Cast members from the Public’s Central Park summer production of “Hair” will reprise their roles on Oct. 12 with “Be-In: A Night of Music and Love.”
Not your average Joe
Celebrating 10 years of musical diversity at Joe’s Pub
By Lee Ann Westover
Ten years ago, downtown Manhattan’s venerable Public Theater transformed a corner of their grand Lafayette Street edifice into a glamorous music club, bar and restaurant. After a decade of operation, Joe’s Pub finds itself one of New York City’s hippest nightspots and a sought-after stage for musicians around the world. Beginning this month, Joe’s Pub will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a gala fundraiser, 10 free concerts, and four months of performances from artists for whom Joe’s Pub has served as a creative springboard.
Of the vision for this series, Joe’s Pub director Shanta Thake says, “Not only is this a great time to celebrate what we are but also to show New York and the world how far Joe’s Pub has come in just 10 years. We want to tell the story of the diversity that we program…and that we are committed to being a mirror to New York and the country at large.”
Unlike so many nightspots around Manhattan, Joe’s Pub’s velvet booths and mood lighting did not come into being as a money-making venture. “When a lot of people think of Joe’s Pub, they think we are a regular music venue,” says Thake. “What they might not understand is that we are a non-profit program of the Public Theater and that we don’t subsist on earned income alone. Although we have been successful for so many years, you just can’t take it for granted, especially when clubs are closing down all over the city.”
In a duel fold mission to gather some of those precious operating funds while sharing the best of Joe’s Pub history, the gala dinner and concert on Friday, October 10 is the anniversary season’s first official event. Judy Collins herself, as well as musical luminaries Mary Gauthier, Shawn Colvin, Eric Anderson and others, will interpret Collin’s extensive songbook while shedding a little light on her history as both a performing artist and longtime mentor to fledgling performers.
On October 11 and 12, the free “Ten for the Tenth” concert series showcases Joe’s Pub’s diversity with a roster of artists from all over the musical spectrum. Anyone can reserve free tickets at JoesPub.org until Sunday, October 5.
The events start early with a family concert at 11:00 am on Saturday the 11: “Baby Loves Salsa” with Joe Conde. At 2:30 p.m., Raoul Midon continues in the Latin theme with his New Mexico mix of R&B, soul and pop – all accompanied by flamenco-tinged acoustic guitar. Jill Sobule will add some sparkle to John Wesley Harding’s “Folk Noir” at six, followed by soulful songbird Imani Uzuri’s “Mosaic” at 9:30. At ten, the Budos Band’s bombastic afro-soul will send the audience dancing into Sunday.
Sunday morning (October 12) the party begins again, as singer and pianist Allen Toussaint takes the stage for a New Orleans brunch at 11 p.m. Brooklyn’s playful genius Roy Nathanson lends his saxophone to ’80s diva – and fellow Jazz Passenger’s alum – Debbie Harry for a 2:30 p.m. set of mind-bending music. At six, musician and absurdist comedian Reggie Watts performs with the hilarious Kristin Schaal – best known as the adoring stalker-slash-fan on HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords.” A cavalcade of stars, including Michael Cerveris and John Cameron Mitchell, will interpret the witty and city-bitter “Stew Songbook” at 9:30 p.m. Songs from Stew’s recent Broadway production “Passing Strange” will doubtless be included in the evening’s program. The Public Theater’s Central Park production of “Hair” ended up being the hottest ticket in town this summer. Members of the astoundingly beautiful and talented cast will reprise their roles with “Be-In: A Night of Music and Love” at 12:30 a.m.
In talking to her, it’s clear that Thake is proud of what Joe’s Pub has become over these last 10 years, and that she intends to further the legacy over the next decade. She emphasizes that a hardworking staff takes as much credit as she does in producing over 800 shows per year in the space. What she would love to see, however, is more of a melding of the Public Theater and Joe’s Pub in the public eye.
Says Thake, “My big goal is to really be the Public Theater, and together that is what we are working towards…not just on the Joe’s Pub side but the Public Theater side as well. We want for this to be perceived as one great institution. I mean, the Public is New York’s theater. We want to be New York’s venue.”
See the schedule of anniversary concerts, reserve free tickets for the “Ten for the Tenth” free concert series or purchase tickets for “A Tribute to Judy Collins” gala celebration at JoesPub.org