Monday, July 18, 2011

The Salon Wrap-Up for July 17, 2011: "The 1930's - Brother Can You Spare a Song?"

Natalie Douglas, saucy lady!
Natalie Douglas was a weird child - she admitted it as she co-hosted The Salon this past Sunday.  As an adult, Natalie is the essence of ebbulience - joyful, appreciative, funny.  Yet as a child she always loved hearing melancholy songs, or at least those love songs with a rough or double-entendre edge to them.  Natalie is also a multiple award winner - MAC, Bistro, Nitelife awards - she's got them all, and in triplicate, as well as a number of CD recordings, stage, and screen performances. She was a gracious co-host and, along with pianist Fred Barton filling in Mark's fingers at the piano, she ushered in both the silly charm and the Depression-era blues of "The 1930's - Brother Can You Spare a Song?"  Fred Barton himself is co-creator of Forbidden Broadway and is an accomplished pianist in many a Broadway, Tour, and Cabaret show.

Natalie began the evening with one of her favorite songs, originally sung by Ethel Waters in As Thousands Cheer - "Harlem on My Mind," which set the bluesy, classic mood for the rest of the evening.  She then introduced Kevin McMullen, who sang "Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long," a unique song which turns out to be a parody "Lord, You Made the Night Too Long."  Kevin is continuing his travel blog and has plans to record his recent show, "Twist of Fate" to CD form soon.  Next, Barb Malley (looking very summery in a print dress) sa "That Old Feelin'" from 1937, one of Fred Barton's favorite songs.  We then heard from last week's guest co-host, Adam Shapiro, who charmingly sang "Someday My Prince Will Come" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the 1937 Disney movie that introduced the full-length animated movie genre to the world.  Now that Adam can legally wed his future (as yet to be determined) Prince in New York State, he felt like this was a great song to sing.  As Natalie agreed, she informed him that she and her husband were getting their officiation, so they could be of service to him when the time came. Awww.  Steve "The Whislter" Herbst then entertained us, first singing then whistling "You Do Something To Me." Natalie was impressed, hearing the jazzy version of this classic song (and the incredible range between his bass-baritone voice and high whistling range!).  Then, Richard Eisenberg sang "OF theme" as he likes to say, performing his original "They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore," a song about music of the years gone by.  And speaking of "gone bye-bye," Joan Jaffe was up next, singing a parody of "Pennies From Heaven," this time called "Benny's From Heaven."  She will be at the Iguana on August 3rd as a special guest, and will be featured at Jerry Scott's Saturday Night Spotlight on August 13th at Butler's Restaurant.
Joan explains where the baby, Benny, came from.
Matthew Ward...excuse me...Matthew MARTIN Ward (he's added the middle name!) grabbed a seat at the piano and then sang "My Old Flame," a saucy blues number from Mae West's repertoire (from Belle of the Nineties).  Then, Helena Grenot (with Matthew Martin Ward at the piano) sang the classic standard, "You Can't Take That Away From Me."  Matthew then did a double-take as Barbara Porteus stepped up to the stage after Helena, wearing almost exactly the same black and white outfit (down to the black heeled sandals and red toenails - she said they had a "good taste mind meld" that day).  They could have been sisters!  Barbara sang "I Wish It So," the title of her new show with Barry Levitt - performing this Sunday the 24th at Feinstein's.  The song was also pertinent to the theme of the evening, since it was from the musical Juno, based on a 1930's play.

Separated at Birth: Helena Grenot (above) and Barbara Porteus (below)
We then had a fun debut for the evening - 2010 MAC Hansen Award-winner Angela Shultz who, along with acclaimed songwriter Brett Kristofferson on piano and backup vocals, sang a hilarious hammed-up version of the 80's power ballad "Alone."  She'll be rockin' out in multiple character roles in Making God at the Mid-Town International Music Festival (July 11-31st), and will have a new show at Don't Tell Mama soon.  And Brett Kristofferson will co-host The Salon on July 31st (the theme is "That's Original", hint hint!) We then heard the lovely 2011 Bistro Award Winner Janice Hall reinterpret "You Made Me Love You (Dear Mr. Gable)" into a not-quite-so-teenaged-anymore fan from Brooklyn in a funny yet touching manner.  Next, David Ballard sang "You Go To My Head," a classic standard of the 1930's, in a pitch-perfect period-tenor voice.  Coincidentally, "You Go To My Head" was quoted in the very next song, "If That's What You Mean," an original by composer Nicholas Levin (at the piano) and sung by Sierra Rein (me!).  Etceterette Maureen Taylor, who once took a class with Fred Barton, then sang a duet with her former classmate from On the Twentieth Century entitled "Youv'e Got Nothing and I've Got It All."  Maureen is performing in a Mary Magdalene-themed show at the York Theater tomorrow, and will bring her Lauren Bacall Tribute show back in the Fall.

Fred Barton (above) and Maureen Taylor (below) duke it out, musically.

Fred then grabbed his own "Fred's 1930's Corner" and played through a number of his favorites: "You're A Builder-Upper," which had incredibly intricate, tongue-twisting lyrics, written by Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg, and Ira Gershwin.  He then sang "Don't Be Anything Less Than Everything You Can Be " from Snoopy, a song written in the 1930's upbeat style which proved to be a great crowd-pleaser.  He then performed "Spring, Spring, Spring" from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a teasingly sexy uptempo which manages to rhyme "amoeba" with "ich du lieber"!!!

Natalie Douglas
After the break, Natale Douglas came back to the main microphone to sing her own set of songs.  She started out with "Bill" from Show Boat, and while this song debuted on Broadway in 1927 by Helen Morgan, Natalie revealed that when Morgan began singing this song in nightclubs around New York in the 1930's, the concept of an "intimate Cabaret" was given its rise in popularity in America.  Natalie then spoke about her mother, who taught her to love the music of Duke Ellington - she then sang the flirty and sassy song "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me."  She then closed out the evening with a beautifully heartbreaking "Say It Isn't So" by Irving Berlin.  Her melancholy flavor was simple, touching and incredibly moving.

But Natalie was quick to jump into her smiling co-hosting self, and introduced a series of singers that could fill a Broadway stage with sound if they wanted to!  First, Producer Tanya Moberly sang "'Cause You Won't Play House," a song by Morgan Lewis full of petulence and childlike indignation.  She has multiple shows in the Fall, including her own on October 17th and 24th and November 7th and 14th, as well as Directing Marnie Klar's show at Don't Tell Mama October 3rd, November 1st and December 5th.  Next, Karen Wilder, a good friend of Fred's, sang a 11 O'Clock-style number (which I think was called "Before I Was Born", it was Fred's choice) with fierce energy.  Then, the tall and dark-haired Jesse Luttrell took to the microphone and, with gigantic, leading-man vocals, sang "What Kind of Fool Am I?" in a stunning fashion.
Karen Wilder
We then got a snippet of a new musical, RIP! by Dan Furman (additional lyrics by Mary Liz McNamara), which is opening this Friday at the Mid-Town International Theater Festival as well (  Rob Langeder, playing Rip Van Winkle, first sang "Fishing Song," about the glories of fishing and drinking, with Chris Gunn as Ben.  Then, Chris sang "Go Ahead," an adorable duet with Quinn Shadko, both portraying the almost ever-bumbling nature of innocent first love.  At the piano was Eric James. Both of these duets revealed a truly charming show!
Chris Gunn (right) and Rob Langeder (left) extoll the virtues of
fishing and drinking...away from the womenfolk.
Natalie then closed the evening by bringing us back to 1930's and then beyond - singing "The House of the Rising Sun," a song from 100 years ago which was undoubtedly recorded and sung by performers in the 1930's.  Natalie will bring a second Nina Simone show to Birdland in September, and will teach a Vocal Interp/Performance Workshop with Brian Nash at The Duplex at the end of the month (Facebook event here). Also check out

NEXT SUNDAY! We're getting a triple dose of talent!

The optional theme for the evening is “On The Road – Songs of Highways & Byways”.
Our Guest Host/Pianist will be the Incomparable Bill Zeffiro! Bill can be found every Tuesday (til September 2047) from 9 to 12 at La Mediterranee, 947 Second Avenue (50th/51st), 212-755-4155. You can also catch him at The Free Concerts at Tudor City Greens (41st St East of Second Ave) August 3rd (Rain Date August 4th) & September 7th (Rain Date September 8th) at 6:30pm.

Our Co-Host will be the Marvelous Marissa Mulder! Marissa will be singing in this year's MetroStar Challenge at the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd St, 212-206-0440/, which begins Monday, July 18th at 7pm. (Round Two will be August 1st.) She made the top ten last year! For more information:

Our Salon Spotlight will be the Amazing Nightlife, MAC & Bistro Award Winner Karen Oberlin! Karen will be at The Metropolitan Room, 34 W 22nd St, NYC, (212) 206-0440/ on Friday, October 21st at 10pm. For more information:

Natalie Douglas
-Sierra Rein
The Blogette for The Salon
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