Category Archives: News

Poland will never be the same after Ubu Sings Ubu

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A dangerous man: Tony Torn as Pere Ubu at Joe’s Pub on March 25, 2014. (Photos © 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

About midway through the show on March 25, the flabby, shirtless man on stage at Joe’s Pub — his face still bearing the image of the Polish eagle albeit runny with sweat — stepped out of character as Pere Ubu, the king of Poland.

It’s at this point in the show that I’d be introducing my special guest, said actor Tony Torn But I can’t, he added.

So he invited the audience to join him in a chant:

“Stew has flu. Stew has flu. Stew has flu….”

After chanting that a few times, any disappointment I might have been feeling about the absence of Stew, Tony Award-winning creator of “Passing Strange” and leader of the rock band The Negro Problem, vanished as Torn returned to character and carried on with the set.

Sure, it would have been nice to see Stew sit in with this talented band of actors and musicians. But he deserved to stay home and nurse his illness. And Torn and company managed to provide an extraordinarily entertaining evening without their announced special guest.

I had wondered how Stew fit into this mad plan of creating a band to cover Pere Ubu songs in character from from the Alfred Jarry’s 1896 French play “Ubu Roi.”

Torn, happily, answered the question from stage.

This show, “Ubu Sings Ubu,” wouldn’t have materialized at all if, some years ago, Stew hadn’t let Torn sing what he called “one of his crazy punk rock songs.”

He didn’t explain exactly when or how that occurred, so I can only guess it was in a workshop of some sort. Continue reading

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Kaki King announces pregnancy

Kaki King opens her new concept show at BRIC House in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, on March 6, 2014. (Photo © 2014, Steven P. Marsh)

Kaki King opens her new concept show at BRIC House in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, on March 6, 2014. (Photo © 2014, Steven P. Marsh)

Guitar wizard Kaki King tweeted a sonogram image on Sunday afternoon bearing the name of her wife, Jessica Templin King.

Looks like congratulations are in order — to the happy couple and to the fans who made it possible.

Ubu Sings Ubu: Cleveland cult band’s music torn up and stewed

I was intrigued when I got an email about a show at Joe’s Pub tonight (Tuesday, March 25): the Ubu Sings Ubu Band.

I’ve never been a fan of Pere Ubu, David Thomas’ Cleveland avant-garage band. There’s not a single Ubu track in my iTunes library or in my I’ll-import-them-to-iTunes eventually collection of CDs.

So why would I care about the debut of a band covering songs that I’ll barely recognize?

The band’s video of  “Life Stinks” offered a taste that left me wanting more.

But it’s the personnel list that really got to me: Tony Torn, Dan Safer — and Stew (of  The Negro Problem/”Passing Strange” fame) sitting in as a special guest.

Continue reading

Stew brings ‘The New Stew Review’ to 54 Below (Video)

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There’s still time to grab tickets to see Stew, the Tony Award-winning creator of Broadway’s wildest ride, “Passing Strange,” in the cabaret setting of Manhattan’s 54 Below on Friday or Saturday night.

Stew’s work speaks for itself. He’s created a great deal of thoughtful, memorable, and provocative songs for theater, with “Passing Strange” and other shows, and for clubs as a solo performer and with his band, The Negro Problem.

He’s been a favorite of mine for 15 years. His “New Stew Review” promises a preview of upcoming shows, along with old favorites. If experience is any guide, he’ll offer plenty of surprises.

A trip to 54 Below, in the cellar of Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street, Manhattan, can be a bit pricey. But Stew is worth it. Tickets for his shows, which start at 8 p.m., are $40-55, plus a $25 per person minimum. But use the code PUBLIC54 to get a reasonable discount.

Tickets and more information are available here.

Check out the video of Stew and co-creator Heidi Rodewald after the jump.

Continue reading

Pete Seeger, Hudson Valley-based singer, activist, environmentalist dead at 94 (video, playlist)

Pete Seeger onstage at a 2009 rally in Memorial Park, Nyack, N.Y. (© 2009, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Pete Seeger onstage at a 2009 rally in Memorial Park, Nyack, N.Y. (© 2009, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Pete Seeger is dead.

The legendary musician, environmentalist, and activist, a longtime resident of Beacon, N.Y., died Monday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, The New York Times reports.

His death comes six months after his wife, Toshi, died just short of their 70th wedding anniversary.

He continued to work after Toshi’s death, appearing in September at a Farm Aid Concert in Saratoga Springs, reports Peter Kramer of The Journal News in a wonderful obituary posted on lohud.com. (Be sure to check out the great video on lohud.com, including this raw footage of a rambling interview at Seeger’s Beacon home. Continue reading

Mountain Man’s Amelia Randall Meath explores a different sound in Sylvan Esso

Amelia Randall Meath and Nicholas Sanborn are Sylvan Esso.

Amelia Randall Meath and Nicholas Sanborn are Sylvan Esso.

Duo launches a short tour next week

You probably know about Mountain Man, the seemingly guileless female trio that I found particularly enchanting  at the 2010 edition of Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival. Continue reading

Jen Chapin brings her warm, wonderful sound to Piermont’s Turning Point

Jen Chapin

Jen Chapin

You might think that Jen Chapin simply had no choice but to become a musician.

More than most American families, hers was full of musicians.

While her dad, the late Harry Chapin, may today be the best known of the lot, he was just one of many. Harry and his brothers, Tom and Steve, performed as the Chapin Brothers long before Harry found his breakout fame as a singer and writer of songs like the enduring “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Tom Chapin remains a regular performer and the Steve Chapin Band still plays from time to time as well. (Tom’s daughters Abigail and Lily perform as The Chapin Sisters.) And her grandfather, Jim Chapin, was a big-band drummer. Continue reading

Dave Van Ronk gets his long overdue time in the spotlight

Terri Thal and Dave Van Ronk at their home at 190 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, in August 1963 (Photo by Ann Charters, courtesy Terri Thal)

Terri Thal and Dave Van Ronk at their home at 190 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, in August 1963 (Photo by Ann Charters, courtesy Terri Thal)

Moviemakers Joel and Ethan Coen have gone to great lengths to let us know that their new movie, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” is not about Greenwich Village folksinger Dave Van Ronk.

The movie, which has been making the rounds of film festivals throughout the year and started playing in major cities a couple of weeks ago, opens nationwide  this Friday.

LEARN MORE about the real Dave Van Ronk

Terri Thal (© Martus Granirer 2013)

Terri Thal (© Martus Granirer 2013)



Check out the interview with Terri Thal I wrote for The Journal News.  Thal, a Rockland County woman who was married to him during the period covered in the film, and don’t miss her first-person account for the Village Voice.  And read Van Ronk’s memoir, “The Mayor of MacDougal Street.”





Yes, Llewyn Davis, as played wonderfully by actor and talented singer Oscar Isaac, affects a Van Ronk look of sorts with his facial hair. And yes, many people, me included, took to calling the flick in early days the “Dave Van Ronk movie.” (That probably was before it had gotten a formal title.) Continue reading

Haverstraw’s Jamie Block on the gift of a comeback after battling his demons

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Revealing interview comes ahead of Hudson Valley premiere of his Whitecaps On The Hudson album Friday at The Turning Point

Whitecaps-On-The-Hudson-by-Jamie-Block-300x300 Singer-songwriter Jamie
Block
, a longtime Hudson Valley resident,
will be doing his first Hudson Valley concert in ages at The
Turning Point in Piermont on Friday, Sept. 27. It’ll be the first
time he and his band have played the songs from his latest album,
Whitecaps On The Hudson, in a Hudson River venue. He sat down with
me for a candid discussion of his comeback and his music for
lohud.com/The Journal News. Read
the full interview here
.
Friday’s show starts at 8:30 p.m., with doors at 7:30, at The
Turning Point Cafe, 468 Piermont Ave., Piermont. Tickets
are $15 and available by clicking or tapping here.
Visit
The Turning Point wesbsite or call 845-359-1089 for more
information

Stew and Heidi to unveil works in progress in Brooklyn on Nov. 22 and 23

Heidi Rodewald and Stew, creators of Broadway's Passing Strange, are presenting a Brooklyn house party in November to share their works in progress.

Heidi Rodewald and Stew, creators of Broadway’s Passing Strange, are presenting a Brooklyn house party in November to share their works in progress.

Creators of Passing Strange and collaborators in The Negro Problem join the inaugural season at BRIC House

BRIC (Brooklyn Information and Culture), the organization behind the great Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series, is opening the BRIC Arts | Media House to provide a permanent stage for new and established artists to explore their work.

BRIC House, at 647 Fulton Street, next door to the BAM Harvey Theater, formally opens Oct. 3. And it already has a great lineup scheduled, including two-nights of creative mashups from Tony and OBIE Award winner Stew and longtime collaborator and OBIE Award winner Heidi Rodewald.

They’re the people behind Broadway’s Passing Strange and the core members of the band The Negro Problem.

In two performances in November, the pair will unveil a show that includes pieces of several projects they have in development, including three musicals, a video-art work, two song-cycles and poems and songs that likely will show up on their next record in some form.

More information and ticket links after the jump. Continue reading