‘You Us We All,’ well … I am very disappointed

I wanted to love “You Us We All,” the celebrity-citing, pop culture-driven modern opera in Baroque form — in its music, theatrical arc, staging, and costuming — that had its first performance Wednesday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater. (You can judge for yourself. Performances continue through Saturday. Buy tickets here.)

After all, I think Shara Worden, a classically trained singer who performs in the pop world as My Brightest Diamond and works the New Music circuit under her given name, wrote the music and is one of the singers.

I didn’t know anything much about Andrew Ondrejcak, who wrote the text, directed, and designed the production or about B.O.X. (Baroque Orchestration X), which commissioned the piece and provides the first-rate instrumental ensemble, but had high hopes.

I’ve frequently enjoyed Worden’s work in pop and New Music. And I’ve been itching for a new work to come along that as exciting and challenging as, say, Thomas Adès’ “Powder Her Face.” But this piece isn’t up to that task.

In fact, “You Us We All” ultimately left me wondering whether I had wasted my evening.
It isn’t without merit. The music is lovely, some of the singing is delicious, the chamber orchestra is splendid, and the text is wickedly funny at times. But all those positives created more of a pastiche than a written-through show.

I chalked up my discontent at first to being tired. I found the piece very difficult to follow, and the poorly projected supertitles almost impossible to read from my upper orchestra seat. (You might think supertitles wouldn’t be crucial for an English-language production, but you’d be wrong.)

But then I saw members of the opening night audience slipping out early. It’s not unheard of at BAM, but audiences there are generally more tolerant and attuned to avant garde work than audiences at, say, the Metropolitan Opera.

I realized I wasn’t just being cranky about this when I read  Zachary Woolfe’s review in The New York Times review, which declares the piece “earnest and eventually tiresome.”

Bang on a Can cello star performs at at GARNER Arts Center Friday

(Ashley Bathgate/Facebook)

If you have an itch to hear one of the best New Music cellists around but hate the thought of traveling to Manhattan or Brooklyn to do it, Nov. 13 is your lucky day — even though it’s a Friday the 13th!

Ashley Bathgate, a member of the groundbreaking Bang on a Can All-Stars, brings her talents to the county’s own repurposed historic factory complex, the GARNER Arts Center at the Garnerville Arts &  Industrial Center. for a one-night-only performance.

Ashley Bathgate performs at GARNER Arts Center on Friday, Nov. 13.

Ashley Bathgate performs at GARNER Arts Center on Friday, Nov. 13.

If I weren’t committed to working late that evening, I’d be the first in line to get a good seat for what is sure to be an exciting performance by one of my favorite string players.

This won’t be her first time playing in an industrial space like GARNER. Bang on a Can members are quite used to such a setting. They run a summer music camp every year at MASS MoCA, the modern art museum that occupies an old factory complex in North Adams, Massachusetts. GARNER has a similar vibe.

Ashley will play amid  light and sound installations, including projections by downtown Manhattan art icon M. Henry Jones during the performance.

Check out these videos of Ashley in action. (Scroll past videos for venue and ticket information.)


WHAT: Ashley Bathgate, cellist

WHEN: 6:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Opening at 6:30, performance at 7:30. Click here for more information.

WHERE: GARNER Arts Center, 55 W. Railroad Ave., Garnerville.

TICKETS: $15. $13 for seniors, students, military. Buy online by clicking here.

Stew plays ‘Singing MC’ for Church of Betty, Eszter Balint, Carol Lipnik at The Living Room

Stew and Eszter Balint are on the bill at The Living Room in Brooklyn on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015.

Stew and Eszter Balint are on the bill at The Living Room in Brooklyn on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. (Photos by Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

It’ll be a weird and wonderful night on Friday, Dec. 11 at The Living Room in Brooklyn.


(Chris Rael/Facebook)

Stew, the main main in the band The Negro Problem and the Tony Award-winning creator of “Passing Strange,” will be playing a role of “Singing MC” at The Living Room.

It’ll be Stew’s second appearance in recent months at the newish Brooklyn home of the longtime Lower East Side music venue.

He’ll be hosting an evening of music featuring a spending lineup of quirky performers, including a favorite of mine: quirky singer/songwriter/actress Eszter Balint. If you don’t know her music — no shame in that because her albums have been few and far between — be sure to check out her newest collection, Airless Midnight, released earlier this year. It’s in my regular listening rotation.

Chris Rael’s Church of Betty is headlining the bill, which also features an appearance by singer Carol Lipnik.

The Living Room is at 134 Metropolitan Ave. in Brooklyn. The show’s posted start time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available by clicking here.

Read Stew’s Facebook announcement of the below:


(Stew & The Negro Problem/Facebook)

hey people!
Come see moi in the guise of “The Singing MC” on Friday Dec. 11th at The Living Room where I’ll be hosting,…

Posted by Stew & The Negro Problem on Saturday, November 7, 2015

Kelly Flint’s true story: From music to mothering

I used to see the band Dave’s True Story at a lot of music venues around New York City. The band started as a duo — David Cantor and Kelly Flint — with sidemen until Jeff Eyrich joined as bass player, manager, and, eventually, Kelly’s husband.

Although I saw them perform quite a bit, I didn’t get to know them until one fateful night at the old Living Room at the corner of Allen Street. It was in 2003, after Kelly’s pal Norah Jones won her first five Grammy Awards. The New York Post, where I was then a metro editor, had recently published a story with a front-page photo of Jones’ modest, $1,400-a-month apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in full color, with a circle around her window. Norah was outraged, and reportedly left the place and never went back.

Story continues below playlist.

On the night I saw DTS play at the Living Room right after the story appeared, Kelly was furious. Not one to break her character — the funny, sexy, slightly chilly jazz chanteuse —  in DTS, Kelly let loose, angrily condemning the Post and, as I recall, spouting negativity about journalists in general for what the Post had done. She was in high dudgeon.

Kelly probably recognized my face as a regular member of the DTS audience, but I don’t think she knew my name, let alone the fact that I worked at the Post.

After the show, I approached her and told her where I worked and that I wanted to assure her that journalists weren’t all evil incarnate — even at the Post.

I don’t know whether she was inclined to believe me, but she agreed to talk to me about it. For all I knew, she could have been hoping for an opportunity to dump on me for all the wrongs, real or exaggerated, that she felt had been perpetrated by the media.

As it turned out, we had a good conversation and parted on friendly terms. In doubt I changed her mind about members of the media in general, but I think I got her to understand that we’re not all alike. That, alone, was a pretty satisfying outcome.

Kelly and I have remained friendly since then and have kept in touch since Dave’s True Story broke up in 2007 and Kelly got busier with her special needs son, Ben, and focused on her company and on her solo music.

We recently got together to catch up after not having seen each other in a number of years. Click here to read my interview with Kelly for The Journal News/lohud.com. 


Jackson Browne enthralls at The Capitol Theatre

Jackson Browne and his band at The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, New York. (© 2015, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Jackson Browne and his band at The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, New York. (© 2015, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Jackson Browne’s music has been in my life since high school. While I’ve been to thousands of rock concerts since then, I never even considered checking out Browne in live performance.

I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it’s because his music was so pervasive — especially during my young adulthood — that I felt sufficiently sated by what I heard every day on the radio. (Remember radio?)

That changed on Thursday night, when I got the chance to see Browne on his second night at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York.

Browne, who’s less than a month shy of his 67th birthday, put on an incredible show for a wildly appreciative sold-out crowd for a full 2½ hours — with only two brief encore breaks.

He never stinted, lovingly spinning the songs at times into extended jams.

Continue reading

Come Laugh in the Dark with Tommy Keene this Thursday at The Bowery Electric

Guitar god Tommy Keene performs Thursday at The Bowery Electric.

Guitar god Tommy Keene performs Thursday at The Bowery Electric.

Maybe Tommy Keene has discovered the Fountain of Youth.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. He’s aged. He’s not the skinny kid guitar-slinger he was when he exploded out of Maryland and onto the rock scene in 1982 with his debut album, Strange Alliance.

He’s earned every line on his 57-year-old face. But his voice, searing guitar playing, and songwriting still have all the energy and feel of his younger self.

Whatever he’s doing is really working for him, so he should keep on doing it.

Keene’s new album, Laugh in the Dark, which dropped Sept. 4 on Second Motion Records, ranks with the best work he’s ever done.

You can hear the new material live when he plays The Bowery Electric in New York City this Thursday.

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LAST CHANCE: Enter to WIN tickets to see Os Mutantes at LPR on Sept. 15

Os Mutantes (Facebook)

Os Mutantes (Facebook)

Don’t forget to enter by 11:59 p.m. today for a random drawing to win tickets to see the fantastic Brazilian psych-rock band Os Mutantes‘ only US appearance this year at (le) poisson rouge in Manhattan next Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Enter by email to win a pair of tickets. Go here to create the email entry automatically, or do it the old-school way by typing the subject line  “Os Mutantes tickets” into an email addressed to willyoumissme@optonline.net. (Your information will NOT BE SHARED with anyone other than the ticket folks at LPR, who need it to verify the winner’s identity.) Deadline for entries is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Sept. 9, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random and notified on Sept. 10.

For more information, go here.