March-Torme at the Meyer Theater
By George Halas
In conjunction with 91.1 The Avenue, Steve March-Torme will debut a new show, “Uncovered,” on Friday, March 3rd, at The Meyer Theater in Green Bay. The program will showcase songs by singer-songwriters of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and more.
The Meyer is an ideal place for this show.
“I like performing at The Meyer for a few reasons,”March-Torme said “not the least of which is we get an really intimate sound there, considering the theater seats just over 1,000 people when full. It feels like a smaller theater than it is because of the proximity of the audience to the stage. Beyond performing there, I’ve also seen a number of concerts there, and I just like the ‘vibe’ that Matt Goebel has nurtured.”
March-Torme has been planning and designing the show for a while.
“I kept thinking about putting together a great song list from an era that was really significant for singer-songwriters–starting in the early 60s,” he said “but through the 70s and 80s and beyond. Part of the joy of this show is hearing a terrific upbeat song from the early ‘60’s next to a stripped down version of an ‘80’s hit. I wanted to celebrate the songwriters that I listened to and admired when I was first learning to write, as well as those who have more recently inspired me.”
These are “feel good” songs for several generations of listeners.
“This is definitely a concert of pop music…no scat singing, no saxophones, not even a drummer,” March-Torme said “I decided to go with a percussionist instead, so that the songs could be as exposed as possible. I’ll also be playing a lot of keyboards and guitar in this show, something I don’t do as much in my more jazz-oriented concerts. I want to present the audience with songs that they love but haven’t been beaten to death with. Ones that evoke a response of. ‘Oh I LOVE this song – I haven’t heard that one in a while, but I’ve always loved it!’ I don’t want to reveal every song here or even every artist, but here are some good examples: Kenny Loggins’ “I’m Alright,” Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” Sam Cooke’s “Another Saturday Night,” Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” Elton John’s “Take Me to the Pilot,” The Rascals’ “How Can I Be Sure,” James Taylor’s “Shower the People,” and John Mayer’s “Stop This Train.”
The show’s format has been thoroughly road-tested.
“One of the reason’s that my dad’s (Mel Torme) fans loved his concerts so much,” March-Torme said “along with him having been such a great musician, was because he often told interesting stories about the songs before he sang them. It might have been something like, ‘That song was originally intended for Bing Crosby, but because he was under contract to a different label, and the composer didn’t like the owner of that label…” and so on. It was usually some tidbit that people didn’t know, so after the show they had not only been entertained, but they had also learned something interesting that perhaps they could’ve only learned from Mel.”
A good example from his show, without giving away the name of the song.
“I auditioned for a very well-known, successful group when I was still a teenager,” he said “I didn’t get the gig, but I made a good enough impression that I got other work from that meeting. I’ll be including the song I sang for them, a song that was a big hit for that group.”
As is his habit, March-Torme has assembled a truly stellar band for the performance.
“The band for this concert is a trio of percussion, bass and keyboard,” he said. “Mike Underwood is the percussionist, and he is just so good. Actually, all the other percussionists I asked before him were already booked for that night…I kid. We did a short tour of the Midwest together in November, and he just killed it on the drums every night. He’s also a selfless musician who just wants the music to be put forth in the purest and most appropriate form it can be. He’s extremely versatile, he’s enthusiastic, and he appreciates good beer.”
“On bass is Mark Urness,” he continued. “He teaches the instrument at Lawrence University, and when Broadway shows come into town to play at the Fox Cities PAC, he’s the bassist they call. He’s an amazingly quick study, and he puts up with my rambling when I’m explaining what I want in a song…and then delivers something that is beyond what I’ve articulated. At this point, I’m never surprised.
On keyboards is March-Torme’s friend, Mike Kubicki.
“He’s a world class jazz pianist, which makes him the odd duck in this project, but his musical ear is impeccable…as are his sartorial choices,” he said. “At times he’ll be accompanying me with his prowess as pianist, on others he’ll be adding complementary colors, and for some he’ll be simulating the entire string section of an orchestra. He learns his parts so quickly, puts his own little spin on them, and I think he genuinely likes stepping out of his ‘hard bop’ world to explore the kind of pop music I enjoy so much.”
There will be terrific guest artists as well.
“Again, I don’t want to give everything away but I can tell you that Hillary Reynolds will be returning from L.A. to join me, along with my friends Michael Bailey and Russ Reiser from Vic Ferrari.”
The Avenue’s involvement is key.
“For 91.1 The Avenue to take this on as their first signature concert of the year, is such a win-win for me,” March-Torme said. “Over the past few years, they’ve presented so many successful, varied concerts featuring everyone from Shawn Colvin to Leon Russell to John Hiatt, the Indigo Girls, and Bruce Hornsby, as well as acts that are rooted here like Janet Planet, Hillary Reynolds, Cory Chisel, Kyle Megna and the Monsoons, and Dead Horses. Having the station endorse what I do musically in addition to what I do as a morning and afternoon radio host for them means everything to me. This is also such a great fit because The Avenue playlist includes so many great singer-songwriters, and many of the tunes you’ll hear in ‘Uncovered.’”
For tickets, call 1-877-508-9191 or visit avenueradio.com