RENEGADE THEATRE AT THE CUTTING ROOM —Monday night at The Cutting Room in NYC was a staged reading of Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna’s Lovers and Other Strangers, with, Warren Bub, Maureen Van Zandt, Janet Alexander, Joanna Bonaro and Bianca Monica, among others. We lost Bologna earlier this year (he of the great, great movie My Favorite Year – essaying King Kaiser) but this play, which became am movie in 1970 (featuring Richard S. Castellano, Gig Young, Cloris Leachman, Anne Jackson, Beatrice Arthur, Bonnie Bedelia, Michael Brandon, Harry Guardino, Anne Meara, the great Bob Dishy, and Diane Keaton in her film debut) is timeless.
As we entered the stage area, we heard period music echoing throughout the room, including lots of Monkees-music (Maureen Van Zandt is a huge fan) as well as Lee Michaels 1971 smash’ “Do You Know What I Mean” and Todd Rundgren’s 1972 smash “I Saw The Light.”
Renegade’s Steve Van Zandt, yes that Steve Van Zandt, took the stage and gave a proper intro the play and echoed many of the sentiments of the time, including a reference to how different politics were back then! The 1970’s were a far different time than now; I can well attest … I was there! I wouldn’t say it was a laissez-faire attitude, but totally different than today. Before the Internet, cell phones, constant security checks and omnipresent cameras. Yes, way different.
The show consisted of five vignettes, the first of which was titled Brenda and Jerry and featured Maureen Van Zandt and Warren Bub. Bub’s character brings Van Zandt’s character back to his hotel room in the hopes of some uninterrupted physical fun, but the two then verbally spar about what their union should be. Van Zandt, who is a tremendously insightful and intuitive actor (witness her work on The Sopranos as Gabriella Dante) wants love to bloom, but feels some remorse in perhaps this meeting not being more meaningful. Bub, who delivers strong work as a typical 70’s male-on-the-make, tries all the right moves, but finally becomes frustrated. In the end, love reigns. The performances are just great. Van Zandt and Bub also directed this one and it was very strong.
Bea, Frank, Richie and Joan, directed by Steve Van Zandt, was terrific as well, featuring the talented Joanna Bonaro and Vincent Pastore. The two of them were superb. Bonaro, riding high with her Good ‘n Screwed pilot (featuring Bub and Robert Funaro) winning awards and playing some of the premier TV festivals all over, was just spot-on delivering a performance for the ages. Pastore was exceedingly terrific. I haven’t seen him in a while, but this performance was striking. Mike and Susan, directed by Robert (The Sinner) Funaro was terrific too with Kevin Hoffman and Molly Fried just awesome.
In a packed house (where we saw Rascals’ Eddie Brigati; PR-pasha David Salidor; Sandy Hicks and photographer Jeff Smith) the crowd was riveted by the excellent performances. Just a terrific night. Steve Van Zandt is to be commended for bringing some fine work to his Renegade Concern. Bravo!
FOGERTY RISES — Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Fogerty has signed an exclusive record deal with BMG for a new solo album and to reissue his solo catalog.
The program kicks off Nov. 17 with the 20th anniversary release of Fogerty’s Grammy Award-winning 1997 album Blue Moon Swamp in various configurations and with a new cover. Fogerty is also at work on a 2018 solo album, his first since 2013’s Wrote A Song ForEveryone, a collection issued by Vanguard of Fogerty’s best known songs and new material performed with such artists as Foo Fighters, Bob Seger, Miranda Lambert and Jennifer Hudson.
“I’m excited to partner with BMG for the next chapter of my music career,” Fogerty said in a statement. “Their enthusiasm and confidence, affording me the creative freedom to make the music I want to make, has been absolutely refreshing. We have so many new and intriguing ideas that I look forward to sharing with everyone soon.”
John Loeffler, the executive overseeing the deal at BMG, said, “We couldn’t be more proud to sign a cultural and musical icon like John Fogerty, and become part of his legacy as he continues to create extraordinary and timeless music.”
As a solo artist and as the co-founder of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogerty is responsible for such rock classics as “Proud Mary, “ “Green River, “ “Born on the Bayou, “Fortunate Son,” “Bad Moon Rising,” Centerfield,” and countless others. In addition to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The reissue of Blue Moon Swamp begins a program that will include re-releases of studio sets Centerfield, Eye of the Zombie and Deju Vu (All Over Again), as well as live album Premonition and a new Greatest Hits collection curated from his solo catalog. Blue MoonSwamp, which was named best rock album at the 1998 Grammy Awards, holds a special place in Fogerty’s heart as its creation signaled a rebirth for the legend following a debilitating lawsuit.
“Every single note on this record has my heart and soul embedded into it. I had been through so much, being sued by my label for sounding like myself. I had to recover from the emotional damage of what that did to a songwriter,” Fogerty told Billboard in an exclusive statement. “I had to dig deep, and get through the feelings of betrayal. With the love of my wife and children, I was able to make this record.
“No other record I ever made felt like this. It was a victory for me personally and emotionally,” he continues. “On that tour with this record, I was able to sing all of my songs including every song I wrote for my band Creedence Clearwater Revival. If I hadn’t made it through recording this record I don’t know if anyone would have ever heard John Fogerty singing ‘Proud Mary’ ever again. It had been 15 years since I sang my songs. And that year, I won my first Grammy ever. It was a huge victory for me.”
Fogerty continues to perform all his CCR and solo hits at his residency at the Wynn’sEncore Theater in Las Vegas. Upcoming runs are Sept. 20-Oct. 7 and Jan. 10-20, 2018.
SHORT TAKES — Take a read of the terrific interview Keith Girard has in his Improper on author Mark Bego and his upcoming Eat Like A Rock Star tome. He’ll be feted at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room on October 19. Here’s the article: http://www.theimproper.com/music/15625/mark-bego-you-may-rock-star-but-you-can-eat-like-one/ … Since Melinda Newman rejoined Billboard, she has delivered some terrific articles. Check this one out on Concord Records.Just terrific: http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/magazine-feature/7964680/inside-concord-music-buying-spree-not-just-jazz …Our fave L. A. Times writer Randy Lewis just published a terrific article on Chris Hillman (Byrds, Manassas) and a new solo effort, produce by Tom Petty. Check it out here: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-chris-hillman-bidin-my-time-tom-petty-20170810-story.html … Donnie Kehr and Cori Gardner’s Rockers On Broadway is set for Monday, November 13 at Le Poisson Rouge in The Village. Their theme this year is Legends and they are honoring Tom Viola, of Broadway Cares. Viola said of the award: “Like best friends from the childhood, there are groups that come up and grow with you, side by side, who are both a marker and a great part of the foundation of any organization’s success. The Path Fund and their eagerly anticipated, yearly event Rockers on Broadway are just such friends to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The good will that infuses their work that supports BC/EFA and arts education programs galvanizes the community year-round, long after the last power chord has played.” Stay tuned for this one … Tyce appears at NYC’s Metropolitan Room next Wednesday and we’ll have a short interview with him Monday … Rex Reed called Mother!, the worst movie of the century. I saw it last weekend and while that seems a bit harsh, I had no idea what I was watching. I don’t know about the century … but, it was pretty grim. Be warned!
Till next time… Please leave your comments below.