Monday, May 14, 2018

The Salon Wrap-Up for May 13th, 2018: "Pure Imagination"

Boyishly charming with a twinkle in his eye, Stearns Matthews jumped on to the Salon stage to joyously and energetically start the evening as Co-Host. The theme of the evening was "Pure Imagination," and with his colorful coat and youthful energy, Stearns provided sly Wonka-esque hosting, while Steven Ray Watkins took his place behind the piano as Guest Host in place of Mark Janas. Stearns started by singing the powerful "The Spark of Creation" from Stephen Schwartz's Children of Eden. He has a gorgeous high tenor, controlled and melodic, and has always impressed me with his ability to sing sweetly and yet with power when needed - last night he provided examples of both. Throughout the night, he also provided funny commentary, as well as a few film recommendations (he apparently has a great a great working knowledge of the movie "Housesitter," imagine that!). At the top of his Act II set, Stearns declared that he's "Becoming My Mother," plaintively accepting the reality of his familial situation. His mom always liked Bob from Sesame Street, who never sang a sad song, and she once legitimately suggested Brady Bunch songs for his sets. Stearns followed his Mom's advice and stayed with the positive, childlike angle and sang "Never Never Land" from Peter Pan. In 2011, Stearns sang at the Cabaret Convention a particularly funny arrangement - described as the "love child of Johnny Cash and Liza Minelli" - and performed it for us: a hilarious jazzy version of "Fulsom Prison Blues" that quoted music from Little Shop of Horrors, A Chorus Line and Gypsy. It was a great crowd-pleaser. To close the sweet and supportive evening, Stearns brought us all back to our chocolate-filled centers with "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and remarked how we all use our imaginations brilliantly sometimes to come up with songs to fit our optional themes each Sunday.

Stearns Matthews
Salon Spotlight
This morning, Karen Oberlin started her Mother's Day being treated by her family with breakfast and a massage, and then ended it by putting herself out there with her Salon family as tonight's Salon Spotlight! Karen has been awarded the Mabel Mercer Foundation's Donald F. Smith Award, a Nightlife Award for Jazz Vocalist of the Year and Mac Awards for Best Album and Best Duo Show....oh and plus she's a Bistro Award Winner (Vocalist of the Year). With Jon Weber at the piano, Karen took to the stage and showed the talent behind all those rewards by offering selections from her upcoming show "Confound Me: Songs in Search of Something." She began by admitting that "The Jig is Up," the humorously wry and truthful rock song by Jill Sobule. "Confound Me" the title show of her new show, was next, a hauntingly romantic song by Renee Rosnes and David Hejdu. To end her set, Karen performed the heartfelt and endlessly searching "No More" from Sondheim's Into the Woods, which fit the fairy-tale "Imagination" theme perfectly.

On Thursday, May 17th at 6:00pm, Karen will debut "Confound Me: Songs in Search of Something" with Jon Weber on piano as Music Director and featuring the Karen Oberlin Trio, at Birdland Jazz, 315 West 44th Street, NYC.

Karen Oberlin
Quick Wrap - Steven's Corner
Well, Steven said he'd do his best to be on theme, and so instantly burst into the lyrics "Imagine me and you..." from the toe-tapping "Happy Together" by The Turtles, and he had us all sing the 'Ba-ba's' along with him. Speaking of odd lyrics, Steven then sang a song that has scared him, "The Riddle" by Nick Kershaw. It originally caused a sensation when it came out in 1984 and filled everyone with questions and imaginative discussions as to what the lyrics actually meant - turns out Kershaw had a fully realized melody line and just improvised imaginative lyrics into the mic, and released it as the final recording:
Near a tree by a river, there's a hole in the ground
Where an old man of Aran goes around and around
And his mind is a beacon in the veil of the night
For a strange kind of fashion, there's a wrong and a right
But he'll never, never fight over you
To end his set, Steven emotionally sang another favorite song from the 80s: a memory song, "The Metro," originally performed by Berlin.

Side Note: Farewell to Producer Father Jeff Hamblin
This coming Sunday, May 20th at 11am, there will be a special Retirement/Thank You service for Father Jeff Hamblin, who has been a producer of The Salon for years and years. If you would like to thank him in person, he will be at St. Clement's Episcopal Church (Theater at St. Clements) on W. 46th street. A full spread of free food and coffee will be available afterwards, to celebrate Father Jeff's retirement to Florida this year!
Roster of performers for the evening (in order of appearance):
Click link to visit the performer’s website or other links, when available.
All piano accompaniment by Steven Ray Watkins unless otherwise noted.

Co-Host: Stearns Matthews
Richard Becker
Charles Baran
Jim Speake
Zach Wobensmith
Those Girls
Jeff Michael (self on piano)
Frances O'Flynne (with Matthew Martin Ward on piano)
Matthew Martin Ward (self on piano)
David Ballard
Sierra Rein
Marnie Klar 
Salon Spotlight: Karen Oberlin (with Jon Weber on piano)
Steven's Corner
Co-Host: Stearns Matthews
Tanya Moberly
Amy Beth Williams (with Jon Weber on piano)
Jon Weber (self on piano)
Angela Leone
Charles Baran
Richard Becker
Jim Speake
Those Girls
Jeff Michael (self on piano)
Frances O'Flynne (with Matthew Martin Ward on piano)
Matthew Martin Ward (self on piano)
Co-Host: Stearns Matthews

Special thanks to tonight's pianists: Jon Weber, Stephen Ray Watkins, and Jeff Michael. Also thanks to David Ballard on lights and sound, the amazing waitstaff and management at Etcetera Etcetera.

Performances coming up by guests of this evening's Salon:

Ongoing Shows

Monday nights (7pm): Opera Open Mic at Shanghai Mong with Mark Janas and Matthew Martin Ward, 30 West 32nd Street, NYC.

Every Tuesday (6pm-7pm) : "Peaceable Hour - Music to soothe the spirit and restore the heart" with Sarah Rice, Mark Watson, and Janice Hall. FREE at Saint Clements Church and Chapel, 423 West 46th Street, NYC.

July 19th thru August 13th, 2018: New play "Aunt Jack" will feature Charles Baran, presented at the Empire Stage, 1140 North Flagler Drive, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Upcoming Shows

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 (7pm): KT Sullivan and Jeff Harnar, with Jon Weber Music Directing, combine their Sondheim shows in to a "#SONDHEIMmontage" at The Laurie Beechman Theater, 407 West 42nd St, NYC. (Other dates: July 11, August 15, October 23)

Thursday, May 17, 2018 (7pm): Tanya Moberly directs Kendra Cunningham in "This Could Be You" at Don't Tell Mama, 345 West 46th Street, NYC.

Friday, May 18, 2018 (7:30pm): Amy Beth Williams in "All The Way: The Music of Jimmy Van Heusen" with Musical Director Jon Weber, at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, 154 West 57th Street, NYC.

Friday, May 18, 2018 (9:30pm): Marquee Five (feat. Sierra Rein) will perform as part of "Sondheim Unplugged" at Feinstein's 54 Below, 254 W 54th Street, NYC.

Friday, May 18, 2018: Charles Baran and Beverly Bonner will perform at the Broadway Comedy Club, 318 W 53rd Street, NYC.

Saturday, May 19, 2018 (8pm): David Ballard dances while the NYC Gay Men's Chorus and the Angel City Chorale sings in the "Queer Genius: David Bowie & Beyond" at The Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Place, NYC.

Saturday, May 19, 2018 (9:30pm): Marissa Mulder with Jon Weber performs "I'm Old Fashioned" at The Beach Cafe, 1326 Second Avenue, NYC.

Sunday, May 20, 2018 (1pm): Richard Skipper Celebrates (with $20 bottomless brunch included) with Those Girls, Jim Speake and others, at The Laurie Beechman Theater, 407 West 42nd St, NYC.

Monday, May 21, 2018 (7pm): KT Sullivan with Music Director Jon Weber in "Kern-U-Copia" at Birdland Jazz, 315 West 44th Street, NYC.

Thursday, May 31, 2018 (7pm): Hostess with the Mostest Bobbie Horowitz celebrates her birthday while hosting the latest installment of her series, with Musical Director Matthew Martin Ward and including Marnie Klar, in "It's Just a Number," at Don't Tell Mama, 345 W 46th Street, NYC.

Thursday, June 14 - Sunday, June 24, 2018: 5 performances of "Dan Ruth: A Life Behind Bars," directed by Tanya Moberly, will be at the Lounge Theater in 6201 Santa Monica Blvd, LA.

Friday, June 15, 2018 (7pm): Marquee Five in "Marquee Five Sings Sondheim" at the Laurie Beechman Theater, 407 West 42nd St, NYC.

Thursday, June 21, 2018 (7pm): Tanya Moberly directs Kendra Cunningham in "This Could Be You" at Don't Tell Mama, 345 West 46th Street, NYC.

Sunday, June 24, 2018 (1pm): Matthew Martin Ward will be a part of "Richard Skipper Celebrates" at the Laurie Beechman Theater, 407 West 42nd St, NYC.

Monday, June 25, 2018 (7pm): Sally Darling brings back her show "Sally Darling Sings Beatrice Lillie" with Matthew Martin Ward to Don't Tell Mama, 345 W 46th Street, NYC.

Sunday, July 29, 2018 (4pm): Angela Leone revamps her CD release show at Don't Tell Mama, 345 W 46th Street, NYC.

Saturday, September 8, 2018 (8pm): Zach Wobensmith will be in "The Flood: A New Musical in Concert" at Prospect Theater Company, the TimesCenter, 242 West 41st Street, NYC.

NEXT SALON! - Sunday, May 20th, 2018: THIS IS THE LAST SALON before our 6-week break; after May 20th, the next Salon will be July 8th!
This upcoming Sunday, Mark Janas will return to the Hosting piano, smelling like tea and London crumpets from his UK tour, and the theme will be "How Low Can You Go?" Our Co-Host will be the leggy bassman, Ritt Henn, while the Salon Spotlight will be the very fun and snazzy duo Lena Moy-Borgen & Cheo Bourne.

- Sierra Rein
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