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My Interviews with...

BETTY BUCKLEY (VanityFair.com)

LINDA RONSTADT (VanityFair.com)

DEBBIE HARRY (VanityFair.com)

RICKIE LEE JONES (VanityFair.com)

EDIE BRICKELL (VanityFair.com)

NELLIE MCKAY (VanityFair.com)

SHERYL CROW (StarPolish.com)

 

 

 

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Mustapha Khan's American Anthem 

A couple of years ago, the filmmaker and songwriter Mustapha Khan played me an early demo of his galvanizing “Song for Our People.” Not long after that, his wife, Allyson Smith, told me that Mus had booked a Brooklyn recording studio for a day to not only record the song but to film the entire process for a documentary, and that this would involve many singers and musicians—and a tap dancer! 

How amazing to see the result last Thursday night, in a film of the same title as the song, at the SVA Theatre in…

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Forever Jungr 

Barb Jungr at Joe's Pub, February 15, 2020.

Last Saturday night I took my husband, the writer Robert Rosen (Nowhere Man, Bobby in Naziland), to the glamorous but velvet-womb-like NYC venue Joe’s Pub for a slightly belated Valentine’s Day. I wanted him to hear live the fabulous British singer Barb Jungr, whom I’d seen a couple of times before at other venues. A great song interpreter, for this show she performed works by Bob Dylan, Jacques Brel, and herself. 

I especially liked her rendition of Dylan’s…

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Jesse Malin & Lucinda Williams 

“When you’re young/And you run/And you’re burning like a star/And it’s fun/And it’s done/And it leaves you with a scar” — “When You’re Young,” by Jesse Malin 

We might call Jesse Malin, who grew up in Queens and lives in the East Village, the spirit animal of New York City, or at least an underbelly segment that involves bars, the street, punk rock, non-punk rock, clubs, middle-of-the-nights, addiction, chaos, and generally the kind of edgy existence he evokes in his new album, Sunset Kids. Starting out in…

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Buckley and Brown 

Betty Buckley—she of Cats (Broadway), Eight Is Enough (TV), and Tender Mercies (film), to name just a few early achievements—shines on her own, whether playing such roles as the title one in Hello, Dolly! (national tour) or singing an eclectic mix of songs in one of her many concerts around the country. But she is also a wonderful collaborator. In 2014 she released a record, called Ghostlight (a reference to the bare bulb left on at night in theaters), that was produced by her childhood friend T Bone…

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Notes on a show 

With Graig Janssen and Joan Chew at the Map Room at the Bowery Electric. Photo by Allyson Smith.

When/where was it: Tuesday evening, July 23, in the Map Room at the Bowery Electric, a funky room at the end of the narrow bar, sometimes separated by a maroon velvet curtain (very theatrical). People who have played at Bowery Electric include David Johansen, Patti Smith, Norah Jones, and my personal dark star Lucinda Williams. Also Jesse Malin, who co-owns the BE and other East Village venues.

Who played:

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A Revved-up Alejandro Escovedo 

Alejandro Escovedo with Don Antonio at City Winery, NYC, January 19, 2019. 

The improbable pairing of Italian band Don Antonio and Mexican-American singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo made for some riveting rock ‘n’ roll at Escovedo’s concert at City Winery Saturday night (when these guys sing, “rev up the amps,” they know what to do next). Escovedo has apparently never paid much attention to the lines most people draw for themselves, mixing punk, roots, and rancheros, just for starters.

Needing a backing…

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Supersinger Darlene Love 

How cool to see the great Darlene Love at the new venue Sony Hall in NYC last night! Ecstatic harmonies and waves of nostalgia flowed during songs like "He's a Rebel," one of the "Wall of Sound" recordings she did with Phil Spector in the 1960s while singing with the Blossoms. Spector audaciously and deceptively released it as a song by the Crystals, since they were better known at the time, but there's no mistaking that "thunderbolt" (Rolling Stone) lead-vocal sound.

 

Since Love grew up singing in her…

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"Unity and Change" with Rosanne Cash 

Rosanne Cash at the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields.

“I think someone’s in there.” As I turned toward the person speaking those words, I thanked her for letting me know that the restroom, in a small hall just off the altar of the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields, in Greenwich Village, was occupied. The woman, wearing a red top and white blazer, was seated nearby, her hair an interesting, complementary shade of red. She was singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash. 

I’d come to last evening’s church event partly…

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My Night with Aretha 

The great Aretha Franklin died today. I saw her only once, in 2008, and wrote about it for an arts blog:

Aretha Franklin gets a little respect in East Hampton. Photo by Cesar Vera/Ross.

I am staring into Christie Brinkley’s baby-blue eyes. This does not look like someone who has just gone through an ugly divorce, someone whose exploding private life has been splattered all over the tabloids. Her face beams; her gleaming blonde hair falls, on one side, behind a small ear; her nose, too, is very…

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Eros and Thanatos: Shelby Lynne 

Ben Peeler and Shelby Lynne at City Winery, July 21, 2018.

“When a line hits you, you’d best to put it down somewhere,” said the southern singer-songwriter Shelby Lynne, by way of introducing the Jimmy-Webb-esque “Lookin’ Up.” At City Winery in NYC on a rainy night, there were striking lines to come during Lynne’s concert, many of them heartbreaking. (That song’s hook line is “I'm lookin' up, for the next thing that brings me down.”) Later in the evening, Lynne told us that someone once asked her, “Why…

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