By Sandi Durell
Rita Wilson is back at the Café Carlyle, but in a surprisingly different musical offering bringing along some of her best buddy songwriters from Nashville to L.A. and New York with the stories of the country, folk and pop rock music that became the soundtrack of many lives of the 70s straight from the artists who wrote them.
Comfortably seated next to Rita, on the front of the stage, were Tom Douglas, Kara DioGuardi and Patty Smyth as Wilson opened with her own “(I Don’t Wanna Be) Strong Tonight.” It then became a round table of artists, talking about their backgrounds, giving lots of insight into their personal life and song styles performing – – Tom Douglas (inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014) a man with a poet’s sensibility who first wound up selling real estate in Nashville at age 27, began recording his songs at age 41. At the piano, he played and sang “House That Built Me,” “Mama Song” and “Drunk Girl” bemoaning missing the small town feeling.
Kara DioGuardi, with whom Rita wrote her first song, decided at age 22 she needed to be a songwriter. She’s a Grammy nominated scrappy gal from New York with a long list of credits, numerous awards, who teaches and collaborates with anyone and everyone from Pink, to Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera, and offered up “Pieces of Me” and more throughout a very long, extended show.
Patty Smyth (hit band, Scandal) considers herself a rock n’ roll angry chick, is the mother of six (3 with punk poet Richard Hell) and of more recent 24 years, 3 more kids with tennis punk/commentator John McEnroe (in the audience). Inspired by her sister and while looking through old photos, she wrote “Drive” filled with nostalgia, accompanied by her guitarist Keith Mack, and also offered “Look What Love Has Done” – the dangers when love just isn’t enough.
When it came around to Rita again she had many personal stories about her genealogy, her Dad’s history in Bulgaria hoping a freighter to the U.S. where he eventually got a job at the St. Regis in NY, met her Mom and they all moved to California (this is a very shortened version of an interesting story), and offered up songs throughout the evening including “Bigger Picture,” “Heart He Handed Down” (with additional accompaniment from her guitarist Andrew Doolittle).
This is an evening filled with a lot of heart and soul and great emotion that comes from the gut. Fans of country-folk-pop rock will find themselves in heaven!
The musical director for the evening is Nadia DiGiallonardo who is also MD at Waitress on Broadway.
Photos: David Andrako
Rita Wilson “Liner Notes” – Café Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, 35 East 76 Street (at Madison Ave.) NYC thru Oct. 20th (special guests on Oct. 17 – Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez) www.thecarlyle.com Tickets: 212 744-1600