Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Salon Wrap-Up for December 12, 2010 "6 Degrees of Jerome Kern"

The room was packed and full of energy as Salon got underway this past Sunday, with everyone excited to to see Salon Board member Raissa Katona Bennett light up the stage. The night’s theme was 6 Degrees of Jerome Kern - songs by Kern or any of the many talented collaborators (Oscar Hammerstein II, Dorothy Fields, Johnny Mercer, Otto Harbach, P.D. Wodehouse - just to name a few.) And with a full house, we started at 7pm without hesitation.

The evening began with Co-Host Raissa singing the adorable “Can’t Help Singing” (which, to our delight, was reprised throughout the evening, to great comedic effect.) She then charmed us with an updated version of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” which was written by Kern for the classic musical, “Roberta.” Our first singer Salon guest singer was Mark Levy, who sang “September Song.” Mark tells us that he is performing at Grace Church in White Plains with his cabaret, “An Old Man Singing Old Songs About Old Age.” Next up was Elaine St. George with a gorgeous version of “Many a New Day” from “Oklahoma.” Following Elaine was songwriter David Rigano, who sang his touching tune “It’s Art” (a song in the style of Jerome Kern, of course.) Rosemary Loar then graced the stage with surprise guest Steve “The Whistler” Herbst, as they scatted and improv-ed their way through, “All The Things That You Are.” Steve then stayed on stage and wowed us with his whistling talent with, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” Next up was Joey Infante, with Mike McDonald on piano, singing the deeply moving, “Old Man River” from “Showboat.”

Lucky for us, Bill Zeffiro was in the house to honor the birth of Frank Sinatra, by playing a song that he got to sing for the man himself - “This Love of Mine.” Next up was a real treat- Terri Givens not only soothed us with her powerful rendition of “My Funny Valentine” but also revealed that she was the childhood babysitter of Salon Producer, Tanya Moberly (we could see how that voice would soothe her as a child!) Following Terri was the producer of “Musical Mondays,” Stephen Hawks, who sang, “”If I Only Had a Match.” Next up was Daniel Wasserman, who gave us his version of “Make Believe” from “Showboat.” Bringing the tempo up a little was Joy Lober with the jazzy standard, “The Lady Is a Tramp.” Yours truly (Erin Cronican) then shifted the mood by NOT singing a Kern song, instead choosing a song (perfect for the holidays) entitled, “How To Return Home.” Etceterette Jan Brennan then graced us with her lovely, soprano voice as she sang, “The Song Is You.”

Closing out the first act was Mark Janas’ “Classical Corner” where he talked about the always inspiring, “West Side Story.” First, Mark invited Bill Zeffiro to come up to sing the Jets song from the musical, and then explained that when the song was originally written, the content was completely different. The gang, The Jets, was so named because of the men’s fascination with space travel. Mark then played an old recording of one of the backer’s auditions for “West Side Story” which included a sung through version of the prologue, where the Jets sang about flying rockets to the moon (say what??) Mark’s moral of the story -- “KEEP TRYING, COMPOSERS & LYRICISTS!” Mark then went on to talk about how Sondheim really grasped the idea of writing characters deeply and specifically. He quoted a song from “Sunday in the Park With George” - “Look, I’ve made a hat where there never was a hat.” Mark said that this is very much what artists do. He then invited Tanya Moberly and Julie Reyburn to the stage to sing the gorgeous, “A Boy Like That / I Have Love.” And thus ended the first half of the show.

Part Two of the evening was kicked off by a 2-song set by Raissa, who indulged ys with a possible medley for her next show -- “I’m Old Fashioned” and “The Folks That Live on the Hill” (I vote YES on adding these to her show- they were wonderful!) Next up was Blogette Sierra Rein with “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Sierra came directly to the Salon right after her Birdland appearance with Broadway veteran James Barbour, which she achieved after submitted for a contest and WON! Bravo to Sierra, and to her accompanist Brian Allan Hobbs, on a fine performance. Following Sierra was producer, Tanya Moberly, with the adorable, “Life Upon the Wicked Stage.” Tanya just completed a successful run of her show, “Theater Songs” with Mark Janas and Ritt Henn at Don’t Tell Mama’s. Next on the stage was Gladys Nilsen with her rendition of Edith Piaf’s “Mon Dieu.” Up next was the full voiced, David Auxier, who wooed us with “If Ever I Would Leave You” from “Camelot”, who explained that Camelot starts with a C, and so does Carousel, which was written by Kern collaborator, Hammerstein. (That’s only 3 degrees of separation, in my book - great work, David!)

Next on the docket was songwriter, Jordan Siwek, who accompanied himself with his own lyrics to the tune, “Can’t Help Loving That (Piano) of Mine.” Bobbie Horowitz was the next to sing, entertaining us with her original song, “Plastic Plants.” Bobbie just published a book called, “Find Your Mini Q’s” which is available on Amazon. Michael Rose came up next with the charming, Arlen/Mercer (1 degree to Kern) classic, “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home.” Next up was Janice Hall, straight from her successful cabaret run of Marlena Dietrich songs. Janice sang the holiday appropriate, “The Three Kings” written by California friend, Ali B. Olmo. Stacey Ward MacAdams then came to the mic with “A Neapolitan Song,” followed by Steve Schachlin (with Mark Janas on voice!) singing “More Than a Calling,” which was written for the consecration of Salon sponsor, Father Jeff Hamblin. Maureen Taylor then gave us her lovely rendition of the Shelly Markham tune, “The Sweetest of Nights and the Finest of Days.” Following Maureen was Christopher Sale, who sang the Sheldon Harnick piece, “Far From The Home I Love” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” And rounding out the evening, Raissa Katona Bennett sang the Mark Janas/Peter Napolitano song, written expressly for her, “All I Can Give.”

NEXT WEEK: The optional theme for the evening is “The Best of 2010”! Bring in whatever you feel your best work of the year was, and revel with Salon regulars and newbies by ringing in the holidays. Our Co-Hosts will be The Salon Advisory Board! Julie Reyburn, Bill Zeffiro, Sue Matsuki, Stephen Wilde, Nicholas Levin & Sierra Rein will be joining Mark Janas & Tanya Moberly for this end-of-the-year Salon Celebration! (Raissa Katona Bennett & Roy Sander are, sadly, unable to attend.)

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