Scott Siegel Releases the “pop” in Popular

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By: Paulanne Simmons

 

Although Scott Siegel’s latest show at Feinstein’s/54 Below was titled “The Greatest Pop Songs of All Time,” it mostly covered songs of the 60s. So if you were interested in pop songs during Greek or Roman times, or during the Middle Ages, this show was not for you.

 

Everyone else had a marvelous time listening to a super talented group of performers singing songs of love (“This Guy’s in Love with You,” Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”), loneliness (“Heartbreak Hotel,” “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”), friendship (“Bridge Over Troubled Water”) and hope (“Here Comes the Sun,” “Downtown”). When the performers didn’t bring their own accompanists, Ian Herman was a formidable presence at the piano.

 

Occasionally, one of the vocalists took a delightful side trip. Stacy Sullivan sang the wistful title song from Norah Jones’s breakthrough album, “Come Away with Me.” And Carole J. Bufford belted the traditional blues ballad, “House of the Rising Sun,” which has been recorded by everyone from Woody Guthrie to The Animals, who sang an interpretation they copied from the version Bob Dylan had taken from Dave Van Ronk.

 

Siegel, who hosted the evening, added interesting and surprising bits of information:

Elvis Presley was advised against recording his first million-seller, “Heartbreak Hotel, a song based on an actual suicide.

Alan Freeman, who was inspired to write “Downtown” while visiting New York City, originally intended it for the Drifters and never imagined a white woman could sing the pop tune until Petula Clark expressed interest.

Paul Simon had to persuade Art Garfunkel to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” and later regretted it.

 

But the most pleasing surprises came in some of the very special vocal interpretations. Bufford used her remarkable interpretive skills to turn the upbeat “I Want to Hold Your Hand” into a thoughtful ballad. And Brian Charles Rooney ended the evening with John Lennon’s inspirational “Imagine.”

 

Feinstein’s/54 Below is located at 254 West 54 Street, www.Feinstein’s/54below.com.

 

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