BWW Interview: Michael Cerveris Gets Ready to Take Joe's Pub Home to His Home State to Benefit West Virginia Flood Relief
FUN HOME's Tony Award-winning star Michael Cerveris, who was raised in West Virginia, is presenting a very special concert to benefit the rebuilding efforts of West Virginians in the wake of the historic floods of June 2016.
Performers will include Cerveris' own band Loose Cattle (pictured) along with Laura Cantrell,Nellie McKay, Anders Parker, Suzzy Roche and West Virginia artists Tyler Childers, Larry Groce, Ona, Carmella Ramsey, The Carpenter Ants and more.
UPDATE: The 7pm show is nearly sold old, but there is still availability for 9:30pm. Get your tickets while you can! For those who can't make it to NYC for the special night, tune in HERE at 7PM to watch a live stream of the performance.
So did this come about before or after you came up withe idea of taking FUN HOME to Orlando?
Well, you know... I just get ideas and then other people help me make them happen. [Laughs]
You're so full of good ideas recently!
The shooting in Orlando happened at the beginning of June, and we began plans for Orlando in the week following that. This was later. I guess the first thing that happened was that I wrote to Larry Groce and the guys at Mountain Stage, a live radio program that's recorded in, most often, Charleston, West Virginia. I've performed on it in Huntington and then in Morgantown, and they've had incredible rosters of people from all over the place, who are the "who's who" of contemporary music. So I get in touch with them just to say, "First of all, I hope you're all alright and that you're families are all ok. And if there's anything I can do to help, let me know." And there was a local telethon organized really quickly that was on July 1st. So I went into the studio with my band, [Loose Cattle], and we recorded a quick cover of this Bottle Rocket song that we've been playing for a while called "Get Down River," and then we did our own homemade video. I taught myself to be music video editor and director and from start to finish we did the whole thing within 17 hours and sent it out to be part of the telethon, because I couldn't get there since we had a show that night.
So that was the first way we tried to contribute. As we were doing that we said we should try to put together a show here to try to do what little we can. So again, we reached out to Larry and said "Are there any West Virginian musicians that live in the New York area or people you have connections with?" And they reached out to a bunch of people and I contacted people that I just happened to know here and started asking if anyone was available or free to do it. I didn't want to ask people from West Virginia to travel to play because I figured that would be asking a lot. The idea initially was just to sort of find people locally who are available, but a number of West Virginian artists volunteered to just drive over to play.
I think that's one of the coolest things about this- that it's bringing together some acts that New Yorkers have never seen here before...
Yeah, I think that's really true, and I hope that my involvement and my co-leaders' involvement will sort of get the attention of regular Broadway-goers who wouldn't know these artists and they'll discover, I think like I do, their new favorite singers and songwriters. And with shows like BRIGHT STAR and ONCE and a lot of shows that have more roots in music and score, I think people are realizing that there is a lot of crossover between Broadway and Americana.
You grew up in West Virginia. Is it fair to say that's where your love of theatre began?
Absolutely. My dad was a university music professor there and he would be involved in community theatre productions and university productions. So when they needed a little kid, I was often the little kid [Laughs]. I definitely got my start on the community theatre stage and the summer stock stages in Kentucky.
Do you go back often?
I've been going back a bit more recently. There was a long stretch where I hadn't been back for years. When I went to work in New Orleans, I stopped during my drive back and reconnected with the place. That was actually through Mountain Stage- they invited me to come back. It was a combination Mountain Stage thing and this thing called the Marshall artists series, which is how I saw my first saw my first Broadway show, because it brought touring productions into the local theatre. That's how I saw the JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR national tour and the GODSPELL national tour and all kinds of stuff.
So it was amazing getting to finally come back and appear on that stage with my own band and see my old music teacher from junior high school, who was the first person who singled me out and gave me a solo in a spring concert. He was kind of the first person who said, "You can actually sing. You should apply yourself and do something with that." That kind of reconnected me with the place. And I have a lot of friends who had either always lived there or who moved away and went to school, but have now come back. I do like getting back when I can. My schedule doesn't allow for a lot of travel though. [Laughs]
Is there a way for other's to donate if you can't make it to the concert?
Absolutely. And I know it's hard on a Sunday night in the summer. People wanted to donate, especially people from other parts of the country that aren't around still want to do something to help. We really really appreciate that. We also do really hope that people will try and take a chance on something that might not be their regular forte, or entertainment. It really is going to be a concert that you're not going to see anywhere else in New York anytime in the near future. It's just really great storytellers, singer/songwriters and musicians and for a good cause.