Posted by David
This past Sunday I attended a fundraiser in the West Village, just south of Washington Square Park.
The event was called Teddy Cares and is hosted and driven by Ruby Rims. Ruby is a drag queen, by the way, for those of you readers in Topeka.
Teddy Cares raises money for the Actors Fund AIDS Program. The event also supports Judson Memorial Church, where the performances were held. Judson is also deeply involved with the community and provides life-saving programs to any and all who need them.
I was there because of Ruby. I was first exposed - I don't think there is a better word for it - to Ruby when I was a regular at Eighty Eights, a long lamented piano bar that I have spoken of previously. Ruby was part of the inner circle at Eighty Eights that welcomed me almost immediately from the first night I happened upon the place. I, too, became a regular and in the years following the bar's demise, annual events such as this became the primary time we saw each other. [More, with pics and video, after the jump.]
In any case, Teddy Cares had its final show on the 20th and I showed up that evening with bear in hand, adding it to the mind-bogglingly extensive display of ursine cuddliness that manifested at the front of the space.
The bears go to children both in AIDS wards and those suffering from other life-threatening illnesses.
The evening's entertainment was a line-up of various cabaret performers from days past and present including:
Gentry Leland Claussen,
Joseph 'GO' Mahan,
and of course, Ruby.
Accompaniment and musical direction was provided by John McMahon.
If most or none of these names are familiar to you, well, you just don't know what you've missed.
Many of my good friends were there and, as always, it was a blast to see them again.
Many of us (well, all of us really) have grown older, grayer. We've soldiered on alone, or found partners or even created families.
Some of us have had rather eventful times in our recent days.
Still, the evening was as much a celebration of Ruby's indomitable spirit as it was of the season and of the many performers who made the night so special. Most pervasive was a feeling of gratitude, from both the audience and the performers, that we had this opportunity to be together and to share some of the music that we love - the music of the cabaret performer. Not just show tunes, but mostly songs written by and for those singers who arm themselves only with a microphone, a little patter, and their souls.
These are songs about love and loss, about heartache and romance, about loneliness, despair and the triumph over them.
I have often read about the lifers who go to the circuit parties and find themselves, in the wee hours of the morning, weeping as some classic disco song begins to play, reminding them of times past and friends long gone.
The songs from this past Sunday are our "morning music." The songs of our late night revels and of times past and likely not to return, and those who have gone with them. And we, too, weep as we hear these songs, not played out with a booming percussion, base line and strings, but with a lone piano and a voice, maybe beginning to crack with age but still full of life and love.
One of those songs is the title of this post, taken from a show of the same name but also a song that stands on its own. It is a song that definitely has resonance for me. I could only find a few versions of it online and the best is performed by a young woman who possibly has no conception of what it all really means. Yet it is wonderful to see someone born long after the events in the song unfolded, taking up its mantle.
The year dims and the voices fade, but new ones come and take their place. The singer may go, but the song remains.