Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Such a Simple Song

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 26, 2014 @ 6:49 am PDT

Noel Paul Stookeyuserpic=folk-artistsAs I just wrote, this has been a crazy week, and next week doesn’t look much better. Luckily, I had a great stress relief valve last night: a concert at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. Last night’s artist was Noel Paul Stookey, who is perhaps best known as the “Paul” in “Peter, Paul and Mary”.

Although I’ve been a fan of PP&M since I was in my teen, I’ve tended to favor Peter Yarrow over the other performers. But the last time I saw Peter solo (at AJU), his performance was rambling and wandering. I also discovered that Noel Paul was giving concerts at McCabes. We went last year, and we just loved the show, the music, the humor, and the man. So when Noel Paul showed on the schedule, I just went and ordered tickets.

Last night was a great show. Many of the songs were from Paul’s new album, “One and Many“, but there were a few old favorites (and lots of great stories). Here’s the playlist:

Act I Act II
Such a Simple Song
Music from the Heart
The Love of It All
Start a Revolution
One and Many
Cue the Moon
The Wedding Song
April Fool
Love Rules!
Virtual Party
Nukes are Nuts (new)
The Connection
Our Lives are Connected
Cabin Fever Waltz
Jean Claude
Una Famila de Corazon (new/instrumental)
American the Beautiful
This Land is Your Land/In These Times
If I Had a Hammer

In all, it was just a great show. Of course, I added an album to the iPod. Once of these days, I’ll get all my new music digested…

Upcoming Theatre and Concerts:  Today brings the Southern California Renaissance Faire. May brings “The Lion in Winter” at The Colony Theatre (FB), and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at REP East (FB), as well as “Hairspray” at Nobel Middle School. I may also be scheduling “Porgy and Bess” at the Ahmanson. June is mostly open pending scheduling of an MRJ meeting, but I will try to fit in as much of the Hollywood Fringe Festival as I can. July will be busy: “Ghost” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/5, “Return to the Forbidden Planet” at REP East (FB) the weekend of 7/12, “Once” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/19, “Bye Bye Birdie” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on 7/26, and “Family Planning” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on 8/2. 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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A Folksinging Legend

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Nov 23, 2013 @ 11:16 am PDT

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*†
Over The Hill*†‡
Redemption Road*†
Buffalo Dreams*†
Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound*
Did You Hear John Hurt?*
Bottle of Wine
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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Blues-iana in Santa Monica

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jun 29, 2013 @ 8:36 am PDT

Maria Muldauruserpic=folk-artistsWe don’t always go to the theatre. Point in case: Last night saw us in Santa Monica (which was about 20° cooler than the 103° in Northridge) to see a wonderful singer, Maria Muldaur at McCabes Guitar Shop.

It is hard to categorize Maria Muldaur, other than “good”. She started out singing Jug Band music with her then husband, Geoff Muldaur, in the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. She hit the pop charts in 1974 with “Midnight at the Oasis“, but was part of the folk and jug band scene going back to 1963 and Greenwich Village. She had done 40 albums with a wide variety of musical styles, from New Orleans jazz to Blues to Big Band to Gospel. She was also part of the Grateful Dead as a backing singer (which explains the Deadheads at the show). I was first introduced to her in the 1970s when joined with Peter Yarrow on the song “Tall Pine Trees” on Peter’s first solo album, Peter. I was reintroduced to her when recording folk and blues album for my uncle, who had a few of her solo albums. I’ve since acquired a few more albums, so when I saw that she was going to be at McCabes, I got tickets.

Unlike Elton John, Maria’s performance was very simple. Maria (on tambourine), backed by her Red Hot Bluesiana Band (featuring someone whose name I’ve forgotten on guitar, Chris Burns on keyboards/bass, and Dave Tucker on drums). I didn’t record a formal song set, but here’s what I remember: (I Am) Woman • Me and My Chauffeur Blues • Long as I Can See You Smile • I’m Going Back Home • In My Girlish Days • He Calls That Religion • Don’t You Feel My Leg • Midnight at the Oasis • Please Send Me Someone To Love • It Ain’t The Meat, It’s The Motion • I’ve Done Made It Up In My Mind and Bessie’s Advice. Most of the stuff was from her first two albums and her two most recent albums.

In general, her vocal quality and performance quality was wonderful (although my wife noted that, in Midnight at the Oasis, she couldn’t hit the high notes that she used to be able to hit). Her voice has mellowed into a great blues voice, not as much of the pop voice it once was. Her backing group was great — I particularly enjoyed the keyboardist.

Maria is currently on tour in California: those in the Bay Area can see her on July 6/7 with the Jim Kweskin Jug Bag at Freight and Salvage in Berkeley.  She’ll also be in Sacramento.

Dining Notes: Discovered a new restaurant (to us) for when we go to McCabes: Lares Restaurant. Next to the classic Raes, Lares is an excellent Mexican restaurant, in walking distance to McCabes (meaning you only need to park once). We’ll be back the next time we go to McCabes.

Upcoming Theatre and Concerts:  Tonight bring Man of No Importance (Hollywood Fringe) at the Lillian.   July starts with a musical we had originally planned for Fathers Day weekend: Ionescapade” at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble. That will be followed by “9 to 5 – The Musical” at REP East on July 14, and “Legally Blonde – The Musical” at Cabrillo at the end of the month. July will also (hopefully) see us as OperaWorks at CSUN. August is currently completely open due to vacation planning, although we may see a show at the Lawrence Welk Resort in Escondido at the end of the month (depending on price), or at another venue in San Diego.

Continuing the look ahead: September may bring Sarah Ruhl’s In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play at the Production Company/Secret Rose and “Blue Man Group” at the Hollywood Bowl, as well as “God of Carnage” at REP East. October is open, but should the Cabrillo production of “Kiss Me Kate” somewhere, as well as “Dirty Rotten Soundrels” at Actors Rep of Simi. November will bring “Play It Again Sam” at REP East as well as ARTS’s Nottingham Village (a one-weekend ren-faire-ish market). The fall should also bring a production of “Carrie – The Musical” by Transfer Theatre. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open as the various theatres start making their 2013/2014 season announcements. Lastly, what few dates we do have open may be filled by productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411, or discussed in the various LA Stage Blogs I read (I particularly recommend Musicals in LA and LA Stage Times).


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Revisiting a Musical Friend

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Apr 01, 2012 @ 8:33 am PDT

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
New Song – Buffalo Dreams*
New Song – Finding Ireland*
Jennifer’s Rabbit
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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Paul, Solo.

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Mar 05, 2011 @ 2:28 pm PDT

Last night we went to McCabes Guitar Shop to see Noel Paul Stookey, probably better known to most folks as the Paul in Peter, Paul, and Mary. Now, we’ve seen Peter solo before and are very familiar with his music; we of course can’t see Mary solo anymore, but we are familiar with her solo works. I knew less about Noel Paul. I have his first solo album, and a small smattering of other solo works, but I’ve never seen him in isolation before.

My conclusion? Noel Paul’s an interesting fellow (and certainly doesn’t look his age – he’s 73!). He was originally a standup comedian, and that is still a large part of his personality. He loves to tell humerous stories to the audience and just make people laugh, making wry observations on society. But he’s also much more about the music as music. Peter is more the folkie, with a standard folk feel and a singalong style, and Mary was the more sensitive but strident singer. Noel Paul was a virtuoso on the guitar, coaxing amazing music from the guitar (although he had to keep constantly retuning his instrument). He would play extremely fine and complex music, which would combine with his lyrics to be extremely moving.

This show was mostly new material for an upcoming album to be released in November. Some of the songs were simple, some were destined to be standards, and one, about two French children during the holocaust, were haunting. There were a few old standands (Virtual Party, Wedding Song, The Love of It All, Blowing in the Wind). Noel Paul’s voice has held up well; I could easily have seen him doing vocal standards, his voice is that smooth. It was interesting to contrast his audience style with that of Tom Paxton, who we saw in January. Tom has his stock routines, and pretty much sticks with them. You know what his jokes are going to be. Tom’s songs are pretty but workman. Noel Paul was joyful to be there, ecstatic to be performing for a small audience as opposed to a large concert hall (in opening, he indicated it reminded him of the days at the “Hungry i”). This made the show fun.

My one fear was that Noel Paul’s evangelicalism would come through too strong. Luckily, it didn’t. There were a few songs with Christalogical overtones I could detect, they weren’t the bulk of the show and didn’t detract from the night.

All and all, an enjoyable night.

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A Night of Folk at McCabes

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jan 22, 2011 @ 8:59 am PDT

Last night, we celebrated my birthday by going down to McCabes Guitar Shop to see Tom Paxton. Now, Tom didn’t come to town just for my birthday (although it is nice to think he did), but it was nice synchronity. It was also one of the high points of a mostly poor birthday day (the day started with a 3am migraine, and ended with the headache coming back). Tom’s concert was a good one, and was reasonably upbeat. The concert also features the multitalented Fred Sokolow as Tom’s accompaniest. Tom was also joined on two songs by Joe Frazier, who was an original member of the Chad Mitchell Trio. The song set was a mix of old favorites, one or two new/unrecorded songs, and a few topical songs:

Act I

  1. How Beautiful Upon the Mountain

  2. I’m Changing My Name to Fannie Mae
  3. Lament for a Lost Election
  4. Sarah Palin
  5. There Goes the Mountain
  6. Whose Garden Was This?
  7. Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound
    (with Joe Frazier)

  8. One Time Only
    (with Joe Frazier)

  9. And If It’s Not True
  10. Central Square
  11. The Marvellous Toy
  12. Bottle of Wine
Act II

  1. It Only Took 10 Years (Fred Sokalow)

  2. Did You Hear John Hurt
  3. He Couldn’t Lay His Hands On A Gun
  4. Jennifer’s Rabbit
  5. Katy
  6. Jennifer and Kate
  7. Marry Me Again
  8. Last Thing on my Mind (Parody)
  9. Last Thing on my Mind
  10. Rambling Boy
  11. The Bravest
  12. Comedians and Angels

Upcoming Theatre: Next week brings a bunch of dance programs at Van Nuys High School, with a Dance Showcase on Thursday, and the Alumni Dance Show on Friday. Saturday is still pending ticketing, but I hope to seeLoving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein” at ICT Long Beach. February starts with “Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune” at Repertory East on February 4, and (pending a ticket switch)Dangerous Beauty” at The Pasadena Playhouse on February 5. The next weekend also brings two shows: “The Marvelous Wonderettes at Cabrillo Music Theatre on February 12, and “Adding Machine: The Musical at The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble on February 13. The third weekend of February is another with two shows: “Rock of Ages at The Pantages Theatre on February 19, and “33 Variations at the Ahmanson Theatre for February 20. February closes with “Moonlight and Magnolias” at The Colony Theatre on February 26. March is also starting to fill up. It begins with a Noel Paul Stookey concert at McCabes on March 4. “Dangerous Beauty” was originally ticketed for March 5 is , but I’m hoping to change that so I can attend the MRJ Regional Man of the Year dinner at TBH. March 12 is being held for “The Cradle Will Rock” at the Blank Theatre (pending ticketing). Lastly, March 26 brings “The Diary of Anne Frank” at Repertory East. April will bring the Renaissance Faire, “The Producers” at Cabrillo Music Theatre, “The All Night Strut” at the Colony Theatre, and (pending ticketing) Brian Stokes Mitchell at the new Valley Performing Arts Center.

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Favorites at McCabes

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Dec 15, 2010 @ 9:20 pm PDT

2011 looks to be a good concert year at McCabes. We had already ticketed Tom Paxton on my birthday, 1/21. They just announced Noel Paul Stookey on 3/4. Guess what we just ticketed. Other interesting concerts that we’re likely not ticketing include Pierre Bensusan and Country Joe McDonald.

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Folk Singers Never Age

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Sep 13, 2009 @ 10:17 pm PDT

This evening we went out to McCabes to see Tom Paxton. Tom has been writing and playing folk music since 1960s (he wrote Marvelous Toy in the summer of 1960), meaning he is approaching 50 years of being a folk singer, but is ever young. Each of his shows has a distinct character: some are more political, some are downers, and some are just family affairs. This evening was a family affair: there were lots of sing-a-longs, and lots of Tom’s friends in the audience, including Milt Okun (his publisher), the person who signed him to Elecktra records, and Joe Frazier of the Chad Mitchell Trio. Tom was accompanied in his performance by Fred Sokolow. The songs sang during the show were (“?” indicates I’m unsure about the song name; “*” indicates songs where Joe Frazier from the Chad Mitchell Trio sang with Tom):

How Beautiful Upon The Mountain
I’m Changing My Name to Fannie Mae
There Goes The Mountain
Whose Garden Was This
Out on the Ocean
What a Friend?
She’s My Reason To Be?
And If It’s Not True
The Marvelous Toy
I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound*
Bottle of Wine*

Did You Hear John Hurt?
I Took Another Way?
Jennifer’s Rabbit
Katie, Little Katie
Jennifer and Kate
Marry Me Again
The Last Thing On My Mind
The Last Thing On My Mind (Parody)
Rambling Boy

The Bravest
Comedians and Angels

All in all, it was a delightful show. Tom always does great folk music. One other note: During the intermission, Tom was out signing copies of his new book, The Marvelous Toy (signing activates the full color), as well as CDs (it activates the full sonic quality). I indicated I thought about having him sign my iPod to activate the full sound quality of his songs there. He didn’t think it would help. :-)

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