Posted on January 22, 2022 at 3:04 am

Not that long ago, I did 30 to 40 concerts a year, traveling all over the country, racking up frequent flier miles and staying in weird hotels and eating a lot of late dinners by myself. This year, I did three. (Not counting one performance this summer at my old sleepaway camp.)

But I guess if you’re only going to do three, they should all be as special as these shows were to me. After a year of not performing, and the loss of my artistic home at SubCulture, I was so grateful for the chance to make music with my favorite people.

This time, those “favorite people” included the sensational Ashley Pérez Flanagan, who’s been involved with several of our workshops of The Connector (and magnificently sang one of the songs from that show), and drummer Shannon Ford, who appears on several tracks of my album Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes but hasn’t played with us in far too long.

We paid tribute to my hero, my idol and my greatest inspiration, Stephen Sondheim, by performing a song I sang once at SubCulture and again onstage at Town Hall when Steve and I did a concert together there. We premiered a song from a new show – the title of which I cannot yet disclose – about a writer reaching middle age and having to re-evaluate why he writes. My beautiful wife and daughters shared the stage with me again to sing “Sanctuary” and embody it. And we tipped our hat to the Fugees and Roberta Flack for Ashley’s deeply funky version of “Killing Me Softly.”

2022 has a lot of excitement: the premiere of Mr. Saturday Night (my first Broadway show in seven years), the Netflix film of 13, a forthcoming TV special, and lots of other crazy things, including another show at 54 Below on January 24 with my Irish muse Rachel Tucker. But this was a wonderful way to say farewell to 2021, with all its attendant blessings and curses. Deep breath, and on we go.

It All Fades Away from The Bridges of Madison County (2013)
Shiksa Goddess from The Last Five Years (2002)
Boat (world premiere) (2021)
Children and Art from Sunday in the Park with George (music and lyric by Stephen Sondheim, 1984)
ASHLEY: Cassandra from The Connector (2019)
ASHLEY: Christmas Lullaby from Songs for a New World (1995)
ASHLEY: Killing Me Softly (music and lyrics by Norman Gimbel, Charles Fox & Lori Lieberman, 1972)
Mary Mallon (2020)
Sanctuary from Coming From Inside The House (2020) (with Georgia Stitt, Molly Brown & Susannah Brown)
Wait Til You See What’s Next from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
Melinda from How We React and How We Recover (2018)
All Things In Time from How We React and How We Recover (2018)

JRB: piano and vocals
Ashley Pérez Flanagan: vocals
Todd Reynolds: violin
Gary Sieger: guitar
Randy Landau: bass
Lisette Santiago: percussion
Shannon Ford: drums