Miss M Floated
written by The Divine Miss Julia
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
evening might have begun with a funeral dirge, but the atmosphere
Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden was hardly funereal.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
& 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,"
Clinton, Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and Paul Newman were
among those who provided introductions.
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.