Jenna's Two Cents Blog   

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rufus Wainwright, Cast Party, and an annoying cold

Hello all!
I'm just about to hit the hay after a long day...well, Tuesdays are always long, since I don't get home from Cast Party until about 2 a.m. and then have to be into work by 9, but today seemed longer than most since I'm just getting over a cold...but I'm getting ahead of myself! Let me backtrack to LAST Tuesday, which was long, yes, but I hardly noticed, because I went to see the fabulous Rufus Wainwright at the Blender Theater at Gramercy. I'm a longtime Rufus fan, and I'd seen him about 6 times before, but he never ceases to amaze me. His music is so unique, it's very hard to describe unless you've actually heard it. He somehow manages to fuse classical music, gorgeous lyrics, lush harmonies and pop sensibilities with an indeniable flare for the dramatic, and each time I see him, he manages to put on an even more incredible show. He was performing with his band, which included 3 horn players, who, among them, played flute, soprano sax, alto sax, recorder, trumpet, English horn, French horn, and guitar, two guitar players, a bassist, a piano player, and a drummer. Rufus himself at times played piano, at times played guitar, and at times simply sang. While his voice may not be to everyone's liking (personally, I'm a fan!), what cannot be denied is his incredible musicianship and heartbreakingly beautiful compositions. At times, the sheer energy and volume radiating from the band on stage seemed as if it would blow the roof off of the theater, and at other times, it was just Rufus sitting at the piano, delivering a touching ballad as if he were in a room as small as the Duplex. His new album is called "Release the Stars," and it contains some of his most complex, intricate work to date - if you haven't heard him before, I urge you to check him out! And please, by all means, when he comes back to town, go see him!!
Wednesday and Thursday of last week found me back in the studio, working on putting the finishing touches on the album. For all intents and purposes, the recording portion is done; what we were working on last week, and what we will be working on for a few more hours still, is getting the final mixes *just* right. Man! I had no idea how crazy you could drive yourself by sitting in a studio and listening to the same songs over and over and over and over again, tweaking the volume of the bass here, the piano there, the backup singers here, the lead vocals there. It's exhausting and exhilherating, and I can't wait for the final product!
I think my body went on slight overload from all of the long hours in the studio, though, because by Friday, I was apartment bound with a pretty nasty there's not really too much for me to report about the weekend! Last night, though, I was back in action at Cast Party. I didn't sing, because my voice was not feeling quite up to snuff, having spent the weekend doing a lot of coughing, but I did have a terrific time watching everyone else and socializing! Jim Caruso was out of town (touring with Liza Minelli!), and Christine Lavin did a terrific job of filling in as guest-hostess. She took her duties seriously, organizing a wonderful tribute to the great Ervin Drake, and a number of performers honored Mr. Drake (who was sitting front and center with his wife) by singing songs that he had written. Richard Skipper, Lodi Carr, David Goldman, Christine Pedi, Sue Matsuki, and Jenny Lynn Stewart were among those who paid tribute in song to one of America's most beloved songwriters. If you're in the city, come by next week - Christine Lavin is guest-hosting again, and we're planning on having a ball!
By the way, if you're interested in opera, the Met is putting on free performances of La Boheme and Faust in city parks over the next few weeks - what a great way to spend an evening! Check out their website for the details.
And now, I must say goodnight - check back for more updates soon!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Hello all! I can't believe it's been nearly two weeks since my last post! My, how time flies when you're...busy! Not that I haven't been having fun, but really, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind! Anyway, let me bring you up to date. Last month I mentioned that I was working on a CD. Well, I'm STILL working on it, which has been occupying a lot of my time. Originally, I'd anticipated that putting in 3 days of work in California and 4 days of work in NYC would be enough, but I've come to realize that if I want a product that I'm really proud of, more time is required. I know some people reading this blog have probably recorded CDs, so you can skip this part if you want, but I want to write a little bit about the experience, because it's SO unlike performing on a stage! The first thing I noticed is that your own voice sounds really weird through headphones! Yikes! It's kind of scary, hearing yourself that intensely! But, after getting used to the way I sounded through headphones, I found some different ways of approaching material. On stage, I'm used to giving, giving, giving - really pushing my energy outward, and "selling" things. But, on a recording, I can be as quiet as a, um...let's see, I hate rodents so I'm not going to use the common turn of phrase...I can be as quiet as a soft breeze and it's still picked up by the mike. Subtleties and nuances that wouldn't necessarily read on stage are picked up, which is awesome! I've had so much fun playing with songs and rediscovering material I've been doing for years. Now, the flip side of that is that any little flaw is also exacerbated. So, being a perfectionist, there are a few passages where I would not be completely satisfied with a syllable or a phrase, or even a passing tone that you hear for a split we'd go back and re-do those sections.
As I mentioned before, one of the coolest parts about this has been getting to work with so many amazing musicians. It's been a true blast getting to work with some of the best musicians in the biz, and I'm so looking forward to the finished product. As I'm typing this, my dad and Kelly Park, my producer, are sitting in the studio with the engineers and working on what will be the final mix. It's exciting and terrifying at the same time! I'll keep you posted on the process after this, because there are all kinds of things that need to get done before the CD is actually ready to sell. Hopefully, you'll find this interesting - most of my writing for the next few months will probably be about the process of getting the CD finished, as the project has pretty much wiped me out financially - which means I won't be getting to as many shows as usual.
However, even though I'm broke, I've still been managing to get to a FEW shows, so let me write about those. Last Thursday, I checked out Annie Hughes at Helen's and had a really great time! My boyfriend Rob Langeder was her guest star, so I did have an extra special interest in seeing the show, but I probably would have gone anyway, because there's such a great buzz about her! The show was really fun! The room was packed, and the energy was great - and Annie just fed off of that energy and gave back even more! The show ran the gamut from touching and emotional to silly and zany. Annie's charming personality and fantastic sense of humor delighted an already-enamored audience and her duets with Rob (hilarious parodies of well-known musical theater songwriters) had us all in stitches. An altogether entertaining evening!
On Saturday, May 26th, I saw the closing night of Andrea Marcovicci's Just Love: By Request show at the Oak Room. As always, Andrea just sparkled (both literally and figuratively!) for the whole show. Anchored by a few choices of her own to serve as guideposts in the show, Andrea pulled written requests submitted by audience members out of a gorgeous top hat (her father's!) and with each request, she would chat with the person who had asked for that particular song and get to the heart of why they requested it. This was half the fun - some audience members were absolutely terrified of having a microphone thrust in their face and having to explain their attachment to a particular song; others relished in the spotlight! Andrea was able, though, to make every single person she chatted with feel like a million dollars - and it was beautiful to watch. The songs themselves were mostly standards, with a few pop songs thrown in, and Andrea's charming delivery kept the audience in the palm of her hand for the entire evening. Superb musical direction by Shelly Markham made the show all the more enjoyable!
Beyond Andrea and Annie, the only show I've been to in the past few weeks is my old favorite - Cast Party. Last night was a particularly fun night there, because I had my dad and Kelly Park with me! I did "Sway" and my dad did Moondance (I played flute on it!) and Kelly played piano for both of us! Another fun surprise was that bassist Saadi Zain, whose played a few shows with us, walked in right before we were about to go up, so he joined the fun and played on our songs, too! Definitely a fun night at Birdland! If you haven't been there in a while, next week should be fun - Jim Caruso will be away, so Christine Lavin will be hosting - with ME assisting! Come on by for a fun start to your week!
Anyway, that's about all for now, but I will keep you up to date on the CD project, as well as any shows that I see!