Stacy Sullivan: Since You’ve Asked

 

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by Joe Regan Jr.

 

Despite a threatening storm and a crane that was blocking traffic at the Metropolitan Room entrance, on Saturday, July 11, Stacy Sullivan’s new show, Since You’ve Asked, was performed before a capacity crowd. Since You’ve Asked is the most autobiographical show Sullivan has ever done, and she has chosen some wonderful musicians to support her: Troy Fannin on guitar as music director and arranger; Matthew Watanabe on piano; and Jamie Mohamdein on bass. The show is directed by Savannah Brown who, it turns out, is her daughter! Sullivan begins with a recitation of her family’s history in Oklahoma and how, as a child, when a tornado was approaching she was told to go to the cellar and open all the windows so that the strong winds would blow through the house and not knock it down. She explains that the British (in her upcoming United Kingdom engagement) will understand the reference to tornados from the Judy Garland film The Wizard of Oz. Thus, the first song, Judy Collins’ “Since You’ve Asked” is sung plaintively and beautifully.

Sullivan tells the story behind Fred Hersch and David Hajdu’s “Good Things Happen Slowly.” Hersch was very sick and confined to intensive care in a coma as Hajdu and Hersch’s partner were waiting outside. When the nurse came out and they inquired about Hersch’s condition, the nurse stated “Good things happen slowly and bad things happen fast.” Well, Hersch survived and is still in good health today, so he and Hajdu had to write a song with that lyric. When Sullivan began to sing it she fumbled on the lyrics and had to start again several times with help from Hajdu who happened to be in the audience.

When she told a tale of her ancestors’ trip to California to escape the Dust Bowl, Sullivan reprised her song from a previous show, “How Little We Know” (Mercer-Carmichael) impactful.

There were many other autobiographical tales of her great grandparents and grandparents including a wonderful blend of Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today” and Woodie Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” When her grandmother stepped out of her front door in California she always complained that the sun was always shining. Sullivan punctuated this tale with Cole Porter’s “Too Darn Hot” and chose the great Ned Washington/Dimitri Tiomkin’s “Wild Is The Wind” to detonate the stormy romances of an ancestor who married five times and wrote a book leaving out all the juicy details of each marriage.

She followed with more autobiographical lore about her parents and her siblings; her unsuccessful first marriage; and, her own journey to California where she met the love of her life, Jeff Brown, the father of her children. Of course when she finally returned to New York, what happened but Hurricane Sandy. During that time her husband was working in a shelter for the homeless. She spoke of their relationship as a father and mother who had a long term marriage with music in the house, describing their love with Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide,” and leading into a hushed “I Get Along Without You Very Well.” But her most ingenious match was taking Yip Harburg’s verse to “Over the Rainbow,” sung with only Fannin’s guitar, and going directly into Noel Coward’s “Come the Wild, Wild Weather.” And then she closed with the great George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.”

Stacy Sullivan’s “Since You’ve Asked” includes 19 songs, all related to her family and her own personal history, which is anything but boring. Sullivan has found many old diaries and books about her family’s fascinating and exciting history and she lovingly shares their stories in song.

Stacy Sullivan: Since You Asked will be repeated at the Metropolitan Room on Saturday, August 29 at 7 PM. Reservations are a must. Go to MetropolitanRoom.com or call 212-206-0440.

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