The other night, my pal Ro treated me and two of our friends to see the wonderfully talented Carol Lipnik at Joe's Pub. I'm not saying anything out of turn when I say that Ro is one of the most adventurous people I've ever met when it comes to seeing performers and shows that he knows little to nothing about except that someone he likes recommended them.
I've been fortunate to be on many of those expeditions over the years and, as you might expect, there have been uhmmm mixed results. Sometimes the show is great, sometimes not -- and we do this to each other... usually about five to ten minutes in, depending on who has invited whom, will turn to the other if it's bad and say "I'm sorry" to which the other shrugs and grits their teeth and orders another drink (Heaven help us if we're at a show without a bar; I generally try to focus on my 'to do' list) LOL . If you live in New York City, you owe it to yourself to get out and at least sample as much of what is out there as possible because you never know when you're going to find a gem.
So Ro has been trying to get me to see Carol Lipnik for some time and I've kind of resisted as when I've asked "what does she do?" and the answer is "hard to describe", which usually raises a red flag for me.
Happily in this case, this description was true- there is no real way to describe what you'll experience when you see Carol Lipnik - but I'll try.
First off, she's a singer, and a damn fine one at that eschewing traditional 'covers' of other people's songs, and, instead opting to perform numbers that she and her pianist have written. Sure, there were a couple songs that one could describe as "covers" but when you hear "The Twist" done as sort of beat poetry, it doesn't really feel like a cover, it feels like an entirely new piece. Her final piece was a straightforward rendition of "Moon River" and I've not heard it sung so beautifully since I had the good fortune to be at a book signing a decade ago, where, impromptu, Margaret Whiting gave it a go (and we all joined in, because, geez, how could you not?).
So, secondly, you're not really getting a concert, you're getting an 'experience' that is unique - where else can you hear a song inspired by a William Blake poem? Or where else can you hear a song with the lyrics, "the anesthesia is wearing off" and make it sound at once sound Buddhist and political? You see? Hard to describe. There are howls (hers and yours) and a song about a werewolf and... well, you get the drift. This is not a woman who sings about being "back in style"; nothing that bland.
There are stories (real? imagined? Who knows? It genuinely doesn't matter) that place the audience in the role of meditative listener - and yet we were invited to participate so not once did I feel like a passive audience member simply hearing someone else as in most concerts.
Finally, there's her personal motto: SEDUCE. DESTROY. HEAL. Something in each of us at the concert certainly could relate to all of that.
What's also wondrous about Carol Lipnik is that she (smartly) avoids current topics (Ok there was the obligatory Trump dig which felt sort of out of place but given how much of a lout Trump is and has always been, it's easily forgiven) which gives the show a timeless feel. Given her Earth Mother vibe, this show could have existed in it's current form 10, 20, 30 years ago without one word, one note changed. How often nowadays do we get to experience that? Usually a lesser talent substitutes topical humor for actual wit.
She has one final show, tomorrow night, Thursday, March 17 at 7pm (doors open at 6). Shockingly there are still tickets available - run, don't walk to get your tickets and enjoy an hour of the mysterious.
(And thanks to Ro for continuing to push me out of my comfort zone by recommending/inviting me to new things!)