by Joe Regan Jr.
Todd Murray and Sean Harkness were scheduled to do a repeat of his “Croon” show Sunday afternoon February 14 at the Metropolitan Room but his bass player got another job and his pianist, was indisposed, so Murray and Harkness put together a special St. Valentine’s Day show. With subzero temperature outside the Metropolitan Room at 4 PM, the show was sold out, packed with special friends, fans, and cabaret celebrities like Karen Akers and Stacy Sullivan, all warmed up by the performances of Murray and Harkness.
Murray and Harkness did a superb rhythmic treatment of Irving Berlin’s “It’s Wonderful.” Murray discussed how Berlin changed the face of music after his wife died and how the man who wrote “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” suddenly turned serious. With the invention of the microphone, male singers learned to croon. Instead of “Always” or “What’ll I Do,“ Murray chose to sing an exquisite “Nearness of You” by Ned Washington and Hoagy Carmichael.
Murray discussed how he owned a bakery in California and winning a prize to attend a special cooking course in France coincided with a singing engagement in Switzerland. Saluting the woman who conducted the course, Murray sang “Patricia,” the song he wrote to honor her when she came to New York to participate in the marathon. The song had lots of tricky rhymes (rhyming “Patricia“ with “bewitch ya,”) and she and her husband sat right in front of the stage at the time it was performed. It’s on his CD “Stardust & Swing.”
Shifting to a fun section, Harkness picked up a ukulele and did a crazy funny song he’d been wanting to do for a long time called “Silly Little Song,” Murray harmonizing behind him, followed by “Light My Fire” – a better rendition than Jose Feliciano’s original hit.
Murray sensitively sang “This Guy’s In Love With You” and talked about how the rock and roll stars of the Seventies grew up listening to the crooners of the Forties and Fifties, demonstrating with a salute to Elvis Presley and crooning “Love Me Tender” and “I Can’t Help Falling In Love,” with all the musical gliding of notes by Presley. A few years back, Harkness did a great Presley show with Terese Genecco.
Murray talked about his mother in Pennsylvania telling him, when the weather was freezing, not “to be a puss” and go outside and do things. He sang Leonard Cohen’s masochistic torch song, “I’m Your Man” demonstrating all the degrading things he would do to satisfy his lover.
Murray and Harkness’s penultimate number was Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” along with the evergreen “All I Do Is Dream of You.”
It was especially nice to see Alex Rybeck sitting in on one of the numbers.
*Photos: Maryann Lopinto