“I Can Cook Too” at the Algonquin Salon’s Happy Birthday Bernstein Celebration

August 23, 2009 was very special at the Salon. Two days after, on the 25th, it would have been composer Leonard Bernstein’s (pronounced BernstAHEEN, there was some confusion) 91st Birthday. Mark Janas, the co-host of the Salon and pianist, was a protege and assistant to Bernstein, so this evening meant a lot to him. It turned out to be part open mic in Bernstein’s name and part rehearsed concert, with many people bringing in solos, duets and trios of his work from shows like On The Town, Candide, Trouble in Tahiti, West Side Story, and many others. I was asked by Mark on Friday – FRIDAY – if I knew “I Can Cook Too” from On The Town. I didn’t off the top of my head, but once I found it and heard an mp3 of it, I was hooked. I wanted to do this song (and it’s going permanently into my book once I memorize it) and I brought in the sheet music (Mark Janas knew it off the top of his head!) to read on a music stand, madly turning pages and the lyrics went quickly by. While it wasn’t a polished performance, I had a lot of fun spewing the words out.

Man, if I don’t mention a singer below, it’s because there was a LOT of great material to absorb and applause. I only mentioned a snippet of the more than 30 performances that night – some Bernstein, some others – but it was all great and positive and a perfect celebration of the man’s creative legacy. I think it really meant a lot to Mark too; he kept us intrigued and entertained by talking about how he first was picked out of a group of musical students by Bernstein at a party to be his assistant, as well as other interesting tales of the maestro’s life and attitude. Some highlights were the opening two-pianist arrangement of music from Candide with Matthew Ward, the gorgeous-voiced guest host Miles Phillips (fellow SF/Bay Area boy!), Ritt Henn singing a sweet original song of his called “Trip Mama” that made me miss my mom – Hi Mom!, a trio with Stephen Wilde, Danielle Erin Rhodes and a 2nd Stephen (last name?!) singing from “Trouble in Tahiti,” then a tour de force version of the title song from the same show by Julie Reyburn (and backed up by the same trio). Arianna (@OperaKitty) sang “Glitter and Be Gay,” ’cause someone had to do it, Janice Hall did a hilarious version of “I Am Easily Assimilated” from Candide (backed up by Stephen Wilde and Edd Clark), and Erin Cronican (@ErinCronican) and Tanya Moberly did a blonde-only version of “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love.” About 15 people picked up sheet music and harmonized the ensemble when the end of “Make Our Garden Grow” came to wrap up the evening. And I couldn’t forget the multi-harmonied version of Happy Birthday we sang for the man, Lenny, himself.

Happy Birthday, Leonard Bernstein!

Hear the mp3 of “I Can Cook Too” (with Mark Janas at the piano, produced by Peter Napolitano and guest host Miles Phillips).

Photo: Jim Cohn

1930’s Idol Wrapup!

Had a blast at 1930’s Idol last night. Didn’t place, but got to sing in both rounds, making me a semi-finalist and a finalist in one night. First round, I sang “I Got You Under My Skin,” and for the second round, I sang “Mon Homme/My Man.” The winners of the evening were Merrill Grant for Audience Favorite, Ritt Henn for Runner Up and Sigali Hamberger for 1930’s Idol Champion. If you haven’t read up on the evening’s judges and performers, check out it’s page on the Big Night Out website here.

My glorious husband, Pete, videotaped it (digitally recorded?) the evening, so once I have a breather, I’ll post my entries from last week and last night on my new YouTube account, which is sorely lacking in content right now…

In the meantime, congrats to the winners, thanks go to the judges and all the wonderful singers and guest artists who entertained, to Bill Zeffiro who tirelessly kept the piano warm, and to Jennifer Wren, Jon Campbell, and Alex De Suze, who produced and organized the evening so wonderfully.

On to the next big thing!

And for a completely different version of “I Got You Under My Skin” skip forward to 2:00 in this YouTube Video (thanks David Rigano for pointing it out!).

2009 1930′s Cabaret Idol

August 20, 2009
Sierra made it to the top 5 in the 2009 1930’s Cabaret Idol, hosted by Jennifer Wren and Bill Zeffiro at Don’t Tell Mama’s, after performing in the preliminaries August 12 and Rounds 1 and 2 of August 20th. To view video from this event, please visit Sierra’s YouTube page.

The Oak Room Open Mic August 13th, 2009 at the Algonquin Hotel

The Oak Room Open Mic August 13th, 2009 at the Algonquin Hotel

Wednesday night last, I had a wonderful evening at the 1930’s Idol, singing a short version of the 1905 song “I Don’t Care,” which I was originally introduced to by Judy Garland’s version in the movie musical “In the Good Old Summertime.” I always wanted to sing it, so I cut a 32-bar version down to meet the requirements of the contest. Happily (see former blog entry) I am now a 1930’s Idol Finals contestant, and will sing one, maybe two, more songs next Thursday night (check www.bnonyc.com if you want info!)

On Thursday, I attended the Summer-weekly Oak Room Salon, the smaller but more snazzy version of the Algonquin Salon Open Mic. Still hosted by Mark Janas and Peter Napolitano, this version requires a minimum and cover, but offers some amazing guest hosts and guest singers. This week, Sue Matsuki helmed the microphone introductions, and Will Trice sang two gorgeous songs from his Bistro-award winning repertoire. The master guest artist of the evening was Martin Lass on his violin and his wife, Ingeborg, at the piano. I’ll let Martin’s web site speak for him, because there is no amount of praise I can give him that hasn’t been said already. He’s spectacular, and Ingeborg is fantastic on the piano as well. Their daughter also sang a heavy jazz-rock version of the Beatles “HELP!” and proved that the family has musical chops that must run deep in the DNA.

The evening was one for the record books, and I was happy to be there. Of course, I recorded my longer version of “I Don’t Care” and posted it, enjoy –>

Hear the mp3 of “I Don’t Care” (with Mark Janas at the piano, hosted by Peter Napolitano and guest host Sue Matsuki).

I’m a FINALIST for 1930’s Idol!

Last night I had a fun time for 1930’s Idol Preliminaries – singing the first Contestant song of the evening, and winning a spot within the 10 Finalists for next week’s double-round contest. I sang the 1905 song “I Don’t Care”, it was over in a flash!

The other contestants who made it to Day 2 included a few good friends and some new ones:


More pictures can be found on my Flickr Set for 1930’s Idol Prelim’s.


Big Night Out’s official home page is http://www.bnonyc.com
Information on the FINALS AUGUST 20th are here.


8:00-10:00PM AT

343 West 46th Street (Restaurant Row) New York City

$12 Cover/2 Beverage minimum


212-757-0788(after 4:00 PM daily)

After singing, I took a nice break and had a conversation with a dirty martini

Myself and lovely Julie Leedes

Me and beautiful Sigali Hamberger

Myself and cool-cat Ritt Henn

“Pet Me, Poppa” at the Algonquin Salon, in honor of Matilda the Algonquin Cat

On Sunday, beautiful and talented Sarah Rice hosted the themed open mic at the Algonquin Salon – this time, entitled “Waltzing Matilda.” Matilda is the beautiful grey Algonquin Cat, and her birthday is the 12th (her 14th). In her honor, any song in 3/4 time or having to do with cats, kittens, or other feline persuasions would be welcome.

You can follow Matilda on Twitter at @Algonqueen, if you wish!

I was excited to sing the song “Pet Me, Poppa,” a song I had in my sheet music book for years but had never performed. This was the time to do it. Vivian Blaine sang this song in the movie version of “Guys and Dolls” (replacing the original song “I Love You A Bushel and a Peck” from the stage version).

Hear the mp3 of “Pet Me, Poppa” (with Mark Janas at the piano, hosted by Sarah Rice).

Renegade Cabaret: Balcony Singing.

Okay, just discovered Renegade Cabaret. I originally read about it in an “I, New York” interview in Time Out New York (August 6-12, 2009). It has been featured in the High Line Blog site, has a Facebook Group, and the New York Times has written about it’s emergence as one of those “only in New York” performance options. As the Times explains “Patty Heffley, a former punk rock photographer, enlisted her jazz singer friend Elizabeth Soychak to help transform her fire escape from a laundry dryer into a bona fide stage.”

I must visit this soon!!!

Algonquin Salon – winging it on “After You, Who?” by Cole Porter – Bill Zeffiro at the piano

August 2, 2009

Listen to the mp3 here:

And thanks to Jim Cohn for snapping these pix while I was singing!


More mp3’s of past open mic performances can be found at :