It was a Friday version of DNO in the middle of the holidays, so I was hoping I’d get a good house, especially with local favorite Anne Hills in the mix. It turned out well.
I had asked Anne who would be a good partner for this, and she suggested Ilene Weiss, a friend from her days in Chicago and now living in NYC. It was a good match in that they had good stories to share about the Chicago scene at Earl of Old Town, a seminal spot on the folk circuit for many years. We talked about their initial stabs at writing songs, developing collaborations with other, more established musicians, etc.
Anne mentioned that one thing that impressed her was the fact that these musicians/artists accepted her as an artist and lyricist, in spite of the perceived gap in ‘fame’ and ‘experience’. And that is exactly how she has come to treat me, the local folkie. I now know how she comes by that attitude. We also mentioned her daily ritual of writing a haiku and posting it on FaceBook. Practical art regimen. And she continues her work as a social worker in Allentown with young families.
Ilene was wonderful. She has some serious material and some goofy stuff as well, and has found a place for it in her ‘outside’ work as a hospital ‘clown’, Noodles. She did a great tune to ‘Down in the Boondocks’ with a medical turn – Down in the Buttocks – complete with fart sounds. I can see how kids in a hospital situation would love her work and attitude. She even told a story about her work with Paul Newman’s charity work Hole in the Wall Gang, and her meeting Sir Paul McCartney at a benefit concert. He acknowledged her as Noodles.
At times, Ilene would do a verse to one of her songs and Anne would fill in the second verse for her. I was sitting in between this interchange and it was wonderful. I’m sure the audience had a good time with the interplay. I had a few things to add about my work with Musicians on Call with Ansel in CHOPS in Philly, and I counter balanced Anne’s story of her classical vocal training with my failure in auditioning in high school for a vocal part in a musical. (I ended up with some juicy character parts, though.)
Ilene also knew to offer a Beatle’s tune to the evening in order to get the audience to sing along with something. She also did a killer rap to Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I responded with Santa Assassin. Her interaction skills are finely tuned from her days in Chicago with Second City as well as her hospital work
As we finished up, Ilene came up with the idea of doing “It’s Been a Dave’s Night Out” to the tune of Hard Day’s Night, and it was an appropriate ending to the evening.
It was one of the better attended DNO’s, and I was gratified that it was successful on that scale. They are always artistically wonderful but I have been disappointed with the turnouts.