It all started with a dusty piano. Nikki Egna, a student at Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, was visiting Sands Point Nursing Home with her synagogue when she couldn’t help but notice it. “I saw a piano in the corner of the room that looked really dusty,” she said. “I thought it was a shame that no one had been putting it to use.”
Egna decided to sit down at the piano and provide some music for the residents herself. What started off as a whim became much more when she saw how everyone around her reacted to the music. “I just saw how happy the residents became when they started hearing my piano,” she said.
Howlin’ Wind (Mercury) – Produced by Nick Lowe, Graham Parker’s 1976 outing is arguably one of music’s greatest debut efforts. With The Rumour firing on all cylinders, Parker draws from the same well as Van Morrison and The Band all infused with a pub rock swagger. From the opening notes of the horn-soaked “White Honey,” the singer-songwriter sneered his way through the rockabilly-influenced “Back to Schooldays” and acquitted himself confidently on the Stonesy swagger of “Soul Shoes.” He effectively created the template for what Elvis Costello would be doing a year later with My Aim is True. And as far as Parker is concerned, “No act was doing anything like that and it was really pointing to a future that was coming down the line a year or so later.”
The late Thomas Wolfe once wrote that you can’t go home again but apparently Graham Parker wasn’t listening. The English singer-songwriter reunited with his old band The Rumour after 31 years apart and in the process recorded Three Chords Good, a dozen songs that hit on disparate topics ranging from abortion to Afghanistan’s failed foreign policy. Not unlike Elvis Costello’s Attractions, The Rumour are the kind of well-oiled machine that were a hand-in-glove compliment to Parker’s crisp and cutting songwriting and were, not coincidentally, co-conspirators in creating some of his best work. What has become one of this year’s more anticipated reunions initially started out as a joke by Steve Goulding, the band’s drummer, who was brought aboard to work on the new album along with Rumour bassist Andrew Bodnar.
“[I’d mentioned wanting] to do something different and Steve made a joke about [getting together with] the rest of the band,” Parker explained. “I foolishly emailed them and he was just making a joke and that’s all it was. It wasn’t something thought through. There were no mercenary tactics. I didn’t really feel that it was any big deal until I’d done it. Then I realized that it is quite a big deal after 30-plus years actually. So I scrambled and got a studio and got my engineer/co-producer Dave Cook, who I’ve worked with before, and got it all booked because I had to strike while the iron was hot, otherwise I would have started thinking about it and worrying.”
The event was held in the beautiful showroom of North Shore Architectural Stone and featured singer/songwriter Morley and actress Patricia Arquette, who served as the MC. Earlier in the day, Stacy Scarpone, executive director of the Women’s Fund of Long Island, joined Arquette and members of the Visiting Nurses Association to check on patients and make sure they had their medicine and had gotten through the storm okay. A side trip to Home Depot was made and according to Scarpone, “Patricia Arquette bought out the store getting a generator, batteries, mops, brooms, water to be delivered to parts of Long Island and the Rockaways.”
Mayor David Dinkins once referred to New York City and its various ethnicities as being a gorgeous mosaic. It’s a term that can be unerringly applied to singer-songwriter Garland Jeffreys and the modest but no less impressive canon that he’s recorded in the past four plus decades. It’s a description he readily embraces.
“I’m a rocker for sure, but I also have this other kind of jazz vocal style and it probably has something to do with my multiracial nature,” he says with a laugh. “It’s inherent in all my various styles. It’s like I want it all.”
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