- CHARITY BENEFIT
July 28, 2012
Rick Jensen, well known New York music director and award winning songwriter, did a series of cabaret shows at the Metropolitan Room in July entitled “Tonight New York City.” I happened to catch the final show of the month, this past Saturday at 7 p.m. and he had three superb performers as soloists and back up singers on his songs: Justin Ritchie, originally from Washington D.C., Marissa Mulder, originally from Syracuse, New York, and Tanya Holt, originally from Long Island. Jensen opened the show with his “Tonight New York City,” a list song about all the good and bad things about New York City life. When he finished, he told the sold out crowd that he was from Wisconsin, and his parents did not have any Broadway albums in the house. They were into other kinds of music and it wasn’t until he saw the movie West Side Story that he became obsessed with Broadway musicals.
His obsession was also evident in the second song. Ritchie, a husky handsome man, sang of his love object, “Miss Manhattan,” objectifying the city as a feminine object. Marissa Mulder’s first number was “Long Cold Fall,” about the weather in New York, only promising that after a long cold spell, spring will finally arrive, and Jensen and Ritchie sang perfect harmony behind her soaring lyric line. Tanya Holt’s first solo was “New York City Is My Home Town.” Her voice and presence never fail to amaze me. For the rest of the show, all three singers sat on stools on stage, and alternated solos and backup for Jensen’s solos. Some of Jensen’s featured songs were “Unlearn Me,” “Coney Island,” My Baby and Me,” “Justice,” “Can’t Find Love,” “Harbor,” “After All Those Love Songs,” and “Fall Back.” One of the songs that Jensen sang was a love song from a masochist to his sadist lover which he said had won two awards from an organization that no longer exists!
Another very personal song was about how, when he was a teenager, and there was a blizzard and his parents were stranded in Milwaukee, he and his teen age buddies would have keg parties, all sloshing through the snows chained together. The title was “Hi Ho The German Way” and he had the audience singing along on the choruses, although he changed the word to fit his Scandinavian background.
Perhaps Jensen’s most popular song right now is “Amanda Sang” which has been adopted by many cabaret singers. There isn’t a night at Jim Caruso’s Cast Party when someone doesn’t sing that song. Mulder got to sing that one, pulling all the lyrical strings, and creating the tenderest moments of the evening.
Jensen mentioned that a song he has written is the theme song for That’s What I Am, a new movie starring Ed Harris and Amy Madigan about bullying which was a big popular hit at Santa Barbara Film Festival. The song is entitled “Go Ahead and Dream.” And the Trio of Ritchie, Mulder and Holt sang a stunning version of another well known Jensen song, “Time,” each one of them perfection!
The encore was preceded by Jensen telling of Nancy LaMott and her manager coming into a bar where he was playing piano. She heard him sing a song and wanted to get a copy. He told her he didn’t give his original songs to anyone else! He became her friend, her music director, and she sang many of his songs in performance and on her albums. In her honor, Jensen sang “In Passing Years.”
This wonderful songwriter tribute was directed by Lena Koutrakos. Enough said! It was a great show and I hope it is performed again.