Jottings from a pop culture junkie

BROOKLYN, NY; Feb.26, 2020—I can’t tell you what a joy it was — and continues to be  days later — to have hosted Christine Lavin performing a house concert in our home last Saturday night.

We’ve had professional jazz musicians play in the past, typically as background for parties. And a young classical pianist played a Scriabin sonata on our petite baby grand as the curtain raiser to a charity dinner despite the fact that the keys on our piano are shorter than standard and his fingers are twice as long as mine. That, too, was a thrilling night.

But this was different. People ask me if I miss reviewing. I miss it only when I see something/someone new and wonderful who I want to share with everyone.

I first wrote about Chris in the late 1970s/early 1980s, as her career was building, and got to introduce her quirky humor leavened by heart and feeling to many via the New York Post and other publications. But that was at a certain remove. Now Riva and I had the opportunity to present her in concert, in the intimacy of our home, and to introduce her to more than 50 friends and relatives, only some of whom had seen her before. Chris easily won over a houseful of new fans.

Because the room was so full, we ditched the intermission and Chris sang through for 90 minutes — and then, after a well-deserved ovation, raced with everyone else to the dessert table in the dining room, for which Riva had made incredible mocha cheesecake, orange cheesecake, chocolate mousse, rosewater macarons, chocolate macarons, blueberry cake, raspberry tart, cappuccino biscotti, poppy seed cookies, orange cookies, and a bowl of berries with whipped cream.

Chris is a humorist, raconteur, musical storyteller who can bring tears to your eyes, unafraid to tackle the serious issues of life as well as the foibles of everyday living — always with a smile and a heart.

As people thanked us at the end of the evening, more than one added, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity laugh and feel good while hearing great music. For a night, I didn’t have to think about…” and the sentences invariably trailed off.

If you’ve never seen Christine Lavin, above is a video from the house concert of one of her better-known songs, “Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind,” which includes an updated version from a male point of view.

There are many far more sophisticated videos on her website and on Youtube; Chris has taken to creating her own videos of most of her songs, as well as making videos for others. I’m including this one to hopefully give you a sense of the impact she was having in our crowded living room.

But nothing beats seeing her in person. She’s touring all next month with On A Winter’s Night, which over the years has been a rotating group of folk singers and for this tour includes Cliff Eberhardt, John Gorka, Patti Larkin, and Cheryl Wheeler as well as Christine; and in April and May she’ll be on the road with the Four Bitchin’ Babes, another rotating group she co-founded. There are solo shows coming up, too, and a summer of folk festival appearances.

Go see her for yourself. It won’t quite be like seeing her in our home, but you’ll still feel warm and wonderful at the end of the night. In fact, why not think about hosting a house concert yourself?

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