Here in New York City it’s Labor Day Weekend, which is both a tip of the proverbial hat to Workers everywhere and the official end to summer vacations. Here at Harksongs Entertainment we enjoyed a few nice trips this summer, one to Nashville and the Caribbean, and another to the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. As you’ll see by the listings below, a bit of R&R was well in order…
[all productions mentioned are things I am involved with unless otherwise specified]
[and click on the images to enLARGE!]
The last blog entry left off at the end of April, so I’ll pick up from May 1 [May Day] and bring us up to the present…
Mark Miller’s Septet rode again at Somethin’ Jazz Club. Whenever I finish one of these shows, I grin for days. This is the music I came to New York to be a part of. The forthcoming CD is now in the mix stage [rough mixes here].
Speaking of why I came to New York, the weekend of May 4-7 was among the coolest productions I’ve been involved with yet: Lyrics & Lyricists at the 92nd Street Y. The show was “Noël & Cole: A Battle of Wits”. The top shelf band led by Don Rebic had Ray Marchica, Dick Sarpola, and me blazing through beautiful arrangements of Noel Cowherd and Cole Porter songs. The singers presenting these genius lyrics and melodies were Colleen McHugh, Latanya Hall, Harriett Harris, T. Oliver Reid, Jeff Harnar, and Edward Hibbert [I know!], and the whole thing was presented by Mark Waldrop. Every aspect of this production was a red carpet ride, backstage and Front Of House. Even the audience was fancy.
May 8th was another milestone: Ian Herman and I did our first duo concert at Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway in Times Square. We combined our original music – he learned some of my songs, I learned some of his – and the result left people literally standing up screaming. This will happen again, both on stage and on recordings.
Here’s an example of how silly a musician’s life can be – with all projects WELL worth the major schlep: Friday the 11th drive to Concord, NH to give a concert of Joni Mitchell’s music with Bob Stillman, Rachel Bay Jones, and a slammin’ band. Then make it back in time to do an early soundcheck for a performance at Joe’s Pub Saturday night the 12th with Anne Steele. Then first thing in the morning get up early and drive upstate to Marlboro, NY to do a jazz brunch with Kj Denhert and Jennifer Vincent at the Falcon. Monday the 14th I slept a lot.
More May: Bria Skonberg and I enjoyed a duet at NY’s exclusive Core Club; Champagne Pam walked the dog at Long Beach Cabaret Festival in her show “The Dog-Walking Diva” [more Don Rebic!]; Marcus Simeone rocked Union City, NJ; Jillian Lauraine wowed ‘em again at the Metropolitan Room; Tycoon Dog rocked the Band Shell in Central Park; Kj Denhert lit up the rooms at Smoke and 55 Bar; and Terese Genecco did it again Rat Pack style at Iridium Jazz Club; and Raissa Katona Bennett kicked off the season at Concerts for Tudor City Greens.
June began on stage with Swedish heart-throb Anders Holst [Bennett Paster MD-ing from the piano]. The 2nd was a beautiful event: Joanne Weaver made her debut at Theatre 80 in the Village to launch her new CD Interstellar Songbook, produced by the hyper-competent Andre Fratto. I played ukulele on the CD, but much electric guitar at the show. And white balloons.
New York history was made in June with the opening of the new venue 54 Below. [It’s below Studio 54] Patti LuPone had the prime-time feature spot [not me – Larry Saltzman on guitar], and afterwards they held a new program called The Green Room. Steve Doyle and I had Tuesday nights from 9:30-12:30, John Miller Wednesday nights, and Barry Levitt Thursdays. It continues with a variety of luminary performers entertaining The Hang after hours at this perfect new club. Amazing how something can come right out of the box and instantly be the best.
I made my Lincoln Center debut in June, but not the way you’d expect. Martha Redbone invited me to accompany her and Lisa Fischer to honor the memory of Gregory Clark. It was a very moving ceremony. May we all know so much active love and support in our lives!
I could write an entire blog entry about this one – Taka and I made our first trip ever to Cherry Grove, Fire Island. For those of you who don’t know what that means, we went to a very gay destination. Terese Genecco and I performed our Elvis ’56 show at the Cherry Grove Arts Project theatre. Drag queen Robin Cradles was the Homecoming Queen of the parade that day and opened our show in gallant form. Being there was like another country. Or planet.
It was inspiring and beautiful on so many levels. A rare example of evolved humanity.
More June: DUOS had Kj Denhert and Mimi Jones; Scott Siegel’s Broadway By The Year series put me on stage at New York’s Town Hall with Marc Kudisch, Ron Bohmer, and Santino Fontana; Tycoon Dog rocked some more at the Turtleback Zoo, Maplewood Park, and Tompkins Square; Mark Janas celebrated his 60th birthday with a star-studded cast up on 73rd; Anders Holst delighted them again at Don’t Tell Mama’s; Tudor City Greens beat the weather again; and bass players got a major feast at the Firehouse with Patrick Pfeiffer, Mike Visceglia, Adam Nitti, and Mike Pope.
July was the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel – Taka and I spent a week in Nashville doing Walden Guitars things at Summer NAMM, then spent nine delightful days in the Caribbean all by ourselves, no gigs. This also requires its own blog entry, even if just for the photos… Here’s a couple:
And somehow during all of this my name got on the cover of Vintage Guitar Magazine.
Small print at the top, but it’s about the Walden Sean Harkness signature 12-string, an article written by my dear friend Chip Wilson. How’s the weather down there in N’awlins…?
That was in the middle of July – before and after that: DUOS had Ian Herman and Velerie Ghent [Martha Redbone got a strong flu bug day of show! She’ll be back…]; Tycoon Dog rocked in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park; Kj Denhert, Jennifer Vincent & I played outdoors in Kingston, NY on a lovely afternoon; I gave a solo concert at The Mansion in Bloomfield, NJ; Terese wowed her fans at Iridium; and my fabulous uncle Hugh turned 80 on The Boat.
August began with a bang: first, I played and sang my arrangement of Neil Sedaka’s “Bad Blood” at Tudor City Greens – to Mr. Sedaka himself; then jumped in a cab and went to the Metropolitan Room to host DUOS, this time with Karen Akers and Len Carriou. How’d that happen?
Then for the first time I played with Lucie Arnaz. Ron Abel led the band with David Mann, Ray Marchica, Roger Squitero, Tom Hubbard, and me. She is even more of a delight in person that we could all collectively imagine. It’s a really fun show, too – mostly a tribute to her dad, Desi Arnaz.
August is a notoriously slow month for those of us not in the wedding band circuit, and thankfully for me it was filled in with Fancy Hotels: four Sunday nights at The Carlyle with Karen Oberlin, Tedd Firth [Jon Weber one night], and Steve Doyle; and a five night run at Feinstein’s with Raissa Katona Bennett [also celebrating the release of her new CD: Another Kind Of Light].
Steve Doyle, NYC’s most ubiquitous bassist, celebrated the release of his new CD Home To You at 54 Below – and he’s playing piano and singing!
The band was all ringers with Quinsin Nachoff on sax, Greg Ritchie drums, Matt Clohesy on bass, and me. KJ Denhert did it yet again at the 55 Bar. My favorite pot dealer Mac Kohler turned 50. (please click his link to know what I mean by that) Carole Demas, Ian Herman, and I recorded at Bicoastal Music up in Ossining, NY [which, incidentally, is for sale]. Tycoon Dog rocked in Battery Park and the Zoo. Terese kicked it up at Iridium again, and Mark Miller finally shared his transcendent Septet again at the Zinc Bar.
We enjoyed another brief respite, this time with R/C planes, a motorcycle, and a kayak in the hills of southwestern Virginia.
There is so much coming up, so please stay tuned. The Shows calendar here is up to date, so check in often, and come out to a show! There’s always something going on…