Songs From Altman's "Nashville" Find New Life in NYC Cabaret Dec. 20-21
By Kenneth Jones
The musical world of the classic 1975 film, "Nashville," will come to life Dec. 20-21 in the Manhattan cabaret show Daryl Glenn & Jo Lynn Burks Play and Sing Robert Altman's "Nashville" at the Metropolitan Room.
This is a two-performance return of the country-kissed show that played eight performances at the Metropolitan Room beginning in March 2008. Conceiver Glenn told Playbill.com that there is hope for a commercial run of the show, which he calls "a concert tribute to the music of the film." The film's songwriters were the picture's stars, including Karen Black, Oscar nominee Ronee Blakley and Keith Carradine (he who won an Academy Award for Best Music – Original Song for "I'm Easy").
The film was nominated for Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director (Altman), Best Supporting Actress (Blakley and Lily Tomlin). The Tennessee-set movie follows disparate personalities (including country-music performers) and plots surrounding a U.S. presidential campaign.
Tanya Holt and Bryan Dobson and special guest star Jay Rogers (When Pigs Fly) are part of the unique "Nashville" cabaret show, which includes a six-piece country band and vocalists serving "every fabulous song from the beloved soundtrack album…lovingly recreated."
Musical direction and arrangements are by pianist-singer Jo Lynn Burks. Director-choreographer is Vince DeGeorge.
Glenn was born and raised in Lexington, KY. He's an Equity actor who has toured in musicals and youth theatre productions. "Nashville" in concert has been a dream project many years in the making, he said. It marked his New York City cabaret debut. He's the resident reservation agent and celebrity wrangler at the Metropolitan Room.
Director DeGeorge has created, directed and choreographed shows at The Triad, The Duplex, The Loft, Collective Unconscious and Chashama. He is also a private musical theatre vocal coach and researches and teaches experiential anatomy, movement and awareness practices for the creative artist.
Burks is no stranger to Broadway. The former Miss Alabama and Miss Miami was a frequent keyboardist at both The Color Purple and Hairspray. She toured as music director with the Temptations and did keyboards/vocals for Gladys Knight and more. On Broadway, she originated a principal role in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, and appeared in The Wedding Singer, Smokey Joe's Cafe, The Full Monty and All Shook Up. She musical-directed such national tours as Jesus Christ Superstar, Fame and Smokey Joe's Cafe. Her Off-Broadway work includes A Portrait of Dusty Springfield, From My Hometown, Cowgirls and When Pigs Fly.
Metropolitan Room is at 34 W. 22 Street. The performances are Dec. 20 at 2:30 PM and Dec. 21 at 1:30 PM. Admission is a $20 cover plus two-drink minimum; there is a $5 industry discount.
For reservations or more information, call (212) 206-0440 or visit metropolitanroom.com or darylglenn.com.
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brad wills, daryl glenn, jo lynn burks, jay rogers and tanya holt from cabaret scenes magazine may 2008
The Metropolitan Room announces it's summer season featuring returning favorites and newcomers.
Back by popular demand, it's the surprise sleeper hit of the season, Robert Altman's "Nashville." a country western throw-down (with 6-piece band and backing vocals) that positively captures the winking satirical spirit (not to mention all the songs from the beloved soundtrack, including the Oscar-winning "I'm Easy") of Altman's 1975 classic film. Sundays May 25 and June 29, both at 4pm. (Cover $20)
Any intimate-room patron asked if the score to Robert Altman's 1975 film Nashville is conducive to a cabaret presentation might demur, figuring country-rock and cabaret don't have much in common. You rarely if ever hear about cabaret rooms in Memphis or Tupelo.
Nonetheless, what country and cabaret have in common is sunny-voiced Daryl Glenn, who often presides at the Metropolitan Room reception podium but on a series of continuing nights is now stepping to the main-room podium out of his love of the Altman opus and its classic score. Country ditties Altman commissioned for his score from the likes of Ronee Blakley and Keith Carradine are now being sung on the Met stage. And because Glenn included Tanya Holt, Brad Wills, special guest star Jay Rogers, and musical director Jo Lynn Burks in the chanting, the room took on something of the Grand Ole Opry ambience. John Widgren's pedal steel guitar fit in just like it was the Ryman Auditorium of the old days, as did Andy Stein's hell-for-leather fiddling.
So, at the moment, country is cabaret — and vice versa — indicating that maybe the definition of cabaret is that it's anything offered by someone who wants to sing and can do it well, someone who explains by word and deed why he's devoted to what he's singing. Glenn couldn't have been more exuberant about the film and its tunes, even when singing Carradine's laid-back, Oscar-winning "I'm Easy." Songs like the opening "It Don't Worry Me" (also Carradine), which the onstage crew enhanced, have a sing-along allure that feels absolutely right in a cabaret environment.
-David Finkle "Backstage"
Heeeee-haw and yippee! Walking into the Metropolitan Room in New York City, we might we’d walked into Nashville instead once you hear the twang and harangue and what the musical gang sang. Well, we did walk into an unabashed love-fest saluting and reliving Nashville –the Robert Altman movie from the 1970s full of country songs and country music performers exaggerated a few degrees to the larger-than- life point bubbling between adulation and good-natured ribbing. The twang is there but not as thick as molasses (but almost as sweet), the enthused harangue is all about how darn wonderful the film was (I bet you’ll feel convinced somehow even if you never saw it), and as far as what they sang…. Well, the skill and beaming delight the performers bring to the movie’s songs is a treat. The zeal is contagious. Bet someone $20 you won’t be tapping your foot and grinning and you’re sure to lose the bet. (And you need the bucks for your cover charge, but you get your money’s worth in this big show that features singers, a band, a few stories, and a trivia contest with chocolate candies as prizes.) And if you protest that you ain’t no guldurn country music fan and won’t have a good ol’ time, you may well lose that bet, too, y’all.
The Vince DeGeorge-directed valentine to the movie gets two more bliss-fests this week on Sunday and Monday, March 16 and 17. Before things began, I accidentally put my press kit too close to the candle on the table and it briefly caught fire. (“Well, that was exciting for about a minute,” said another reviewer sitting nearby whose own now-published positive review echoes mine here.) And a few minutes later, the act caught fire, too (metaphorically, this time) as soon as Daryl Glenn, in western attire, began to play guitar and sing and talk to the crowd and by sheer will and talent made us all part of the fan club for the movie and songs he has long worshipped. One highlight was his rendition of the film’s best-remembered song, “I’m Easy” which won the Academy Award that year for Keith Carradine who wrote it and performed it in the film and on his hit record. But that ballad is really an atypical representation of the score which is mostly high energy, knee-slapping and fun. A couple felt too similar and one might be shortened to allow for some more talk or the cabaret equivalent of bonus DVD features about the important and unusual movie.
Daryl (who anchors the show and is its heart and soul) has a co-star --- a well-cast lady who looks the part of the classic female country and western star: it’s Jo Lynn Burks who sings and plays piano and did the arrangements. Her credits include playing for Broadway shows and major music acts and here her smile and joy are as big as her hair--- which means she’s really swell and she sings and plays up a storm. And she has two fitting costumes (form-fitting, in fact. Welcome to the ‘70s).
Jay Rogers is the spectacular special guest, singing the film’s fervent patriotic declamation, “200 Years,” leaving his trademark imp persona behind and becoming a one-man Fourth of July fireworks explosion. Decked out in a white outfit with stars and stripes, he sings almost maniacally as if the whole country’s winning a war depended on it. Bravo! But damn, it’s his only appearance in this show…but what a showstopping turn! It’s also regrettable that the two splendid back-up singers, Tanya Holt and Brad Wills, didn’t get some solo lines--- I really wanted to hear them spotlighted on their own instead of just their consistently excellent blend and support. Likewise, the band is so first-rate that more solos and longer instrumental breaks would be more than welcome. Ivan Bodley (bass), Chris Delis (guitar), Warren Odze (drums), Andy Stein (fiddle) and John Widgren (pedal steel guitar) along with Jo Lynn on piano are wonderfully entertaining and almost an embarrassment of riches like a full-course country dinner with the best grits and hamhocks and cornbread. Mmmmm. I’d be ready for a second helping. Of course, the clock ticks and shows in a cabaret room can only be so long. But I also wanted to hear more references to the quirky film’s dialogue and plot twists, which were just mentioned here and there in passing, sometimes as part of the Nashville trivia questions. Oh, here’s one: which member of this group actually was in a Robert Altman film in this decade?This show is quite a production. Cowboy hats off to all of y’all.
-Rob Lester "Cabaret Exchange"
Though The Metropolitan Room's fine martini selection always suits my refreshment needs very nicely, on Monday night I was feeling a severe hankering for something their bar doesn't stock, PBR in a can. That's because I was having a swell ol' time watching Daryl Glenn, Jo Lynn Burks and company singing the entire soundtrack to Robert Altman's 1975 drama, Nashville.
"They'd either get really excited or had no earthly idea of what I was talking about," is how Glenn describes people's reactions whenever he'd tell them of his dream to do a full show dedicated to Altman's film about various characters from the gospel and country music industry who get involved with a political rally for a 3rd party presidential candidate. I'm far from being an expert on this kind of music (I went in thinking that the film's Oscar-winning song, "I'm Easy," was Lionel Richie's "Easy [Like a Sunday Morning]") so I'll spare any comments on the show's country authenticity, but let's just say my toes were tapping and head was bobbing throughput the spirited set, directed and choreographed by Vince DeGeorge.
Daryl Glenn, who sings most of the lead vocals and plays guitar, has a sunny presence and a light, expressive voice that keeps you smiling throughout bouncy tunes like Keith Carradine's "It Don't Worry Me," and is sincerely touching in "I'm Easy." (Also by Carradine) Of the latter, Glenn says it's the song that first made him want to pick up a guitar and his affection for the words and music sweetly comes through.
Jo Lynn Burks, a former Miss Alabama and Miss Miami, music directs from the piano and wrote all the arrangements. With her hair teased high as the hem of her leather skirt, Burks has the kind of rich, creamy tones that serve up tunes like Karen Black's "Memphis" and Ronee Blakely's "My Idaho Home" so well. She and Glenn sound great together when they share Blakely's lusty "Tapedeck In His Tractor" ("There's nothing like the lovin' of a hard drivin' cowboy man."), giving the song a gay spin that 1975 country/western audiences might not have been ready for.
Special guest star Jay Rogers is all macho patriotism, proudly singing Richard Baskin and Henry Gibson's "200 Years," dressed heroically in red, white and blue. The terrific band accompanying the singers includes Ivan Bodley (bass), Chris Delis (guitar), Warren Odze (drums), Andy Stein (fiddle) and John Widgren (pedal steel guitar) with Tanya Holt and Brad Wills on backup vocals.
In addition to the musical treats, there are also chocolate treats – namely GooGoo Clusters – awarded to those who can answer Nashville trivia questions. So brush up your Altman and head on down to that little honky-tonk called The Metropolitan Room.
Photo: Daryl Glenn and Jo Lynn Burks
Posted on: Thursday, March 13, 2008 @ 02:58 AM Posted by: Michael Dale
Daryl Glenn & Jo Lynn Burks
Without going into the complex interplay of plots and characters in Altman's film, Daryl Glenn revealed an easy patter and strong audience communication. His voice harkened back to Keith Carradine, especially with Carradine's Oscar winning song from the film, "I'm Easy." Special guest, the usually irrepressible Jay Rogers took on a martial air, stiff back and all, wearing a red, white, and blue uniform. He brought a patriotic feel to "200 Years." The film, after all, came out in 1975, almost bicentennial, just one year before that other presidential election.
Attractive Jo Lynn Burks played a good country piano beat and sang with the insistent twang of country classics gals. It cannot be said that she is really up there in the Loretta and Patsy ranks, but she was in firmly in gospel bluegrass country and her arrangements never lost the mood
The duo was accompanied by a five piece backup, with guitar, violin, keyboard and Tanya Holt and Brad Wills on vocals.
It's worth your while to set a spell in the Metropolitan Room with this romping salute to Nashville. Daryl Glenn made it clear that Nashville greatly influenced his film and musical education, and it was a treat to share it. There is promise in that guitar case. Let's see what this affable entertainer brings to us next time around.
Daryl and Jo Lynn return to the Metropolitan Room March 10, 16 & 17.
Barbara and Scott
The Two of Clubs
Daryl Glenn and Jo Lynn Burks are putting on an evening of inspired cabaret at the Metropolitan Room in their show honoring the music (and the lore) of Robert Altman's classic film Nashville. Jay Rogers is a special guest star with vocal support from Tanya Holt and Brad Wills. But what distinguishes this show is the pure joy with which the material is being presented. The movie boasted a hit song - "I'm Easy" - but it's easy to forget that the entire score was both musically and lyrically very hip, smart and just plain entertaining. This show will bring it all back, and it does with both exceeding good humor and considerable musicianship by Glenn and Burks, both of whom impress mightily. You will leave this show smiling ... and thinking you ought to pick up the DVD of Nashville. There are two more performances, on March 16 & 17 at 9:30 PM.