NEW YORK - On October 30, 2018 the Bell House will host a special one-night-only evening ode to Bobbie Gentry featuring an all-star musical tribute and the exclusive world premiere of never-seen archival footage of Bobbie Gentry performing in Vegas, an era mostly undocumented until now.
The one-of-a-kind show will be hosted by comedienne Julie Klausner and features performances by Klausner, Jill Sobule, Ted Leo, Laura Cantrell, Jean Grae, Tammy Faye Starlite, Eszter Balint, Jon Spurney, Nath Ann Carrera, Josh Kantor, Phil D’Agostino and … and more surprise special guests. (See below for artist bios.)
The film premiere part of the show features Gentry’s regal and defiant performance of “Fancy,” Gentry swinging from the ceiling in a metallic gold bodysuit to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and the holy grail for Gentry fans: the iconic, gender-bending spectacle of Bobbie Gentry performing as Elvis Presley, karate kicks and all.
In the wake of a just-released legacy-defining box set out from Universal Records and a critically acclaimed book-length examination of her career for the celebrated 33 ⅓ book series, this show celebrates Bobbie Gentry’s pioneering musical and theatrical accomplishments at a moment when Gentry is finally being fully recognized as the trailblazing singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer she told us she was before hanging up her heels and retiring from show biz in the early 1980s.
“Ode to Bobbie Gentry: Celebrating a Living Legend” is being presented by author Tara Murtha (“Ode to Billie Joe”) and director Rachel Lichtman (Network 77).
October 30, 2018
Ode to Bobbie Gentry: Celebrating a Living Legend
179 7th Street
Doors @ 7, Show @ 8
This show is a benefit, with proceeds going to Lady Parts Justice League.
Julie Klausner is an actress/comedienne/cabaret darling who created the critically acclaimed Hulu series “Difficult People.” Her podcast, How Was Your Week, was called “one of the few essential podcasts” by the New York Times. She is head writer and Co-EP of Billy on the Street. She’s also written for Mulaney, Best Week Ever, The Big Gay Sketch Show, The Triumph and Jack Show and many other comedy specials.
Jill Sobule is a singer/songwriter with a long and well-known association with Bobbie Gentry. In addition to being a collector of Bobbie rarities, she penned the introduction to the 33 ⅓ book Ode To Billie Joe, as well as the song “Where is Bobbie Gentry?” which appears on her appropriately named 2009 record California Years. Since then, Jill has returned to New York City where she continues to write, record, and perform what the New York Times calls “grown-up music for an adolescent age.” This fall, Sobule is releasing Nostalgia Kills, her first record in nine years.
Ted Leo is one of the finest and most versatile singer/songwriters of our generation. Rooted in hardcore, then blistering power-pop with bands like Chisel and The Pharmacists, he has sung out our turbulent lives like we were smarter than we were, then provided equal parts sweetness and solace with Aimee Mann as The Both before releasing his most recent evolution: the long-awaited and critically acclaimed solo album The Hanged Man. As an in-demand musician and performer, he has appeared on many stages and variety shows and is at home at The Bell House paying tribute to the first lady of Southern Gothic.
You may recognize songwriter, actress, and violinist Eszter Balint from her starring turn in Jim Jarmusch’s film Stranger Than Paradise, her appearance on the FX sitcom Louie, or her acclaimed records such as Airless Midnight. “Miss Balint has her own film-noir sensibility as a songwriter,” Jon Parales observed in the New York Times. “[She] slips inside her characters to project their restlessness and longing.” With Gentry’s penchant for writing dark characters who need intimacy and freedom but can’t have both, Balint’s exquisite sensibility will honor the late Jimmie Haskell’s string arrangements.
JON SPURNEY is a composer, film-maker, writer, and multi-instrumentalist. He wrote music for seasons one and two of the Emmy-nominated "At Home with Amy Sedaris" on TruTV, and co-wrote music for and appeared on camera in seasons one, two and three of the Emmy-nominated “Documentary Now!" with Fred Armisen and Bill Hader on IFC, as well as for seasons two and three of the critically acclaimed "Difficult People" on Hulu. He has composed music for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report," and appeared on Broadway in the Tony award-winning musical "Passing Strange" as well as in the film version directed by Spike Lee. He provides musical accompaniment for The Moth Radio Hour's live shows, and served as musical director for the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park productions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Spurney has performed with Elton John, Stevie Wonder, David Byrne, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, John Cale, Aimee Mann, and Jonathan Coulton, and also writes and directs short films for Automatic Ecstasy Productions.
Nath Ann Carrera
Described as "heavenly" by the New York Times and brimming with “essayistic songs about female revenge and politics" in the Paris Review, Nath Ann Carrera performs in vaunted venues all around New York City. A devoted Gentry fan, they’ve been performing “Belinda,” Bobbie Gentry’s ode to a Texas stripper, for years. Their celebrated show “I Don't Want To Throw Rice, I Want To Throw Rocks: The Early Southern Gothicism Of Dolly Parton” returns to Joe’s Pub this fall.
As the organist for Boston Red Sox homes games, Josh Kantor “has the coolest job in the world.” He also has other countless cool gigs, like jumping on stage with an accordian for Jon Langford, or playing keyboards for The Split Squad (a supergroup made up of members of Blondie and the Fleshtones), Boston luminaries Jim’s Big Ego, and The Baseball Project, a sterling group of people who love both baseball and rock and roll.
Jean Grae is a multi-hyphenate artist whose work integrates music, comedy, and visual media. In addition to musical collaborations with The Roots, Talib Kweli, and Robert Glasper, the critically acclaimed performer, director, soundtrack composer, and writer has released nearly two dozen self-produced and engineered independent albums; her work is even archived in The Yale Anthology of Rap and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and Culture. Regular Bell House showgoers will know Grae from her Jean and John shows, with comedian John Hodgman. Pitchfork called Grae “one of the most gifted MCs ever” and describes her most recent LP Everything’s Fine as “a masterpiece of rap performance, blending dark comedy, cathartic narrative, and even vaudeville with a hip-hop soul.” As Grae says, she makes all the everything.
Philadelphia-based musician and producer Phil D’Agostino is usually on the road playing bass with Get the Led Out, the country's premier Led Zeppelin tribute band. This year, D’Agostino released indie side project Blind Subscribers, a record built to last about things that aren’t. In 2015, D’Agostino served as musical director for The Lower 40, a one-day pick-up project of 14 musicians performing Bobbie Gentry’s debut record “Ode to Billie Joe” in its entirety, aired live and archived on WXPN 88.5FM.
Tammy Faye Starlite
Tammy Faye Starlite is a celebrated alt-cabaret singer, satirist, and performance artist who thrills and scandalizes audiences by performing what the New York Times calls “mesmerizing theatrical shows” in homage to icons like Nico and Mick Jagger. Tammy Faye Starlite embodies what she calls “the photonegative of a country singer” while singing cult favorite songs like, “God Has Lodged a Tenant in my Uterus.”
A country artist from Nashville thriving in New York City, Laura Cantrell earns accolades wherever she goes. As a celebrated radio DJ, Cantrell currently hosts Dark Horse Radio, a show dedicated to the music and legacy of George Harrison, on SIRIUS. Cantrell’s latest record, No Way There From Here, has been hailed as “a superb repertory” featuring “bell-like vocal clarity to her stories, which illuminate more than explain – just enough to make you want to hear ’em again.” Cantrell’s previous record explored femininity in country by way of interpreting songs related to OG Kitty Wells.
About the producers:
Tara Murtha is the author of critically acclaimed book Ode to Billie Joe for the 33 ⅓ series of music books published by Bloomsbury and numerous articles about Bobbie Gentry’s career in outlets such as Rolling Stone and No Depression. In 2015, she produced a concert covering Gentry’s debut record that aired live on WXPN-FM. She frequently writes about music, gender, politics and media, and works at the Women’s Law Project, a feminist public interest law firm based in Philadelphia. What She Hasn’t Got: An Apology for Sinead O’Connor will be featured in 33 1/3: The B-Sides (Will Stockton & D. Gilson, editors), an anthology coming this fall. It was recently published as an excerpt at Refinery29.
Girl-about-town Rachel Lichtman wears many groovy hats, particularly in the autumn: producer, director, writer, visual artist & pop cultural documentarian who works in a variety of mediums. In 2015 she co-produced the documentary series Something Cool, which featured an in-depth episode on the life of Bobbie Gentry.