Friday, March 16, 2012

The Salon Wrap Up for March 11, 2012 "One Hit Wonders"

To produce a hit in the music business, it might take a combination of talent and savvy. Other times, it's a mix of having the right sound at the right time, or perhaps being so unique an idea that the audience marvels at the novelty of it. Kim Grogg, the co-host of Sunday night's Salon, has made a unique stamp of her own in her recent show, "One-Hit Wonder Woman," which has been nominated for a 2012 MAC Award. Kim has come to the Cabaret world via the Musical Theater world - her first solo show was "Dusty Springfield - Stay Awhile." On Sunday at The Salon, she guided us through the Theme of "One Hit Wonders," starting out by introducing her backup singers, Rain Collazo and Wendy Russell, her music director Steven Ray Watkins.  Then they all energetically blasted through a "Wonder Woman Theme" intro into "Breakout."
Kim Grogg, Rain Collazo and Wendy Russell
We then heard from the young Michael Lloret, who worked with Mark Janas, Andy Gale, (and the members of Marquee Five!) at the Buckhill Skytop Music Festival last year, and is now going to the East Stroudsburg University in PA. He crooned beautifully through Harbury & Lane's "Old Devil Moon" in a smooth and easy way - a great job for a Salon debut! Next was Elaine St. George, sweetly singing "It Might Be You." Elaine is putting together a Metropolitan Room show, "Take Me as I Am," with plans to open in June! Stephanie Zagoren then sang "Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine" from a show "full of one-hits," Jerome Kern's 1927 "Show Boat." Sunny Leigh then sassily sang through "Harper Valley PTA" - she will have a CD release party of original music at the Triad on March 25th with Barry Levitt at the piano along with a 5-piece band of great musicians. We then heard Edie Stokes (who loves songs and all things Irish) sing "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" and Kim inquired whether Edie was Irish. "The more I know people the more Irish I seem," Edie smartly replied. Next, Barb Malley sang "This is My Song" and "Smile," which, combined, equals two-hit wonders by Charlie Chaplin.

Michael Lloret
Richie Eisenberg, composer and future showcase-er at The Laurie Beechman (May 6, 1pm), sang his original "Smile on My Face," an upbeat and happy song! Then MAC Award nominee Joey Infante (for his show "Babalu") sang "Besame Mucho" with Michael McDonald at the piano. This is his mom's favorite song, which he dedicated to her.  We then heard "Who Knows" by Bobby Gentry from Lynly Forrest, with Steven Ray Watkins at the piano. Lynly is MAC-nominated for her show, "Paid in Full," and while she is busy with this award season, she's also busy getting married next Saturday! Steven Ray Watkins stayed at the piano to play his brilliantly funny yet earnestly jazzy arrangement of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" for singer Billie Roe, whose show "Dangerous Women: Life in Film Noir" has garnered her a MAC nomination in the Female Vocalist category. She is also the winner of a 2012 Bistro Award in the "Theme Show" category. Our glorious waiter, David Ballard, next sang "Take a Chance on Me" (no, not the ABBA version, but from the musical "Little Women."). Then, composer Scott Evan Davis sat at the piano to introduce his song "Walk A Little Slower," which came about as a Mother's Day gift. It was sung by Sierra Rein and Joshua Dixon, who would later reprise it as part of Davis' "Cautiously Optimistic" CD part at Don't Tell Mama on Weds 14th. Etceterette Maureen Taylor then sang "Loose Ends," and made us happy by letting us know that her Lauren Bacall show would be re"Taylor"ed and brought back again in the future.
Billie Roe shows her Poker Face
Lynly Forrest
The Salon Spotlight for the evening was the young, handsome, and gloriously voiced baritone Amadeus Lundberg, who is hailed as the "Tango King of Finland." Amadeus is known in Finland as the Tango King for winning the Tangomarkkinat Tango contest in 2009 - his winning song "Onnemme kyyneleet" can be found on his 2010 album, "Anastasia." For the spotlight, he jazzily performed the classic "New York, New York" (which was quite adorable with his accent), thrummed through his low notes on "In the Ghetto," then robustly sang the classic "Grenada," which made quite a number of heads and hips sway along with him!
Swoon-worthy Amadeus Lundberg
For Classical Corner, Robert Schwartz (whom Mark had met in college!) took over the 88 keys to play Liszt's "Ballade #2". Now, Robert during his college years won the highest level of piano competitions when he was a Freshman - his technique and musical ability on the piano has won him an incredible amount of respect. And it was a hush of respect from the audience that night as Robert played what he called Liszt expression of the "commuting between Heaven and Hell." The audience was rapt throughout the piece, giving off little "mmnnh's" and "ahhhh's" as he reach a new, more expressive moment. A standing ovation met Robert as he finished the Ballade, putting a great ending stamp on the first half of the evening.
Robert Schwartz romances the keys
After the break, Kim Grogg grabbed the mic at the top of the second half and re-introduced her backup singers, Rain Collazo and Wendy Russell, to the stage and Steven Ray Watkins back to the piano. Rain Collazo and Wendy Russell are fantastic singers in their own right, which was evident as they all sang "Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)" by Joey Levine/The Reunion, a song filled with hot, rapid-delivered lyrics. Next, we got a huge treat - Kim's sidekick Booking Manager (or "BM") Man, whose real identity we learned was Don't Tell Mama's Booking Manager, Sidney Myer! He sang the 1958 one-hit wonder "Volare" in Italian with as much sweet gusto and humor as the stage could handle! Kim then returned with Rain and Wendy to sing a huge Love Medley to the One Hit Wonder phenomenon, including "Party All The Time," "I'm too Sexy," "Kung Fu Fighting," "Black Betty," and "Groove is in the Heart." Some were presented in their original arrangements, and some were re-constructed to give the audience a new take on an old favorite. Kim then finished her Act II set with a lyric version of "Brandy, You're a Fine Girl."

The dapper Sidney Myer
Steven Ray Watkins adds his vocals
The BIRTHDAY GIRL Tanya Moberly (her big day was on Monday the 12th) sang "Birthday" by Meredith Brooks, and we all sang the HB song (with a presented carrot cake) for her. We then had a treat from Bobbie Horowitz, who brought out a tribute to BM Man himself, Sidney Myer - her lyrics to the tune of "Modern Major General" were so sweet! Her "Dress to Get Yes!" workshop is available, as well as her "Slim Sexy" Workshop, which will take place again on March 25th at Unity Center on 58th street.  Marnie Klar then sang the thoughtful country song "If I Were Brave" by Shawn Colvin.
Joe Regan, Jr. sang the melancholy ballad "That's Him Over There," and was proud to claim himself a new writer for the Times Square Chronicles as well as Cabaret Scenes. MAC nominated Janice Hall (for her Marlene Dietrich show) sang Cole Porter's "The Laziest Gal in Town" with Matthew Martin Ward playing piano. She is excited to have introduced her latest show, "I'd Rather Be Doing This" to audiences recently, and was thrilled to announced that she will be performing in her Off-Broadway debut (without singing!) in Monica Bauer's "My Occasion of Sin" at urbanStages, March 16th thru April 15th. 
Tanya gets a sweet smile and treat via David Ballard
Janice Hall lounges like a lazy gal should.
On stage next was Marissa Mulder, who just finished her show "Illusions" at the Metropolitan Room, sang "Paper Moon" with Bill Zeffiro at the piano. Her lovely, soft, wistful vocals fit her ballad version of this song beautifully. Bill Zeffiro stayed at the piano to sing "The Woman for the Man" from "It's a Bird, It's a Plane It's Superman." Bill is not only nominated for one of his original songs, but can also be seen hitting the keys at La Mediterrannee Bistro each Tuesday night. Then, MAC/Bistro winner and current MAC nominee Gretchen Reinhagen (with Steven Ray Watkins at the piano) performed "That's the Way I Always Heard it Should Be" by Carly Simon.  Bob Diamond (who is directed by Gretchen Reinhagen in his show "This Funny World," March 22nd and April 29th 7pm at Don't Tell Mama) sang the ballad/anthem "Fifty Percent."

Sierra Rein (yours truly) then sang the Gershwin/Hammerstein/Harbach ditty "Vodka," which she will soon use in the audition circuits. In addition to Scott Evan Davis' show,  I am spending time with my vocal group Marquee Five on their next brand-new set. Wendy Russell then stepped into the spotlight to sing the touching "I Like Him" from "Drat the Cat" - she will have her own jazz-themed show on May 19th in Brooklyn Heights. Next, Rain Collazo (and Steven Ray Watkins accompanying her) ripped through an amazing gospel-belted version of "Tainted Love." We then went to "A Quiet Thing" as sung Beth Sambur (accompanied by Bill Zeffiro). Kim, Rain, Wendy and Steve then closed the evening with a "BIG ONE HIT MEDLEY," consisting of titles like "Turn the Beat Around," "Midnight in the Oasis," "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" "Walkin' on Sunshine," and even had a little of the Macarena dance mixed in. It was a wonderful night!

Ladies in Red (Kim Grogg, Rain Collazo and Wendy Russell) belt it out!
THIS SUNDAY the 18th! The optional theme for the evening is “Coping Mechanisms” (I refrain judgement on the correlation between this theme, beer, and St. Patrick's Day weekend). Our guest Host/Pianist will be Matthew Martin Ward, since Mark will be away for the evening. Our Co-Host will be Kenneth Gartman, who just finished his debut show “Not Like The Other Cavemen” at Don't Tell Mama. And the Salon Spotlight will be the lovely Susan Winter: MAC and Bistro Award Winner who is once again nominated for a 2012 MAC Award for Female Vocalist.

Remember, Mark Janas and Andy Gale are once again offering their “Acting The Song” class, which will meet THIS SATURDAY, March 17th from 12-3:30pm at Etcetera, Etcetera, 352 West 44th St, NYC. The fee for the single class is $90. For more information, contact Andy at 646-526-4376 or Mark at 646-246-5753.

See you Sunday!

-Sierra Rein
Blogette for The Salon
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