Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ciao My Shining Star via Young@Heart

I saw Young@Heart perform "End of the Road" last night (as part the Manchester International Festival). But this is not a review of that show. The concept of the show is 70-and 80-year olds singing contemporary popular songs, giving added significance to tales about mortality, loss and loneliness through their age and fraility. It is a decent show but a bit too 'music-theatre' for my taste: why not just let the singers sing rather putting them in a bizzare set (a white plastic pyramid? a perspex cocktail bar?) and orchestrate how they move across stage so, well, 'stageily'?

Their voices, individually and as a chorus, the accompanying band and the lighting alone created enough of a 'performance' to deliver the songs. There were some 'obvious' songs ('Ain't No Stopping Us Now') amongst those of Neil Young, The Velvet Underground, Morrissey and - er - Bon Jovi. But the two moments I particularly liked were a faithful rendition of The Replacements' "Nightclub Jitters" as the cocktail bar was installed and then a group effort on The Buzzcocks' "What Do I Get?". For this the female singer spat out the lyrics contemptuously and the chorus stomped their feet as they marched to the front of the stage. Captured the nihilism and anger of punk pretty well I thought.

Anyway remember this is not a review. We are going elsewhere today. As I was sitting reading the programme notes before the show started (just like on records I have to read all those credits through. Every word). And who did I see was musical director for the show but Ken Maiuri?

Now you may not know Ken but, music trivia fans, he is a long time associate and band member for Mark Mulcahy, as well as other bands. I got to say 'hello' to Ken in 2005 when Mark Mulcahy played Manchester. Ken was on the merch stall (the glamorous life of a touring musician) before the gig and then played drums and keys throughout. Also in that band was Dave Trenholm on bass who was also performing in the Young@Heart musical ensemble also tonight (both are from Massachusetts home of Young@Heart - and of Mark Mulcahy). As well as music directing and playing keys, bass and autoharp in the five-piece band for End of the Road, Ken sang beautifully on a Neil Young cover.

OK so this doesn't mean much to most folk but Mark Mulcahy is much in my thoughts at the moment given the imminent release of "Ciao My Shining Star" - and the coincidence of hearing Ken and Dave play was the spur to post this announcement:

September 14th sees the release of "Ciao My Shining Star" by Various Artists on Mezzotint via Essential Music & Marketing. The album is a tribute to former Miracle Legion frontman Mark Mulcahy’s wife Melissa, who died suddenly last September, and features a collection of some of today’s greatest recording artists performing versions of Mulcahy’s songs. All proceeds from the sale of the album will go to Mark to help him continue his career while also raising his 3-year-old twin daughters. The album features 21 exclusive tracks from, among others, Thom Yorke, Michael Stipe, Dinosaur Jr, Mercury Rev, The National, Frank Black, Frank Turner, Vic Chesnutt and Josh Rouse. In addition, a further 20 tracks will be made available digitally to promote the album from artists including AC Newman, Buffalo Tom and Laura Veirs. Available on CD and as a digital download, the full track listing is as follows :
01 Thom Yorke "All for the Best"
02 The National "Ashamed of the Story I Told"
03 Michael Stipe "Everything’s Coming Undone"
04 David Berkeley "Love's the Only Thing That Shuts Me Up"
05 Dinosaur Jr. "The Backyard"
06 Chris Harford and The Band Of Changes "Micon the Icon"
07 Frank Black "Bill Jocko"
08 Vic Chesnutt "Little Man"
09 Unbelievable Truth "Ciao My Shining Star"
10 Butterflies of Love "I Have Patience"
11 Chris Collingwood of Fountains of Wayne "Cookie Jar"
12 Frank Turner "The Quiet One"
13 Rocket From the Tombs "In Pursuit of Your Happiness"
14 Ben Kweller "Wake Up Whispering"
15 Josh Rouse "I Woke Up in the Mayflower"
16 Autumn Defense "Paradise"
17 Hayden "Happy Birthday Yesterday"
18 Juliana Hatfield "We're Not in Charleston Anymore"
19 Mercury Rev "Sailors and Animals"
20 Elvis Perkins "She Watches Over Me"
21 Sean Watkins "A World Away From This One"

Mark Mulcahy was the front-man for Miracle Legion in the 1980s to mid 1990s. Shortly after their demise, Mark soon formed Polaris; a house band for the mid 1990s alternative television series The Adventures of Pete & Pete (1993-1996). They are perhaps best remembered for the song "Hey Sandy" as it was featured in the opening credits of each show. Mulcahy has opened up for many notable artists including Oasis and Jeff Buckley, and received homage from Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, who dedicated a song to Mulcahy at a Boston show. An essay on Mulcahy's song "Hey Self-Defeater" (from the album "Fathering") was featured in Nick Hornby's book 31 Songs. Mark released his last album, In Pursuit Of Your Happiness, in 2005

Tragic circumstances but an important record to anticipate and to support. All Mark's solo albums are available to buy from the Mezzotint store and elsewhere but many Miracle Legion albums remain out of print. Thinking of Mulcahy songs covered, which one would (should) Young@Heart cover? I'd put forward these two Miracle Legion songs. Ken, can you make this happen?

Miracle Legion
Surprise Surprise Surprise [BUY]

Miracle Legion
Drenched [BUY]

The Replacments
Pleased To Meet Me [BUY]

Mark Mulcahy
Fathering [BUY or BUY]

1 comment:

The Archivist said...

Some songs from "Ciao" streaming on Myspace: The National, Josh Rouse & The Gravel Pit on