Burt and his band played the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi, Miss., on Jan. 11, and for the first time in nearly 10 years, I was lucky enough to be in attendance. I’m happy to report the performance was terrific from start to finish. Both Burt and band were in fine form, and it was nice to hear a few new-to-me performances, such as a soulful update of the old Etta James track “Waiting for Charlie (To Come Home)” courtesy of vocalist Donna Taylor and “My Little Red Book,” which got a full-length rendition featuring keyboardist Bill Cantos on vocals. Burt said at the beginning that he’d be performing both old and new songs, and he didn’t disappoint, including two songs from the musical “Some Lovers,” his recent collaboration with Tony Award-winning lyricist Steven Sater.
Thanks to the generous assistance of discographer Davide Bonori, the chronological Bacharach discography has finally been updated. Davide has been compiling his discography for more than a decade, and it contains almost every song Burt has written — including unreleased demos — as well as selected recordings that Burt produced or arranged. For Bacharach fans, it’s an essential resource and a great read. Thanks Davide!
I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little skeptical when I first got wind of What’s It All About: Bacharach Reimagined. The idea for a Bacharach review had already come to Broadway and, according to most, it had failed pretty badly. (Bacharach himself wasn’t a big fan.) The concept of another Bacharach review, especially one conceived and arranged by a 26-year-old musical theater performer and which promised a “re-imagining” of Bacharach’s music, sounded like a train wreck waiting to happen.
I’m happy to report that Kyle Riabko’s show, which is being staged with Bacharach’s support, appears to be a resounding success. It opened at the New York Theatre Workshop on Nov. 19 to mostly positive reviews and was recently extended through Feb. 2. Updating Bacharach for the millennial generation while still remaining true to the songs was a tall order, but Kyle Riabko seems to have pulled it off.
Here are a few reviews:
And just for good measure, here’s a not-so-positive review by Newsday.
Burt Bacharach performed at the Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., last Thursday (Dec. 19), but before that show, he spoke with the Colorado Springs Gazette about his legacy, performing for the first time and his recent activities, which include collaborations with Elvis Costello on two new musicals, one based on Painted From Memory and the other on Austin Powers.
I think this is my direction now. There is no record business now. No albums, only singles or downloads. Which is a travesty. There are a lot of people not getting paid what they should get paid. Artists, writers, publishers. Hopefully it will get straightened out. I don’t know how.
A new musical revue featuring the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David is scheduled to begin previews in November.
“What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined” begins performances on Nov. 18 at New York Theater Workshop, with opening night set for Dec. 5. The revue is the brainchild of actor, singer and musician Kyle Riabko, whose Broadway credits include “Spring Awakening” and “Hair.” Tony-nominated choreographer Steven Hoggett directs. Intriguingly, the show promises the multi-talented Riabko’s own unique, soulful interpretations of Bacharach classics.
The show comes with a very special endorsement.
“I’m very supportive of this project,” Bacharach says in the press release show. “I think Kyle has done something truly unique with my music. I like it very much, and I think you will too.”
Clink this link to see the full press release.
On Jan. 11, Burt will make a relatively rare Gulf South appearance in Biloxi, Miss, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and on Jan. 25, he’ll be in Brooks, Calif., at Cache Creek Casino Resort. There’s a third January show that is in the works, but I’ll hold off on publishing that date until it’s officially confirmed and announced by the promoter.
I’m looking forward to catching the Jan. 11 show in Biloxi, where I first saw Burt perform live a little over 10 years ago.