WEBB DYNASTY — I knew that the Jimmy Webb/Glen Campbell show last week at Carnegie Hall was going to be something special, but I was not prepared for the emotional rush of seeing so many marquee name talents grace the stage. I pulled up on West 56th street only to see MC Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta Jones descend from their SUV, so the evening definitely started on a most illuminating note. I met WOR’s Tom Cuddy and Scott Lakefield, who so graciously invited me for the show and we entered, immensely spying David Letterman-bassist Will Lee and Q043’s Ken Dashow heading for their seats. The lights dimmed, Douglas entered and began to describe how when he was filming his first TV show so long ago, The Street Of San Francisco (with the late-great Karl Malden) he got a phone call from Webb saying that he’d be in the area soon. He was attending the opening of a new restaurant called MacArthur Park.Douglas asked him to stay with him … and, he stayed for months, thus cementing their friendship.
Douglas then introduced Judy Collins who sang Webb’s “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,” a fiery and passionate song if there ever was one. Collins sounded great. Next came Billy Davis. Jr., and wife Marilyn McCoo, yes, from the Fifth Dimension, who sang “Up, Up and Away, “ which Webb composed for them. Davis and McCoo were amazing; seemingly not to have lost one iota of vocal talent. Next, Davis soloed on “The Worst That Could Happen” and was equally sensational. Legendary B.J. Thomas followed singing “Do What You Gotta Do.” Again, just in excellent voice. Liz Callaway, Ashley Campbell and Hanson (all grown up!) followed and then Johnny Rivers appeared and sang “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.” Rivers first recorded the song, then Glen Campbell had a massive hit with it. Rivers, an enviable talent in his own right was simply sensational.
Then Jimmy Webb came out and sang his own “Galveston.” His performance was utterly fantastic. Certainly the highlight of the night so far. Webb acknowledged several persons, and then performed, with Graham Nash, “If these Walls Could Talk.” Nash also played a plaintive harmonica which enriched the performance so much. Then came Art Garfunkel (looking very much like Jimmy Buffet these days) and performed his first hit, Webb’s “All I Know” and the room went crazy. Next up was Dwight Yoakum who performed “Wichita Lineman.’ This was my favorite of the night. It was a much more anthemic performance than Campbell’s, but he was so good, I wouldn’t be surprised in Yoakum begins to perform it in his shows. He was spot on.
Catherine Zeta Jones performed a spellbinding “Didn’t We,” then Michael Feinstein, and then Toby Keith pulled the heavy-duty work of the night with his performance of the Webb-gem “MacArthur Park.” Keith may not have been my first choice to sing that song, but I’ll give him props for the effort. Webb spoke and said the two of his friends couldn’t attend the show, Campbell and Linda Ronstadt, then closed the show with his “Adios.”
I’ve seen Webb twice at Steve Walters’ Cutting Room and both times, it was a superlative show. Face it. The man’s a major, major talent.
This was a never-to-be-forgotten show. Dazzling. It was a privilege to have attended.
DONNA SAYS — Donna Valenti is a veteran of the music industry; she booked several free-style bands back in the day (Marc Anthony was one; Pretty Poison was another) and she worked as an production editor at Madison Square Garden. She moved away from New York to South Florida, but now she’s back exhibiting her terrific photographs at the Dejavu Gallery on East 60th street in NYC. The spacious gallery has an interesting lineage back in the day it was known as the Bodley Gallery and had one of the first Warhol shows. 1961 in fact! Frank Bernarducci, of the Bernarducci- Meisel Gallery on 57th street said of Valenti’s work: “Donna is one of the most interesting new photographers to come out of South Florida in a long time; her work shows an experienced eye and a sense of composition that we generally see in only an experienced photographer. Donna’s new York show is one of the gems of the spring art season.”
We stopped by for an in-person visit last week and found her to be delightful and her work photographs terrifically vibrant. Here are two of her photographs: Ducking past the Manhattan Bridge and Field of Canola Dreams. Her showing has been extended to May 24. Brilliant!
SHORT TAKES — Broadway Records’ Tyce opened for rock-icons Air Supply Friday night at The Saban Theatre in L. A. According to Manager Nicky James, it went perfectly. We’ve known Graham and Russell for ages and Tyce was the perfect choice for them. Here they are backstage at The Saban (L-R: Graham Russell; Tyce; Zak Llloyd; Nicky James; and, Russell Hitchcock) … Brad Balfour penned a great interview with songsmith Mike Greenly in the current Film Festival Traveler magazine. Bravo! Here it is: http://filmfestivaltraveler.com/film-arts/film-arts-interviews/3434-wordsmith-mike-greenly-transitions-from-corporate-life-to-singing-words … Jenna Bush Hager had some trouble Tuesday morning on the Today Show pronouncing Comme des Garcons. Not once, but twice. I first met designer Rei Kawakubo in 1973 when he launched his company and have loved his designs ever since, and I felt bad for the way it came out via Hager. I like Hager, and I’m quite sure she was exhausted from covering the Met gala on Monday, but shouldn’t have someone helped her out with the pronunciation? She did a great job, but was clearly overwhelmed. Help! … Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam releases their next album The PGS Experience on June 30. We’ll have more on this next time, but dig the cover! We love it… Tonight is the second annual Broadway Bee with Morgan Spurlock, Robert Funaro, and just added: Reg Rogers … Details Wednesday.