Monday, October 2, 2017

The Shins at The Greek - September 29, 2017

It was my fourth time to see The Shins and what better way than on a gorgeous night under the stars at The Greek. Nestled in the gentle hills of Griffith Park and surrounded by a thrilled audience as pleased as I was to see this 21 year old band still playing at the top of their game, it was an evening to treasure.

In March at El Rey
I was very lucky when I scored a ticket to one of their early inaugural dates at El Rey this past March 10th and enjoyed hearing the newest album in its entirety, but couldn't help but notice that lead singer James Mercer seemed to either have a cold or he was no longer able to hit the high notes that characterize so many of their songs. The show was still good, though it made me appreciate the terrible choices a band has to make when one member is under the weather and they don't want to disappoint their fans by cancelling or by performing at less then their usual quality level.

Fortunately this band is so tight that the show came off as entirely successful, matched by the herculean effort by Mercer to stay on top of it, and the obvious excitement of playing all these great new songs. When this show at The Greek was announced, I knew I wanted to attend, and since I was able to score a ticket in the first row of Section B, right behind the sound booth with a clear, unobstructed view of the stage, I went for it.

I am so glad I did because it was immediately apparent that Mercer was in fine shape and his voice remains as supple and flexible as ever. And this show was like a compilation of greatest hits as they plucked tunes from their entire catalog. Opening with an early favorite "Caring Is Creepy" from their debut LP, Oh, Inverted World, they hopped, skipped, and jumped through all five of their albums.

Their 2003 album, Chutes Too Narrow, was my introduction to the band and I was so happy they played so much of it; "Kissing The Lipless', 'Mine's Not A High Horse", "Gone For Good", and "Saint Simon", all superbly reproduced. Highlights for me also included "Phantom Limb" from Wincing the Night Away, and "Simple Song" from Port Of Morrow.

As was the case at El Rey in March, they put on a stunning visual show to go along with the fully engaging music. Mercer even wore the same shirt. Surrounded by the huge paper flowers that adorn the latest album art, the dynamic lighting transformed the stage into a constantly changing kaleidoscope of shapes and colors, which slowly revealed the image of a skull hovering in the backdrop.

Adding to the enjoyment of the evening was that I took advantage of the LADOT shuttle service to and from the Vermont/Sunset subway station which makes for an entirely stress-free commute to the venue. No more walking up that giant hill to The Greek for me.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Joanna Newsom at The Orpheum (3/25/16) and Rob Crow's Gloomy Place at The Echo (3/26/16)

Time for me to get back to reviewing some recent shows, as I have been bad about new content, and I have seen some really great shows recently.

Joanna Newsom (above) very easily knocked my head off Friday night at The Orpheum. This may only have been the fourth time I've been to one of her shows but she is undoubtedly one of the most commanding and engaging performers I have ever seen. I know some people who just can't get past her distinctive voice, and I admit, it took me one or two listens before I warmed to it. But her live performances reveal a spontaneity and a tonal richness that's not as evident in her recordings where everything is precisely measured. And her between song repartee is candid, funny, refreshingly unguarded, and in the end, endearing. She even fielded questions shouted from the audience as she took time out to tune her harp.

I had to let go the possibility of seeing her on Saturday night, March 26th, because I already had a ticket to see Rob Crow's Gloomy Place at The Echo that night. So I was living with that disappointment when suddenly she scheduled this Friday night show to accommodate all those unhappy fans who were sold out of her original date. Leaping at the chance, I was lucky enough to secure a fourth row ticket, thereby validating the rather expensive ticket price, while giving me the chance to witness the extraordinary range of her talent, and to observe it up close.

I arrived just as Robin Pecknold was warming up the audience with a simple acoustic set that showcased his incredible voice on some unfamiliar songs and other Fleet Foxes numbers
adapted to a solo format. His six song set gained momentum with each number and was enough to prime the audience for was was to come.

Joanna strode out to her harp at 10 to begin weaving a web that held me in thrall from beginning to end. Her music, impossible to categorize, is difficult and dense but the rewards are enormous as she cast a spell that is irresistible. Surrounded by talented and versatile friends and family, many of whom shared the surname Newsom, they formed a chamber orchestra of extraordinary skill. Many effortlessly switching instruments between numbers and making an orchestra of a few sound like many.

An inability to quantify her music come from the simple fact that there are so many influences that it becomes impossible to list them all, from folk-rock of the seventies to medieval choral chants to nineties new-age to sixties jazz. I'm not even aware of them all. It has the excitement and the revelation of discovery that comes only a few times in a lifetime. I couldn't help but reflect back to when I saw Joni Mitchell in 1969 knowing that I was experiencing something very special and very unique. These are the experiences that last a lifetime. 

The lyrics are steeped in personal reflections and are often difficult to grasp, but the overriding themes of her clear-eyed world view regarding love and loss, life and death come through loud and clear. The heady tumble of words, which fill pages and pages in each of her albums, reveal a poetic nature and philosophical attitude which infuses this artist's life and compel her to share her inner dialogue with her audience.

She dipped into all four of her albums to present a comprehensive overview of the huge range of styles her music encompasses. I loved hearing the new songs, especially "Anecdotes", "Divers", "Sapokanikan", and a favorite of mine, "Waltz of the 101st Lightborne" with many of the musicians changing instruments and Joanna sometimes switching instruments mid-song, from harp to piano and back to harp again.

Besides her impressive vocal rang, (her voice is often times mischaracterized as childlike when in actuality it is wildly flexible and filled with feeling and depth). She continues to grow as a singer, and near the end of her 1 hour 45 minute set she brought Robin Pecknold and Amber Coffman (above, center) out to add their voices to a few songs which added enormous power to the already overwhelming vocals. It was art and it was like paradise! For those who find art rock pretentious, part of the creation of great art is the necessity of flirting with the pretentious and knowing when to pull back so you don't fall over the cliff,  and that is something Ms.Newsom has mastered. She played again on Saturday night with a slightly altered set list.

On the following night I went to see Rob Crow's Gloomy Place (Rob Crow at right) at an early evening show at The Echo, since this was the Los Angeles debut of his new band, and I've had the ticket for months. It was everything anyone who has been mourning the loss of Pinback could have hoped for.

Opener Nick Reinhart lead the audience along a sci-fi induced hallucination of electronic music punctuated with severely stressed guitar distortion which was one long song that made up his entire set. We wandered the terrain of 1960"s spy movie scores, Forbidden Planet-type Bebe and Louis Barron 50's electronica and 70's Jerry Goldsmith Logan's Run soundtrack. It was a score for an unknown space movie in your head and my head was about to explode. Vertical Scratches brought us back to earth with a haughty and angular garage rock, even covering a Heavy Vegetable song for Rob.

Then it was time for Rob Crow's Gloomy Place. I'm afraid they had a lot to live up to for my expectations. This year without Pinback has been rough, but the wonderful new album, You're Doomed. Be Nice., laid to rest most of my fears. Fear not.

The pounding, throbbing bass lines are all there, topped by the buoyant melodies and Rob's virtuoso guitar playing and sturdy and flexible vocals. His voice is in great shape. The lyrics are dark and earnest and imbued with a bracing honesty, a product of his recent voyage of self-discovery. Newer songs with titles like "Autumnal Palette", "Paper Doll Parts", "Quit Being Dicks" and "Rest Your Soul" represent a new outlook and maybe even some optimism in the dark recesses. Rob looks healthy and well.

The five-piece band plays with equal dedication and the results sounded just as good as the recent record, which they played most of. I was happy to hear all the material that has been pulled from Rob Crow's solo albums Living Well and He Thinks He's People and reworked for this new ensemble. Each song in the set flowed directly into the next song with nary a pause for breath. They must have played 20 songs and only stopped three or four times during the entire set, just to give the appreciative audience a chance to applaud.

All in all it was a remarkable weekend for music and fired me up for more.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

3 Big Shows - First up: Mew at The Fonda 9/25/15

Over the past month I've seen some remarkable shows and I want to put some of my impressions into words and post some of the shots I got. I'll start with the first one and post later on the other two.

Mew, on September 25, at The Fonda left me somewhere in mid-air for weeks afterward. So stimulating and played with such inspired beauty I was left awestruck. I was always left in a state of euphoria every time I saw them in 2008 and '09 and, after a hiatus of six years, it was super to see that they still have the power to overwhelm.

Typical of The Fonda, even though it was crowded, I was able to get a spot real close to the stage and bask in the sound wafting from the stage. Although the bulk of the set list was culled from their latest album, +-, they played enough from their prolific catalog to satisfy every need to hear their classic songs again. The first two songs were the first two songs from the newest album, in reverse order, priming the audience.

But when they launched into "Special" followed immediately by "The Zookeeper's Boy", from And The Glass Handed Kites, the audience fell into a deep reverie from which we didn't recover until the show was over. It was as if a mass hypnosis had taken place. Even when the more familiar songs were performed, at first the audience began singing along, and it was a bit annoying. But as quickly as it began, I think the audience realized they were drowning out the lead vocals of Jonas Bjerre, and we were all there to hear him sing, and everyone shut up! I don't think I've seen that before and it was most gratifying.

In fact all the band member sing, and the glorious harmonies that pervade their records is presented in all their astonishing glory right before your very eyes and ears. It's totally intoxicating, especially when backed by their sweeping "dreamy thunderstorm pop" as they describe their sound. I stayed right through the encores because I didn't want to miss a minute. This band should be far bigger than they far.

The show went on for a good 90 minutes that swept by like an instant. I was so happy to hear almost all the new songs, and they performed all their material with a commitment and the obvious aim to please. They were grateful for the committed and respectful response of an adoring audience. Sometimes Los Angeles makes me incredibly proud when I see a band obviously moved by a truly knowledgeable and appreciative audience, which they don't get in every city.

Next I'll tell you about  Beirut and Father John Misty.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Life in Music.. so far

I'm getting bitten by such a wave of nostalgia as I approach the tenth anniversary of my going back to Rock shows and tonight's show at The Echo with Fruit Bats (at right), one of my first favorite bands in 2006, was an affair of overwhelming emotion. Leslie Stevens (below)opened the show followed by a superb set by Tall Tales and the Silver Linings (below). After exchanging greetings with Eric D. Johnson, who actually remembered me, I saw Fruit Bats deliver an amazing set with original band members, plus, and overwhelm the audience with the superb originality that always characterized that band. Since Nov. 2005, it was the 1099th concert I've attended. On Friday I hit 1100 shows and I can't believe it, I want 1100 more!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Donna Bummer - Challenging Stereotypes

Standing in the middle of the floor at the final celebratory show for the now-legendary Echo Country Outpost there was a sudden hush. From the back of the room, the twinkling sounds of toys as musical instruments and the quiet blare of a horn made their presence known in a dirge-like rhythm. A woman, diaphanous and ethereal, and a man dressed in a loin cloth and wearing angel wings, both encased in bubble-wrap walked in a slow procession through the audience toward the stage. Once settled in place they began their bizarre repertoire and totally enchanted the curious onlookers.

This band is a new-ish creation from the fertile and feverish brains of a member of the music groups Tommy Santee Klaws and Bloody Death Skull who goes by the name of Donna Bummer, and her musical partner, Andy Bummer. Her background in musical theatre shines through on this new project as there's as much play acting as serious musical endeavor going on. With dressing and staging that shifts with each new performance, this is real living theatre.

What sound, at first, like childlike nursery rhymes very quickly degenerate as you glean the subject matter, which is decidedly not childlike, with lyrics that express the innocent joy of a child learning its first swear words. Topics that range from voyeurism to safe sex to airline travel to racism and some -isms not appropriate for a family audience. I do occasionally resent that I have had to watch our culture become as child-proofed as the raging moralists have demanded for the past 40 years (most of my adult years), and I welcome some unadulterated, grown-up art.

Donna incorporates a high-pitched shriek into her usually soprano vocal range that finds a complete opposite in Andy's exaggerated basso profundo, not so much complimenting each other as demonstrating the polar opposites that the human voice can achieve. With Donna playing her symphonic toy keyboard and Andy on clarinet, it makes the brain race to try to put it all together in your head. Even the bubble-wrap made an appearance as a percussive embellishment. And the sing-song lullaby format of the music only points out the shocking inappropriateness of the lyric content.

In "Penis Envy" they sing about gender re-assignment with the innocent abandon of two kids playing doctor and free of the self-censorship that comes with the rigid norms of social acceptance. They find numerous ways to address the surgical necessities of such an 'operation' and euphemistically (and humorously) list them all, while maintaining the impression of a couple of robots singing about human biology they don't quite understand with slang sexual expressions that we all know and love. It reminded me of the robots played by Bernadette Peters and Andy Kaufman in that movie, Heartbeeps.

In "Twiddle Diddle Me", the topic can be as elementary as a pick up in a public restroom, or go deeper and become somewhat accusatory as in "Let's Have a Baby" which exploits a sort of blasphemous idea regarding the unconscious selfishness of raising a child in this troubled world.

Another song is a riff of The Beatles' "Why Don't We Do It In The Road" and Dr. Suess' "Green Eggs and Ham" called "Mash Up", with a non-stop run of rhymes like "We could do it in a boat, we could do it with a goat" that go on and on with infinite ingenuity. Or "Dear Mr. Cosby" that asks quarrelsome questions about the recent shocking revelations concerning an iconic celebrity.

Donna Bummer's desire to surprise seems to match their ability to shock and in an era when that ability to shock has become increasingly difficult. But the strange brew of theatrical excess, wildly inappropriate musings, and shockingly unadulterated language all wrapped up in the illusion of a child's song, is a successful and intoxicating blend. Hypnotically weird...and shocking.

My first exposure came when I jumped at the chance to have them play my Feed Your Head show at Lot 1 on June 13th. I didn't know what to expect and they didn't disappoint. I just stood there in mouth-gaping astonishment and the audience ate it up. One show was not enough so I had to attend the Echo Country Outpost show for a second dose to really believe what I had seen.

They have incorporated seven of their favorite songs to assemble their first EP called Last Glance, which gives one the chance to study the lyrics and appreciate the delicate, oddly orchestrated compositions with the keytar, musical saw and assorted toy accoutrements. It's unique, it's crazy, and it's creatively liberating. Their graphic image of an overturned ice cream cone melting on the ground with the cherry nearby seems entirely appropriate.

Donna Bummer's record release show is this Sunday, July 26th at The Virgil at 4519 Santa Monica Boulevard at 9 PM presented by All Scene Eye. Also on the bill are other equally envelope-pushing artists like Ghiant, Madame Headdress and Del ChampiĆ³n. Here is the event page


Monday, June 29, 2015

Great Lake Swimmers at The Troubadour - June 12, 2015

Nature, reflection and emotion meet headlong in Great Lake Swimmers

They periodically come down out of Canada to share their latest observations on life, love and the eternal struggle, usually accompanied with a new album. As a long time fan of Great Lake Swimmers it was most gratifying to see them reach an apex of their career as a performing band on Friday night, June 12th at The Troubadour. Fueled by the impact of their latest album, A Forest of Arms, their live performance was robust and energetic, not the usual laid back wistfulness I was used to. And love.

Tony Dekker, Erik Arnesen
I saw them first at Hotel Cafe in June 2007, though I can't remember what prompted me to check out their music in the first place. But I had Ongiara and was completely overwhelmed by it, particularly the song "Changing Colors" with its moving and prescient lyrics.  It may be the best song about death I have ever heard. I remember meeting Tony Dekker that night and shaking hands, but it was hurried and I only got to say how much his music was meaning to me, and how good they sounded. In October that year they played Spaceland, where I could get up close and really observe just how tight a band they are.

I caught them twice on their tour for 2008's Lost Channels in April, 2009 at Spaceland, again, and then in October, up town at El Rey. And it was another fine album. In May, 2012, on tour with New Wild Everywhere, I saw the band with their present members, a wonderfully collaborative set of musicians who give the appearance of really enjoying working together.

I arrived in time to enjoy the opening act, Tamara Lindeman of The Weather Station, also from Canada and on tour with GLS as a solo singer/songwriter in the early Joni Mitchell tradition. And she appeared worthy of the comparison with songs about relationships and the passage of life that had a rare and appealing quality. Her lovely soprano was strong and flexible, allowing her to explore upper, bird-like registers, but remaining robust in the mid ranges. I asked her about her band after the set and she usually plays with three other musicians. I would love to see that.

Great Lake Swimmers took the stage right at ten and launched right into the first song from A Forest of Arms, "Something Like A Storm" with a forceful and precise delivery. Now, they're always a very thoughtful and introspective band, and they still have that quality, but Tony Dekker's vocals seemed stronger and more dynamic than I remembered. That may have been the result of a superlative sound mix,but his voice was very strong . As much as I have applauded this band through the years, I feel I have underestimated them. They added a longer drum jam that ended the song at a fever-pitch. Very exciting.

Miranda Mulholland
Bret Higgins
Playing straight through the first six songs from the new album, but saving "Shaking All Over" for later, these sounded even more dynamic live than on the recording. Miranda Mulholland is an exuberant presence on violin and adds important vocal backing on many songs, Erik Arnesen on banjo and Bret Higgins alternating on upright bass and mandolin, round out the full sound and add a quality that makes Great Lake Swimmers much like a chamber ensemble. Special notice must be made of Joshua Van Tassel on drums who keeps the whole thing moving propulsively forward that has added a real punch to their sound.

The set included ten of the twelve songs on the new album, with a sampling from their past like "Moving Pictures" and "Your Rocky Spine", all greeted with the same enthusiasm from a loving audience. They perform with all the enthusiasm and vigor of a new band

Cinematic soundscapes that evoke the imaginary visual image of an icy tundra landscape comes easy to this band and effect is almost physical. It was a perfectly balanced set with a sing-a-long version of "I Must Have Someone Else's Blues", a robust "Shaking All Over" for a finale, and an encore that brought the band down into the audience for an electrifying acoustic version of "Still". It all made for one of the best concerts I've seen this year .

And I really underestimated their last album, New Wild Everywhere, because it came out on top of a bunch of other records that buried it at the time. Revisiting it now, I see it as one of their strongest records and a real precursor for what was to come on the new album.

Tony Dekker: guitar; Erik Arnesen: banjo, guitar;  Bret Higgins: upright bass, mandolin, piano; Miranda Mulholland: violin, backing vocals; Joshua Van Tassel: drums.

Set list:
1. Something Like A Storm
2. Zero In The City
3. One More Charge At The Red Cape
4. Don't Leave Me Hanging...
5. ...I Was A Wayward Pastel Boy
6. Put There By The Land...
7. ...Pulling On A Line
8. I Must Have Someone Else's Blues
9. The Great Bear
10. Your Rocky Spine
11. A Bird Flew Inside The House
12. Chorus Underground / Moving Pictures
13. Palmistry / The Great Exhale
14. Expecting You
15. Easy Come Easy Go
16. Shaking All Over

Encore: Still / Long May You Run


Monday, March 9, 2015

A Genre-bending Trip to the Past with Swervedriver and Judy Collins - Feb. 5 & 6, 2015

What an interesting journey this has been. First an evening in the nineties followed by a night that spanned the sixties through the eighties. Swervedriver and Gateway Drugs played at The Roxy on Thursday, Feb. 5 representing a piece of indie history along with a jolt of the new with the young upstart shoegaze/garage/psychedelic band.

Back in 2008, when I was still getting my feet wet regarding the indie rock movement, I knew that Swervedriver were a profound influence on many of my favorite local bands at the time, including Film School and Xu Xu Fang. So when I heard that they had come out of retirement for a reunion tour and were going to play The Fonda Theatre, with Film School and Xu Xu Fang as opening acts on May 31, 2008, I jumped at the chance to see them live. I consumed as much of their recordings as I could, leading up to that night and it turned out to be one of those evenings you never forget.

It was fun to go back to The Roxy, where I haven't been in quite a while. But I will say, as much as I enjoyed the evening, there was a bit of overkill in the arena-like sound that moshed all the low end into a distorted drone that all but obliterated the vocals on most of the songs and allowed little opportunity for subtlety. Still the energy and precision that went into the Gateway Drugs set was inspiring as this young band already have considerable stage presence, led by
Liv Niles (at right) cool reserve, that is matched by the confident songwriting skills they display. This attractive band is going places!

I'm glad their album has already burned its way into my brain so I could mentally fill in what was missing in the vocals. It appears that all four band members are singers but the sound mix only favored one. Both Magick Spells and the Swervedriver album, I Wasn't Born To Lose You, rely on stunning vocal harmonies, only some of which I got to hear that night.

In particular, the first Swervedriver album in 17 years reveals a mellowing from the sheer bombast of their past to a more melody driven style which absolutely fits them. There are so many reverential, hypnotic passages that make you feel as if you're floating six feet above the earth in a meditative state. It's a truly beautiful album, maybe their most beautiful and that may sound like a sacrilege to their old fans, but I think it's true.

They fed a hungry audience a superb mix of old and new material which fits together, matching the maturity of their new material with the raw ferocity of their early work. Judging from the audience reaction they delivered just what they wanted. Their new album makes them sound like a fresh new band and their live performance was just as fresh. In spite of my bitching about the sound, I did enjoy myself and the energy level from both bands and the audience was intoxicating.

The following night represented the flip side of the coin, but great music is great music. Saw the legendary Judy Collins for the first time as she held a sold out Saban Theatre audience in the palm of her hand on Friday, March 6. She sang a remarkable array of songs in her 1 hour 45 minute set and with the accompanying pianist and the Passenger String Quartet, was able to sample all the many genres she has explored during her 55 year career.

I had many of her albums from the 1968 Wildflowers through Judith in 1975 and she had a huge impact on me (and the blooming folk rock movement) achieving a life-changing effect with that 1968 album which took me by the hand and led me toward the Hippie movement. I had just left home for college and was ripe for every new experience, having just barely being accepted to university in the nick of time to stay out of the draft. The album was a huge best-seller and it also introduced the world to the writing of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, featuring two of her songs and three of his. So as a long-time fan, I was familiar with everything she played, beginning with "Song For Judith" which proved her voice can still still strong and flexible and pure as a mountain stream.

Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Collins, Arlo Guthrie (1968)
What I didn't expect was what an expert raconteur she is. She paused between each number to either relate some history surrounding the next song, or regale us with stories of her past, including an unashamed admittance of her alcoholism 37 years ago. Her stories of the mid sixties folk movement in New York City and the Laurel Canyon hippie scene a few years later were both informative and incredibly amusing. Lasting friendships with Joan Baez, Stephen Stills and Leonard Cohen and other has sustained her, as well as her family.

Cass Elliott, Joni Mitchell, Collins, Joan Baez

Following the opening number she sang a series of songs written by contemporaries to which she lent her considerable interpretive skills that make hers seem like definitive versions. First, her biggest chart-topper, "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell was performed at a slightly different tempo, revealing a jazz element I never would have associated with the song, but which was fresh and original.

After telling a story of sitting in the stairwell of a Greenwich Village hotel, and being transfixed listening to a young musician behind one of the doors finding his way through the writing of a song,  she sang that song; "Mr. Tambourine Man" by Bob Dylan. Her long friendship with Joan Baez
Collins, Stephen Stills
seemed cemented when Collins recorded Baez' "Diamonds and Rust", which she had written about a bad boyfriend (Dylan). It's a beautiful song and she sang it to perfection.

It was during the Laurel Canyon years when she fell in love with Stephen Stills that he wrote "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" for her, but instead of performing that multi-part opus, she elected to sing "Helplessly Hoping". She also gave us a rendition of "Albatross" which is an intensely challenging song that she wrote evoking a very French/Piaf mood, and her voice, once again, was up to the sudden tonal shifts that would confound any normal singer.

Leonard Cohen urged her to try writing her own music after she had released a number of albums featuring other artists work and she answered with the lovely "Since You Asked" which she sat at the piano to play. Always one of my favorites of her songs, it was surprisingly moving to hear her sing it live.

Tales of her childhood with a father, a disc jockey who loved show tunes, and his contemporaries who introduced her to folk music via Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie set her on a path toward music and an appreciation of a variety of genres. She studied, piano as a child and was expected to pursue that instrument, as she was quite accomplished, when folk music led her to discover her voice. She dropped everything to focus on that, much to the consternation of her piano teacher.

This story made poignant the  medley of "Children And Art", "Sunday", and "Move On" from Stephen Sondheim's Sunday In The Park With George, which got her the first standing ovation of the evening. We share a passion for Sondheim, as I got to see four of his first shows during the 1970s in Boston before they went to Broadway. So when she sang "Send In the Clowns" I couldn't help but get one of those 'circle-of-life' moments as I recalled sitting in the Colonial Theatre in Boston in 1973 watching Glynis Johns introduce the song to the world as A Little Night Music was in try-outs (photo at left). 

 She announced that she's taping a special for PBS called Finding Sondheim which will air later this year, that she had been in New York City that morning, flown to L.A. for this show, and was at the Metropolitan Opera the night before. At 75, this woman is unstoppable. Bravo.

Leaving the stage at the conclusion of "Send In the Clowns" to tumultuous applause, she returned a minute later to send us on our way with an encore that was no surprise, "Amazing Grace". Coaxing a very willing audience to sing along, her voice still soared above the rest with another one of her biggest successes. Reminiscing on the evening, one can't help but wonder at the range and impact she's had and how her reputation has yet to be assessed properly, a common problem with genre-hopping artists like Judy Collins. Perhaps the next 15 years of her career will remedy that fact.