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BWW Feature: Birdland Artists Provide Epic Amounts Of Online Content

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BWW Feature: Birdland Artists Provide Epic Amounts Of Online Content

The gang of artists often to be found on the stages of Birdland have certainly been busy since New York City went into lockdown and have not stopped working, even as their hometown has been using the trial and error approach to figuring out how to return to some sort of normalcy in the time of Coronavirus. While the ever-changing process of returning to a functional society has many feeling relaxed enough to ease up on social distancing and mask wearing, on whether or not to continue producing online content or book their dates for the clubs of their choice, the good folks of Birdland have settled in to their work, their work routines, and the constant stream of entertainment coming from their family. With Birdland emcee and host Jim Caruso leading the way with Jim Caruso'S PAJAMA CAST PARTY every Monday night, the colleagues that stand beside him physically in a real world and spiritual in the virtual one have been hard at work, producing shows of their own on every platform available for the Birdland fans and cabaret devotees - and with the jury (still) out on when clubs will be open for business, once, more, lovers of live entertainment are grateful for each and every show.

Jim Caruso's Pajama Cast Party - Monday nights at 8 pm. Caruso's online show has now run seventeen weeks and has welcomed industry greats for a little chat and usually some music. With producer Ruby Locknar making sure it all runs smoothly, Caruso could give Carson a run for his money, were the legend still around. On August 3rd Jim welcomes Megan Hilty and her husband songwriter/singer Brian Gallagher, James Delisco Beeks, jazz singer Rose Colella, Broadway and cabaret star Karen Mason, singer/actress Julie Garnyé, and singer/front lines nurse Danielle Threet. Caruso's 90-minute show is viewable on Youtube, where all back episodes are archived for those latecomers to the party. Through audience tips, this program makes weekly contributions to The Actors Fund, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS or other timely organizations. HERE is the Pajama Cast Party Youtube link and HERE is the Birdland Facebook page, where the show simulcasts.

BWW Feature: Birdland Artists Provide Epic Amounts Of Online Content

Jim Caruso's take on life online: "Bringing Cast Party to the YouTube absolutely saved my sanity during this crazy, disturbing time. My whole life has been about bringing entertainment to people...either as a performer or as the host of a variety show. Four weeks into the quarantine, Ruby Locknar suggested we create something for the internet, and told me she knew how to make it happen. That's when I emerged from my funk and started to feel like myself again! Needless to say, none of it could happen without the wildly talented people joining me to sing from their homes week after week. Their music, good cheer and boundless energy have helped heal hearts, and for that I'm endlessly grateful."

The Early Set with Gabrielle Stravelli - Wednesday nights at 6 pm. Gabrielle Stravelli, celebrated jazz/pop vocalist and songwriter, debuted this weekly talk show featuring conversations with American and international jazz artists on June 24. The show, produced by singer/actress Julie Garnyé, with the support of Birdland Jazz Club in New York City, aims to reveal insights into the music-making process of artists who make live jazz (and more) happen in NYC and beyond. Guests illuminate their creative choices for viewers with a wide range of musical knowledge - from experienced musicians to those just beginning their musical journey as well as music lovers. Each episode also raises funds for a charity chosen by the featured guests, which have included Black Lives Matter; The Ali Forney Center; One More Dog Rescue; Jazz Foundation of America. Tune in to The Early Set HERE or HERE or HERE

BWW Feature: Birdland Artists Provide Epic Amounts Of Online Content

Says Stravelli: "I genuinely love taking a deep dive into a different person's music and career each week. I love listening to the different choices people make with phrasing, their time, their feel/groove, and the various influences that have shaped their music. I find that stuff fascinating! Some of the people I talk to on the show are good friends and some are newer to me, but we're all part of the larger music community. Maintaining that connection is so important to me- now more than ever."

Matt Baker - Wednesday nights at 7:30 pm. Australian native and New York resident, Baker, comes to viewers from his chic Manhattan home, complete with mood lighting, in this program showcasing a different composer each week. Baker was one of the first artists of New York City to begin online programming, his efforts and results inspiring many to follow his lead. The jazz pianist continues that tradition with this, the first of his shows during the week. Tune in to see Baker's show on his Facebook Music page HERE

Billy's Place with Billy Stritch - Thursday nights at 8 pm. Stritch has been presenting an hour of music from the Great American Songbook live-streamed directly from his midtown Manhattan apartment. Recent shows have spotlighted Burt Bacharach, Kander and Ebb, Judy Garland and Peggy Lee. His Barry Manilow tribute featured a phone call from Barry himself. Upcoming shows will spotlight Peter Allen (June 30) and Tony Bennett (Aug. 6). Viewers who are unable to watch the shows live can catch all previous shows, as they are archived on his Billy Stritch YouTube channel HERE but the live stream takes place on the Billy Stritch Music page on Facebook HERE (There is even Billy's Place merch available HERE)

BWW Feature: Birdland Artists Provide Epic Amounts Of Online Content

Stritch offers: "Who knew back in March that these online shows would be our new creative outlet? I can't speak for anyone else, but I personally have never worked harder at creating totally new shows every week. It's a challenge for sure, but it's made me stronger and the connection I've made with new and old fans through the internet has been enormously exciting!"

Virtual Lounge with Nicole Zuraitis & Dan Pugach - Friday nights at 5 pm. Grammy nominee, Nicole Zuraitis shows her special brand of moxie as she and her drummer husband, Dan, play music from opposite ends of their home while kickin' back with a beer. The affable and adorable couple are prolific in their programming, always bringing new tunes and lots of laughs to each episode. The two musicians provide incredible entertainment on the Nicole Zuraitis Facebook page HERE.

(Editor's note: July 31st, this show will be a special episode at 6 pm to celebrate the new Nicole Zuraitis CD All Wandering Hearts- to attend please click HERE.)

BWW Feature: Birdland Artists Provide Epic Amounts Of Online Content

Nicole's thoughts on the experience: "Virtual Concerts were a massive learning curve for my husband/drummer Dan Pugach and I. After seeing many live streams with poor audio content, we set out to make our experience interactive as well as high quality audio and multi camera video. This took hours and hours of trial and error, research, technological glitches and tears. In the long run it was worth it: we've done a Virtual Piano Lounge every Friday since the end of March and will also stream my album release on Friday July 31st with multiple cameras, instrumentalists and audience participation. I have to pat myself on the back because being a singing pianist who married a drummer turned out to be pretty great decision for quarantine, ha!"

Virtual Halson with Julie Halston - Friday nights at 5 pm. The funniest lady around, Julie Halston hosts a chat show that isn't all laughs... but it's mostly laughs. With her producer, Jim Caruso, acting as her sidekick, Halston welcomes her famous friends for some funny and frank chat. In August her guests will include Colman Domingo, Jane Monheit and Jessica Vosk (August 7), Andrew Rannells (August 14), Mercedes Ruehl & Michael Urie (August 21), and Linda Lavin (August 28). Catch Virtual Halston on Youtube HERE.

BWW Feature: Birdland Artists Provide Epic Amounts Of Online Content

On the subject of the experience, Halson keeps it brief: "This show, which Jim Caruso INSISTED I do, has saved my soul !! NO JOKE!"

The Drinkwater Brothers in Concert - Friday nights at 5:30 pm. John and Matthew Drinkwater came up through the ranks through repeated appearances at Jim Caruso's Cast Party. When the time was right, Caruso offered them a solo show because they are part of the Birdland family. Look music machines, The Drinkwaters have been providing online entertainment since week one of the lockdown but this week on July 30th they begin regular programming on their Facebook page HERE and their instagram account @thedrinkwaterbrothers

BWW Feature: Birdland Artists Provide Epic Amounts Of Online Content

Matt Baker's Dinner Set - Friday nights at 8 pm. The industry's most industrious musician logs on for the second of his three shows a week, an elegant and relaxing dinner set, with requests taken, virtually, as the real Wonder from Down Under serves up the best in mealtime entertainment. Tune in to Matt Baker's Dinner Set HERE.

Sunday Supper Club with Matt Baker - Sunday afternoons at 3 pm. Maestro and Gershwin aficionado Matt Baker crosses the finish line with a show where he dedicates the afternoon to jazz and standards in this relaxing and entertaining hour of music and chat. Bonus: hearing Baker's dreamy Australian accent. Sunday Supper Club is on Baker's Facebook music page HERE.

BWW Feature: Birdland Artists Provide Epic Amounts Of Online Content

When asked about doing three shows a week, Baker says: "3 shows a week, since March 20th is a lot, but I try to keep them fresh each time with different themes etc. Wednesday nights are always a different composer or key artist, Saturdays are dinner music and requests, and so often ill get out a few new songbooks to keep it fresh. Sundays are just fun jazz standards, so I'll literally grab anything to play for these - songbooks, real books, some originals. Most of all though, interacting with the Audience keeps it fun!"

It hasn't yet come to light what the details are but recently on her Facebook page Natalie Douglas declared she was filming her first ever virtual concert. Given her strong association with the club, one can assume a collaboration but, so far, no announcement has been made, giving everyone some delicious anticipation over the possibilities...


Birdland patrons and fans of these artists must be thrilled by the amount of content being provided online - the numbers of viewers and views, as well as the starry rosters of guests on the chat shows, are clear indication that the efforts are not in vain. One might say there is something in the water over at Birdland that informs the continued work ethic of the performers, but one suspects it is the family feel of the famed jazz club, and that has only one point of origin, club owner Gianni Valenti, who has never let anyone down, not the artists, the employees, nor the patrons of the club, and that's what gives Birdland the staying power that has, always has had, and always will.


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From This Author Stephen Mosher