Cultural Events


Lucy Kaplansky Sitting In With Flagpole Radio Cafe April 6

Published: March 22, 2019 at 07:00 am

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UPDATE (Thursday, March 28, 2019): The April 6 Flagpole Radio Cafe has been canceled. Click here for details. Tickets purchased for that show will be refunded. 

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A couple of really cool things happened for singer-songwriter Lucy Kaplansky last year. She dropped her latest album, Everyday Street, and at 58, she became a dog owner for the very first time in her life.

In a candid chat with The Newtown Bee ahead of her April 6 guest appearance with Newtown’s Flagpole Radio Café, Kaplansky confessed that the Beagle puppy was a gift for her daughter, Molly, but in the months since Janie came home to her family’s New York apartment, she has fallen in love with the affectionate hound.

“Our daughter was begging us for a long time, and we finally gave in when she turned 13,” Kaplanski said, laughing. “But then it was me who fell in love, so now she’s kind of turned into my dog — so she’s really now mine and my daughter’s dog.”

Attendees to the upcoming Flagpole Radio Café show will be hearing at least a number or two from Everyday Street as well. The latest project was primarily completed in just four days with the collaboration of stellar multi-instrumentalist/producer Duke Levine.

“Duke and I met when I was finishing my album Ten Year Night in 1998,” Kaplansky recalled. “We needed a guitar part played on a couple of songs, and my producer, Ben Whitman, had worked with him a lot. I instantly was in awe of him, not just as a musician, but as a person, and we’ve been playing together on and off ever since. I think he is just one of the greatest players out there.”

Folks who want to become familiar with Kaplansky’s new material can grab a copy from her website, lucykaplansky.com — as she is distributing it on her own.

Or they can pick up a copy at the Newtown show, where she will also offer another EP that is exclusively offered at her concerts while they last. That CD, Kaplansky Sings Kaplansky, was a labor of love and an opportunity to sit down and record some of the vintage 1940s-era swing that her dad, Irving, a renowned professor and mathematician loved best.

“To be honest, he actually said he didn’t like any music post-1950s, and he didn’t really get what I was doing,” she said. “He seemed mystified by the music I was making, and he seemed surprised that I was doing so well with it. But he would sit in with me when I would play in California near where my parents lived and the audiences would just love it.”

Kaplansky’s Everyday Street offers a mix of originals and covers, including “Keeping Time,” a song she originally wrote and then scrapped, about her experience sharing her New York neighborhood with the Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.

She told The Bee that after his untimely passing, she resurrected the idea of creating a song with Hoffman’s proximity as inspiration — and she was happy enough with that second pass that it ended up on the new CD.

“It started as a kind of different song, and I just wasn’t happy with it,” she said. “In the middle of it, there was a reference to him. But then I decided to make the whole song about him. My observations about him and the impact of our neighborhood losing him was a very, very moving and powerful experience. And honestly, it was more interesting to write about. By the time it was done, there was very little from the first song you would recognize in the finished song.”

She also talked about the easy decision she made to pluck “Thunder Road” from among the hundreds of Bruce Springsteen songs to cover on Everyday Street.

“I never planned to ever sing that song, although I’d been a fan of Springsteen since I was 15. But a few years ago, I saw him and mentioned it at a show I was doing a few weeks later in Jersey,” she said. “Well, someone yells out for me to do a Springsteen song, and I knew some of the words — and I was in New Jersey and knew the crowd would help me out. So I tried it and it stuck — people really liked whatever I was doing with it, and I loved singing it. Then awhile after that, my fans actually chose it as one of the covers they wanted me to perform on Everyday Street.”

The Flagpole Radio Café is an evening of music and often localized comedy performed by an ensemble of local talent that taps musicians Jim Allyn, Rick Brodsky, Howie Bujese, Cadence Carroll, Chris Durham, Dick Neil, and Francine Wheeler and actors Martin Blanco, Barbara Gaines, Kate Katcher, and David Wheeler.

Co-Producer Martin Blanco points out that this will not be the first time for Ms Kaplansky on a Newtown stage.

“She performed a concert with The Flagpole Radio Orchestra at the Newtown Meeting House two years ago as well as a house concert in Newtown in support of Francine and David Wheeler’s foundation, Ben’s Lighthouse,” he said. “Not only is she a gifted musician with a beautiful voice, but she is an artist who has expressed great affection for Newtown.

The April 6 production at Edmond Town Hall will be the final Flagpole Radio Cafe of the 2018-19 season. Tickets are $35 each and on sale through flagpoleproductions.org.

Online ticket sales will close at noon the day of the show. For additional information, contact Martin Blanco at 203-364-0898 or e-mail info@flagpoleproductions.org.

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