Spencer Day

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Spencer Day

The Green Room 42, NYC, August 17, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Spencer Day

Spencer Day may describe himself as “the gayer John Mayer,” but the performer he brings to mind is the late Peter Allen—singer, songwriter, pianist, raconteur, and ball of energy. In other words, he is a complete entertainer.

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Watching Day perform a song, one can see the music emanating not just from his throat, but from his entire body, literally down to his fingers, which often express the meanings with independent fervor. Of course, when the ballad calls for it, he can bring it all down to a dramatic stillness.

In the middle of his residency at The Green Room 42, offering up a different show each month, Day included a variety of material, much of it his own.

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Applying new Sammy Cahn-like lyrics to “August (Autumn) in New York,” he reduced the audience to knowing laughter as he compared the city to Calcutta in July. At the center of the show were a grouping of songs about the temptations and disappointments of another city—Los Angeles—ranging from the wittily funny “Too Old to Sleep My Way to the Top” to the mysterious “Ghost of the Chateau Marmont” to the bitterly knowing “The California Yes,” the latter delivered by special guest Eric Ulloa.

Day’s interpretations of others’ work was just as convincing. An incredibly touching version of “Fernando” connected to a remembrance of being an exchange student in Mexico where his first stirrings of political awareness and romantic interests occurred.

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And a vocalized version of Ravel’s “Bolero” leading into a medley of “South of the Border” and “Perdido” was filled with both passion and wit.

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The show was capped off with a penetrating interpretation of “Something Cool.”

The fine work of Alex Wintz (guitar), Matt Aronoff (bass), and Aaron Seeber (drums), was featured throughout and provided fine musical support, as well as anchoring the often capricious star.

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."