Carol Lipnik and Rachelle Garniez: Story Sounds Records Single/Video Release Show - Celebrating Joni Mitchell and other Women Artists
Pangea, New York, January 20th, 2019
Carol Lipnik and Rachelle Garniez, longtime figures in New York City's downtown music/performance art scene, came together on a bitter winter Sunday to celebrate women artists, in particular Joni Mitchell. The occasion was the release on Story Sound Records of their recording, with video, of Joni's "Songs to Aging Children Come". It was a warm arrangement.
Lipnik and Garniez had memorably performed the song on Joni's birthday in 2017, at a tribute/benefit concert at New York's Cutting Room venue, reviewed by this writer. The Pangea performance opened with a screening of the new video, a slightly tongue-in-cheek take on the song with both singers in black satin and lots of silver jewelry, with Indian goddess arm moves and exploding galaxies. It can be seen here.
Garniez and Lipnik took the stage dressed like East Village witches in velvet and more jewelry. They opened with a nearly 100-year old country tune, "Cool Water" (originally recorded in 1936 by the Sons of the Pioneers, with the connection here being Joni's 1988 duet with Willie Nelson on the song). Garniez and Lipnik made it piercing and hyper-emotional, strongly performed but almost too much.
When Garniez left the stage and Lipnik turned to Mitchell's iconic "Blue", the singer took a sharp turn in interpretation. Veering from hyper in the previous song to restrained, she let the song breathe. It was the range of expression that impressed. An early high point.
Matt Kanelos was the pianist for the first part of the evening, but soon Rachelle Garniez was at the piano for an Aretha Franklin song, and a delicate but devastating original by Lipnik, "Oh, the Tyranny." Garniez' piano playing is very fine.
Returning to the stage and picking up an accordion, Garniez joined Lipnik and their vocal guest, Amanda Homi, for two amusing original songs, one by each of the hosts. Then Carol Lipnik was alone for two of the best moments of the evening, inspired by women poets. The first was Rickie Ian Gordon's lovely, early "Souvenir", a setting of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Lipnik said it had been recommended to her by John Kelly (who was in the house), that man of great taste. The song is a favorite of mine and she sang it sweetly.
Since the subject was female poets, Lipnik read a short poem by the recently deceased Mary Oliver, and then sang her own setting of "Good Night Irene" a poem by Mary Ruefle. This was stunning, a perfect aggregation of all of Lipnik's talents, her warm joyful persona (on display all evening) here tempered with a dark irony, a skillful performance-art-monologuist reading of the lines driving a heightened theatricality, and a near-screaming high note belted near the end.
More pleasures followed. Garniez returned to the piano and sang Maggie Roche's "Married Men" to delighted laughter from the packed house.
Garniez has a somewhat diffident stage presence, often turning profile and singing out of the side of her mouth, and sometimes looking something like a deer in the headlights. It doesn't detract from her musical excellence, and contrasts nicely with Lipnik's earth mother warmth. When Garniez sat at the piano, I couldn't see her, but the piano playing sounded like increased confidence. After the Roche, she sang another of her own originals, a modern revolution anthem called "Don't Let the Bastards Get you Down". The ferocious way she tore into the verses sounded completely different from the singer I'd been watching. Nice! And a chance for a cathartic audience singalong.
The show closed with Garniez, Lipnik and Amanda Homi singing tight trio harmonies on the classic doo-wop song, "The Wind", based on Laura Nyro's arrangement. Exquisite. The encore, a traditional called Mr. Rabbit, with Lipnik as the voice of God and Garniez very moving as the questioning child, allowed for some more audience participation. A perfect end to the evening.
- Songs to Aging Children Come (video) - Garniez, Lipnik
- Cool Water (Bob Nolan) - Garniez, Lipnik
- Blue - Lipnik
- Sweet Bird - Lipnik
- Day Dreaming (Aretha Franklin) - Garniez
- Oh, the Tyranny (Carol Lipnik) - Garniez
- Undine Outwitted (Carol Lipnik) - Garniez, Lipnik + guest Amanda Homi
- Little Fish (Rachelle Garniez) - Garniez, Lipnik + guest Amanda Homi
- Souvenir (poem: Edna St. Vincent Millay/music: Rickie Ian Gordon) - Lipnik
- Good Night Irene (poem: Mary Ruefle/music: Carol Lipnik) - Lipnik
- Vanity's Curse (Rachelle Garniez) - Garniez, Lipnik
- Furry Sings the Blues - Garniez
- Married Men (Maggie Roche) - Garniez
- Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down (Rachelle Garniez) - Garniez
- Songs to Aging Children Come - Garniez, Lipnik
- The Wind (Nolan Strong, based on Laura Nyro arrangement) - Garniez, Lipnik + guest Amanda Homi Encore
- Mister Rabbit (traditional) - Garniez, Lipnik
- Matt Kanelos, piano - Rachelle Garniez, piano and accordion, with guest vocalist: Amanda Homi
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