Saturday, June 15 was the annual Art Exhibit in the Ring Garden as part of an event called the Upper Manhattan Arts Stroll. I look forward to this day because it’s the occasion when I bring out all my hats for sale, and get to spend the entire afternoon in the sunshine in a beautiful private garden. From 1-6 PM various singers, writers, poets and instrumentalists get to perform for an admittedly small crowd while surrounded by tall rustling trees and beautiful flowers in the sunlight. (I won’t lie, since the park is in the middle of a busy intersection on Broadway and 200th street, we also have plenty of motorcycles, ambulances and other traffic noise as well.
I count myself lucky if I sell even one hat during this event, but even so I love doing it because people do come to admire and marvel at my hats–and even take photos of themselves in front of my display. Ah well, feedback of a sort, but it does confuse me when they say I should be selling the hats, then say, “but I’d never wear one”.
I sang a 20-minute set this year, as always, but decided to throw the crowd a few curve balls. I mixed in “Besame Mucho”, see video at http://youtu.be/zVGyq2iBUtM and “El dia que me quieras”–I don’t speak Spanish, but I learned them in the language anyway; after all, it’s what American classical music singers do. Suddenly a lot of the people who had been sitting outside the garden all afternoon, listening, came inside to SEE who was singing. I used 4 Sinatra songs, with “the Boy from Ipanema” thrown in just for fun, then ended with a sing-along version of New York, New York for which I had printed out song sheets.
People LOVED the set; and it was interesting that out of the 7 songs I sang, each person had a different favorite. BUT New York, New York! No matter how often you hear that song, people perk up and get excited just hearing the intro, and really love singing it. I wonder; has it been declared the official song of the city of New York? Does anyone know? I wonder if Kander and Ebb’s publishers would give the city a break like Oscar Hammerstein’s estate did for Oklahoma (the song Oklahoma is the state’s official state song).