Posted on May 1, 2020 at 4:06 am

First we canceled the March show.

We had planned a really beautiful show with Ashley Perez Flanagan, Zonya Love Johnson and Marcus Paul James for March 16, but then the social distancing order came down and all the performing spaces had to close. And we knew that, for the foreseeable future, that was the end of that.

There wasn’t much time to dwell on it, really – Georgia and I were too busy getting the girls’ distance-learning set up and making sure we had the groceries and supplies we needed, figuring out what we had in the bank and whether we could afford our rent, our insurance, the same panic everyone else was having.

Meanwhile, the staff at SubCulture had been laid off, and there was no clear understanding of when they’d be able to get back to work. My musicians were also out of work, some of them now dealing with a pandemic on top of what had already been a parlous situation with the Musicians Union pension plan. These people had done five years of shows with me, killing themselves to make the impossible happen every month, and they were my family. Marc Kaplan (the owner of SubCulture) called me and we both sat mutely on the phone, depressed because we couldn’t do anything to help.

Unless we could.

The next SubCulture show had been scheduled for April 24, and though we obviously weren’t going to be doing that show, we looked at that date and thought, “Maybe we can do something that night.” I had done a couple of livestreamed events and the sound was never good enough, so instead we hatched an idea to do a filmed concert, like a TV special, all remotely recorded from our homes, and broadcast it that night as a benefit for the staff and musicians of SubCulture. (Ultimately, we decided to move it three days later, and thank God we did.)

I didn’t tell Marc what I was planning because I didn’t know if I had the guts to do it, but that night I texted Ariana Grande and asked her:

And that is what started the journey that brought us this concert exactly fifteen days later.

I’ll write the technical details of how we did it in another post, but for now, please enjoy the video posted above – it’s two of the greatest, most celebrated singers in the entire world singing with me and my band, it’s forty minutes long, it was an insane amount of work to put it together, and I’m so proud of what we all did that I want to burst. And please donate if you can – I assure you these glorious folks deserve it.

Sanctuary (2019)
Melinda from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
SHOSHANA: The Hardest Hill from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
I Love Betsy from Honeymoon In Vegas (2014)
ARIANA: Still Hurting from The Last Five Years (2002)
All Things In Time from How We React and How We Recover (2018)

Jason Robert Brown: piano, keyboards, vocals
Shoshana Bean, Ariana Grande: guest vocals
Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf: cello
Jamie Eblen: drums, percussion
Randy Landau: upright and electric bass
Todd Reynolds: violin, viola
Gary Sieger: electric and acoustic guitar
Molly Cate Brown, Susannah Brown & Georgia Stitt: choir on “Sanctuary”

Executive Producers: Marc Kaplan & Jason Robert Brown
Music Producers: Jeffrey Lesser & Jason Robert Brown
Associate Producer: Alan McIntyre Smith
Editors: Jodi Binstock & Alan McIntyre Smith
Mixing and Mastering: Jeffrey Lesser
Technical Production: Daniel Barbee, Craig Bundy, William Hansen, Brandon Kienzle
Additional Cinematography: Daniel Barbee, Molly Cate Brown, Jenna Grossano, Betsy Capes Kaplan, HuiMei Landau, Katherine Livolsi-Landau
SubCulture Team:
Marc and Steven Kaplan, Co-Founders
Nicholas Auguston, Daniel Barbee, Eddie Bean, Craig Bundy, Thomas Doelger, Olivia Fenton, Dwight Ferdinand, Joseph Fierberg, Eden FlorenceGuill, James Hartnett, William Hansen, Erika Kapin, Brandon Kienzle, Joe Kimple, Jenna Grosanno, Jason Levine, Elaine Lipcan, Samantha Littleford, Steven Michael Mooney, Fred Ostermann, Zach Pizza, Mac Stringer, Adam Volerich, Lauren Weinberg, Max Weinstein

Recorded and filmed April 12-16 in New York City, Maplewood NJ, Hartsdale NY, North Adams MA, and Los Angeles CA