It's hard to believe that one week from tomorrow is the Bistro Awards!
I remember when they first began and, here we are 26 years later. The Bistros are my favorite award night because the recipients and the audience already know who the winners are. AND THEY EACH PERFORM ONE SONG!
The tension and anxiety are devoid from the evening except for Sherry Eaker who, of course,is anxious to make sure that everything stays on course and falls into place as planned. (I'm knocking on wood as I say this)...It always does. Thank God for Sherry carrying on the tradition of the Bistros and keeping this going.
Some of you may recall, it used to be called THE BACK STAGE BISTRO AWARD. At least that is what it was called when I won it in 1998. 13 years ago!The Bistros started when Bob Harrington, who until his untimely death, was the Bistro Bits columnist for BACK STAGE. For the first couple of years, his pics were just listed in his column. Then, he and Sherry decided to make it an actual awards ceremony. The Award winners are decided upon by a committee of critics who pick those they feel have created outstanding work within the past year and deserve recognition.
You also can only win once in a particular category. They also have a limit to the number of recipients...otherwise this would become at least a 5 hour event! The first couple of years, the recipients received a certificate, THEN it became an actual award, and has moved on to be a very beautiful award for those who receive it.
BACK STAGE changed hands several years ago. Sherry is no longer affiliated with the paper, but she carries on this tradition because of her love of the medium. She deserves a special award alone for this! Supporting this evening not only honors our winners but keeps this tradition going. Yesterday, I wrote about three of our recipients this year: Carol Channing, Tyne Daly, and Dionne Warwick.
Today, I'm focusing on three more of our recipients...MICHAEL FEINSTEIN, LIZ LARK BROWN, and NATE BUCCIERI.
A Special Award will be given to Michael Feinstein for his three-part documentary series “Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook,” (written, directed, and produced by Amber Edwards) shown on PBS and now available on DVD, which celebrates and explores the history of the Great American Songbook, and for the other work the Michael Feinstein Foundation does to promote and preserve our musical heritage. I am a HUGE fan of Michael's. I also am a huge fan of Amber Edwards' work! Kudos to you, as well, Amber!
Michael Jay Feinstein is a singer, a pianist, music revivalist, and an interpreter of, and anthropologist and archivist for, the repertoire known as the Great American Songbook. In 1988 he won a Drama Desk Special Award for celebrating American musical theatre songs.Feinstein was born in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Florence Mazie (née Cohen), an amateur tap dancer, and Edward Feinstein, a sales executive for the Sara Lee Corporation and a former amateur singer.
At the age of five, he studied piano for a couple of months until his teacher became angered that he wasn't reading the sheet music she gave him, since he was more comfortable playing by ear. As his mother saw no problem with her son's method, she took him out of lessons and allowed him to enjoy music his own way. The following is from THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Feinstein brings 'Songbook' to Kennedy Center
Emily Cary 04/16/11 8:05 PM
Special to The Washington Examiner
Michael Feinstein returns to Washington for a solo concert in the Kennedy Center celebrating the songs he recorded for the Sinatra Project and other favorites.
"The project was my way of thanking Frank Sinatra for his kindness to me at the start of my career," he said.
"His professionalism was a great influence on me and I've tried to emulate his ability to present a song."
Feinstein grew up in Columbus, Ohio, enamored by the popular music he began playing in local piano bars. He was only 20 when he made his way to L.A. and soon met pianist Oscar Levant who introduced him to Ira Gershwin. He accepted Gershwin's invitation to become his assistant and, for the next six years, archived the published and unpublished songs by Ira and George. Along the way, he met and became caretaker of music by other major composers. Today he serves on the Library of Congress' National Recording Preservation Board.
This past February, the Feinstein's work began making its way to the new Center for Performing Arts in Carmel, Ind., a multimillion-dollar complex holding a museum and library with interactive displays and online access around the world. The 1,600-seat Palladium Theater, opened in February, will host guest artists.
"The museum and library will be completed in about two years," Feinstein said. "It will grow incrementally as we transfer in the many orchestrations, original sheet music and artwork. In the meantime, I continue sifting through my collection and occasionally make important discoveries. Several years ago during my research I found a lost song by Cole Porter written for 'The Gay Divorcee.' Last year, I found an unknown Johnny Mercer song."
This year began with another success for Feinstein, a duo CD with Broadway legend Barbara Cook. Titled "Cheek To Cheek," it alternates their harmonious duets with solo interpretations of timeless pop standards like "Without A Song," "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "There'll Be Some Changes Made."
Never standing still, Feinstein has projects aplenty underway, including writing the score for "The Gold Room," a musical about the heiress Barbara Hutton set during the period of her life in the 1950s when she gave up her residence to the U.S. government.
He is also composing the score for a musical based on MGM's "The Thomas Crown Affair."
"I love composing, performing and sharing this wonderful music with my audiences," he said. "In looking back at all I've managed to accomplish and ahead to future opportunities, I feel very lucky."
Take Michael home with you: Michael Feinstein - Remember: Michael Feinstein Sings Irving Berlin (Available on Amazon.com)The first of Feinstein's theme albums, and one of the best. He captures the simple (and at times deceptively clever) sentiment of Berlin with an unadorned approach that brings out the sturdiness of the melodies as well. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi
Our next recipient is LIZ LARK BROWN for her outstanding debut, TARNISHED, at The Metropolitan Room.On Monday August 31,2009 Liz Lark Brown eked out a win in the exciting finale of the second annual "MetroStar Talent Challenge" at The Metropolitan Room, beating out Danielle Grabianowski (the first runner-up...who won a Bistro Award last year) and Carole Bufford...another Bistro Award winner this year!, who was chosen as the second runner-up. Brown, who, in a sweet twist of fate, was 2008's grand prize winner Anne Steele's back-up singer, combined both understated charm and a flair for the dramatic that earned consistently high marks during the eight-week jury and audience-voted singers' competition. The two other finalists, who went head to head against the three top ladies, were the competition's highest-achieving men, Cornelius Bates, and the late great David Gurland.
Liz has paid her dues and now it is time for her to shine in the spotlight! Liz is also nominated for a MAC Award (May 10th) for her debut show.
NATE BUCCIERI is receiving a Bistro Award as outstanding musical director this past year."A skilled sight-reader, not to mention a highly accomplished player and versatile, resonant singer, Buccieri wins over his Wednesday audience/ participants with a mixture of talent, wit and the sort of infectious good humor that makes you feel like you really can step up to the mike and turn that song." - Metroland Best of..., 2003 (Again, another recipient who has paid his dues!)
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Tomorrow's blog will feature CAROLE J. BUFFORD, ANTHONY COCHRAN, and KEVIN DOZIER
Please contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: http://www.carolchanning.org/foundation.htm
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED WEEK!
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com