Years ago I wrote a fan email to Michael Musto telling him that his column “La Dolce Musto” was the first thing I went to when I got the Village Voice. He was nice enough to respond and even make a joke – I’d said that I’d seen him years before singing at the Mudd Club and he said we couldn’t possibly be that old. He no longer writes for the Voice but I do read his weekly column “Musto! The Musical!” for Out and articles he writes for different papers, magazines, and websites. So when he mentioned that he’d be joining Carol Lipnik for her cabaret act at Pangea I decided to go. Mrs. Devereaux and her mother (who is as sweet, nice, and funny as Mrs. Devereaux) was visiting for Mother’s Day weekend and came along.
Since I usually go to rock shows and wear almost the same clothing every time, I decided it was time to dress up so I put on one of my new dresses, a big hat, and wore a scarf that complemented the dress.
When I got to Pangea I stood outside to wait for Mrs. Devereaux and her mother. Suddenly Musto came rushing out of the club and was sitting at one of the outside tables. I wanted to say something and tell him how much I appreciate his writing but, as usual, my shyness prevented me. He was listening to “I Got You Babe” on his smartphone so I knew what song he’d be performing with Lipnik. Then he got on his bicycle and cycled away.
The cabaret room at Pangea is in the back of the restaurant. We were seated at a table in a back corner but the room is so small that there is no bad seat. The small stage is almost completely taken over by a grand piano. All of us liked what we ordered – the food is very good at Pangea. I had the gazpacho and pork tagliatelle.
Lipnik was joined on stage by Matt Kanelos on piano and Jacob Lawson on violin. Both follow her almost as if reading her mind. Lipnik says, “Welcome to the séance,” and the call and search for spirits begins. There were sound effects as Lipnik finished the first song and walked around the room looking up and out for the spirits. For the song about wolves, she howled and invited us to join in. “The Oyster and the Sand” featured beach sound effects. There was an anthem for crows (“Crow’s Nest”). And then we were “going down to the honeypot and gonna get stoned” (“Honey Pot”). As you can see, this was not your mother’s cabaret. It was a new age meets Coney Island adventure.
Lipnik has an incredible range and very strong vibrato, which works very well with her songs. She was dressed in a teal dress with some necklaces, a teal ring, teal nail polish, and tealish eye shadow. Over the dress was a black lace coat with black fringe.
Musto joined Lipnik and said since he was taller and more masculine he would take Cher’s part. Which he did in a funny slight imitation of Cher. But Musto is a good singer and that comes through. He was dressed in a blue short-waisted jacket and bow tie. I would loved to have heard more from him but his guest spot was for only one song.
Lipnik announced one song as Hank Ballard by way of Klaus Nomi and, wow, was it ever. She sang “The Twist” and sounded a lot like Nomi. She told us about growing up in Coney Island and that the Astro Tower, which didn’t survive Superstorm Sandy, had a hole in the top of the tower that would sound like a flute when the wind blew through it. So there was this “oooh” sound whistling through the area all the time. She had us “ooooh” along with her. “Travel Alone” (if that was the title – not sure) was a very pretty song and probably my favorite of the night. Lipnik put to music a poem by Helen Adam, a Beat poet, which Lipnik called a supernatural Irish ballad. Another song was composed while Lipnik was eating pot cookies and reading William Blake’s illuminated manuscript. She also performed one of Kanelos’ songs, “Non-violent Man.” Her encore was a wonderful version of “Moon River” that featured a horned kazoo.
I had a delightful time.
By Carene Lydia Lopez