BWW Review: Audience Members are the Big Winners When JEREMIAH LLOYD HARMON Plays Hidden Cabaret
I had two surprises in store for me last night. I went to 707 8th Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets and went through a Copper Door, down some stairs into The Secret Room, where I saw my very first Hidden Cabaret. That was the first surprise because Hidden Cabaret has only recently begun regular performances in the quirky, fun event venue aptly named because finding The Secret Room and going inside for whatever adventure awaits you does feel kind of like going back in time to a speakeasy where, once, people knocked and said "Jack sent me" through a window in the door. Hidden Cabaret tested the waters last fall with a couple of shows, then, in 2020, presented The Blue Wave Cabaret and opened their regular programming with LOVE AND OTHER BUSINESS on February 10th. One suspects that Hidden Cabaret will have no trouble taking their place among the nightclub cabaret rooms of New York City because the ambiance is extremely pleasant, the food looks and smells wonderful (this keto-vegan teetotaler is a food-and-drink establishment's nightmare who only ever drinks tea) and the programming so far is excellent. The bell has rung and Hidden Cabaret has come out swinging.
Surprise number two was their act for the evening, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, a contestant from the 2019 season of American Idol. Not being a person who watches American Idol I had, naturally, never heard of Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon and was at Hidden Cabaret to check out the new club in town, having given away choice writing assignments for other shows to different reporters on the Broadway World Cabaret team - and, boy, am I glad I chose the way I did. I have a bunch of new music in my collection this morning because this young man is so special that I am actually a bit angry that he didn't win American Idol and find myself wondering who DID take top prize. Perhaps Mr. Harmon is simply too unique for the masses, maybe not commercial enough at first blush, but any savvy producer of music or live shows would have to be able to spot how special Harmon is and want to sign up to create art with him and around him, that is how jaw-dropping his talent is. I'd like to say he is personally special but I can't say that we got a big opportunity to know him last night, his patter with the audience being rather limited, but it was enough to see he is a very sweet guy with a laid-back demeanor and an air of friendly gratitude about him. It is clear to see why a healthy number of New Yorkers were out on a Monday night in a basement club to see a singer I had never heard of, including a Tony-nominated actor who was simply beside himself with rapture after every single number, smiling the smile of the sated and shaking his head in disbelief.
Harmon's 75-minute set consisted of all original songs (except for his encore of a James Brown cover, which was reason enough to come to the show) and Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon was the one-man-band of the crowd's heart, as evidenced by the number of phones in the air filming him, enormous smiles of satisfaction, and cheers from the audience (when JLH asked "How's the food?" one guest called out "Not as good as you!" and the rest of the audience backed her up with validating applause). Moving from the stool center stage, where he accompanied himself on guitar, to the piano bench, where he showed considerable skill on 88 keys, JLH demonstrated the versatility in the musical styles he composes and plays, reminding one of the great singer-songwriters of the past like James Taylor, Jeff Buckley, Eric Carmen, and Elton John. It is such a pleasure to watch an artisan at their craft - JLH wrote the songs, he plays them on different instruments, he sings them, he offers up tidbits and factoids about some of them, and always with a relaxed, affable air that makes you want to know him better. These wonderfully intricate melodies and earnestly honest lyrics seem ready-made to make you feel, and that seems to be the best way to get to know Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon: through his art, accessible and beautiful. The voice is beyond rare, full of moods, so layered and colorful that when he stops singing and smiles at you, quietly speaking into the microphone, one is apt to wonder you aren't seeing the Jekyll and Hyde of singer-songwriters, except instead of good and evil, this man represents all who live inside of the duality of bravado and shyness. One might consider Harmon to be a bit of an enigma, but during the moments when he shares of himself, it is plain to see that he isn't a mystery. He is a simple, affable man with the gift of talent and a wish to share his music (though he should reconsider saying "thank you" at the end of every song - it interrupts the flow of emotion in which listeners are happily floating, all from his music). He couldn't be more sweet, kind and likable, and at times he mentioned that he can be prone to rambling and oversharing, to which this writer says "Share! Share!" because we want to know more of him, of his thoughts, emotions, poetry and that unreal voice of his, a voice that seems to flow, effortlessly, from him, as though someone simply turned on a faucet marked "Crazy Insane Beautiful Sound" and out it came.
Yes, I definitely chose the right club act to see last night, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, come back to New York often because those cheering fans and this writer will always turn up to hear what you've got to say and sing. Speaking personally: new fan, right here. Thanks for an incredible night of musical artistry.
Find Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon and his social media handles at his website
Buy Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon's album NAMESAKE will be available for purchase soon.
Learn more about the great acts playing Hidden Cabaret at their website
The Copper Door at 707 8th Avenue that leads to The Secret Room and HIDDEN CABARET
Photos by Stephen Mosher