Friday, January 11, 2013

The Salon Wrap-Up for January 6, 2013 "Songs That Raised Me"

The room at Etc Etc was packed as The Salon family ushered in 2013 with a bang! Mark Janas started off talking about the theme for tonight, which was “Songs That Raised Me.” This isn’t only about music you knew when you were a kid, but also songs that make you feel raised up or inspired.

So who better to bring us a theme like this than our charming co-host, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, the original Kate Monster/Lucy T Slut in Broadway’s Avenue Q (and, one of my personal favorites, I Love You Because)… as well as currently appearing on PBS’s Sesame Street. Stephanie said that she thought of tonight’s theme as a way of sharing who we are (which I appreciate as we kick off the new year!) She said that who we are is established at various points in our lives, and she thought music was the perfect way for us to get to know one another better. (Love her!)

Our co-host, Stephanie D'Abruzzo!
Stephanie D’Abruzzo started the evening with the first Hoagie Carmichael song she ever heard, “Yabba Dabba Doo.” To kick off the open mic portion of the evening, Jim Speake brought us “The Sunny Side of the Street” - a song that he says his family would sing around the piano when he was growing up. He’s bringing back his show, “Jim Speake Sings Til The Cows Come Home” on February 23, 5pm at Don’t Tell Mama, with special guest Sidney Myer.

Joann Sicoli was next with, “Singin’ With The Big Bands.” Stephanie asked Joann is she was “Italiano” and when Joann responded with flood of Italian, Stephanie’s apologized by saying that her parents didn’t speak Italian around her (they told her it was their “secret language” ha!) Warren Edward brought us “Song on the Sand” from La Cage Aux Folles. And Edie Stokes sang a heartfelt, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.”

Adam Shapiro sang a completely serious and straightforward and… jazzy(?) “Rubber Ducky” made famous by Sesame Street’s Ernie. It was perfect. Just perfect. Adam’s bringing back his show, “Adam Shapiro’s Guide to the Perfect Breakup” on January 30 at 7pm at The Duplex. Natasha Castillo was next with “Rainbow Connection” in a new arrangement by Steven Ray Watkins - a perfect, contemplative song for this theme! Natasha is bringing back her show, “Anything But Ordinary” to The Duplex on February 2 at 7pm.

Bob Diamond came to the mic, bringing up David Jarvis to give Mark Janas a break at the piano. Bob sang a simply stunning version of, “Places That Belong To You.” Bob shared that he used to work for the Children’s Television Workshop in its first 1.5 years and was around when those songs were first done. How wonderful! Bob is bringing back his show, “The Funny World” at Don’t Tell Mama on January 27 at 5pm. Tina Lindsay, accompanying herself on piano, doing a song that she heard for the first time when she was a kid and it came on the radio - Johnny Ray’s “Cry.” This is the first time I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Tina’s deep, resonant, swinging alto - please come back to The Salon again, Tina!

Steve Schachlin, singer/songwriter extraordinaire, brought us his tune, “Connected.” 20 years ago Steve was diagnosed with HIV, 18 years ago he was supposed to be dead, but after being bedridden for 2 years, he ended up writing a musical instead. Amazingly, he celebrates his 60th year this year, and he brought in tonight’s song from that musical, celebrating this feat! It’s seriously amazing to have such talent and love in this room. What raises love? Nick Levin says it’s the city of Paris, so he brought up Janice Hall to sing about it - “The Night They Bathed in Par-ee!” The audience loved it - it might be one of the best comedic songs from Nick, and comic performance from the lovely Janice!

Parker Scott was next (accompanying himself on piano!) with a song “that could be about what I wanted to do in Paris” - “Making Love”, the theme from the movie of the same name starring Kate Jackson(his favorite Angel), Harry Hamlin and Michael Ontkean. I loved the simplicity of Parker’s song as he played the piano. Fabulous! He’s bringing back his show to The Metropolitan Room February 25. Ruth Carlin sang a lovely, “Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor. Ruth is having a CD launch show this spring - stay tuned for more information!

Your blogette, Erin Cronican (me!) sang “How To Return Home” by Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk. Erin will be appearing February 7 in Richard Eisenberg’s acclaimed 4-person cabaret revue, “Smile On My Face” at 7pm at Don’t Tell Mama. She is also producing & starring in The Seeing Place Theater’s production of “A Lie of the Mind” by Sam Shepard March 1-17, 2012 with fellow Salon-ers Janice Hall and Mary Lahti. Your Etceterette, Maureen Taylor, brought in “Something Wonderful” from The King and I - one of the 1st musicals she was cast in. She told us that her father is celebrating his 83rd birthday this year, and that this song is quite an interesting twist for a daughter to sing about her father.

Classical Corner

To kick off Classical Corner, Mark started with an improvised classical intro and then segued into a fit of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog”… giving us a sense of the spectrum of music Mark was exposed to as a child. Mark said that no matter which piece he was taught, there were things he learned that added to his appreciation of music. As a child, one of the songs he was taught by his piano teacher was Bach’s “2 Part Invention” (which Mark demoed for us.) One of the main differences between that song and the first song he learned to play (which was an old church hymn that his grandmother taught him) was that the chords from left hand supported the melody, and that the bass lines was very important.

He then demoed Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” which introduced him to the hidden difficulties of 3 against 4 (a “cross rhythm”) - with 3 played by the left hand and in 4 by the right hand/melody. (He then taught us how to do this by having half the room chant a phrase in 3 and the other half chant a phrase in 4. I learned, in this moment, that I can never be responsible for cross-rhythms. Yikes) One other things he learned from Beethoven is that you can’t play every note the same volume on both hands. Accompaniment should be get in the “accompaniment range” of volume so that the melody can come out.

He then played Chopin’s heartbreaking, “Valse in B Minor” which taught him about sustaining a long line - “never let the fingers leave the keys.” He also learned how to bring out the voices that were moving.

Another piece that most students learn is Chopin’s “Prelude in E Minor.” Mark said there’s TED Talk (see it here- starting at minute 2) that talks about the different stages the song goes through as a student learns how to play it over their years of training.

But the main thing that Mark learned from these kinds of pieces is that life has loss in it, that things went away that don’t come back. The power of dissonant notes that make things feel up in the air, kind of like spiritual lessons. Mark’s first waltz was “Valse in C# Minor” and the dissonance was palpable - you can tell that happy things are sought after but not achieved. There is a sense of tension and release that is one of the most basic and fundamental gesture in music.

The last facet of learning he discussed was repetition of a line to the point of climax, and then release. Mark said Chopin & Liszt were known for repeating lines twice. Mozart was know for repeating lines three times. He them revealed that Bruchner repeats lines four or more times and never, ever releases (which Mark says is kind of like a eunuch…get it?)

With that, Mark closed with one of his favorite waltzes by Chopin, “Valse in C# Minor.”

Second Set

Stephanie D’Abruzzo started by telling us about her dear friend, Jerry Nelson, a longtime Muppet Performer (including The Count) who passed away in August 2012 after a long illness. Her first song, by Paul Williams, was dedicating to Jerry, called, “When The River Meets The Sea.” What a touching tribute.

Stephanie said she had a lot of Sesame Street records growing up, but beyond that she didn’t have many besides the Hans Christian Anderson soundtrack (Frank Loesser) and the Mary Poppins soundtrack. As such, she knew every diphthong of Julie Andrews…which she demonstrated with her second song “Feed The Birds.” (When the song went into the chorus, Stephanie relaxed into her own lovely voice. Both were wonderful!)

Stephanie told us that Karen Carpenter taught her how to be an alto and Richard Carpenter taught her how to pick out harmonies. She revealed that this would be her first time ever singing a Carpenter’s song in public - she gave us a lovely, “Hurting Each Other.” I’d say it was a success!

Salon Producer, Tanya Moberly, brought us her childhood anthem, Barbra Streisand’s “Don’t Rain On My Parade.” Afterward her mom, Kathy, came to the stage to certify that Tanya did, in fact, sing this song many times as a young child, but now as she says, “…with a woman’s body and voice.” Tanya is bringing back her show, “Barbra Joan Streisand with Steven Ray Watkins” at Don’t Tell Mama - January 26 (5pm) and February 1 (7pm). There are discounts for Salon members - be sure to make reservations in advance! (I made mine for January 26!)

Kathy Moberly then went to the piano (what a treat!!!) and accompanied her friend, Maria Maas on the German aria, “Chianti Lied.” Next, Matthew Martin Ward came to the piano to accompany the fabulous Christine Pedi! The song wasn’t so much about what raised her, but she said it has everything to do with the way she turned out - “An Apathetic Man” by Marcy hoister and Zina Goldrich. Christine will be singing this song at The Marcy & Zina Show at Birdland on January 7 at 7pm.

As a great segue… when our co-host, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, did the first reading of Avenue Q in 2000 at the York Theater, the show was original was supposed to be a TV show, with many composers contributing music. Zina Goldrich & Marcy Heisler wrote “Taylor The Latte Boy” for the role of Kate Monster, which Stephanie got to sing then! Fast forward to the Broadway run of the show - our next performer Matthew Martin Ward subbed on piano in the band of Avenue Q, which is where he and Stephanie met for the first time. We wet lucky enough to hear the world premiere of Matthew’s brand new song, “This Gray Day.” Matthew has three shows coming up: “Choices” with Sally Darling (January 20, 5pm and January 25, 7pm); “Hopelessly in Love, The Songs of Tom Toce” (January 27, 4pm); and Caroline’s Comedy Club with Elizabeth Tryon “Madcap look at Opera and Serious Singing (Not!)” (February 9, 4pm).

Marissa Mulder sang a gorgeous and lilting, “I Can’t Help Falling I Love” with Bill Zeffiro at the piano. She’ll be performing this song this week at the Friars Club in honor of Elvis Presley’s 78th Birthday. Bill asked Marissa to stay at the piano to sing his original tune, “My Kind of Guy (Line Up If You’re A Loser)”. On October 2, 2010 - in this very room - Marissa asked Bill: “Bill, can you write a song for me about what a pain in the ass it is dating in Manhattan?” Not only was this rendition amazing, but rumor has it that a version of this song appears in Adam Shapiro’s show. (go see ti!)

David Ballard sang a stunning version of “Over The Rainbow.” David is writing a musical version of “My Man Godfrey” as a project for the BMI Workshop. I can’t wait to hear it! Barb Malley was next with a spirited and fun, “Love is Blue.” Zach Wobensmith gave us “The Lady Must Be Mad” from Illyria, a musical adaptation of Twelfth Night by Peter Mills. Zach is appearing in “The Cranky Cabaret” - a selection of songs about vexation and discord, at Joria Studios January 12 & 13 at 8pm - $20 get you a ticket and an open bar!

The Bistro Award winning, Richie Eisenberg brought us a charming “Hum A Song” - which he not only sang but he also wrote the music and lyrics! Richie is having an encore of his Broadway/Cabaret World nominated show, “Smile On My Face: The Songs of Richard Eisenberg” on February 7 at 7pm at Don’t Tell Mama. Adam and I are in that show, so it (of course) holds a dear place in our hearts. Jane Glick was next with, “The Lies of Handsome Men.” Jane has a show, “The Blizzard of Lies” which is benefiting victims of Hurricane Sandy through the Mayor’s Fund. It’s performing The Metropolitan Room January 29 and February 19.

A fabulous Robin Kradles sang a fun, swinging version (arranged by Steven Ray Watkins) of the classic “As Time Goes By.” Sally Jo Hadley brought her classic soprano trill to the classic tune, “Bye, Bye Blackbird.” This is the first time I’ve gotten to hear Sally sing - what a treat! Salon regular Marnie Klar was next (with Bill Zeffiro on the keys) singing the Gershwin favorite, “Someone To Watch Over Me.” Marnie is doing a show a Don’t Tell Mama, directed by Tanya Moberly and music directed by Jeff Cubeta, this spring. Stay tuned for more info!

Alexa Smith told us a story about how, as a child, she sang along to all of the classic sopranos on cast albums. At a certain point, she realized that all of the sopranos were white, and after attending drama camp and seeing that there weren’t many African Americans, she started to wonder, “Where do I fit?” A bit later, she got the cast album for Carousel. As she opened the CD, she saw Audra McDonald and said, “Huh. She’s not white.” And it was in that moment she realized she really could do anything she wanted. And thus, Alexa gave us a gorgeous and quirky, “Mister Snow” from Carousel. Next up, she’s doing Marie Christine at Columbia Stages.

To close out the evening, Stephanie D’Abruzzo asked the audience to sing along with her on “Making Our Dreams Come True (The Theme Song for Laverne & Shirley).”

Next week, the optional theme is “Taking Flight!” This could be about emotions soaring, flying toe exotic destinations, or going a little bit cuckoo. We’re excited to welcome co-host T Oliver Reid. T. Oliver’s Broadway credits include “Chicago”, “Kiss Me Kate”, “Follies”, “Thoroughly Modern Milllie”, “Never Gonna Dance”, “La Cage Aux Folles”, “The Wedding Singer”, “Mary Poppins” & “Damn Yankees”. He was also the winner of the Metropolitan Room’s “2010 Metrostar Challenge” and was a featured artist in The 21st New York Cabaret Convention.

Next week's co-host, T. Oliver Reid!
Our Salon Spotlight will feature Sally Darling & Matthew Martin Ward! Sally & Matthew will be appearing at Don’t Tell Mama – 343 West 46th St, NYC 10036, 212-757-0788 – on Sunday, January 20that 5pm & Friday, January 26th at 7pm.

We’ll see you then!

In the meantime, if someone video-recorded your performance and you’d like us to know about it, please post the link in the comments section of this blog post. Thank you!

-Erin Cronican
Blogette for The Salon
Need anything? Please email me.

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