Monday, August 2, 2010

A Blast From The Past---and a Concert Update.

Prior to his most untimely death Harry Chapin was working on a musical (1981).   The Gospel set in Atlanta, GA with the terrific title---Cotton Patch Gospel.   The book and story were the creation of Tom Key (who also starred in it) and Russell Treyz and the music was all by Harry Chapin.

The very brief synopsis is that is is the Gospels  of Matthew and John set in the rural South of Georgia---hence, Cotton Patch Gospel.   Leaving the story aside for the moment---and as a critic noted---an under appreciated gem that ranks with Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell---let us focus on the music that Harry Chapin created for this.   The music is memorable and brilliant and a far cry from his more well known works---which, I add, should be better known (aside from the 2 or 3 "hits").

In truth I first heard the song back in 1984 when I was producing some benefit concerts for a local library in Rockland County, New York and Tom Chapin was our headlined.  He invited Scott Ainslie (an original cast member and the lead singer then) to join him on the stage to perform the piece---and tell the story of the musical. Besides myself  I have to admit that it blew the entire audience away. 

It is too long to go into here but suffice it to say that the music in that production ---in addition to Jubilation---is a brilliant piece of work.  It is revived in many local productions, it can be performed with a small or a large cast,  and the music and story lend themselves to some great interpretations .  An example;  I will be featuring Scott Ainslie (from the original cast album)  on my SUNDAY SIMCHA program on WFDU on August 8 and also on TRADITIONS that same day.   It is amazingly non-sectarian and yet makes some wonderful points.

This all leads me up to a mention of an event that will be happening on August 9 and I am happy to say that Judith Zweiman has accepted my suggestion to perform JUBILATION as her piece for the 6th Annual "Wild About Harry" program at Eisenhower Park in Hempstead, NY.   It promises to be a great evening of great Harry Chapin music with some truly impressive artists.  Price of admission---some food for the LI food pantries.   Get there early because it is justifiably well attended event and my sincere plaudits to Stuart Marcus for organizing and keeping this event going year after year.

While all the music will be of major moment let say that Judith Zweiman covers a wide gamut of genres and I have played her Jewish material on SUNDAY SIMCHA, her Sea Shanties on TRADITIONS, but she does some amazing Gospel music as was witnessed last year by the attendees at the Wild About Harry Program---Harry Chapin's take on Gospel.   You will not want to miss her take on JUBILATION

While the original cast is not available on video Tom Chapin and an original cast member--the amazing and talented Michael Mark---are. 


No comments: