Monday, August 20, 2012

The Salon Wrap Up for August 19, 2012 "Then & Now: Anniversaries and Remembrances"

It was warm, it was festive, it was magical! This Sunday we ushered in the 7th Anniversary of The Salon.

The Salon has had an illustrious past: from its humble beginnings in the lobby of The Algonquin beginning in 2005, to the Rouge Bar, back to the Algonquin, expanding to The Oak Room for a summer, and finally moving to our current home at Etc Etc Restaurant in November 2009.

Our fearless co-hosts were none other that the first performers of The Salon - Jeffrey Biering, Donna Coney Island, Kristin Maloney, Chris Weikel and Stephen Wilde. Their production of Talk of the Town took over The Oak Room at The Algonquin Hotel in 2004. After many shows, the cast & music director (Mark Janas) would gather around the grand piano in the lobby of the hotel to sing songs and improvise all kinds of music shenanigans. It was through this camaraderie that The Salon was born.

Our co-hosts first number was “Saloning on a Sunday”, with a clever set of new lyrics matched to the tune of “A Weekend in the Country” from A Little Night Music.

Up next to the mic was Natasha Castillo. With a beautiful pop alto voice, she sang “I’ve Never Been To Me.” Natasha is doing her debut show, “Anything by Ordinary” at The Duplex November 2, 10, 16, directed by Lennie Watts and Music Directed by Steven Ray Watkins. Natasha was kind enough to bring red velvet cupcakes for the entire Salon to enjoy! (A special note - this might be the first time I’ve seen someone bring in sheet music on an iPad. It’s certainly the technological age!)

Maria Moncada sang the charming spanish/english tango, “Perfidia.” Chris Weikel, Salon Charter Member, brought in the lovely song, “I Live Alone Again.” Not only is he a talented performer, but he just got a masters in playwriting. Maybe he can write up some monologues or scenes and workshop them at The Salon! (just putting it out there!) Irene Aquilar sang a very charming version of “L.O.V.E.”Christy got to NYC 2-3 weeks ago from Spain and is here to go to school. We’re thrilled to welcome her to The Salon! Charlotte Patton was next with an incredibly well acted number. Charlotte is performing a show on September 19 at The Duplex called “Love in the 21st Century.” Be sure to check out her website for more details.

Donna Coney Island, Salon Charter Member, performed the hilarious and powerful, “Come Back For More” written by Salon member Nick Levin. Donna is now the music teacher at her son’s school teaching grade 3, 4, 5 & 6. I’m trying to decide if that’s more challenging than hitting the EPA circuit - the jury is still out on this one. Barb Malley sang a beautiful rendition of “Try To Remember” from The Fantasticks - such an appropriate song for tonight’s festivities! Barb is working on a YouTube project to dress up in silly costumes and record herself “singing inappropriate songs in inappropriate places” in the hopes that the videos go viral! She said she’ll let us know when the YouTube Channel goes live. I for one cannot wait.

Richie Eisenberg sang his heartfelt, original ballad, “Love Isn’t Easy.” Richie has a show, Smile On My Face: The Songs of Richie Eisenberg” which is scheduled to come back for 3 shows between October and December 2012. Stay tuned for more details!

Kristin Maloney, Salon Charter Member, sang the touching, “Old Friend” in a lovely duet with Mark Janas. After she broke our hearts a little, she gave us the one-two punch with her sparkling wit 0 when asked “What do you have cooking?” with regard to a career update, she said, ”I cooked a baby last year!” So nice to have you back at Salon, Kristin! Joey Infante (with Mike McDonald on piano) performed a lively “Shall We Dance” from the Gene Kelly/Ginger Rigers movie of the ams name. Joey has a show coming up called “Cubanisimo.” Stay tuned for more detail.s

Salon Board Member Sierra Rein came to the mic talking about her journey through the Metro Star competition and theorized (through song, naturally) why she didn’t make it into the Top 5 (a travesty!) She started with some of “Sing” from A Chorus Line (ably backed up by fellow board member, Bill Zeffiro, on piano and vocals), but them promptly threw that theory away and sang, “If You Feel Like Singing, Sing” from Summer Stock. Sierra will be making a huge announcement next week - be sure to be here to hear it LIVE! :)

Salon Charter Member Stephen Wilde (who often brings the comedy) sang an inspired, “I Was Here” by Flaherty & Ahrens. Janice Hall, tonight’s Etceterette, brought in the French/English chanson, “Different… New” which she also sang in her debut at The Salon. She gave a very touching tribute to Salon as being an amazing safe place where she can sing whatever kind of music she wants and gets the chance to mix with an incredible community of artists. Thank you for so beautifully sharing what many of us feel. Janice is leaving town to do a production of James Joyce’s The Dead in Washington DC - we’re sad to see you go for so long, but are excited about this adventure!

Salon Charter Member Jeff Biering (the self proclaimed “Bitchy One”) was next with “The Mister Softee Song.” Since Talk of the Town, Jeff has become a prolific Musical Director for all kinds of productions around town. We’re thrilled for his success! Tonight’s Blogette (me!) Erin Cronican recounted where she was 7 years ago when The Salon was born - she had just moved to NYC after a bad breakup which happened in an eerily similar fashion to the show she was starring in, Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years. So, she sang his powerful ballad, “I’m Still Hurting.” Erin is excited to announce that her production of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea was extended for one week Off-Broadway.

For tonight’s Classical Corner Mark Janas played through a few strains from Erin’s song selection, and asked those in the crowd if it sounded familiar. Turns out, Jason Robert Brown borrows a few “quotes” from Bach, which Mark pointed out and used to start our discussion.

While recently in the Poconos, Mark started having some problems with his right arm and wondered which songs he could practice that might encourage healthy playing. One composer kept coming to mind: Bach. Mark told us a story about how he used to use Bach as a warm up because of all of the rapid scales. There’s an evenness in his music where all notes get similar emphasis. The instruments that Bach used, most notably the organ and the harpsichord, didn’t allow the kind of dynamics we’re accustomed to now.

Mark also talked about the concerto, which is normally for an orchestra and solo instrument. But in Bach’s concertos, the solo interments ate within the orchestra. When the harpsichord was featured, the instrumentalist would improvise when not soloing so very few of the notes would be written down in music. Bach’s “Italian Concerto” featured no orchestra - it was made for 2 manual harpsichord, with two different levels. Why two levels? There wasn’t the ability to have sustained notes because the harpsichord didn’t have sustain pedals. When one hand is playing more legato, the other wants to be more staccato, resulting in two voices back and forth.

In contrast, modern pianists will usually add some pedal (to taste). Chopin fully explored the idea of an instrument that could play loud and soft. Mark said he could spend a whole other Classical Corner on pedals alone. But tonight, he would play Classical Corner while being both a conductor and soloist - to show a little about what Bach was thinking in making this a concerto. It was brilliant!

Second Set

Mark introduced us to this idea of a song Trifeca - same song done three times in 3 different styles. This was something our co-hosts would often play around with while in the early days of The Salon, and they decide to show us a little of it tonight. They chose the Lerner & Loewe tune, “On The Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady and did it in these 3 styles:

Traditional - by Chris Weikel
Swung - by Donna Coney Island
Kurt Weill Inspired - by Jeff Biering

Co-Host Kristin Maloney then gave us a powerful, “Night and Day.” Stephen Wilde, with guitar in hand, finished out the Co-Host set with the Radiohead song, “How To Disappear Completely.” We love it when artists come to the stage with their own instruments - was a treat.

Tanya Moberly, Salon’s producer, came to the stage and told her story of coming to The Salon for the first time in 2007. It was at the Rouge Bar and the theme was “The Movies.” So, she brought in “The Man That Got Away” from A Star is Born - and we were lucky to have her sing it for us tonight! Tanya has a show coming up at Don’t Tell Mama, opening Sept 28 - “Tanya Lorraine Moberly sings Barbra Joan Streisand with Steven Ray Watkins.” I cannot wait to see/hear what she does with this amazing material.

Longtime Salon regular, Sunny Leigh, was next with “Everything But You.” Marnie Klar came to the stage with the powerful and lovely, “Portrait.” Mark Levy got the audience in the palm of his hand with the bitterly heartfelt, “Mister Cellophane” (complete with kick line!) from the musical, Chicago. Co-host Jeff Bierling was next with, “Goodie Goodie.”

Parker Scott sang the powerful and regal “Where ‘er You Walk” by Handel (complete with trills!) Parker’s next show is performing October 7 at 4pm at Don’t Tell Mama. The show is called “No Expectations” based on the Rolling Stones song. Be sure to see it! Stephen Hanks brought in the Al Jolson tune, “The Anniversary Song.” David Ballard, our trusty server, sang his original tune, “I’m Sorry Abut Your Baby” which always has the audience in stitches. David is doing a 5 minute set at The Comedy Cellar in his newest venture into stand-up comedy - is there anything this guy can;t do?

Susan Hodgdon sang a rousing, “Love Will Keep Us Together.” Her next show, “On The Bumpy Road to Love,” is September 8 at 3pm at Don’t Tell Mama, and the cover is only $5! Be sure not to miss it. Co-host Donna Coney Island was next with “Dream a Little Dream” Stephanie Zagorin brought in a great version of, “The Wicked Witch Is Dead” from The Wizard of Oz.

Matthew Martin Ward (who played Keyboard Two on The Talk of the Town) started by giving us a sense of what he played in the song, “Restorative Lunch” (which was hilariously mimicked!) Then Mark Janas came up and played the main piano part while Matthew played what he’s just demonstrated. It’s amazing how much the Keyboard Two parts make a huge difference in filling out a score. Matthew is playing for Elizabeth Tryon in her show, “There’s a Phantom in my Opera” - 129 W 67th St, at 7:30pm. Best of all, it’s free! Matthew wasn’t at liberty to give up the song list, but he did float a rumor that there would be a Bellini/Lady Gaga mashup.

Oliver Donaldson brought up his guitar and sang/played a very moving, Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven” which he dedicated to his grandfather. Salon newbie Francesca Caviglia was next with Kurt Weill’s “I’m a Stranger Here Myself.” Co-host Chris Weikel gave us the hilarious before-and-after song, “Cosmetic Surgery.” Father Jeff Hamblin, one of The Salon’s generous sponsors, came up with a glowing tribute of The Salon and what it means to this community of artists. He then sang, “There’ll Be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover.”

Kevin McMullan brought in a lovely song by his late partner, Jim Fradrich, called “Till A Moment Ago.” Kevin is putting out an album on Stephen Wilde’s record label sometime this fall. He’s also writing a book. We hope he still has time to come to The Salon! Bill Zeffiro, Salon Board Member, brought us his love song to Dorothy Parker, and to all at The Salon: “Happy Birthday, Mrs. Parker.” According to Bill, Dorothy would have been 119 on August 22, 2012. You can see Bill next playing Marissa Mulder’s show, “Illusions” (which includes his original tune “Line Up If You’re a Loser”) and he’ll also be playing a show with the legendary, KT Sullivan.

Elaine St George was next with “Still Crazy After Al These Years.” Elaine is doing a play in Provincetown, playing the drunken aunt from New Jersey (go figure!) Elaine says she’ll back in late October - we’ll miss you! Lou Iacovino, who has been coming to The Salon for the last five years, sang, “Old Black Magic.” Joe Regan Jr was next with a song that reminded us that “I’ll never forget how much I loved you.” Danielle Erin Rhodes was next with the song, “Andrew Lloyd Webber” - the “then and now of Eva Peron” from her new show, Hell’s Belles.

As a finale, the co-hosts all asked the Salon participants to join in the inspiring (and tear inducing) “What I Did For Love” from A Chorus Line, partially in honor of the recent death of legend Marvin Hamlisch.

Next week we’re delighted to announce that Sierra Rein will be our Co-Host, with the optional theme, “Happy Birthday, Mr Bernstein!” Bring in any song by Bernstein or his colleagues - it’s sure to be an amazing evening.

-Erin Cronican
Blogette for The Salon
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