In addition to watch parties, where people from around the world gather online to experience streaming content together, from old TV shows to theater productions and Zoom cast reunions, listening parties have taken off as well. One of my favorites is Tim Burgess’s Twitter edition, in which he spins classic records, sometimes joined by members of the band who talk about the making of the album. Melding that idea with Kanye West’s 2018 Wyoming media listening party for Ye, New Light Theater Project and 59E59 Theaters have teamed up for The Jackson C. Frank Listening Party w/ Special Guests, a virtual show running March 29 to April 11, an interactive listening party for Jackson C. Frank’s eponymously titled 1965 record, which was produced by Paul Simon. Written by Michael Aguirre and directed by Sarah Norris, the eighty-minute show is hosted by Allen, who is still upset that he could not make it to Kanye’s party, so now he is putting on an event to outshine all others, while also sharing the story of his missing brother. The cast includes Aguirre as Allen, Bethany Geraghty as Mom, Dana Martin as Grandma Woodstock, and Sean Phillips as Simon, with film and sound editing by Hallie Griffin.
After purchasing your ticket, you’ll receive a link to download the record and instructions on how to make the official event cocktail, Hippie Juice. The folk album, originally released in 1965, features ten songs remastered in 2001, from “Blues Run the Game,” “Don’t Look Back,” and “Kimbie” to “I Want to Be Alone,” “Just Like Anything,” and “You Never Wanted Me.” It was the Buffalo-born Frank’s only record during a tragic life; when he was eleven, he suffered severe burns across half his body in a fatal fire at his elementary school, was given a guitar while being treated at the hospital, and later recorded Jackson C. Frank in England in six hours. He lost a child, was shot in the eye by a pellet gun, was homeless, and battled debilitating mental health issues; he died in Massachusetts in 1999 at the age of fifty-six, having never released another album (although a box set of his complete recordings came out in 2014). Despite his influence on many musicians, he has faded away into history, now to be resurrected at a virtual, interactive listening party, using his intimate songs to explore contemporary society.