Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Brothers and Sisters

James Naughton and Carolyn Leonhart celebrating the songs of the Breithaupt Brothers at Joe's Pub Monday night. That Leonhart family is very talented too . . .

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Paper in Fire

Just flew in from Indianapolis and boy are my arms tired. Well, my right arm is. That is because I am now both "world=renowned" and "iconic." At least in Bloomington I am. I mean, they went and put it on the internet, so it must be true.

The short version is . . . Uhm . . . "Wow." At least, that's the best the Press Office at can come up with at the moment. Wait, someone thinks it should be, "Wow!!" because that's how Herr Gruber does it in the title, "FRANKENSTEIN!!", so "Wow!!" it is and "Wow!!" it was.

I'll have more to say later, but if you want one blogger's take, click here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

After Hours

Late-night at The Rockwood Music Hall . . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Glow in the Dark

Now I get it.

David Garza played a late show at The Living Room last weekend. Jeff played bass and Konrad drummed. Later, during the cab-ride back to Brooklyn, Konrad told me that playing with Jeff and David was like dropping into the middle of a conversation that had been going on forever.

After the show, David took it to the street, playing a pre-sunrise bonus gig on the sidewalk outside. A throng of fans new and old surrounded the three of them, some singing along, some just swaying to the music. David looked as if he could have played all night, but Jeff's fingers were blistering in all sorts of new and interesting ways . . .

For me, David has been the missing link in my life for about 12 years. Back in Austin, I knew his music . . . sort of. Over the years, several of his songs worked their way into my heart and constant rotation on my I-pod--Amanda and I even dueted on Sea of You back when we were all in a band one sad Valentine's night. But, mostly I knew him through a network of friends and fans of his, all of whom were profoundly moved by his music and personality. A few years back, I sort of met him at his brother's wedding (yes, Joel and Michelle, I still owe you a present--my bad), but it wasn't until we were standing out on the street in the early morning that I shook his hand and got to watch up close what all the fuss was about.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


"I love our neighborhood," Shannon said as we walked down to The Yard over by the Carroll Street bridge.

"Yeah, it's good," I agreed and then turned a corner to find it was even better than I thought; apparently, we have a backyard and it's perfect for sitting by the river and having a picnic.

Shannon was excited to see Balthrop, Alabama--Huck's favorite band, even though Huck couldn't make it because he was napping and going to some fancy harvest festival up in Washington Heights. If you want to see Huck's salute--well, "vague reference"--to Balthrop click here and watch "Huck Sings."

Douglas Snead stole the show with his casual bass and tambourine work. You could tell he brought it by the way all the photographers were hovering around him like mosquitos. They must have known he has a new album looming that's gonna blow the lid off this whole rock and roll thing. Also, I think one of the passing canoes tipped over trying to get a better view of his thump, thump, thumping. It being the Gowanus, the rowers either walked to safety or disintegrated in the toxic murk.

Friday, October 19, 2007

That Time

In exchange for a print of a drawing (probably this one) Sandra took me to see Regina Spektor at the Hammerstein Ballroom Tuesday night.

It was quite the night--a homecoming even--with a crowd full of family and friends and several thousand people who love her just because she's Regina Spektor. They filled the place, an admiration convocation, and they knew the words and vocal tics to every song.

Sandra and I were up in the second mezzanine looking out over the masses at the stage way over there with the piano and the disco ball Up Center.

Spektor played all the hits and songs I didn't know were hits until I was sitting in a massive theatre surrounded by thousands of singalongers which ought to be a word even though it isn't.

In general, my Regina experiences have been private, with my i-pod or on a mix-cd in the car. And I guess a lot of folks were listening to her before I realized what was going on. The show was an abrupt shift for me and I wanted the space to be smaller or the stage to sport a band in addition to the piano and disco-ball, something to bring us all a little closer.

It was a good night, but I wish I hadn't come to the party late; I would have liked to see the show when it was a little less large.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

One Child Born And A World To Carry On

Judy Kuhn at Joe's Pub, Monday night, singing the songs of Laura Nyro.

I love Laura Nyro's music and hadn't listened to her stuff in a long while. After the show, Hilary and I came back to Carroll Gardens and listened to song after song of the CD it took me two years and three easy seconds to find. The filing system for my CDs is eccentric at best, but it reveals itself when it really matters.

During her show, Judy told a wonderful story of how Laura got started in the music business. Apparently, some time in the late sixties Bob Dylan's music publisher--responding to Dylan's complaints that the piano in his office was out of tune--picked a piano tuner at random out of the phone book. Nyro's father was the lucky blind-pick and after he finished tuning the instrument (I mean in the nice way), he pestered the guy about his daughter's songwriting and singing talents so persistently that the agent agreed to see her, just to get rid of this guy.

She sat down at the presumably now-tuned piano the next day and played "Stoney End", a song she had written at the age of 16. If you know the song--and you should--you will know that this child possessed one of them old souls that's been drifting in and out of people since someone first looked around the cave and sighed in romantic pain at all this useless beauty.

The publisher later said that she had him at the line, "I was raised on the good book Jesus, 'til I read between the lines . . . "

I love stories like that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Studio 5, American Ballet Theatre, Tuesday afternoon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Once More With Feeling

Anyone gonna be in Indianapolis on October 26th or 27th?

Well, I'll be there, performing with the Indianapolis Symphony, and if you're in town you should come along. (Donna-- you're down for a ticket on the 27th--can you come?)

Like the Joyce performance I did earlier this year with Buglisi Dance Theater, I'll be drawing live during the concert and they'll be projecting the drawings as I create them. I'll be working on two pieces, Dans Macabre and H.K. Gruber's FRANKENSTEIN!! Herr Gruber will be there as well, narrating his piece.

The other day I got to participate in my first business conference call ever. Herr Gruber in Austria, the agent who put this whole thing together in L.A., the production manager and crew in Indianapolis and the director from the Upper West Side here in the city. It was fancy and confusing, and at the end I was kind of numb. "Do you still need me?" I asked after the conversation had gone on for a good while since anyone had directed questions my way. "Oh? You're still there?" They apologized and let me go, not knowing that--really--I would have stayed on the other end of that call forever to extend every moment of this opportunity.

This is gonna be fun.

Friday, October 12, 2007

More Stuff

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rainbow Connections

Jamie Leonhart played an album release show last night, but you had to be there to get the album; the rest of you will have to wait until it actually comes out. Her husband Michael does the arrangements and they're lovely.

John and Shana joined me up in the booth and worked the backstage crowd because they go way back with Jamie and Michael. Shana used to work the retail stand, overcharging customers buying Jamie's e.p. back in the day at Mo Pitkins.

John and Shana and I, by the way, were still sporting our Fire Island tans which we received courtesy of John's birthday party weekend off the shore of the shore. A good time was had by all.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Welcome to the world, Lilah Carolyn Rose Arthur.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Close To You

Before the Marc in the Park show on Saturday, Justin Bond performed a full album tribute to The Carpenter's Close To You. It was an end-of-summer-camp affair with dancing drag-queens and lush orchestrations and enough heart and soul to make a Conservative sniffle and turn away.

Sara and I were especially excited to see Rufus Wainwright in the crowd. Also, we had a front-row seat when he came up to Joyce DeWitt, sitting in front of us, and politely introduced himself to her. "I love him," Sara sighed.

Later that night--or early the next morning, depending on how you look at it--we found out that we had just missed Rufus at the after-party. With Kevin, we stared up at the mirrored ceiling in the bedroom and cursed the fates. Well, Sara did. Then she took a picture of us looking down at ourselves from above. In this picture, Sara looks like a big bright flash.

Justin and I bonded because during his set, he went out into the crowd and, with his hand on a shoulder, sang a verse or two directly to a few select audience members and I happened to be one of the lucky ones. It must have been a little surprising because I had my drawing pad in my lap, having just finished up the sketch. "I sang to you and you were drawing me!" he said later as we looked out over the pre-dawn Upper West side. It was as good a way to meet him as any; I gave him a copy of my drawing of Kiki and Herb and he disappeared into the night.

Also--and almost completely unrelated--if you've ever wondered what it looks like to see a six foot six drag queen covered in glitter scooping fistfuls of leftover catered pasta into his mouth ("I need the carbs for the bike ride to Brooklyn. Also, I am drunk," he explained), I assure you you're not missing anything.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Children of the Revolution

It wasn't Loser's Lounge, but an incredible facsimile. Let's call it the Loser's Lounge All-Stars hosted by Joe Hurley and Edward Rogers. No, wait, let's call them 20th Century Boy, because that's what they were calling themselves and they should know because they have to make the T-shirts.

They were at Joe's Pub in the Park Saturday to celebrate the music of Marc Bolan and T. Rex and they were joined by none other than Tony Visconti who produced all those albums and more. It was a New York superstar band of glam, with contributions from members of Blondie, Television, Scissor Sisters, Lloyd Cole, Michael Cerveris, Justin Bond and others who don't get linked to because I'm still tired from the weekend.

The set-list had all the hits and obscurities along with a note that Patti Smith would be playing Children of the Revolution whenever she showed up. She came within the first five songs and scared children and the faint of heart by delivering like she was testifying before the God of glitter which is the only God who was paying attention; seriously--what would the glitter industry be without Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Tony Viconti?

It was pretty much a day for guitarists. Lloyd Cole's father had flown in from England to watch his son and grandson rip it up; Moby--who just came to watch, but got hauled up for an impromptu number--showed his chops by ripping through some Zepellin as an intro and Richard Lloyd showed why he is a guitar god.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be An Old Woman

John Boutte opened last Friday's night at the Delacorte. He's got a voice like Sam Cooke and the spirit of an angel. He's also one of the nicest people you ever want to spend an afternoon with in the Park, which only makes the completeness of his heartbreak and despair all the more painful. He's from New Orleans and he carries the loss with dignity and eloquence and sings about it like Cassandra warning Troy about the coming storm.

Toshi Reagon was up next. During her set, a slight disagreement broke out between a guy in a wheelchair and an elderly lady who, he contended was sitting in her seat. "I'm old," she complained to security when they came to intervene, "I can't move."

Nevertheless, by the end of Michelle Shocked's closing set, that old woman was literally kicking her leg in the air higher than I can raise my arms . . .