Garry Novikoff: Alien Encounters: Garry’s 2017 Birthday Show

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Garry Novikoff

Alien Encounters – Garry’s Birthday Show

The Duplex, NYC, August 3, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Garry Novikoff

At the top of his act, jazz balladeer Garry Novikoff explained that he rarely does theme shows, but he felt for the occasion he wanted to explore how we can be strangers to each other and even to what we don’t recognize within ourselves. Declaring he’d “rather be poetic than psychotic,” he offered up a most unique collection of songs to celebrate his birthday. 

Certainly, a non-traditional list of contributors was evoked, ranging from Emily Dickinson and Sholom Aleichem to Patti Smith and Phil Ochs, many adapted by Novikoff. Such traditional songs as “Listen to the Mockingbird” and “The Cuckoo” were revised and expanded in unexpected and surprising ways, offering strange avian imagery in the latter.

He linked some of his material with surprising quotes from such disparate sources as Dante’s Divine Comedy, Homer’s The Odyssey, and Jack Kerouac. More traditional offerings include “Beach Rose” (Peter Morris Dixon) and “Pleasures of the Harbor” and the singer’s own “Dark Angel.” Also included was an imaginative blending of “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Earth Angel.

Novikoff’s easy manner, rugged good looks, and raspy, idiosyncratic voice make him great company. Joining him on stage were versatile musician Joseph Anthony Shireman and vocalists Peter Morris Dixon and Stephanie Ehrlich.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."