Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Salon Wrap-Up for September 16, 2012 - "Whatever Quirks - Quirky Songs, Songwriters and Subjects"

Greetings Saloners and fans! I’m posting this in my apartment in Toronto! Ain't technology wonderful?  Now that that’s established, on to the wrapup for last Sunday’s Salon, co-hosted by…

Annie LeBeaux! Annie is a singer-songwriter of quirky, funny songs and was a hilarious hostess, guiding us through the theme “Whatever Quirks – Quirky Songs, Songwriters & Subjects.” Annie first plunked out tunes at a piano – an old one in the basement of her mom’s old Victorian home in Massachusetts – at age four and was thankfully given piano lessons a few years after. As she stated, “you always know where you are when sitting at a piano.” Annie will be music directing at the Theater of the New City soon, and has several CDs under her belt to sell and listen to! After providing some piano ambiance (she is often for hire on cruise ships and clubs as a pianist), Annie started out the evening’s quirktactular theme (Mark Janas playing piano) with an Alan Arkin song (who knew he wrote songs? Not I! Nor the fact that he co-wrote “The Banana Boat Song”…) - a sweet song of simple appreciation entitled “I Like You.” 

Mark Janas, who was wearing an incredibly quirky loud striped shirt and polka-dot tie, took to the piano as Annie invited Jim Speake to the stage; Jim sang “The Rainbow Connection” (what’s more quirky than a song sung by a frog?) and was happy to inform us of a new show – “Jim Speake Sings ‘Til The Cows Come Home” with special guest Sidney Myer - opening September 22nd to 29th and then October 3rd and 10th at Don’t Tell Mama. Carly Ozard next sang the fun “Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun” from Miss Liberty by Irving Berlin, a perfect song that fitted her big brassy Broadway voice. Lawrence A. Floreky (not to be confused by any other Lawrence A….) sang “Luck be A Lady” from Guys and Dolls, and claimed his Harry Potter-esque round glasses were “about as quirky as I can get”. Lawrence is currently working on songs and arrangements with Eric Comstock, so keep an eye out for his name! Joann Sicoli, and a simple black and silver ensemble, questioned us from Sweet Charity with “Where am I Going?” and cleverly incorporated Salon and Etcetera, Etcetera into the lyrics. She’s working on a new show come the beginning of 2013!

Carly Ozard
The Brooklyn version of quirk came to the mic next as Barb Malley did a rendition of Cole Porter’s oddest song, “Miss Otis Regrets,” this time brandishing a bright (orange toy) gun as a prop. Natasha Castillo, adorably dressed in pink and lace, made us think twice about befriending her with “I Want More,” the little-girl-turned-vampire song from Lestat. Her show, “Anything But Ordinary,” directed by Lennie Watts with musical direction by Steven Ray Watkins, hits The Duplex on November 2nd, 10th and 16th.  Next, the “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” Charlotte Patton cleverly sang from last week’s theme, but somehow it still fit this week’s as well! Her last show “Looking For Love in the 21st Century” closes tonight, Weds the 19th at The Duplex, but she is starting a new play, “Kissing the Witch” at Access Theater in early October!

Barb Malley
Next up was Bistro Award-winner and Co-Host of the Salon next week - Parker Scott! Parker first honored me by singing a sweet, simple chorus of “Starlight Express,” the last song he sang on his cruise ship job. He then sang the gorgeous Emily Dickinson-lyric’d “Will There Really Be a Morning,” music by Ricky Ian Gordon. In addition to co-hosting the Salon this coming Sunday, Parker’s next show will be at The Metropolitan Room on October 7th. Our waiter, the always on-hand-with-the-drinks-order, David Ballard sang the song “I Believe,” from probably the quirkiest show on Broadway today – The Book of Mormon. Then it was my (Sierra Rein’s) last time at the Salon bat, singing quirky composer Hector Coris’ “My Moment,” melisma offering a window to my soul – did you see it?!? I’m working in Toronto and will be working on board the Disney Cruise Ship “Magic,” and thankfully have the great Lynsey Buckelew to take over for me in Marquee Five while I’m gone.  Next up was Arianna, who had us rooting for all the tongue-twisting countries coming out of her mouth throughout the beloved Animaniac’s song “Yakko’s World” (lyrics by Randy Rogel).

We then had the Salon Spotlight, which highlighted the jazzy-sweet vocals of Shaynee Rainbolt, with the quirkmaster Bill Zeffiro at the piano. She is featured in this month’s Cabaret Scenes and has her show “Two For The Road” every Friday in September, 9:30pm at the Metropolitan Room, featuring musical direction/piano and vocal duets with Donn Trenner. Shaynee, with her bright red hair and saucy ‘tude, is certainly quirky, and one can argue Jazz made quirks out of all music when it was first introduced onto the scene! She started out her set with “No Moon at All,” a high jazz number, but then brought the mood to a quiet stillness with the soft and haunting ballad “Easy to Remember,” a song that can be found on her CD, “At Home.” She then swung it into high gear, with Bill Zeffiro’s help, on the positive song “Lucky To Be Me.”

Shaynee Rainbolt
Mark Janas’ Classical Corner this week featured the composer Franz Liszt, the Hungarian “rock star,” and Calle Toivino, a Finnish friend of Mark’s who can be found playing the organ at Christ Church in Brooklyn as well as in the halls of the Manhattan School of Music, where he is getting his Doctorate. Liszt, who famously had hotel keys of amorous ladies thrown at him from the audience, took a trip to Spain and Portugal in 1845, and by 1863 offered a difficult piece of music, inspired by variations on the dance music of the areas. Calle took to the piano to play this piece, “Rhapsody Espagnol,” a mind-bogglingly hard piece full of “blind octaves” that turned his fingers into a blur at times. I’ve sung at Christ Church many times, and this was the first time I was able to hear Calle’s marvelous piano playing skills – it was marvelous! Calle has a recital at Carnegie Hall on October 11th, 8pm, with his sister playing on cello (quite a talented family!!!) – catch him next month if you can!

Before finishing the first act, we all took a moment to wish Bill Zeffiro a Happy Birthday, which occurred the previous day on Saturday. Happy Birthday Bill!!!

The quirkiness of the evening continued as Annie LeBeaux grabbed a seat at the piano and regaled us with a Shel Silverstein ditty entitled “You’re Still Gonna Die” from her Vaudeville-themed CD. This had us laughing and questioning our mortality at the same time. After giving us a sample of her first song written, “The Milk and Honey,” she quickly dismissed her amateur past and moved into the suggestive “These Things Happen,” where only the minds of the audience filled in the sexual blanks. She finished her top set with “Don’t You Hate It When…”, a Second City 20th Century TV Show song in which the patience of the audience involvement was tested – luckily for her, the Salon audience was all too eager to play along!

The Qolorful, Quirky Annie LeBeaux!
Mark returned to the piano to play for Salon Producer Tanya Moberly, who sang the always-unique lyrics of Tori Amos’ “Silent All These Years.” Her Barbara Streisand-themed show opens at Don’t Tell Mama on September 28th, but will be featured each month after, so pick one and go! We then had the wonderful Quirk Queen herself, Mary Lahti, bless us with an amazingly short rendition of what she called the “Dysfunctional White Blues.” As short as it was, she left the stage with us all in stitches. She’s working on her debut show, which hopefully will be full of equally hilarious musical gems. Kathy Ann Skyler, playing for herself on guitar, played the very quirky original piece “Just Don’t Tell”…and I won’t tell you how much it made us laugh! Birthday Boy Bill Zeffiro sat at the piano and mic and sweetly sang Noel Coward’s “Come the Wild Wild Weather,” wishing me a bon voyage from friends near and far. Let’s just say there were tears…

Kathy Ann Skyler on guitar
Terese Genecco, along with Bill at the piano, then sang Bill’s swingin’ granule of “Universal Truth,” the 2012 MAC Award-winning song! Terese can often be seen at the Iridium Jazz with her Little Big Band.  Bill stayed at the piano to play for Lea McKenna Garcia, who sang her own lyrics to the new song "Home to Me," with music by Zeffiro; it was a song worthy of a “City of Angels”-esque musical, with a dark bluesy 1940’s vibe. Then, Robert Hicks took over for Bill and played his original work, “Burgers for Lunch,” a swinging uptempo song about food, featuring Robert’s expert scatting. After Robert sang, Mick Bleyer (whose shorts alone got him into the quirky category) performed “On the Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady in a gorgeous baritone, and then jazzed up the repeat after as Mark lifted the tone in the instrumental break! It was awesome. Mick, and Marquee Five, will be performing in a benefit performance with Elaine St. George in New Jersey on October 20th. After Mick sang, Mark Janas grabbed the mic to join in a chorus of "Happy Trails to You" me!...which is apparently a tradition with him when friends go away for a long time. Finally, Annie LeBeaux concluded the evening with “Please Call Me Back” a rolling R&B ballad by Tom Waitts.

NEXT WEEK! The optional theme for the evening is “That Foreign Mystique.”

Remember, any material, on or off theme, is always welcome at Salon.

Our Co-Host will be Bistro Award Winner Parker Scott! Parker will be appearing with Wells Hanley in "No Expectations" at The Metropolitan Room – 34 West 22nd St, NYC, 212-206-0440 – on October 7th at 4pm. For more information:

-Sierra Rein
Blogette for The Salon
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