Art Garfunkel makes his songwriting debut
by Seth Rogovoy

GREAT BARRINGTON – With the release of the new album, “Everything Waits to Be Noticed” (Manhattan), for the first time in his 40-year-career in music the words “written by Art Garfunkel” appear on a recording by the singer.

Garfunkel co-wrote most of the songs with fellow singers Maia Sharp and Buddy Mondlock, who are co-billed on the album, and producer Billy Mann, who brought the trio together in the first place.

The recording is Garfunkel’s eleventh since splitting with duo partner Paul Simon in 1970, but it’s his first studio album in 14 years. For much of that time, Garfunkel has been walking long distances, an obsession that began when he crossed Japan by foot in 1982. Since then he has crossed America and parts of Europe.

The new album is full of the sort of soaring melodies that people have come to expect from the voice of the man who first sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” with harmonies provided by Sharp and Mondlock, both singer-songwriters in their own right, and both of whom will join Garfunkel when he performs tomorrow night at the Egg in Albany at 8. Garfunkel’s band includes Steely Dan keyboardist Warren Bernhardt and string wizard Eric Weissberg. And yes, according to a press release, the concert will include plenty of songs from the Simon and Garfunkel repertoire, as well as Garfunkel’s solo hits and songs from the new album.

Shemekia Copeland

Just 23 years old, blues singer Shemekia Copeland already has a closet full of awards, including four W.C. Handy Awards, five Living Blues Awards and a Grammy Award nomination. The daughter of the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny “Clyde” Copeland also has a new album out, her third, “Talking to Strangers” (Alligator), produced by Dr. John and featuring her scorching alto and plenty of New Orleans-infused blues and r&b.

In an interview with the Eagle last year, Copeland, who grew up in New York City and who returns to Club Helsinki in Great Barrington on Sunday night at 8:30, said New England is her favorite place to perform. “I love New England, it’s my favorite place in the whole world,” she said. “It has blues fans up the wazoo. Those folks are nuts up there. I love going up there. I’m not just saying that. They love blues. You go up to vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, they love blues. In Boston, they’re nuts up there about it.” Local blues singer-guitarist Albert Cummings warms up the crowd for Copeland.

Slavic Soul Party

Two years ago last month a quintet of downtown New York’s finest avant-garde jazz musicians spent 10 days traveling around the Balkans, listening to, playing and recording Gypsy and Macedonian folk and dance music. The result, Slavic Soul Party’s “In Makedonija” (Knitting Factory), is one of the most vital, exciting interpretations of Balkan music in a growing field of such efforts by New York-based musicians. The CD includes gorgeous ballad playing, haunting dance melodies, and full-blast brass-band music, played by trombonist Curtis Hasselbring, percussionist Matt Moran, accordionist Ted Reichman, clarinetist Chris Speed and cornetist Rossen Zahariev. Slavic Soul Party comes to Helsinki next Thursday night, November 21, at 8.

On a related note, Pioneer Valley klezmer band Klezamir, featuring the dramatic Yiddish vocals of Felicia Shpall and the soulful clarinet of Jim Armenti, is at the Sandisfield Arts Center on Saturday at 8, and Sruli and Lisa bring their “Oy Vey” klezmer-based Chanukah program to the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst on Sunday at 2.

The Butchies

The Butchies bring their “Butchin’ Acroband Ho-Down Whirlwind Tour 2002” to Pearl Street in Northampton on Sunday. The Durham, N.C.-based female “queercore” trio – imagine Dar Williams crossed with Bikini Kill with a bit of Sleater-Kinney thrown in for good measure – has its roots in 1990s riot-grrl outfit Team Dresch, where singer-guitarist Kaia Wilson and drummer Melissa York first played together. Bassist Alison Martlew, ex- of Poor Valentinos, fills out the trio. The group’s most recent album is “Three” (Mr. Lady), the follow-up to “Population 1975” and “Are We Not Femme?”
Joining the Butchies are Virginia-based Trixie Delicious, fronted by the self-proclaimed “most beautiful drag queen rockabilly gal this side of the Mississippi,” and the Wau Wau Sisters, who combine acrobatics and country music.

Also of note: guitarist Muriel Anderson, the first woman to have won the National Fingerpicking Guitar Championship and the author of numerous instructional books, videos and audiocassettes performs at the Spencertown (N.Y.) Academy tonight at 8. Berkshire guitarist David Grover warms up the crowd for Anderson.

Yo La Tengo meets Mazzy Star in Portsmouth, N.H.-based quartet Torrez’s dreamy, hypnotic fever-rock, as heard on its aptly-titled CD, “The Evening Drag” (Kimchee), due out officially on Tuesday. The group celebrates the release of its beautiful new CD – so achy it hurts -- with a show at Northampton’s Grandstands next Thursday night.

As the daughter of Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar certainly had a leg up on the competition when she decided on a career as a sitarist. But the 21-year-old musician – who performs a concert of Indian sitar music at Bardavon in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., tomorrow at 8 – is already creating her own distinctive style, as heard on “Live at Carnegie Hall” (Angel).

[This column originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on November 15, 2002. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2002. All rights reserved.]

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