thea Musgrave (an opera, ballet and concerto composer in her own right) were in attendance, so The Salon did have quite a lot of class that evening!

Sue and Edd have a new show they're producing, "Sue and Edd's Fabulous Christmas Show," which will be at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 West 42nd St, NYC 10036, 212-695-6909 on December 4th at 8pm, among other dates and venues. For more information, and to purchase/download their “Fabulous Christmas” CD: The duo - Edd with his operatic style and Sue with her smooth jazz vocals - started out the evening by singing "That Holiday Feeling." Next, songwriting couple Jennie Litt and David Alpher performed their adorably comedic holiday song "Christmas in the Doghouse." They'll be reintroducing their show "Composing Ourselves" after the holidays are fini, January 15th and the 29th, 2011 - more information to come! After Jennie and David, Stephanie Zagora (who claims "New Jersey is as rural as I want to be") sang the season-themed "Autumn in New York." Next, Tony Ingrum (singing in a rich, innocent tenor) performed the reverent "Mary, Did You Know?"

Bringing non-religious holiday cheer and heartfelt sincerity, Michael Colby sang his lyrics of "The Greater Gift," a song written with his wife, Andrea, and inspired by their 5 year old son at the time. Next, the lovely songstress Julie Reyburn sang a "holiday mashup" arranged by Mark Janas of "Carol of the Bells" and "Silver Bells." Julie is singing up a storm this holiday season, with performances at the Jim Fradrich DVD Party November 14th (solo and with Marquee Five), at The Benefit for Zani's Furry Friends - LOVE MAKES THE WORLD GO 'ROUND
November 27th, at her solo performance "Summer November" November 28th at 7pm at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, at "Sondheim Unplugged" December 3, and is working on a Sondheim concert with director Miles Philips. Whew!!! After Julie, Steve "The Whistler" Herbst sang the antithetical song "I Don't Believe in Christmas," and then whistled Mozart's "The Queen of the Night" at Mark's behest. Steve has a CD "Broadway and Beyond", which is full of his whistling talent, for those who have yet to hear his unique skill!

Richard Eisenberg then took over the piano to sing and play - he is always up to writing new songs, this Bistro Award-winner! We then had another song-maestro, Bill Zeffiro, who brought in his favorite Holiday-rancor song "What the Hell, It's Christmas." He's performing each Tuesday night at La Mediterranée French Bistro at the piano, and is welcoming people to pop by to sing a song and drink something French! Next, our waiter David Ballard (who will be leaving for a short time soon to do the "Miracle on 34th Street" West Coast tour!) sang the belty "What Do I Need With Love" from Thoroughly Modern Millie. Bringing to the stage a future belty Broadway song, Sierra Rein (me!) sang "Start a Little War," a new song from new musical The Many Women of Troy, with composer Brian Allan Hobbs at the piano. The show is currently in development, and Sierra's directing a demo version with Brian at the moment for promotional use. The last singer of the first half was Liz Ulmer, who performed the lovely "Happiness." Liz, in addition to being a singer and dramaturg, is a Producer (NYMF's I Got Fired) and is now getting into lyric writing - snap her up, composers looking for lyricists!

This week's Classical Corner with Mark Janas had to do with rags! No, not the rags worn by little street urchins singing "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." We're talking ragtime, the music labeled as scandalous for its time and which was made famous by Scott Joplin's compositions. Mark brought the genre back to its roots in the rhythms of slave music (the "Cakewalk," similar in texture to ragtime, apparently mimicd the practice of slave masters who demanded the slaves strut their stuff in dance in order to get a "treat" of cake), and spoke about how the music was thought to be connected with sex, booze, and the not-so-innocent nightlift. No wonder it became popular! Indeed, it became so popular that the scandal eventually wore off - the children's show Kukla, Fran and Ollie used the ragtime song "The Naked Dance" as it's theme song! Mark went on to introduce the poster composer of ragtime - Scott Joplin, who was classically trained and went on to codify the ragtime genre (although he often complained that ragtime was played too fast!). In ragtime, the bass figures have their own melodies while the right hand punches synchopated second melodies above them. Mark played many different ragtime songs, including "The Ragtime Dance," "The MapleLeaf Rag," the descriptive "The Wall Street Rag," and the uniquely named (and favorite of Mark's) "The Heliotrope Bouquet."

After the break, we were treated to a seasonal smorgasbord of seasonal delights, as Sue and Edd did a lovely medley of a number of songs, including "Warm as Winter," "It's Cold Enough to Snow" and one that I believe was called "Summer Leaves." We then heard Producer Tanya Moberly effortlessly sing "I Wish I Had a River," by Joni Mitchell. Tanya is also singing at the Zani's Furry Friends benefit along with Julie Reyburn and others, and will be bringing her "Theatre Songs" show back again soon. After Tanya, we saw songman Kevin McMullan perform an adorably sweet and sassy song by the late composer Jim Fradrich (from a Nancy Drew song cycle) entitled "Little Caboose, Come Home." Kevin is producing The James Fradrich Memorial Concert DVD Party at the Metropolitan Room this Sunday the 14th at 4pm. In attendance to sing will be Marquee Five (to sing as a group and as individuals - Julie Reyburn, Sierra Rein, Mick Bleyer, Vanessa Parvin, Adam West Hemming), and Joan Jaffe, Rob Langeder, Rosemary Loar, Sarah Rice, Maureen Taylor, Walter Willison, and Kevin McMullan himself. Donations ($20 suggested) will go towards the JAMES FRADRICH MEMORIAL SHOLARSHIP for Classical Pianists and Composers at Lawrence University, Jim's alma mater. Kevin is also continuing his run of "Twist of Fate" at the Laurie Beechman this month into next. After Kevin, pianist extraordinaire Matthew Ward banged fabulously on the keys, this time doing a mind-boggling medley of music - he called it a game to "count the quotes" - mostly to the tune of "I Got My Love to Keep Me Warm." Matthew will be performing with Christine Pedi in the show "There's No Business Like Snow Business" at the Laurie Beechamn, weekends in December!

We had some time for encores! Julie Reyburn expertly sang "Stardust" by Hoagie Charmichael. Steve Herbst whistled "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," with Mark accompanying on piano. Sierra Rein threw some Sondheim in with "Children Will Listen" from Into the Woods, and Richard Eisenberg revamped his "Color Blind Blues." Liz Ulmer threw in another Sondheim piece, "Marry Me a Little," then Tony Imgrund returned and sang "Do You Hear What I Hear?" We then had a true return as Bill Zeffiro brought back his popular new piece "The Final Daze," this time using the Salon to workshop a slow, bluesy version - and it worked! I still laugh at the lyric "My heart is stupid / Sometimes I'd like to pummel cupid." Sue and Edd took the stage back for one last song, a jazzy, comedic duet of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

NEXT SUNDAY! November 14th -
Sarah Rice (original Johanna from Sweeney Todd and a beautiful Cabaret artist), will co-host the evening, entitled "All God's Creatures" in honor of the Zani's Furry Friends Benefit that she and many Salon regulars will be performing in. Check out the website for Zani's Furry Friends and see the show at the Laurie Beechman on November 27th, and bring your cat, dog, pig, fish, whale, gnat, platypus, elephant, or alien-themed songs to the Salon (what, you don't have a platypus song in your repertoire?!?)!

-Sierra Rein
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