Photo: Kim Guerriero (KimmyG Photography)
In 2002, a group of celebrated professional musicians – veterans of the New York music scene – came together to form Beginnings.
While Beginnings was designed as a tribute to the 70s/80s classic band Chiacago, the musicians are certainly not mimics. These formidable players infuse the classic – and highly memorable tunes of Chacgo with their own spoecial style, adding musical commentary and 21st Century touches allowing them to stabnd nbext to the biogrtaphical showings along Broadway like Jerrsey Boys, Mama Mia, American idiot, and so many more. Now, Town Hall will contribute to the Broadway skyline by hosting a special one-night-only concert featuring the phenomenal band, Beginnings, and their tribute to the legendary 70/80s band, Chicago; and That Motown Band – celebrating the 60s record label that fostered powerful, definite and historic music.
Preemo Productions in association with Town Hall hosts a concert honoring the American rock band, Chicago, and the timeless music of Motown
Across our five arts sites, we will cover this once-in-a-lifetime event.
We’ll start with Adam Seely, on Alto, Tenor & Soprano saxophones, and on-the-spot.
Adam, tell us about yourself as an artist. What’s happening with you?
As a saxophone player and arranger, I have always gravitated towards music that has horn sections at their core. I love arranging for horns, and the power it can and energy they can bring to a song. My favorite bands have always been ones with that horn section signature sound like Tower of Power, Earth Wind & Fire and of course, Chicago. As a musician, I love taking a nice sax solo on something and expressing myself that way, but my true love is playing in a horn section. Just being a part of a voiced-out arrangement and playing as one with other horn players, it still thrills me to this day, and Chicago is a perfect example on what that lends to their hits and songwriting.
My other musical endeavors are really based around lending my horn parts to original artists’ material and giving something to a song they might not have thought about much. I love the collaboration in that. Sometimes it’s deciding where NOT to have horns, and then they come in for the best effect.
Cool. So, fees-up! Share with us a little something about the bands or the show that we WON’T see in the press release.
This band, “Beginnings” is a true labor of love on and off stage. We are constantly revisiting the show to give that live Chicago experience, but also give our energy and enthusiasm to it. Crafting the set list is always top of mind. We try to fit in over 3 decades of hits into a 90-minute show, so we’re immensely proud of the medleys we’ve arranged to give as many choruses to hits so people feel like they’ve heard their favorite song.
Labor of Love? OK, you sort answered this question already. You are keeping great musical works alive and sharing them with new generations. How does that feel? Do you have a greater sense of responsibility because of it?
I’d like to think of it that way for sure. Cover bands and tribute bands are simply spreading the word – the word is great music. Plays are revived on Broadway all the time, and re-interpreted and produced differently, but there’s a solid base of art that is being honored and re told to new generations. If there’s a 20-year-old singer / songwriter out there who hears us play “Saturday in the Park” live, and goes and checks out Chicago’s catalog, that’s a win / win for everyone. Inspiration can come from talented musicians playing and celebrating music they haven’t written but feel passionate about playing and dissecting and making it relevant for today’s audiences.
You brought up new singers hearing Chiacgo for the first time though you all. How does the music of Chicago and Motown resonate today? Feel free to be blunt.
As I’ve said, Chicago has over 3 decades of hits. Big hits. There’s a reason these guys have been so successful. Songwriting. Just amazing songs that meld classical music and rock and unforgettable hooks. We’re so fortunate to play with “That Motown Band” who just comes out and kills it with every Motown hit. They’re timeless melodies, and not disposable. They’re modern classics. I think those in the audience that are older live out their childhood with nostalgia in each bar of all of Chicago’s tunes as well as Motown. That’s the feedback we get consistently at our meet and greets. “I saw Chicago in 1971 and when you did that tune, it brought me back to that place when I first heard the song. Music can do that like no other art form. I love when people say we’re as much fun as Chicago to watch and listen to, and that feeling translates to today. The material isn’t dated and we’re honoring it because the songs have no expiration date in my opinion.
OK, you’re gonna be on BROADWAY! How does THAT feel?
Yeah, playing on Broadway. It doesn’t get any better than that! The heart of New York City and all the amazing acts that have graced the Town Hall stage, it’s truly an honor and a blessing. I will enjoy every second of being on that stage.
Key West, a return to Las Vegas, bigger venues, and more…as the chorus goes of the song we named the band after, “It’s Only the Beginning”…!
Look for articles on Beginnings members:
… and producer, Ed Levine
Michael D’Antoni at the Downtown Urban Arts
“Words Matter’ Poetry Slam
A Poetry Slam or Slam Poetry if you will, by definition is competitive art whereby the venue is the verbal performance of original poetry. This type of competition from all indications began in Chicago around 1986. Poetry Slams differ from more traditional poetry readings in that they stress performance as well as writing. Additionally, many like tonight’s slam adopt specific themes. This evenings subject matter encouraged poets to discuss contemporary social issues’ and socially conscious people.
However, mind you that the caveat is that performers and poets alike need to win over their audience, as judges vote favorably for the performance and piece that gets the biggest and loudest audience response. Audience approval is essential.
Poetry Slams are a particularly relaxed art form for they are most engaging as they surf a myriad of issues and topics, virtually minute by minute hence making them very entertaining and immediately gratifying.
All the while allowing audience members to voice their opinions almost immediately!
The standing room only space known as the “Nuyorican Poets Cafe” was charming, welcoming and a most comfortable. Aptly named, the word “Nuyorican” is a portmanteau of the designations “New York” and “Puerto Rican”. A melding of two languages and cultures. Appropriately, this evening was nothing less then just that, a very smooth and pleasant melding of different ideas, styles, formats and talents. The inherent juxtaposition of the cafes name versus the venues platform was well apparent to some if not subliminally appreciated by all.
Headlining this evenings events was Reg E. Gaines the acclaimed Tony & Grammy nominated lyricist and playwright of “Bring in ‘Da Noise Bring in ‘Da Funk” (which won 4 Tonys) who was the special guest host for this evenings reading. He artfully kicked off the slam.
The evening was billed as a “Words Matter” platform, which in life is very true. For once the words cross our lips and we actually give life to them, we own them (with all its positive and/or negative repercussions that may follow).
Hence, to use words in a positive way to (as the producers put it) repair, reform & transform is a lesson we all could be re-introduced at times.
Fresh, innovative and thought provoking was tonight’s slam and nothing less then splendid. An evening of peaceful consciousness in this often cold and lonely asphalt jungle known as New York City.