Thursday, 22 January 2015

Reflections on the first 3 weeks of the New Year

What a whirlwind. I write from my sickbed as a dreadful lurgy struck me just as I was to leave for London from the East Village. Jane, my fabulous friend and theatrical landlady to the stars, and Luka, her son and tech wizard, were at home due to Martin Luther King day, and I could barely open my eyes let alone get to an airport. But buoyed up by vitamin C tablets and natural vim and vigour I managed to get myself back to London.

So many wonderful things, times places. Such great work. Fabulous people.

Apart from Jane and Luka, highlights included the 54 Below run which was a total joy and resulted in some lovely reviews and the making of new friends.

and a massage from the fabulous bodyworker George Russell - cannot recommend more. You can find out more about him, here - he's sorted my lower back pain in one session with a set of brilliant exercises.

Then I found out Hard Rain had won a award for best CD of 2014 which is just mind blowing. There was a nice piece about it in the Examiner, here

Then I started working with the terrific singer, Pamela Lewis and her band of musicians - a delight from start to finish and great to see her do 2 really terrific opening shows of this new Billy Joel material New York State Of Mind at The Metropolitan Room with Ritt Henn on bass, John Hurley on guitar, Marcus Parsley on trumpet and Bill Heller on piano and really nice arrangements. She'll be doing another performance of this in early March in NYC if you missed her this time around.

I managed to fit in some fun time with New York's best Doctor Thelma Reyes, writer Kristine Reyes and her husband, photographer Jason De Crow, and we had lunch at Veselka on 2nd Avenue.

Jason, Kristine, me and Thelma on 2nd Avenue in sub zero tempertures.

Jane got me started watching Celebrity Big Brother, which I have managed to avoid for, what, decades? Now I know why. Addictive and vindictive and other words ending in "ive". Destructive. There are more I'm sure. Luckily being back home has broken the cycle and I've been able to detox by watching the first magnificent episode of Wolf Hall, and marvelling at Mark Rylance's fabulous acting, again.

I digress. APAP was amazing. Its in the New York Hilton and its mind boggling. Every musician within a hundred mile radius of New York must have been playing and there were people there from all over the world come to ply their wares at the world's biggest performers and agents trade fair. At one point in our green room there were jazz musicians, close harmony blonde country chicks dressed in shortie pink lace, pirates (not kidding) there were basemen, drummers, trombonists, percussionists, every kind of stringed instrument you can imagine. Walking past each conference room you'd hear bluegrass, then there would be a group of what looked like Japanese schoolgirls dancing on chairs, a woman with a lute, a jazz combo. It was chocca with life.  Liz Thomson from Book Brunch was around, too. She's working on a great new project to bring it all back to Greenwich Village. More here…..

And Tammy McCann the great singer from Chicago was performing.
Tammy and Barb at APAP
As was the fabulous pianist Laurence Hobgood.

Laurence and Barb at APAP
Gail Boyd Management, who look after us all, had a booth downstairs, and we all dropped by on Monday to hang and have fun and eat popcorn.

Tammy, Gail, Barb and Laurence in front of the best booth at APAP no mistaking.
There was time to have lunch and a really good chinwag with James Gavin, mid tour of his Lena Horne show. And the wonderful pianist Aaron Graves took me to meet Barry Harris and to one of Barry's now legendary workshops. Ask Simon Wallace how important Barry is, he'll tell you for sure.

Lenny Watts, Tracy Stark and I workshopped with a bunch of lovely singers, and we reconnected with Jay, one of our alumni from last year's Connecticut Eugene O'Neill Cabaret Conference.

Both Mike Lunoe and I got food poisoning from what used to be my favourite Thai restaurant - I will never eat at Room Service on 9th Avenue again. I have returned, tail between my legs, to Pam's Pad Thai, and now all is well.

And the Sunday on Long Island working with arranger and composer John McDaniel on our new show for this year's Connecticut Conference was a joy of joys. But much more about all of that, soon……

And a mention of the weather. Which was brutal, to put it mildly. But clear and sunny, often, and cleansing in a mad wintry way.

Meanwhile, there's a new series of French cop genius show Spiral on iplayer, and time flies…..

And Tom Lescher, as always, has great advice from the heavens……

Namaste, be well, and keep on trucking!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year from New York City!

I begin my year leaving a city on fire with the best firework display around an old clock ever seen -
London ablaze to welcome 2015

And arriving to watch the ball drop in Times Square

Times Square New Year's Eve 2014

Open at 54 Below tomorrow for a 3 night residency with Tracy Stark on piano and Mike Lunoe on percussion. Still a few tickets if you get cracking fast - 

And finding a lovely top ten choice for Hard Rain in the AXS blog -

4.Barb Jungr’s ‘Hard Rain’

Eleven songs by Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen may be a little much, right? Not when this British cabaret singer gets through with the poignant, often seminal, soundtracks that once represented an entire generation of protest during times of struggle. Jungr handles the protest (“Blowin’ In The Wind,” “It’s Alright Ma,” “Who By Fire,” “First We Take Manhattan”) gracefully, adding her feminine touch and infinite compassion in vocals that never stray into hysteria or strident homily. She makes the listener feel the emotional ramifications of the social injustices, and keeps those themes relevant today. “I knew right from the start it was all the tougher songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen that I wanted to sing. I knew there was somehow a through thread to them — that the world they described and the actions they rejected and celebrated were of as much importance today as the day those songs were penned. There’s something in both writers that transcends the material itself, as though the words and music have powers beyond the paper and the groove, beyond the voice and the piano.” Right on.

Its been a fabulous past year but now its time to turn up the cruise control to warp factor 5. Look out 2015. Here we come.

And I wish a very Happy New Year to all my family, friends and acquaintances around the world - I wish for us all this year to be in the places we love with the people we love in the best ways possible…..

My Beloved Isle of Skye - the Cuillens in the distance
London - the bee's knee's

London - a top babe

New York New York - so good I can eat it every day…..
WORKSHOP and TUITION ALERT NEW YORK CITY - I forgot to add this via Tracy Stark - The amazing Barb Jungr is returning to NYC this week!
There are numerous ways to connect with her. 
1. She will be performing at 54 Below, this weekend! 
Fri-Sun, Jan 2,3 & 4th.
2. If you'd like a private lesson, Barb and I will be teaching private hour sessions, on Sat, Jan 10th. 
For more information, and to secure a spot, message me here on Facebook, or email me at
3. Or, if you prefer a double whammy, Barb and Lennie Watts will be teaching a masterclass on Sat, Jan 17th
Contact Lennie at:

and this

International Recording Artist and Master Song Stylist Barb Jungr crosses the pond and joins forces with Multi Award Winning Director Lennie Watts for this one day special Master Class! In this workshop, the focus will be on the uniqueness of each performer, and the best way to support that with technique and imagination. Special attention will be given to bringing out the story in each song and making that story specifically yours. 

Come take advantage of this rare opportunity!

Space is EXTREMELY limited
275.00 to participate
50.00 to audit

To reserve a spot or if you have questions. Contact Lennie Watts at

BARB JUNGR is an award winning renowned UK based song stylist and performer who's 30 year career has taken her all over the world. She has done seasons in the major residencies in the UK, US and Australia and has garnered rave reviews everywhere. She has since 2000 released 7 acclaimed CDs on Linn records and 2 on Naim Jazz. 

LENNIE WATTS is a 10 time MAC, 5 time Backstage Bistro, and 3 time Nightlife Award winner; outstanding vocalist, director, producer and booking manager for over 25 years; recently named one of “The 50 Most Influential People in New York Cabaret.”  Toured nationally and internationally: THE MUSIC MAN (Marcellus), THE WIZARD OF OZ (Lion). Regional credits include: THE SANTALAND DIARIES (Crumpet) DROWSY CHAPERONE (Man In Chair), GUYS AND DOLLS  (Nicely Nicely) and JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (Herod) among others.  Directed regional productions: DAMES AT SEA, JOSEPH & THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, PHANTOM, H2$. 2013 MAC Award winner for MAJOR ARTIST for BLOODY BLOODY LENNIE WATTS.