Blier’s Blog: NYFOS@Caramoor / “Ports of Call”

March 18, 2014
We had our Caramoor show on Sunday, and today [Tuesday] was the first of our two at the National Opera Center. The opening was full of surprises—mainly that the audience was so responsive to the songs, and that so many of them went superbly. We didn’t hit the bull’s-eye on every single tune but they all landed, the highs were high indeed, and nothing serious went amiss. The Caramoor crowd has not been notable for animation in the past. The room itself has the kind of austere beauty that doesn’t encourage stuff like applause and laughter. On Sunday they were definitely giving us more than I anticipated, and they were even quick enough to catch the dry, campy humor of Noël Coward’s lyrics. I had a very good afternoon at the piano—started well, and kept the energy humming just right. This is a complicated show for me because Leann is playing a lot of it, so my bouts at the piano are very discontinuous. But on Sunday every time I settled back into the keyboard, I was in gear.

Tonight’s show went really well for the singers—even more five-star performances across the boards. Everyone in excellent voice and spirits. Leann was on fire too–wow. The audience likes the National Opera Center; I kept hearing people say, “Oh, it’s so great to be up close like that to the performers.” And the voices do sound good in the hall—no, there isn’t the rafter-ringing reverb of bigger spaces, but apparently words are clear and voices sound opulent. The program itself plays like gangbusters, and the combination of all the different genres of songs plus the connecting prose and poetry does have a built-in magic. That was lucky because I had the most peculiar night of it; I started well, really hooked up and dancing with the Yamaha. Cooking with gas. But two-thirds of the way through the show I felt I went a little dry. I got a little weirded out by….something I can’t define, and I was working hard to play my easiest songs in the show, stuff I can toss off in my sleep. It was like having an existential tummy ache. By the encore it was gone.

I am eager to tackle it all again tomorrow [Wednesday!], and I think the performance will be the best of all. We have some very distinguished folks coming to the hall and all of us plan to entertain them royally. I’ll be sad to put this program to bed, and I hope you’ll hustle down and catch it.

–Steven Blier

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