- CHARITY BENEFIT
Review by John Weatherford
To base your self-worth on the ability to write the next song was one of the thoughts John Bucchino shared with his star-studded audience at the Duplex on the 9th of July. Mr. Bucchino dedicated his show to the art of songwriting, opening with “It’s Hard for Me to Write Songs.” One would never know this was a problem based on the depth of his repertoire and his vast number of loyal followers. At this performance, this included an impressive gathering of well-known songwriters (the ultimate flattery). Mr. Bucchino wrote “Stephen’s Song” for his friend Stephen Schwartz who was one of those many fellow musical geniuses.
Mr. Bucchino never disappointed with his evening of eclectic material. When discussing his bouts with depression, he told of his therapist’s suggestion for getting rid of writers’ block. She suggested that he write about anything, even painting his kitchen. So, that is what he did. He wrote “Painting My Kitchen,” a delightful song that led him to the power of his color choices and their possible clarity for his internal turmoil.
For me, the joy of Mr. Bucchino’s uniqueness lies in his ability to create stories in his songs that make the listener long for more. He leaves his audience yearning for the rest of the tale – the wanting of more. That wanting of more echoes in “If I Ever Say I’m Over You,” “Beautiful” (a taste of his commissioned new musical Esaura), “The Artist at Forty” and “Sweet Dreams.” This desire for wanting of more led to my own experience with “Sweet Dreams.” I heard it for the first time in 1996, sung by Amanda McBroom. I was so wanting of more that I wrote the short film Boulevard Café, produced by Austin Films. I was seeking a deeper understanding of the pain, suffering and sweet dreams of the song’s protagonists.
The evening also included music sung by close friends. Adam Guettel sang, with style and enthusiasm, “Unexpressed.” Michael McCorry Rose, coming off his Wicked tour, brought down the house with his take on “Taking the Wheel.” The audience was given the opportunity to hear “Home Away from Home,” a character driven piece which was unfortunately cut from the commissioned score for the film Joseph, King of Dreams.
Just before going to the show, I was with friends who were planning their wedding. Without knowing I was going to Mr. Bucchino’s show, they shared their plan to use the song Grateful during their marriage ceremony. They felt that the song not only expressed their joy in being able to marry in the State of New York but defined how they felt about finding each other. How serendipitous it was that the final number was that same heartfelt and inspiring song. It all seemed so – - right.
This man is an important songwriter and a captivating performer. He engages his audience with lighthearted transitions and great appreciation. It is quite clear that John Bucchino is “Grateful.” If he is as grateful as those who have the opportunity to share in his musical gifts, he may find the key to forever breaking his writer’s block.
John Bucchino performs again on Monday, August 13th, 7 p.m. at The Duplex www.theduplex.com
*Photos Russ Weatherford