Films, TV, and Theatre



From The Big Apple To The Big Easy
Madison Square Garden (September 20, 2005)
Pay-Per-View Special

Stars: Bette Midler, New Orleans Rebirth Brass Band, Allen Toussaint,
Sir Elton John, Lenny Kravitz, Paul Simon, Jimmy Buffet, Dave Matthews, Cyndi Lauper, The Dixie Cups, John Fogerty, Aaron Neville, Irma Thomas, former President Clinton, Bette Sussman, Paul Schaeffer, and many more....

Where Are All The Balls?
written by
Philly's own Divine Ms. M

What a FUN nite!!

We had great seats and could see both sides of the stage. At times, we were more interested in what was happening backstage while we listened, danced and sang to those performing on stage. Everyone entered in front of us and we could see the upcoming bands shcmoozing and having fun backstage.

The show was so much fun. From the first performers until we left @ 11:30 (I still don't know what time it ended). MSG was not sold out but the crowd was all about having a great time dancing and singing w/each performance from Lenny Kravitz (he is such "eye-candy" - yummy!!) to Irma Thomas who has an incredible set of "pipes", the Dixie Cups, BETTE and Sir Elton John...not too much to say about him except that he was simply awesome!! As well as the adorable Cindy Lauper and Dave Matthews and Jimmy Buffett - his music is just plain old fun, to John Foggerty and the many N.O. blues & jazz musicians that "wowed" us all nite long.

Photo: David Atlas (Rolling Stone)

One of the many THRILLS of the nite was seeing Bill Clinton - WOW!! (former) President Clinton (doesn't that sound good??!) looked very thin and moves slowly but, when he walked offstage, all the crew was waiting for him and as John Foggerty was jamming, Clinton was backstage talking to everyone who came up to him ;-)

I spotted Bette Sussman early on backstage and watched as she would go to many people giving high-5's and hugs all around. As I was telling my friends who she was, I said to them, "...and where there is one Bette, the other is not far behind...". And sure enough, we spotted The Divine Miss M!!

The moment Bette came on stage the crowd greeted her with enthusiastic cheers. There are many of us who would like to say what she said!!

When Bette said, "...go F- Yourself!!!", the crowd responded on their feet with more cheering. When she cracked the "coke-joke", there was some boos (and Bette heard them), but, that was quickly drowned out by the crowd who laughed at the joke and applause when Bette started singing. As we all know, Bette is always emotional when she sings I Think Its Going To Rain - very appropriate and very emotional.

What bothered me the most was that, no one else had the BALLS to question this administration and their lack of leadership!! Maybe this wasn't the best place but, it was a damn good place to start! America - where are your GUTS???!! Why do we sit back, knowing we are getting screwed with every "policy decision" made and say nothing until it is too late??

Bette had every right to make a statement, she chose to use it in a joke, and it was obvious that many others there Tuesday nite felt the same!!

It is too damn bad that when the truth is put in front of us :the Iraq "war" that is no longer front page news, FEMA cutbacks, social services cutbacks, tax breaks for the wealthy while the poverty level in the "wealthiest nation" increases, the No-Child-Left-Behind Act - poorly funded, global warming, the destruction of the environment (although, if you listed to this admin, none of these problems exist)...we choose to put the blinders on and hope for the best. It's not until a real disaster strikes (that we can't ignore) that we notice our shortcomings.


I am proud of what Bette said and even more proud of her for her performance and the fact that she is such a concerned citizen and has the courage enough to say so.

She looked great and sounded even better. I only wished she would have sang another song ;-( My 2 friends who were with me commented on the same - how good she looked and they wanted to hear her sing some more.

Miss M Floated
written by The Divine Miss Julia

From the Big Apple to the Big Easy was truly an amazing collaboration of diverse artists. Starting promptly at 7pm, the concert opened up with New Orleans own Rebirth Brass Band marching through a nearly empty VIP section. The next hour was filled with Allen Toussaint playing piano for various artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Paul Simon, and Jimmy Buffet.

But what about the reason we’re all here? About 30 minutes into the concert I noticed, from my stage right seat, a familiar blonde with a head full of thick curly hair watching the concert from the wings. Miss M’s pianist Bette Sussman was wearing a green thigh length dress with black slacks. At one point she was speaking with and hugging another blonde who turned out to be Cyndi Lauper.

Screen Capture: Da'Vi

After Irma Thomas, Cyndi Lauper, and the Dixie Cups finished a lively song together (the last of the songs accompanied by Allen Toussaint) the stage went black. A public service announcement started playing on the projector screen while the stage hands shuffled to reset the stage. This being the first break of the concert many people took the opportunity to get up, stretch, and get another beer. Glowing through the darkness I saw the familiar curly blonde hair as she took her place at the piano. The lights came up suddenly, the PSA faded and Miss M floated completely unannounced on stage. Noticeably stunned, the VIP section started to applaud wildly as the rest of us tried desperately to see what was going on.

Her political comments were scathing but they were met with more applause than boo’s. My personal favorite was the one about a Republican Party Donation Letter on which she wrote, “fuck you, postage due” on before returning.

She announced that her song was considered by some to be depressing and by others to be full of hope. She sang a passionate “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today,” then quickly scattered off stage almost as abruptly as she entered.

Bette Sussman spent the remainder of the concert watching from the wings and was still there as the concert ended at 12am.

Big Apple to the Big Easy By Frank Scheck
Madison Square Garden, New York
Tuesday, Sept. 20

The evening might have begun with a funeral dirge, but the atmosphere Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden was hardly funereal.

Rather, this all-star benefit concert for the Gulf Coast victims of Hurricane Katrina was a celebratory affair that proudly rejoiced in the rich musical heritage of New Orleans. Cleverly titled "From the Big Apple to the Big Easy," the show served as an affectionate musical tribute and a powerful show of support from one previously beleaguered city to another.

Much like the concert that took place in the same venue in the aftermath of Sept. 11, the evening transcended its entertainment values, rich as they were. With its preponderance of performers representing the best of the New Orleans tradition, it was an invaluable reminder of just important this heritage is. For the occasion, the arena was transformed into a virtual French Quarter, with beads and banners and the usual fare of hot dogs and pizza supplanted with jambalaya and gumbo.

While no doubt many in the audience were there to see such classic baby boomer acts as Jimmy Buffett, John Fogerty, Elton John, Bette Midler, Simon & Garfunkel, etc., they also were treated to a rich sampling of New Orleans artists. From the opening set by Allen Toussaint to the closing performances by the Neville Brothers and the Meters, the evening resonated with the joyful sounds of the Big Easy.

It says something that one of the biggest ovations went to Clarence "Frogman" Henry, who delivered the thematically appropriate and highly rousing "Ain't Got No Home" with his distinctive blend of falsetto and croak. Similar rapture was displayed for such performers as Aaron Neville, who promised that "A Change Is Gonna Come"; Irma Thomas, who lent her soulful pipes to such classics as "Time Is on My Side"; the Dixie Cups, inciting a joyful audience sing-along on "Chapel of Love"; the Meters, performing in New York for the first time in decades; and the Neville Brothers, participating in a first-ever duet with the Meters on "Hey Pocky Way."

The headliners certainly did their part as well. John tore through such well-chosen numbers as "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" and "Love Lies Bleeding," Buffett had the audience dancing merrily through his set of mellow party anthems, Midler delivered a highly emotive "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," and Fogerty rocked the house with blistering versions of "Born on the Bayou" and "Bad Moon Rising." Dave Matthews, popping in briefly (he headlined another show that night at Radio City Music Hall), joined Buffett for Neil Young's "Heart of Gold."

Such performers as Elvis Costello and Lenny Kravitz took a more adventurous approach, forgoing their hits in favor of classic if little-known New Orleans jazz numbers. Kravitz also participated in one of the show's highlights, a sit-down blues session that featured Ry Cooder and Buckwheat Zydeco.

Simon & Garfunkel, clearly a crowd favorite, sang such classics as "Homeward Bound" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," with Aaron Neville lending his angelic tenor to the latter. "As many times as I've sung this song, I don't think it's ever meant as much to me as it does tonight," Garfunkel said.

President Clinton, Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and Paul Newman were among those who provided introductions.

The evening's emotional dynamics were well illustrated in the show's conclusion, which occurred about 5 1/2 hours after it began. Aaron Neville delivered a goosebump-inducing "Amazing Grace," followed by a roof-shaking "When the Saints Go Marching In" featuring all of the New Orleans musicians, demonstrating the spirit that will make the Big Easy live again.