[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.]
Like Amy Winehouse, Adele had her American concert debut at Joe’s Pub, and—also like Amy Winehouse—I got to sit in on the sound-check and draw. Adele and her two accompanists were very gracious about having me around and it’s one of the singular pleasures in my life that my first experience with Adele’s voice was just hanging out with her while she sang a bunch of unknown songs that were about to become monstrously huge. My sister in law happened to be in town that day and I invited her to the show saying something like, “I dunno. She’s got a lot of positive buzz and I thought she sounded good at soundcheck.”
I’ve encountered so many artists for the first time on the Joe’s Pub stage. I had never heard of Pam Ann and I happened to be nearby the Pub, so I wandered in and caught her show with absolutely no idea who she was. It didn’t hurt that the first evening I saw her happened to be a winter night right after a plane had crash-landed in the Hudson river after hitting a flock of geese, leading to the sudden stardom of Captain Sullenberger. Pam Ann started the evening by shouting “What about the geese??!” Pam Ann’s audience is pretty evenly weighted between professionals from the airline industry and passengers and the place erupted.
When I began drawing at the Pub, Nellie used to play there a lot and her concerts were always compelling and great while also perilously dangerous. It was not unusual for her to stop a song suddenly or move in a completely different direction or really to just put her head down and leave the stage (she almost always came back). She seemed to present a mesmerizing musical combination of absolute confidence and rattling insecurity. My favorite Nellie McKay moment was a night when she was struggling on stage and suddenly broke in to an impromptu version of “Anything I Can Do, I Can Do Better”, which she presented as a passionate duet with herself.