Evening of music, comedy, dance inspired by Phoebe Snow
By Pete Smith with Alison Rooney
On Saturday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. at the Depot Theatre, the late singer Phoebe Snow will be honored in an onstage gathering of music, comedy, and dance.
Described by host and organizer Pete Smith as “an evening of entertainment with inspiration from the life and music of Phoebe Snow,” the night will feature Smith and fellow comedian Gregory Joseph as hosts, with music — some of Snow’s compositions and covers along with other non-Snow songs played in her spirit — from Philipstown’s Open Book singer/songwriting duo, Rick and Michele Gedney, and from Raquel Vidal and the Monday Men, all fixtures of the regional Hudson Valley music scene. The evening will also feature Lucy Austin, dancing a contemporary solo performed to Snow’s most famous song, Poetry Man.
According to Smith’s press notes, “Phoebe Snow was remarkable not just for her music, but for the qualities she displayed in her all-too-short life. As her brilliant early career gave way to a life of caregiving for an only daughter with disabilities, she managed to provide the nurturing her child so needed, while making the most of the increasingly cherished opportunities to share her talent with the world.”
Co-host Joseph is a comic, writer and producer living and performing in the New York City area. He performs regularly at New York Comedy Club, Stand-Up NY, Greenwich Village Comedy Club, The Comic Strip, and Broadway Comedy Club. Joseph also hosts and produces a weekly comedy show in the East Village called The Giggle Pit. Smith, who recently hosted a variety show at Cold Spring’s The Living Room is a comedian, writer and solo performer whose work has been featured on pages and stages from New York to California. In San Francisco, he was a founding member of Club Solo, a collective that became one of the primary platforms for the Bay Area’s thriving solo performance scene.
Of Open Book, Thomas Staudter in The Gazette writes: “Open Book brings a lyrical perspective brimming with real life and mature emotion. Michele and Rick Gedney exhibit a gift for songwriting that entwines melody invention with astute observations of the heart.” Open Book’s third album, Grateful, will be released soon. Raquel Vidal and the Monday Men are described in press notes as “weaving a rich, harmony-laden tapestry and exploring a varied musical terrain that includes nostalgically sultry swing, ethereal ballads, neo-bossanova, darkly wry carnival blues and rootsy Americana rockers.” They are currently in the studio putting final touches on their debut album.
‘The household name that never was’
Smith felt compelled to put this tribute together for more than artistic reasons. He explains:
If you consider the arc of the life of Phoebe Snow, it’s really pretty extraordinary. She skyrocketed to fame at quite a young age, a result of her obvious musical gift. But those high notes were nothing compared to the high notes she hit as a parent of a child with disabilities who required 24/7 care. Her choice, at a time when she truly was a legitimate “rock star” was to say, “Hey, I’ve got a child that needs me. I’ll catch up with the rest of the world as time allows, if it allows.” When the time actually did come for a professional revival, it was tragically short lived. After more than 30 years of care-giving, dwindling finances and an almost abandoned career, she herself abruptly died at a relatively young age.
Concurring, Vidal says,
Phoebe Snow is the household name that never was. She sacrificed immense fame to care for her unwell daughter, battling fear, anxiety and depression along the way. As goddess-like as her musical attributes were, she was flawed and human, facing daunting challenges. Delving into her song catalog and deciding what to share has been like trying to choose one jewel from a buried treasure chest. It has been a humbling and enlightening exploration for me as both a songwriter and mother. We are all honored to help widen and brighten her forsaken spotlight.
Smith, describing what compelled him to put the evening together says, “Phoebe Snow is less the subject of tribute for this show and more a muse for the performers, from whom to take inspiration. That inspiration is not just meant to apply to the evening of the show, but to be thought of in an ongoing sense, whenever we feel challenged by the demands of life that supposedly limit our creativity. Loving a loved one is an art form, too.”
Tickets cost $20 and are available at brownpapertickets.com.