What makes ME tick – and feel grateful this Thanksgiving week when we all give thanks --- is being around music and theatre and sharing thoughts and recommendations with our readers. Well, this week I won’t be catching up on New York City cabaret because I’ll be out of town tomorrow for an extended Thanksgiving with family: reunions, recharging, and repasts. I’m looking forward to it but am kind of frustrated that I’ll be missing some specific, terrific performances I see on the calendars. As one who sees as many as four shows in one day, I’m starting to anticipate the withdrawal symptoms I’ll experience. But for those of you lucky people staying in town or visiting our city, here are some shows to look for this week that I’d steer you to because I’ve seen the artists and liked their work. If I were in town, I’d need to set my foot into clubs to check out some acts I have not already gotten to see, though I’d have one foot ready to return to one of those I’m listing and recommending:.
On TUESDAY, November 25 (one month exactly ‘til Christmas!) Well, here’s a packed night for you, with some great choices. JULIE REYBURN returns to The Metropolitan Room on West 22 Street for more performances of the show I enjoyed back in June and wrote about in this column at that time. Well, November is the new June. I got a couple of reminders of her talent -- to tide me over --- on Sunday night at The Algonquin Salon, the successful, classy, warm-and-friendly, weekly anyone -is-welcome-to-sing nights (I’d say “open mic” but they don’t use mics) in the lobby of The Algonquin Hotel. She was co-host that night and held the crowd with a few songs from the show. Following her 7 pm show, there’s another installment of the ongoing series of bands and singers each Tuesday at The Iridium Jazz Club on West 51 Street and Broadway. Curated and produced by ScoBar Entertainment/ Scott Barbarino, also publisher of this website, in the interest of full disclosure of swing. The first Tuesday of this month was Election Night, but on with show, he felt, and booked the super Shaynee Rainbolt and her special guests to entertain (which they did, royally) and to announce—between numbers --- what was up and up-to-the-minute with the election returns. Speaking of returns, she’s back as a special guest for this Tuesday’s show featuring TERESE GENECCO, the copiously copacetic (always), energetic (mostly, except for the rare slow ballad) or frenetic (occasionally, but in the good way) . This exciting thunderbolt pairs up with the Rainbolt, and I’m tempting to bolt away from the bosom of my family to be among the bosoms of these jazz razzamatazzes. Also in town this week and beyond at the Café Carlyle is STEVE TYRELL, who is as cool as Terese is red hot. Terese opened for him a couple of weeks ago at a major venue New Jersey concert, something she is very proud of, and rightly so. Terese is our interview subject this week (a separate piece/link on our website).
The night before Thanksgiving finds most folks either already up to their ears with dinner preparations or up their ears with family. However, WEDNESDAY finds the ever-ready (for work and a quip) RAY JESSEL packing his suitcase to return home but first packing the in at Don’t Tell Mama on West 46 Street, where the singing songwriter holds court as court jester. Having seen more than 70 Thanksgivings come and go, he’s readying another CD, with some of his more recent songs: The Next 70 Years. Having seen no fancy or ivories he’s reluctant to tickle, he’s a veteran of the world of entertainment who can turn in a serious, emotional number as easily as his celebrated supreme silliness. Holidays seem to bring him a smile and just another night to see cabaret as one of the genre’s most ubiquitous supporters. On another recent holiday, Halloween, I was ordering the snack of bread and humus at The Metropolitan Room, ready for the convention of seeing more cabaret after The Cabaret Convention (Stacy Sullivan, like Ray a California resident) . I looked up and saw Ray was taking a seat across from me. I asked him, not expecting an answer really, since he seems to write songs on topics not already written about—and in any style--- what he’d title a ballad about humus. After a moment, he replied, “Humus: Where The Heart Is.” I hop he dips into that idea again! You can imagine asking audiences if they know the humus opus. They might respond, I guess, by saying it, “we’re not sure if we remember how it goes. Why not humus a few bars?” You can read all about the interesting and surprising background of this man who, simply put, puts the “Ray” in “Cabaret” in the current issue of Cabaret Scenes Magazine – there is a whole article devoted to his work.
On THANKSGIVING NIGHT (THURSDAY), while the rest of us procrastinate or linger with guests and one more serving of turkey, some early birds have already handled that Thanksgiving bird. Others may avoid the whole affair, thinking Thanksgiving is for the birds, but will be ready to move on to Birdland. You can have your meal there, or have drinks plus covering the cover. I’d cover CHRISTINE EBERSOLE and BILLY STRITCH, if I were in town. Besides mmmmm-marvelous singing, breezy banter and all that jazz, there are asides, pointed political comments, this strong songfest, full of asides and inside jokes and some moving ballad work, the act is as well-stuffed with spicy and delicious material. This is the first evening of a four-night run. They’ll give you a run for your money ($40 or $50 music charge, plus $10 food or drink minimum.)
On FRIDAY, traditionally the day to begin Christmas shopping and eat leftovers, those who are left over in New York City will find some performers left over to remain in town to entertain you: Who’s left? Some connect with the arte, a few made reservations for, and it’s sold out and more if everyone on their list can come and go. As saucy and spicy as cranberry sauce, BABY JANE DEXTER does one performance of her longish set at The Metropolitan Room. The other time slot goes to the very tongue-in-cheek package of willpower, the vocal group, THE BOBS., returning for their “Holiday Show”?
I’m wondering if anyone knows a specifically about holidays that aren’t over-exposed
SATURDAY, November 29 has shows I know I’ll be wishing I were back to see and review. I’m especially sorry I can’ be at The Metropolitan Room for a special benefit for a non-profit organization for one of hostess SARAH RICE’s pet causes: pet rescue and care. They’ll help make it possible for animals to be treated with dignity and get medical care. On the bill with Sarah (a glorious soprano with a flair for comedy) are LEE ROY REAMS, MARNI NIXON, LENNIE WATTS, PHIL GEOFFREY BOND, and the increasingly ubiquitous, RAISSA KATONA BENNETT, etc. Sarah, whose voice many of you have in your head or Ipod---she was the original Johanna in Sweeney Todd--- sounds like a great line-up for a great cause, and WOULD be quite a wonderful night except for the fact that it’s in the afternoon on Saturday.
Well, SUNDAY, November 30 will be my travel day, coming back to town. If traffic is good to me, I could even get here for a 7 PM shows. But I’d be in a quandary to pick which--- CHRISTINE PEDI begins her Christmas-themed romp. Yule Be Swell, You’ll Be Great or VALERIE LEMON’s Marvin Hamlisch show. Tough choice. But isn't
(The column is made possible by the generosity of… Jamie deRoy and friends…. Next show: December 4 at The Metropolitan Room