Last night, just as an experiment, I went down to the Salon, now housed at Etcetera Etcetera, overlooking 44th St. -- weird, I didn't bring my camera. Must remember these things, but I was focused on making music and listening to other singers and songwriters. But I wanted to see what kind of sound we could make, everyone in the room.
The thing that's kind of charming about the Salon is that, just like Kulak's Woodshed in L.A., it's an open mic, so you get all sizes, shapes and ages, so some of the acts can be a bit questionable in quality. But Mark also surrounds himself with some of the best singers just bubbling under on the cabaret scene.
He's a great musician who can literally play anything. Most of them have had at least some basic music training or they've done shows.
First, I sang Gabi's Song and mentioned how we had created this "instant chorus" last Sunday night, where all the principle singers met for the first time, literally discovering the piece along with the audience. The sound was so glorious. Just wait. I have video for you.
But the sound was so glorious, I realized it was possible. But that's not enough. The piece has to be functional for full community singing, i.e. the audience singing along and becoming part of the piece. And not just as an echo and response shout, but as a legitimately musical part of the equation.
So, after a quick break -- where I saw Stephen Bienskie hanging out, by the way. He looks fantastic and is still very much on the scene, going to auditions, etc. -- I was called back, and I chose the song "Lazarus Come Out" because that text, by Peter Carman, is a thank you to caregivers of people with AIDS (though the lyrics don't do that; they simply tell the story of someone grateful to be alive).
I began by just saying, "There is a part for you to sing. Mark, why don't you lead us?"
And by the time we got to the final "Lazarus Come Out," we sounded like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
As I exited the stage, he said, "You know, when Steve first began talking about this, he mentioned he wanted it to be a community chorus type piece, and we've proved tonight that it can be done. I heard all of you finding the harmonies on your own. Wonderful."
And it was.
And now a small community chorus out in California have asked me for "William's Song." I said, yes, of course. (Secret to life: say yes).
I'm hatching a plan for New World Waking based on these little experiments. Watch this space. Fun up ahead!