“I spent three weeks in [New York] in January and found it […] as full of people worth living near as I knew it would always be,” writes Wil from Tokyo. It is.
Going back to Losers’ Lounge felt like a reunion with old friends. This moveable feast was founded ten years ago by Joe McGinty and Nick Danger, and is gaining strength as the performers edge past forty. McGinty is the MC and keyboard player for The Kustard Kings, the tight band that backs a dozen or twenty downtown singers in a laidback monthly tribute to a chosen singer-songwriter. They’ve done Burt Bacharach, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, The Kinks, Harry Chapin, Elvis Presley, Roxy Music, Abba…and, well, name that tune. Last night, for St. Patrick’s week, they toasted Van Morrison. Next month, to celebrate Easter, Jesus is the featured artist, with the music of Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Losers’ Lounge started at Fez, the basement under Time Café. A few years back they moved to the Westbeth Theater in the Meatpacking District, where café tables gave a cabaret air and the musicians always seemed to be having fun. Sadly, last night’s Van Morrison tribute at the Knitting Factory was an altogether slicker event sponsored by Guinness. They ran two shows back to back, and limited the number of singers drastically. Instead of the usual rambling three or four hour show, this was an hour and fifty minutes of greatest hits, though still studded with an oddity or two. David Terhune delivered a medley of the demo tapes he claimed a disgruntled Van had delivered when he was more pissed off than usual with his recording contract. “I see from your face you have ringworm,” he warbled, “Ringworm, ringworm…” Hmm.
Even if the show delivered only one song per dollar instead of the usual two, Van’s genius still made it a good deal. If you don’t know the man, perhaps Paul Durcan’s celebration, “The Drumshanbo Hustler”, can convince you to make his acquaintance.
You can hire the Losers for your wedding or bar mitzvah. On their website there’s a photo of Illeana Douglas in a veil duetting with Joe McGinty. His lanky, bedhead sex appeal makes him a younger brother to Bob Geldof, and I’ve nursed a crush on him ever since he dj’ed when my friends Cliff and Arlene married four years ago. Cliff is the official Losers’ Lounge cartoonist, and so he called in the favour of decent music, the only ingredient that turns a wedding into a party.The average American wedding costs in the region of $30,000 these days, apparently, which, amortised over the length of an average American marriage, comes out pricey. I am free of Bridezilla instincts, but if I ever did feel the urge to drop an annual wage on a public display of affection, I would fly the Losers to a beach on Lake Superior, import my pals from their continents, and dance barefoot for a day to interpretations that made me hear something new in my desert island discs.