Saturday, May 18, 2024

NYC Soul Music Weekend: Valerie Simpson, Garland Jeffreys, Laura Nyro


Not going to the Hamptons, Aspen or Gstaad? Well, tonight and tomorrow are major New York music nights. Tonight at 8pm at Lincoln Center’s out of doors free show in Damrosch Park, the amazing Valerie Simpson is putting on show to memorialize her late, beloved husband Nick Ashford. The songwriting couple, parents of two grown daughters, wrote many of Motown’s classic  hits like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” and “Heaven Must Have Sent You (from Above).” They also wrote “I’m Every Woman” for Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston, and “The Boss” for Diana Ross, and dozens more like “You’re All I Need to Get By.” Wait! I left out “Solid (Like a Rock)” and “Street Corner.” So many more…Valerie will be performing with many of the singers from the Sugar Bar, the joint she and Nick started on West 72nd St. and is still thriving.

Then: Garland Jeffreys does the second of two shows at the Rodeo Bar on Third Avenue and 27th St. starting around 10pm. These are warm up dates for Garland’s next trip to Europe. Jeffreys is one of New York’s greatest musical talents, a chart star and a cult star since 1976. Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen adore him. Garland’s cover of “96 Tears” is still a favorite, but his real fans want to hear “Matador,” “Wild in the Streets,” “New York Skyline,” “Don’t Call Me Buckwheat,” and tracks from his newest album. Garland started out grouped with Elvis Costello, Graham Parker and the Rumour, and Joe Jackson, but he’s the only American, and has a unique R&B/rock style. Last Friday, fans drove in from all over the place. I met one woman who was First Nation Canadian from Saskatchewan. You don’t want to miss this.

Saturday, back at Lincoln Center: a tribute to Laura Nyro will feature members of LaBelle (they made a classic album together called “Gonna Take a Miracle” in the early 70s). Plus rising star Marion LoGuidice will perform a previously unheard Nyro song called “Go Find the Moon.” Marion is hot hot hot right now, having just wrapped Cyndi Lauper‘s reality show and selling out shows at Le Poission Rouge.

The Nyro show is from 6pm to 7:30 and features Sarah Dash, Nona Hendryx, Melba Moore, Desmond Child & Rouge, Felix Cavaliere, Toni Wine, Charlotte Crossley, Ula Hedwig, Lesley Miller, Kate Ferber (One Child Born), Diane Wilson, Abenaa, Diane Garisto & Co. (featuring Margaret Dorn/Emily Bindiger/Latanya Hall), and Jan Nigro with The Ebony Hillbillies. plus The Nyro Twlight House Band: Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, drums; Nydia “Liberty” Mata, percussion; Terry Burrus, keyboard; Bashiri Johnson, percussion; Curtis Folwkes, horns (TB); Bob Rodriguez, keyboard; Jay Rodriguez, Horns (sax); Frank Canino, bass; Larry Saltzman, guitar; and Bill Ware, vibraphone.

At 7:30pm there’s a classic R&B show with William Bell, Dan Penn and Teenie Hodges–all from Memphis, Stax and Hi Records. Dan Penn co-wrote “Dark End of the Street.” Otis Clay follows at 8:45pm with more classic soul. The irony is, there’s a fundraiser for the Apollo this weekend in East Hampton, but real actual genuine soul will be right here in Manhattan!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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