Who: Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle
What: Livestreamed benefit concert
Where: CWTV from City Winery
When: Saturday, April 3, $15, 9:00
Why: City Winery is now hosting live concerts in its new space on Eleventh Ave. at Hudson River Park, including shows by Rhett Miller, Willie Nile, and Rufus Wainwright this month, but it is also still streaming performances on its CWTV platform from its locations in New York City and Nashville. Next up is “Woofstock at the Winery: Emmylou Harris & Steve Earle,” a benefit at City Winery Nashville for Bonaparte’s Retreat, a nonprofit dog rescue organization founded by Harris in 2004 to care for “the neglected and forgotten — senior dogs, large dogs, or dogs in need of imminent medical care or surgery,” and Crossroads Campus, which fosters “the healing power of the human-animal bond.” Earle and Harris are longtime friends and musical colleagues; on his 2019 tribute album to Guy Clark, Earle is joined by Harris (and Rodney Crowell) on “Old Friends,” on which they sing together, “Old friends / They shine like diamonds / Old friends / You can always call / Old friends / Lord, you can’t buy ’em / You know it’s old friends after all.” An early, in-person show at 5:00 Nashville time was added and sold out quickly, at $125 a pop; tickets for the one-time-only livestream at 9:00 New York time are $15.
Who: Shomyo no Kai — Voices of a Thousand Years
What: An evening of shomyo Buddhist ritual chant
Where: Japan Society and University of Chicago
When: Tuesday, March 30, $12-$15, 8:00 (available through April 30)
Why: Japan Society and the University of Chicago have teamed up to present a concert by the vocal group Shomyo no Kai — Voices of a Thousand Years, which specializes in rarely heard early chanting rituals. On March 30 at 8:00, the company’s performance of a new work, Moonlight Mantra (Tsuki no Kogon), by female composer Yu Kuwabara, will premiere, available on demand through April 30. Part of Carnegie Hall’s “Voices of Hope” festival, the concert was held in the eight-hundred-year-old An’yo-in Temple in Tokyo, with the group, founded in 1997 by Rev. Yusho Kojima and Rev. Kojun Arai of the Shingon sect and Rev. Koshin Ebihara and Rev. Jiko Kyoto of the Tendai sect, wearing traditional monastic robes and moving slowly throughout the sacred space. (In March 2014, Shomyo no Ka made its North American debut at St. Bartholomew’s Church as part of a tour organized by Japan Society.) The online premiere will be followed by a live Q&A. In addition, there will be a “Shomyo for Everyday Wellness” online workshop on April 8 ($5, 8:30), in which participants can practice shomyo with the monks. “Voices of Hope” continues through April with such other events as “Ayodele Casel: Chasing Magic,” “Ephrat Asherie Dance: Odeon,” “Different Strokes / Different Folks: Queer Artists of Color Paint the 21st Century,” “Voices of Hope: True Stories of Resilience, Recovery, and Renewal,” and “American Voices: Selected Piano Works by Black and Native American Composers.”
Who: Chasten Buttigieg, Ariana DeBose, Debra Messing, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tony Shalhoub, Ben Vereen, Stephanie J. Block, Deborah Cox, Lea Salonga, Amy Adams, Debbie Allen, Matt Bomer, Brenda Braxton, Len Cariou, Glenn Close, Loretta Devine, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, James Monroe Iglehart, Cheyenne Jackson, Cherry Jones, L Morgan Lee, Raymond J. Lee, Aasif Mandvi, Eric McCormack, Michael McElroy, Debra Messing, Ruthie Ann Miles, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jessie Mueller, Javier Muñoz, Kelli O’Hara, Karen Olivo, Jim Parsons, Bernadette Peters, Eve Plumb, Roslyn Ruff, Sis, Elizabeth Stanley, Tony Yazbeck, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Robin Roberts, Robert Creighton, Danyel Fulton, Eileen Galindo, Sam Gravitte, Sheldon Henry, Diana Huey, Aaron Libby, Nathan Lucrezio, Melinda Porto, Shelby Ringdahl, Vishal Vaidya, Blake Zolfo
What: Benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
Where: Broadway Cares and YouTube
When: Tuesday, March 30, free, 8:00 (available on demand through April 3)
Why: Mayor DeBlasio has announced that he expects Broadway to reopen in September, but that doesn’t mean the forty-one official theaters will be hosting shows come the fall. In the meantime, we have to keep quenching our thirst with Zoom readings, filmed stagings, and virtual gala celebrations. Next up is “Broadway Backwards,” premiering March 30 at 8:00 and available on demand through April 3. The benefit for Broadway Cares and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City, which honors gender diversity and love, began in 2006, raising $7,325, rising each year until it reached $704,491 in 2019; the 2020 edition, scheduled for March 16, was canceled because of the coronavirus.
It has now returned with a vengeance, featuring clips from previous shows (Tituss Burgess, Len Cariou, Carolee Carmello, Darren Criss, Cynthia Erivo, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Debra Monk, Andrew Rannells, Chita Rivera, Lillias White, more), appeals from Chasten Buttigieg, Ariana DeBose, Debra Messing, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tony Shalhoub, and Ben Vereen, and new performances from such major names as Stephanie J. Block, Amy Adams, Debbie Allen, Glenn Close, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Cheyenne Jackson, Cherry Jones, Eric McCormack, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jessie Mueller, Kelli O’Hara, Karen Olivo, Jim Parsons, and Bernadette Peters. This year’s edition is centered around Jay Armstrong Johnson portraying a lonely New Yorker navigating the Covid-19-riddled city with the help of a late-night TV host played by Jenn Colella. The show is written and directed by event creator Robert Bartley, with Mary-Mitchell Campbell as music supervisor, Ted Arthur as music director, and Eamon Foley as director of photography and video editor. It’s free to watch, but donations will be accepted to help members of the LGBTQ community and others who have been significantly impacted by the health crisis and pandemic lockdown.
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.
Who: Uncle Floyd, Scott Gordon
What: Live watch party
When: Tuesday nights at 8:00, $5
Why: I was aghast to learn that there will be a live, online watch party of great moments from The Uncle Floyd Show on Tuesday, March 30, at 8:00. What made me so upset was not that the event was happening at all but that it was the eighth presentation, meaning that I had missed the first seven. The horror! I spent a significant part of my childhood dedicated to The Uncle Floyd Show, a super-low-budget pseudo-children’s show beaming out of New Jersey, available on cable station WHT, Wometco Home Theater, and U68. The host, onetime circus entertainer Floyd Vivino, was a warped version of Soupy Sales, in a checkerboard suit, bowtie, and porkpie hat, cracking jokes from before your grandparents’ time, along with double and triple entendres, delivered by a madcap group of characters that included Scott Gordon, Craig “Mugsy” Calam, Richard “Netto” Cornetto, Jim Monaco, Art “Looney Skip” Rooney, Charlie Stoddard, David “Artie Delmar” Burd, Clark the Wonder Dog, Bones Boy, and Oogie, the Uncle Floyd’s ever-present hand-puppet sidekick. They performed ridiculously silly skits (oh, how I loved the Dull family) and musical parodies (Bruce Stringbean, Neil Yuck, “Deep in the Heart of Jersey”) and had such famous guests as the Ramones (who name-check Uncle Floyd in “It’s Not My Place [in the 9 to 5 World”]), the Boomtown Rats, the Smithereens, Marshall Crenshaw, Tiny Tim, Squeeze, Cyndi Lauper, and David Johansen lip syncing to their hit songs. My favorite was vaudeville veteran Benny Bell playing his 1946 novelty classic “Shaving Cream.” I even went to see the gang perform live at the Bottom Line, and so did David Bowie, who was turned on to the show by John Lennon; the Thin White Duke’s song “Slip Away” is actually about Uncle Floyd. The Uncle Floyd Show was a nostalgia act with no past, instead predicting the future of DIY variety series and internet programs, an early version of Instagram and TikTok.
The Uncle Floyd Show ran in one form or another for nearly twenty-five years. Fortunately, Gordon preserved more than seven hundred hours of excerpts and complete broadcasts, and he and Vivino are now streaming them on Tuesday nights at 8:00 for five bucks on the StageIt platform, as Uncle Floyd and Scott’s Video Clip Club, with live, interactive discussions. This week’s edition features the full New Jersey Network show from January 8, 1985, with additional segments from the WHT broadcast from May 12, 1980, including a song from a group from Whitestone that had a hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for seventeen weeks and on the R&B charts as well. (For more fun, engineer Gordon and Vivino also team up Sunday mornings at 9:00 for the WFDU-FM 89.1 radio show Garage Sale Music.) “Once a time they nearly might have been / Bones and Oogie on a silver screen / No one knew what they could do / Except for me and you,” Bowie sings on “Slip Away,” continuing, “Don’t forget to keep your head warm / Twinkle twinkle, Uncle Floyd / Watching all the world and war torn / How I wonder where you are.” Now you know: They’re on StageIt every Tuesday night. (The April 13 show will consist of segments from 1979, a full show from 1983, and a musical appearance by a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award–winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band.) See you there. And don’t forget to snap it, pal.
Who: Holland Andrews, Morgan Bassichis
What: Live discussion about streaming performance film
Where: Baryshnikov Arts Center Zoom
When: Wednesday, March 24, free with RSVP, 8:00 (film available through March 29)
Why: Baryshnikov Arts Center’s free digital spring season continues with Holland Andrews’s Museum of Calm, a sixteen-minute performance filmed by Tatyana Tenenbaum at BAC’s John Cage & Merce Cunningham Studio on West Thirty-Seventh St. “For me, a lot of what I had been focusing on was channeling all of my focus on my interior world,” Andrews, who previously recorded albums under the name Like a Villain, says in a video introduction. “And meditation, thinking a lot about tending to what was going on inside of my emotional world because, with everything from the external being cut off, this was all I had,” they add, bringing their hands to their chest. “So the idea of Museum of Calm is your own self being your Museum of Calm, whether or not you like it because, you know, what we were attached to in finding peace, in finding calm, had been taken away.”
In the piece, a barefoot Andrews (Wordless, There You Are), whose recent Onè at Issue Project Room dealt with ancestral loss, family tragedy, and healing, incorporates a yellow ball — the kind generally used in physical therapy, but here it is more involved with psychological therapy as Andrews roams the empty studio, beautifully vocalizes words and melodies into a microphone (“I spent so much time feeling I was no good”; “How do I feel better?”), plays the clarinet, layers the different sounds into an audio palimpsest using foot pedals, and watches the sun set over the Hudson River. On March 24 at 8:00 — the day Afterwardsness, their collaboration with Bill T. Jones, was scheduled to premiere at the Park Avenue Armory but had to be postponed indefinitely because some members of the company contracted Covid even in their bubble — Andrews will take part in a live Zoom discussion and Q&A with performer and author Morgan Bassichis (The Odd Years, Nibbling the Hand That Feeds Me) about the BAC commission. The lovely and moving recording of Museum of Calm will be available on YouTube through March 29 at 5:00.