Music From the Heart

Noel Paul Stookeyuserpic=folk-artistsYesterday was National Record Store Day. Of course, that means today is National Rip the Records day. So guess what I’m doing while I write up last night’s show? That’s right, ripping “fings ain’t wot they used t’be“, an obscure Lionel Bart musical written before Oliver!. This is because last night we were on the Westside, and took the opportunity to celebrate the day by hitting Record Surplus. My love of music is such that Record Surplus has a high price of entry; a rarely get out without my wallet being much lighter.

Music has been a constant theme in my life. Even before I saw my first musical, I was listening to  Peter, Paul, and Mary and singing songs at camp. This weekend is a diversion back to those roots; there’s nary a drop of theatre this weekend. Last night was a celebration of folk music when Noel Paul Stookey (FB) made his annual visit to McCabes Guitar Shop (FB); tonight is a Jewish music concert featuring Rick Recht and Sheldon Low as part of the Songleaders Bootcamp at Temple Ahavat Shalom. The latter was informed by the former; I don’t think you would have the tradition of Jewish songleaders and music without the reinvigoration of folk music sparked by the Gaslight, Dave Van Ronk, PP&M, Tom Paxton, the Kingston Trio, and all the artists that came out of the folk music resurgence of the 1960s.

Noel Paul’s concert was a return to folk music of old — but only in style. As Noel noted during the show, folk music — at least folk music with a message — demands that we be in the present and not live in a nostalgic world. As a result, most of his songs were from recent albums; only two or three were from the PP&M catalog. That doesn’t mean they were new; I think every song was also in last year’s show.

As I noted last year, when I first got into PP&M my favorite artist was Peter Yarrow. Since then, however, my appreciation of the entire group and all of its members has grown. The recent fifty year celebration has led me to reconsider Mary’s role, and I’ve really grown to appreciate Noel Paul’s music and lyrics. I really enjoy Noel Paul’s show; if you haven’t explored his solo music, you should.

Well, enough introductory blather. Here’s the song list from last night’s show. There was only a single act for the 100 minute show as there was a second show at 10pm.

  1. Not That Kind of Music
  2. Nukes are Nuts
  3. Whatshername
  4. Capricious Bird
  5. Since You Went Away
  6. Be Real
  7. Cabin Fever Waltz
  8. Cue The Moon
  9. The Wedding Song (First Person Version)
  10. Imagine (modified) / Love Of It All
  11. Q&A Session
  12. One and Many
  13. Familia de Corazon
  14. Jean Claude
  15. America The Beautiful / In These Times
  16. April Fool
  17. If I Had a Hammer

As a side note: Artists like these are treasures and connections to the rich folk heritage. Those of you in the East Bay — you have a chance to hear that heritage next weekend when Tom Paxton and Janis Ian share the stage at Freight and Salvage. Tom has indicated he is stopping touring in November; this will be your last chance to see him. It looks like Saturday is sold out, but there may be tickets for Sunday. Go, and see an icon. I’ve heard rumors Tom may be down in SoCal in late Summer; with my luck, it will be when we are out of town on vacation.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience. I’ve been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: We have one more concert this weekend: the Rick Recht and Sheldon Low concert as part of the Songleaders Bootcamp at Temple Ahavat Shalom. After that we’re in Vegas for a week … and two shows are already booked: Menopause the Musical at Harrahs, and Penn & Teller at the Rio. Other shows that are possibilities are either Don Rickles at the Orleans or Jeff Dunham at Planet Hollywood, and Crazy Girls at the Riviera (before the Riveria goes away on May 4th) — the particular show depends on what shows up at Tix4Tonight.  Los Angeles theatre resumes in May with “Loopholes: The Musical” at the Hudson Main Stage (FB) on May 2. This is followed by “Words By Ira Gershwin – A Musical Play” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on May 9 (and quite likely a visit to Alice – The Musical at Nobel Middle School).  The weekend of May 16 brings “Dinner with Friends” at REP East (FB), and may also bring “Violet: The Musical” at the Monroe Forum Theatre (FB) (I’m just waiting for them to show up on Goldstar). The weekend of May 23 brings Confirmation services at TAS, a visit to the Hollywood Bowl, and “Love Again“, a new musical by Doug Haverty and Adryan Russ, at the Lonny Chapman Group Rep (FB).  The last weekend of May brings “Entropy” at Theatre of Note (FB) on Saturday, and “Waterfall“, the new Maltby/Shire musical at the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) on Sunday. June looks to be exhausting with the bounty that the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) brings (note that all Fringe dates are holds; ticketing doesn’t open until 5/1). June starts with a matinee of the movie Grease at The Colony Theatre (FB), followed by Clybourne Park (HFF) at the Lounge Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and a trip out to see the Lancaster Jethawks on Sunday. The second weekend of June brings Max and Elsa. No Music. No Children. (HFF) at Theatre Asylum (FB) and  Wombat Man (HFF) at Underground Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and Marry Me a Little (HFF) by Good People Theatre (FB) at the Lillian Theatre (FB) on Sunday. The craziness continues into the third weekend of June, with Nigerian Spam Scam Scam (HFF) at Theatre Asylum (FB) and Merely Players (HFF) at the Lounge Theatre (FB) on Saturday, and Uncle Impossible’s Funtime Variety & Ice Cream Social, (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Sunday (and possibly “Matilda” at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) in the afternoon, depending on Hottix availability, although July 4th weekend is more likely). The Fringe craziness ends with Medium Size Me, (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Thursday 6/25 and Might As Well Live: Stories By Dorothy Parker (HFF) at the Complex Theatres (FB) on Saturday. June ends with our annual drum corps show in Riverside on Sunday. July begins with “Murder for Two” at the Geffen Playhouse (FB) on July 3rd, and possibly Matilda. July 11th brings “Jesus Christ Superstar” at REP East (FB). The following weekend is open, although it might bring “As You Like It” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB) (depending on their schedule and Goldstar).  July 25th brings “Lombardi” at the Lonny Chapman Group Rep (FB), with the annual Operaworks show the next day. August may bring “Green Grow The Lilacs” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB), the summer Mus-ique show, and “The Fabulous Lipitones” at  The Colony Theatre (FB). After that we’ll need a vacation! As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.

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Thank You for the Honor of Your Company

userpic=folk-artistsMy tastes in music haven’t always been this varied. Although now I have over 33,000 songs on my iPod, from loads of different genres, things were different when I was young. Back in my teens, I wasn’t into the rock music of my friends — I was into folk. Primarily, that meant Peter, Paul, and Mary. Since then, I’ve branched out. I’ve also learned more about folk music, and the folk music revival of the 1960s. Kingston Trio. Tom Paxton. Chad Mitchell Trio. Dave Van Ronk. Joan Baez. Judy Collins. Brothers Four. Mississippi John Hurt. Burl Ives. … and the father of the entire movement, Pete Seeger.

The world lost Pete yesterday.

All I can say in response are the words of Tom Paxton, in his song “Thank You for the Honor of Your Company”:

When I find myself with a song to write,
I remember candles in the night.
Voices raised in ragged harmony,
Singing this land was made for you and me.
Some of those voices are silent now and gone;
I’m glad to see how you’ve been keeping on.
I remember the songs that pulled us through,
And when I hear those songs, I think of you.

So, thank you for the honor of your company;
The music was as sweet as the good red wine.
Thanks for the company,
And thanks for the harmony,
I’m here to say the honor was all mine.

Back when times were tough and the news was bad,
Faith and a couple of songs was all we had.
Songs we rearranged and made our own;
Songs it sometimes seemed we’d always known.
We’ve been together now for a long long time;
And if ever I was the poet, you were the rhyme.
It was always the music that kept us strong.
And, if ever I was the singer, you were the song.

So, thank you for the honor of your company;
The music was as sweet as the good red wine.
Thanks for the company,
And thanks for the harmony,
I’m here to say the honor was all mine.

Decade after decade, year by hear,
Season after season, we’re still here,
And it does not take a crystal ball to know
We’re gonna go out singing when we go.
A five-string banjo and a steel string guitar
Just a couple of the reasons why we’ve come this far,
Singing like we always have and will,
Knowing the circle is unbroken still.

So, thank you for the honor of your company;
The music was as sweet as the good red wine.
Thanks for the company,
And thanks for the harmony,
I’m here to say the honor was all mine.

 

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A Folksinging Legend

We see Tom Paxton whenever comes to town. I’d say last night was his annual visit, but it’s actually been about 18 months since he was last here (April 2012). The venue, of course, was the same: McCabes in Santa Monica. It wasn’t completely sold out, but was close (tonight’s show is sold out). The show itself was great, although looking back, it was roughly the same program as in April 2012 (about 80% of the songs, although the order was slightly different), and was also similar to January 2011.Tom was accompanied last night by Fred Sokolow, another talented performer, on slide dobro, mandolin, and banjo. The show consisted of the following songs (* indicates new for this year; † indicates songs not yet on a Tom Paxton album; ‡ performed by Fred Sokolow):.

Act I Act II
How Beautiful Upon The Mountain
Battle of the Sexes*†
Your Shoes, My Shoes
There Goes the Mountain*
Whose Garden Was This?*
My Pony Knows The Way
And If It’s Not True
Central Square†
Getting Up Early
Virginia Morning*†
Anytime
Over The Hill*†‡
Redemption Road*†
Buffalo Dreams*†
Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound*
Did You Hear John Hurt?*
Bottle of Wine
Ireland*†
Last Thing on My Mind (Parody)
Last Thing on My Mind
Ramblin’ Boy
The Bravest
Comedians and Angels
Parting Glass*† (poem)

Tom indicated that he is working on a new CD, which is perhaps about 6 to 18 months from completion. Looking at the last 3 shows, songs that are likely for this CD are: Battle of the Sexes, Central Square, Virginia Morning, Redemption Road, Buffalo Dream, Ireland, and (from two years ago) He Couldn’t Lay His Hands On A Gun. It might also have Fred’s songs, Over The Hill and 10 Years (from 2011).

For you oldsters… Fred’s song was great. Here’s a video of Fred singing it. Give it a listen.

Upcoming Theatre and Concerts:  Tonight bring “Play It Again Sam” at REP East (FB) on Saturday, and the rescheduled “Miracle on S. Division Street” at the Colony Theatre (FB) on Sunday. Thanksgiving weekend brings Falling at Rogue Machine on Sat November 30, and may also bring the concert “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays” at REP East (FB) on Sunday December 1 [I’m unsure about this — on the one hand, it supports REP East… but on the other hand, it’s Christmas music]. December will start with The Little Mermaid” at Nobel Middle School on Friday, December 6. We then leave for New Orleans and the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC). When we return we have an interesting play, “Sherlock Through the Looking Glass“, at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble (FB). December, as currently scheduled, concludes with “Peter and the Starcatcher” at The Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Looking into January…. nothing is currently scheduled, but it will likely bring “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change“, which is the first show of the REP East (FB) season, running 1/17 through 2/15/2014… and the end of the month will bring “Forever Plaid” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB). Of course, we look forward to seeing you at ACSAC for the wonderful training opportunities there. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, Musicals in LA and LA Stage Times, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.

 

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Saturday Links: Themes That Didn’t Quite Make It

userpic=cahwys-licenseToday’s clearin’ of the links is dedicated to So Cal Games Day 54, which I’ll be heading off to later. The links this week just didn’t want to theme, so posts never quite came together. Here’s what accumulated:

Music: SMASH – The Complete Season Two (Music From the TV Series) (Katharine McPhee, Jeremy Jordan): “Rewrite This Story”

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The Dead, The Living, and The Zombies

userpic=zombieToday’s lunch-time news chum collection brings together stories about life and death:

ETA: Last week I wrote about the piano on the beach, slowly disintegrating. Today’s news brings word that it has been cremated.

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Revisiting a Musical Friend

In addition to theatre, I’m a long-time folk music aficianado. So naturally, every time Tom Paxton comes to town, I’m out to see him. Last night was no exception: It was Tom’s second show at McCabes in Santa Monica. It was supposedly a sold-out show, yet there were a fair number of empty seats (I’d say the room was at 85%-90% of capacity) and the store was not as crowded as usual. It could be that the drizzily Saturday evening kept some folks in their homes.

The show itself was good, although looking back, it was roughly the same program as last year (this seems to be a common problem with artists–Erin noted that Bernadette Peters’ recent show repeated 80% of the show (including jokes) as her previous show two years before). Tom was accompanied last night by Zack Sokolow, Fred’s son, a regular performer in Los Angeles (he was out to do a Rockabilly show in Burbank after Tom’s show), and an instructor at McCabes. The show consisted of the following songs (* indicates new for this show):

Act I Act II
How Beautiful Upon The Mountain
Your Shoes, My Shoes*
Lament for a Lost Election
What Did You Learn In School Today?*
Getting Up Early*
Passing Through Tulsa*
My Pony Knows The Way*
And If It’s Not True
New Song – Central Square
Bottle of Wine
Anytime*
New Song – Buffalo Dreams*
New Song – Finding Ireland*
Jennifer’s Rabbit
Katy
Jennifer and Kate
Marry Me Again
Last Thing on My Mind (Parody)
Last Thing on My Mind
Ramblin’ Boy
The Bravest
Comedians and Angels

What was new this year was a collection of “Oklahoma” songs, starting with “Passing Through Tulsa” and going into songs from characters that just showed up in Tom’s notebook. This replaced the set of songs Tom did previously with Joe Frazier. In the second part of the show, there were some new songs that, to my knowledge, are not on any of Tom’s albums (“Central Square” is also new, but (a) Tom did it last year, and (b) it is available on an album by Geoff Bartley)

Upcoming Theatre, Concerts, and Dance: This coming weekend sees the beginning of April, as well as the beginning of Pesach. We may go to the Southern California Renaissance Faire on Easter Sunday (or perhaps the following Sunday). Friday the 13th sees us at the Pantages for Billy Elliot” and I”m hoping to get tickets for the new small-theatre production of “Spring Awakening” by Over The Moon Productions at the Arena Stage (curious to see this in a small production, runs 3/14-4/22) on that Sunday (they aren’t on Goldstar yet). The following weekend brings student-directed plays at Van Nuys HS (Erin is in one of them), plus I’m judging an ethics competitation at UCLA, and hoping to book tickets for the new production of “Working” at The Production Company in Hollywood (haven’t seen the show in years, opens 3/16). The last weekend in April sees us out in Thousand Oaks for “Once Upon a Mattress” at Cabrillo; I’m also hoping to book tickets for “The Heiress” at the Pasadena Playhouse on that Sunday (heard it on LA Theatre Works and it sounds good). May begins with “Dames at Sea” at the Colony.  It also brings the senior dance show at Van Nuys HS, the Spring Railfest at Orange Empire, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” at REP East, and it may also bring “Follies” at the Ahmanson. Oh, and May also has my daughter’s HS graduation. June is more open, but does feature both “Addams Family” and “Million Dollar Quartet” at the Pantages. As always, open dates are subject to be filled in with productions that have yet to appear on the RADAR of Goldstar or LA Stage Alliance.

Music: Je m’appelle Barbra (Barbra Streisand): Free Again

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Gone To Flowers, Ev’ry One

Sigh. Another death of a childhood icon. Mary Travers has died at the age of 72, of cancer.

Since I was very young, I’ve been a Peter, Paul, and Mary fan. Going back to the 1960s. I followed them through the separation years (especially Peter Yarrow), and have all their albums. Mary came down with cancer a few years ago, and the touring became infrequent. They stopped touring as a trio this year. Recently, according to Tom Paxton’s site, Tom did a concert in DC with Peter and Noel Paul. As you know, I just was at a Tom Paxton concern on Sunday night.

A great singing voice has gone silent, and a trio is no more. My condolences to Peter, Noel Paul, their families (and Mary’s family), and all in the folk world.

ETA:
LA Times: Remembrance, Obituary
NY Times: Obituary
Rolling Stone: Obituary

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On The Other Side of the Ledger

This morning, the Sheriff came out and did the regular celebration of birthdays. I must, alas, address the other side of the ledger:

  • The LA Times is reporting the passing of Suzanne Pleshette, the delightful comic actress who made her name as the deep-voiced wife of Bob Newhart on The Bob Newhart Show. She’ll always be remembered, though, for the last scene of Bob’s following series, Newhart, when it was revealed that that entire series was just a bad dream. Her death comes less than a year after the death of her third husband, Tom Poston, and two weeks before her 71st birthday, when she was to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • CNN is reporting the death of John Stewart, a very well known songwriter from the folk and rock era. Songs written by Stewart include “Daydream Believer” (made popular by Davy Jones of the Monkees), “Strange Rivers”, and “Runaway Train”. But for me, John is best known for his work with The Kingston Trio, one of the better known folk groups from the early 1960s (others include Peter Paul and Mary, The Brothers Four, The Chad Mitchell Trio, the Weavers, the Limeliters). Although not an original member (he joined the group in 1961, replacing Dave Guard), he was heard on a number of albums. According to the KT website, he recorded over 45 solo albums following his seven years in the Kingston Trio, and it is estimated that he wrote more than 600 unique and highly personal songs. I think I’ll need to look into some of his solo work.
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