Flagpole Radio Café Joining Arts Fest, Hosting Grammy Winning Wainwright
One of his most memorable tunes may have recalled the untimely passing of a skunk, but there are so many more great tunes populating the catalog of one of the most musically prolific members of the Wainwright family, and Newtown will soon be showcasing a sampling of it.
After too long a hiatus, The Flagpole Radio Café will return to the Edmond Town Hall main stage Saturday, September 23, at 7 pm, featuring Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III.
For the first time, the show is also being considered part of the Newtown Arts Festival activities occurring September 21-23.
“We were on the cusp of presenting an anniversary show with Peter Yarrow when the world shut down,” said event producer Barbara Gaines. “In the wake of the pandemic there was uncertainty everywhere, but in our hearts, we had confidence that The Flagpole Radio Café would return.”
Once a regularly scheduled and recurring showcase, the Café will resume with an evening of music and comedy performed by an ensemble of local artists.
The regular ensemble hosting Wainwright for the evening comprises musicians Jim Allyn, Rick Brodsky, Howie Carlough, Cadence Carroll, Chris Durham, and Francine Wheeler — a/k/a The Flagpole Radio Orchestra — and actors Martin Blanco, Barbara Gaines, Kate Katcher, and David Wheeler as The Flagpole Radio Ensemble.
Producer Martin Blanco said he and Gaines saw Wainwright in “Kip and Sylvia Tonight on D-Deck,” a cabaret-style show written by Tom Leopold, who was a Flagpole guest artist in 2019.
“Loudon was so excellent and versatile, that we both thought when Flagpole … comes back, he would make an outstanding guest artist,” said Blanco, who added Wainwright’s sister Sloan was a guest on the show years ago.
When The Newtown Bee asked Wainwright this week what is to be expected from his set, he laughed and replied, “the unexpected!”
He continued, clarifying “older songs, brand new songs, and probably some spoken recitation” were also included in his plans.
In a playful manner, Wainwright said he was most looking forward to “that standing ovation [he] get[s] every night” at the event.
Wainwright’s songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, his son Rufus Wainwright, and Mose Allison, among others.
He has recorded 27 albums, including his 2009 Grammy Award-winning High Wide & Handsome.
In fall 2018, Wainwright released Years in the Making — a 42-song treasury of rare and unreleased “Loudoniana.” It features appearances by Kate McGarrigle, Suzzy Roche, Bill Frisell, Van Dyke Parks, Chaim Tannenbaum, David Mansfield, and the Wainwright children.
In October of 2020 Wainwright unveiled the album I’d Rather Lead a Band, in which he is featured as a vocalist with Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks. The 14-song collection of classic songs from the 1920s and ‘30s was widely acclaimed.
During the pandemic, Wainwright produced a number of virtual shows, including “The Special Relationship” (presented by the Royal Albert Hall) and “The Great Unknown,” a musical tribute to his friend, the late George Gerdes. Also featured in that show were Richard Thompson, Suzanne Vega, Steve Forbert, and the members of Spinal Tap.
In 2022 Wainwright released Lifetime Achievement, an album of 15 original songs establishing his singular talent as a tragicomedian and hitting new heights.
The orchestration varies from solo performance to trio work with his longstanding musical cohorts, Chaim Tannenbaum and David Mansfield, to Nashville and Memphis-style little big bands, to a full-blown string arrangement by Rob Moose.
Wainwright puts his latest achievement in the context of a lifetime of music making this way: “When I made my first record for Atlantic in 1969, I wanted to make not only a recording, but a document that captures a moment. Now, 50 years later, I guess I still want to make a testament of songs, and I like to think they might last a while.”
Tickets for Flagpole Radio Café are $45, and are on sale at flagpoleproductions.org. For more information, contact Martin Blanco at email@example.com.