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Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below

Uncle Walt’s Words Still Make Beautiful Music…

Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below Heigh-Ho, My Merry Rainbow Tribe! Bobby Patrick, your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in cabareT to bring you ALL the Tea!

So Bobby's final act for PRIDE, my dearlings, was Monday night's trip to Feinstein's/54 Below to experience an original song cycle by Rodney Bush and Eric Rosen - LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH. Inspired by the words of dear old Uncle Walt (Whitman) from his seminal LEAVES OF GRASS, this massively creative pandemic project blossomed when Bush, Rosen, and his hubby Claybourne Elder, locked themselves away for safety's sake for 3 months in upstate New York. Sheltering at home with a piano and all of Elder's instruments, and in response to sadly losing his mother to the pandemic, Rosen brought into the space his idea of music inspired by Walt's words and he and Bush set out to write a musical. Fast forward to Monday night and, at this point in the creative process, these poems Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below representing the America of the 1860s, and Whitman's own experience as a gay man way back when, have been arranged perfectly to the song cycle format - an album, if you will, that is an end-to-end musical journey for the listener to experience rather than have narrated for them. If you have not read them, my rainbow children, these poems are some of the finest in the English language, and set to a real folk/rock/Americana vibe they came to life in some truly beautiful and exciting ways. Kicking off the night with WHOEVER YOU ARE, music man Bush sang and accompanied himself wonderfully, though afterward, he apologized for vocals that he thought must've been substandard... Well, he was wrong. In fact throughout the evening, whenever RB vocalized he showed himself to be a fine performer and the best interpreter of his own music. Along with being a cutie, he was funny and engaging, telling tales and quipping quips with his partners Rosen and Elder.

Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below

Expertly hosted by the adorable Rosen who admonished everyone that we were all such nerds for even being there, the evening's roster of singers Anthony Alfaro (On Your Feet!), Elder (Company, HBO's "The Gilded Age"), Bradley Gibson (The Lion King, A Bronx Tale), Adam Hyndman (Hadestown, Once On This Island, and Gibson's real-life husband), Zane Philips ("Fire Island," "Legacies"), and Katie Thompson (Giant) felt like voices as carefully curated for the art they were singing as the songs themselves - all varied but fully integrated as each came to the stage with their pieces of the puzzle to be added to the whole picture. The first stand-out of the night from this cast came with Elder's rendition of LIVE OAK, inspired by Whitman's poem SONG OF MYSELF. What made this one such an interesting journey, besides being performed in Claybourne's voice coming out of Claybourne's face - Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below the poem is one of Uncle Walt's longer more esoteric verses (52 sections and Idunnohowmany stanzas), but Rosen & Bush captured WW's juggernaut masterpiece in a single musical narrative with rhythms and notes that gave it bluegrass-in-a-minor-key DRAMA. Followed quickly by the FABULOUS Katie Thompson dueting with Bush on the lonesome "I want" song YOUNG MEN, also culled from SONG OF MYSELF, it was clear that some of the work would be direct lifts of the poetry as written and others would be re-imagined as the inspiration moved Rosen. Make no mistake dear hearts, even doing direct lifts is still heavy lifting for a writer since mining the right sections from this enormous tome is WORK. Not all poetry is lyrical and not all verse can or should be set to music my lambs, but the collaboration between Bush & Rosen brought together imagery that alternated between earthy and simple, and heady and complex. A highlight in an evening of highlights came with WE TWO BOYS as married couple Gibson & Hyndman killed it on a song that, in this rainbow writer's view, married lyrics and music seamlessly in a Jersy/Garden State Rock beat. The most fabulous unscripted and unprogrammed moment happened when Elder returned to the stage to jam on his violin, inviting the other players to jump in with him on a barn-stomping instrumental break that had all in the hall clapping and chair dancing. The final song of the Whitman works was in the hands and voice of FIRE ISLAND's Zane Philips who took the song, THEN I WAS HAPPY, which swung from an outlaw country & western beat to a soaring power ballad and back again and mixed it perfectly with his lilting belt, hitting a total home run.

Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below

The last two numbers of the night came from a different work-in-progress - STOKER - Bush & Rosen's musical dramatizing the rivalry between Irish writers and sisters under the skin, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde. These numbers bear mentioning because they demonstrated that STOKER is a musical to watch for. Elder sang the lofty WINGS, a song inspired by a letter of admiration (worship really) to Uncle Walt that expressed Stoker's longing as a man of words needing to loose the shackles of his Irish Protestantism and be as free as Whitman in self-acceptance. Anthony Alfaro joined Bush to play the musical scene of Wilde explaining the convoluted plot of DORIAN GRAY. Both haunting and humorous and allowing Alfaro to fully uncork his bright belting tenor, the gentlemen played and sang the dramatic moment and then left us all wanting more DORIAN.

Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below

Under the musical direction and keyboard of Bush, the band was so expert and oh-so-tight. Jakob Reinhardt - Guitar, Ashley Baier - Drums, Lydia Paulos - Cello, and Meghan Rose - Bass all seemed to be enjoying the music as much as the audience as evidenced by Rose's face when, during a break in playing for her, she could be seen swaying to the music, eyes closed in a kind of adoration for the sounds she was hearing.

Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below

In all, our final event for pride was a perfect evening that reminded one that Walt Whitman was a super gay voice in a time you might think would not have allowed his candor, but that saw him hailed as America's poet. Sad to say that this stellar evening was a one-time-only (so far) performance, but we take great pleasure here in writing you all about it so that you, my dear readers, will follow the team of Bush & Rosen wherever they go and make sure you are in the audience for their next outing whether it be more STOKER or another iteration (what? Bobby knows words!?) of LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES for Bobby gives them all a resounding...

5 Out Of 5 Rainbows

Tweet Claybourne Elder On His Twitters: HERE

Check Out His InstaPictograms: HERE

And Keep Up With His Webby: HERE

Clay's Husband Eric Rosen Tweets His Twitters: HERE

And Insta's His Pictures: HERE

Rodney Bush Shows His Twitters: HERE

Posts His Insta: HERE

And Spins His Webby: HERE

All Photos By Yours Truly, Bobby Patrick

Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: Saucy Song Cycles Send Out Sassy Shade For Pride In LEAVES: SONGS OF OURSELVES FOR PRIDE MONTH at Feinstein's/54 Below


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From This Author - Bobby Patrick

Heigh Ho Friends & “Family”! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T. I am a queer reviewer, specializing in the seedy underbelly... (read more about this author)


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