On this chilly night, Vin Scelsa is hunkering down with what he's calls "a quiet, mostly acoustic show" on "Idiot's Delight"® at 8. He'll feature Bonnie "Prince" Billy, the New Basement Tapes (pictured), Johnny Cash, Maggie Björklund, Annie Ternheim, Simon and Garfunkel and others. Join Vin for a contemplative evening on this last weekend before holiday madness truly sets in.
Celtic rockers Black 47 have been a part of the fabric of New York for 25 years and frequent guests of Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight'® since the early '90s, but on Saturday, November 15, the dynamic band will play its final show at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. Tonight at 8, Vin will have his own radio-style wake for the group that frontman Larry Kirwan and former member Chris Byrne first brought to the show years ago, swaggering with punkish hubris, uilleann pipes, and rich tales of the politics, perils and poetry of the Irish experience and beyond.
Mary Lee Kortes, of Mary Lee's Corvette renown, is finally seeing a longstanding project of hers come to fruition. Several years ago she turned me on to The Beulah Rowley Songbook, a collection of songs with an interesting back story. Using a wonderful, time-honored literary device, Mary Lee spins a tale about a songstress who lived in the early 20th century. This aspiring fictional musician wrote her compositions on sheet music which she kept hidden in her piano bench, but she died a young and tragic death. As the decades passed, the piano bench had many owners until one day it came to rest in Mary Lee's music room on the Lower East Side. Upon opening the bench lid, Mary Lee discovered this amazing treasure trove of songs spanning several essential American musical genres. She recorded demos of a couple of these songs a few years ago, which she shared with the "Idiot's Delight"® audience.
Finally, it looks like Mary Lee's project will finally get a full-scale production with the help of legendary producer/wizard Hal Willner. Kortes and Willner are raising funds by pre-selling the album on the crowd funding site Pledge Music. There, you can find out more about The Songs Of Beulah Rowley project, hear samples of the music and see a video featuring Mary Lee and producer Hal Willner. I will play some of the demos on the show tonight.
On "Idiot's Delight"® tonight at 8, Vin Scelsa begins his two-hour musical odyssey with a Billie Holiday song that asks a poignant question. Segueing from Billie's query, Vin's song selections are fueled by love, loss, loneliness—and even Halloween candy—with music from Mary Lambert, Richard Thompson, Lucy Rose, Elliot Brood and many other treasures from Studio V.
Tonight's "Idiot's Delight"® at 8 is centered around a brilliant new dystopian novel entitled Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, shortlisted this week for the National Book Awards. It is about the Traveling Symphony, a wandering group of actors and musicians who journey together, like an ancient caravan, through what used to be the northern middle states of America. They perform Shakespearean plays for small enclaves of survivors of a deadly, plague-like virus called "the Georgia flu" which decimated most human life on the planet a couple of decades before the main action of the book takes place. The virus spread with alarming speed after a plane from Russia landed in Toronto with several contaminated passengers ... hmmm. But the book, published by Knopf, is full of humor and plot, poetry and character. It is not about the plague per se, but about how those who survive can carry on in the face of such deadly tragedy. There is music that feels right for this novel too, from Agnes Obel, Brad Mehldau, Jeffrey Dean Foster and more.