Hot Poppin' Culture News From New York City

Rockers on Broadway Relive Classic '60s Music

RockersThe ’09 edition of Donnie Kehr’s Rockers on Broadway debuted at B.B. King Blues Bar & Grill  and was an astounding success.

The back-story of this event began when Kehr was appearing in Tommy on Broadway and Pete Townsend first suggested an event so the  Broadway community could, on a dark Monday night of course,  rock their heads off.

Their events have been held at B.B. King before, as well as Steve Walter’s Cutting Room, attended by the best and brightest of the Broadway.

The Cutting Room events were always my favorites as the atmosphere and intimacy always worked in the event’s favor. This year, the theme was the fabulous ‘60s, and featured a veritable who’s who of artists.

They included Micky Dolenz, Lesley Gore, Lou Christie, as well as a reunion of sorts by members of  The Rascals. Any music person worth their salt will admit first and foremost about this group’s enduring musical legacy on the consciousness of America.

Their songs, including “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin’,” “How Can I Be Sure,” and “People Got To be Free,” which they preformed, will live on forever. I had never seen them live and though, Felix Cavaliere was absent, Eddie Brigati and his brother David, with Gene Cornish, were just out-and-out astonishing.

They sounded like they hadn’t missed a beat and augmented by Paul Shaffer and bassist Will Lee, the hall just rocked.

As a guitarist myself, I had always wondered ‘who exactly did the impeccable lead guitar work on their albums.  It was Cornish as I watched him, note-for-note, executed everything. It was, without a doubt, the highlight of the show.

Paul Schaffer, Micky Dolenz, Will Lee and Lesley Gore at Rockers on Broadway '09

Paul Schaffer, Micky Dolenz, Will Lee and Lesley Gore.

Dolenz, who was just interviewed last week by the BBC for a forthcoming special on the continuing impact on music from the ‘60s is off to the U.K. for a very special project. More to follow on this very soon.

“Last Train To Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer,” and “I’m A Believer” are anthems to the that time and remarkably sound as fresh today as ever.

The last number was augmented by three of the Garage Girls A Go Go, supplied by the always lovely Maureen VanZandt.

Lesley Gore began the event with her hits “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me.” They immediately set the tone for this very special night.

Lou Christie’s “I’m Going To make You Mine” and “Lightning Strikes” followed and kept the sold-out crowd on their feet.

Jeremy Kushnier performed The Spiral Staircase’s 1969 hit “More Today Than Yesterday” and was terrific. David Larsen performed “God Only Knows” … another personal favorite.

Dolenz delivered his usual spot-on performance. His voice is indeed one of the best ever in rock and last night was further testament to that.

Jarrod Emick did a spot-on version of The Door’s “Break On Through.” Lisa Brescia did “California Dreamin’” and “Monday Monday.”

A Jersey Boy original, John Lloyd Young did “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and American Idol’s Diane DeGarmo did a spellbinding “Somebody To Love.”

The ensemble ended with “All You Need Is Love” which pretty well summed it all up. An amazing evening!

Seen in the crowd were radio-execs Tom Cuddy and partner Mitch Dolan; Mike McCann from Premiere Radio; produce Russ Titleman; the legendary Sid Bernstein; Bruce Morrow, who more than ably MC’d the evening; radio-legend Les Marchak; Dolenz’ PR-man David Salidor with Dolenz’s wife Donna and Lindsay Rice and Jeremy Mazal from The Palm West restuarant.

Photographer Bobby Bank from WireImage  was also there along with Sandy Hicks and Cori Gardner from the event staff.

Congrats Donnie!

AIDs Foundation Salutes Kids, Families

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried and actor  Robert Funaro with their kids.

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried and actor Robert Fuanro with their kids.

“Join The Movement” was the motto as the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s Kids4Kids Family Carnival held recently at Industria Superstudio in New York City.

Held on a rather hellish rainy Saturday, 1,000 strong came, including comedian Gilbert Gottfried, his wife Dara and their two kids.   Robert Funaro, from HBO’s “The Sopranos’ with his daughter Sophia.

Also making the scene were “Hannah Montana”  star Emily Osment, Matthew Settle of “Gossip Girl,” Lonny Ross from “30 Rock and media-man David Salidor.

The 16th annual event was part of the Foundation’s 20th anniversary celebration, which kicked off last spring.

In the main activity room, stylist Rick Pipino’s crew gave glittery makeovers to those seeking a new look, including Funaro’s 8-year old Sophia. The main attraction was the Disney Reading Room, where everyone from photographer Nigel Barker to ABC News’ Elizabeth Vargas has a chance to read to the kids.

Per usual, the event featured a myriad of food from some of the city’s best eateries. A great afternoon … and, cause!

HBO Eyes Rise and Fall of Music Industry

The rise and fall of the U.S. record industry could be the subject of an HBO movie. It wold be based on the book “Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age” by music journalist Steve Knopper.

The Hollywood Reporter reports that playwright Victoria Stewart is penning the adaptation, which is being produced by Bob Cooper.

The book spans 30 years, beginning with the crash of the disco craze in the late 1970s, through the CD boom in the late 1980s and the 1990s, the music industry’s battle with Napster and other file-sharing online services in the 2000s and the sharp decline in sales of CDs, which have been replaced by digital downloads.

Speaking from personal experience, its  no doubt a fascinating story, but a story in this writer’s opinion that’s been the same story in almost every other business in the media world for the past year or so.

Look at how many magazines and newspapers have either been cut or downsized,  NBC-TV  is running scared and the entire book publishing world is being severely crippled. But, that said, this is one HBO show I’d want to see .

Short Takes: Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, Paul Schaffer, Peter Graves and More

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will be the co-hosts of next year’s Oscars 82 fest in February 2010. Martin solo hosted the show in 2001 and 2003, earning an Emmy nom for the first turn. Baldwin has appeared as a presenter, most recently in 2004 when he was nominated as best supporting actor for “The Cooler.” Martin has hosted SNL 15 times; Baldwin 14. It should be a funny, funny show. Martin said when the news broke, “I am happy to co-host the Oscars with my enemy Alec Baldwin”

* * *

Currently reading Paul Shaffer’s terrific new book, “We’ll Be Here For The Rest Of Our Lives.” Written with David Ritz, it is the best read so far this year. It includes everything from Jerry Lewis to Jaco Pastorious and David Letterman, too; details to follow!

* * *

Congrats to TV-icon Peter Graves (TV’s “Mission Impossible”) for landing a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame last week.

* * *

Colin Hanks (Tom’s son) is set to star in “Jack and Dan,” Matt Nix’s new 13-episode series set for Fox TV. Also starring is Bradley Whitford. It centers on Jack (Hanks), an ambitious, by-the-book detective whose habit of undermining himself has resulted in a dead-end position at the LA police (insert own joke here). His partner, Dan (Whitford), is a drunken, lecherous, wild-card who hangs on to his job only because of a heroic act years earlier. The real instant appeal of the show is that Mix’s earlier show, “Burn This” has emerged as a quirky, major hit on USA TV. This one sounds great.

* * *

Eagle Rock Entertainment keeps releasing great, if somewhat old DVDs. In fact, I have a Roxy Music on my desk to review and in two weeks, they will release the orignal tour of Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell , which featured Karla DeVito as his original femme-foil. That first tour in 1978 (!!!) was most awesome …

* * *

Anthony Hopkins looks to be the first choice of the producers of the forthcoming comic-to-screen “Thor,’ to play the Norse God’s father, Odin. The movie centers on Thor, the god of thunder, whose reckless actions re-ignite an ancient war. As punishment, he is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans. Odin is Thor’s father and ruler of Asgard, the home of the Gods. Chris Hemsworth is playing Thor; and Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston are also in the cast.  The film is being directed by Kenneth Branagh

* * *

The ink is dry on a new “Men in Black” epic, “MIB 3,” starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones yet again.

* * *

More in the next column on a very significant CD release: the 4-CD Hall And Oates compilation, “Do What You Want; Be What Your Are.” A staggering, dazzling collection from this group. A must-have!

Names in the News

Eric Martin; Bobby Bank; Denzo Martini and son; Ruth Mueller; Mark Bego; Roy Trakin; Rob Santos; Jonathan Wolfson; Deb Caponetta; Maureen VanZandt; Robert Funaro; Roger Friedman; Donnie Kehr; Sandy Hicks; Bruce Grakal; Adam Pollack; Tom Cuddy; Mitch Dolan; Chuck With Guns Magazine; Victoria Hill; and Sandy Hicks!!!