[Over the next several months leading up to the celebration of our 15th Anniversary in October, Joe’s Pub will be highlighting drawings from archival artist Michael Arthur who has captured the likes Amy Winehouse, Pete Townshend, Alicia Keys, Carly Simon and many more on our stage. Read about Michael’s story, and stay tuned for details on how you might earn the opportunity to work with Joe’s Pub as an archival artist by submitting your artwork via Tumblr.]
Carly Simon is notoriously stage shy. Over the years, she has developed a public reputation for being anxious about live appearances (her first SNL performance was pre-taped), so it was great to have her within the intimacy of the Pub. Her band has been with her for a long time (her son, Ben Taylor, played with her as well). It felt very much like a gathering of friends that were both protective and supportive of her. I remember feeling the audience had a similar protective impulse, probably because a lot of the people in the house were long-time admirers and friends. It very much felt like being a guest at someone’s (really good) party. I think the only nod she gave to her classic catalog was a cover of You’re So Vain. My Mom (who passed away over ten years ago) was a big Carly Simon fan and I remember wishing she could have been with me for this show …
If Carly Simon is shy, Lady Rizo is audacious, bold, both innovative and timelessly classic and always present. Getting to see Lady Rizo’s development as an artist is one of the best gifts I’ve received in my time at Joe’s Pub. She is hands down the only performer I’ve ever known who is always, always, always better than the last time I saw her. Am I a fan? Yes. And I’m glad to have become friendly with her as well over the years. I think there might be a similarity between my approach to drawing and Lady Rizo’s notion of live performance which has to do with presence and being open to the creative possibilities of any given moment. I think Lady Rizo is great because (1) she is always ready for the wheels to come off and (2) expert at finding a way to drive without wheels. It doesn’t hurt that she’s a great singer, interpreter and fast thinker. Good improv artists (like Lady Rizo) know their craft and are unafraid of risks.
I’ve only seen Ute Lemper a few times over the years, and she is always intimidating to draw—perhaps because like a classic vamp, she is both alluring and intimidating in general. Her shows are sophisticated cabaret, both cold and blood-tinglingly warm. Like Carly Simon, she has a very dedicated crowd, but she requires no protection. She’s fierce and sexy and I enjoyed trying to capture that.
Captions by Michael Arthur.