Live From Home: An Evening with Rebecca Pidgeon

Friday, April 18, 2014 at 8:00pm

Online ticket sales have ended; tickets WILL be available at the door.

An intimate evening of music with Rebecca Pidgeon, followed by a conversation and Q&A led by Clara Mamet.

Rebecca Pidgeon’s new album Blue Dress On takes a marked turn from her acclaimed 2012 album Slingshot. The British singer-songwriter and stage and screen actress sees the 13-track set as charting a new direction while at the same time returning her to her musical roots. “It’s the first time I’ve produced my own album since I was a kid,” says Pidgeon, a veteran recording artist who co-produced Blue Dress On with guitarist Tim Young. “Not since Ruby Blue.”

English folk rock/pop band Ruby Blue was active in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, and placed its early recordings on the U.K. indie album and singles charts. Pidgeon left the group in 1990, to further a solo career and pursue an acting career—and to be with playwright David Mamet, whom she married in 1991 after starring in his play Speed-the-Plow at London’s National Theatre. 

Her solo recording career commenced in 1994 with the release of her solo debut album The Raven. Slingshot was her sixth solo effort, and she considered it a creative breakthrough. “I reached a point where I felt I had to take my singing more seriously and really make a 100% commitment to it, instead of saying this is something I do that’s not acting,” Pidgeon, said at the time. “I finally said to myself, ‘I am a singer.’”  >p> The deeply melodic Slingshot was the third collaboration between Pidgeon and Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Madeleine Peyroux, Herbie Hancock), and by design centered on what Pidgeon saw as “simplicity, air and space.” On Blue Dress On, however, she’s taken a different tack. “It sounds a bit more live, like a band,” she says, “more electric and rough around the edges. I was on the road quite a bit last year with Tim supporting Marc Cohn and Slingshot,” she continues. “But I’m always creating, thinking about the next record, mulling it over and collecting songs and thinking about where I want to go with it. For this one, I wanted to have a different kind of sound than the more gentle sounds on Slingshot, and I got a bit more experimental, with sounds like those on the indie sound records I grew up with—Adam and the Ants, Siouxsie and the Banshees, early Kate Bush--that kind of British indie sound.” 

The well-read Pidgeon (her Blue Dress On cut “You Do Not” was jointly inspired by Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark and Georgia O’Keeffe’s desert imagery, while “Tonight” owes to novelist Dawn Powell and Edward Hopper’s paintings) adds that the songs have been inspired by “dark love stories that end in death, doom and despair.”

“At the heart of every British songwriter there’s always a connection to the folklore and folk songs in that country, and it’s never a happy story,” she adds, referencing the album’s melancholic but beautiful and ill-fated wedding dance “Sailors Marriage,” which features a guest appearance by blues guitarist and fiddle player Freddy Koella (Bob Dylan, Willy DeVille, Zachary Richard).

The springboard for Blue Dress On, though, is “Feathers,” which Pidgeon co-wrote with frequent collaborator David Batteau. “It’s from a track we used quite a bit as a demo,” she notes. “I just did the vocals at home, and some of the guitars we did at home. Then I took the tracks to Tim’s studio and we added an erhu.” The erhu, she explains, is a traditional Chinese stringed instrument, though it’s given a more Celtic sound here.

Pidgeon also co-wrote with Jackson Browne guitarist and Pointer Sisters’ “Automatic” hit songwriter Mark Goldenberg. Their “You Take My Breath Away,” she notes, reflects the music of Fiona Apple, whom she was listening to at the time of writing. The album’s title track was written with Ollabelle’s Glenn Patscha (who also played a lot with Marc Cohn), and likewise shows the influence of listening to P.J. Harvey.

But Pidgeon’s range of musical influences transcends language. While it’s in English, her very personal song “I Can’t Forgive You” shows that her understanding of Brazilian music forms is equal to those of her home country—here also represented by her abbreviated version of “She Moved Through The Fair,” the traditional Irish song that she learned at school in Scotland, that’s also been performed by the likes of Van Morrison and Sinead O’Connor.

Meanwhile, Pidgeon’s other career as a respected actress comes into play on Blue Dress On’s lead track “I Know Just What I’d Do.” Characterizing it as “a pop anti-love song,” she says it began as a request for a song for Bill Macy, for his first directorial film effort Rudderless. “Then I decided that I wanted to make a record and kept it for myself! And I wrote it from the perspective of someone other than myself: Sometimes I start with my own private thoughts and try to take them to places that aren’t myself.”

Blue Dress On ends with the album’s one full cover song, and it has a family connection: “My Fantasy” was co-written by David Batteau and David Mamet. It’s a very Tom Waits-like, 1950s period piece--and I got Batteau’s permission to have Mamet write a ‘talk verse’ for it,” she notes.

Of course, it’s not the first time Pidgeon has collaborated with her husband. On Slingshot, she and the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright/film director Mamet co-wrote the country-tinged ballad “Baby Please Come Home.” “I find it difficult to write about how much I love my husband,” Pidgeon said then. “I pull from other aspects of my life, from other people’s stories, from books, from other songs that resonate with me, because it is very difficult to write the perfect love song about being happy.”

More recently, however, Mamet happily cast his wife in his controversial production of Phil Spector—for which she also sang Spector’s classic “Spanish Harlem.” It was a rare instance where Pidgeon, a Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts graduate, was able to showcase both aspects of her art—though for the time being, at least, her focus is back on her music.

Clara Mamet is a 19-year-old actress, writer and director. She has just completed directing her first full-length motion picture Two Bit Waltz, which she also wrote, and in which she stars. The film is a coming of age comedy starring Clara, Rebecca Pidgeon, William H. Macy and Jared Gilman.  Clara first came to public attention playing the role of ‘Amber Weaver’ on ABC’s The Neighbors.  Her plays Paris and The Solvit Kids, (the latter of which she co-wrote with Jack Quaid), were first presented in Los Angeles in 2012 at the Ruskin Theatre. She starred in both and they have since been published by Samuel French, and are being performed around the country.  She has appeared in segments of “Funny or Die,” "The Unit" on C.B.S., and in two plays on BBC Radio. One of her first jobs, in high school, was popping corn at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, where she also changed the marquee for new motion picture attractions. With Two Bit Waltz soon-to-be released, she is already living up to the pedigree of her show-biz family.

$15 tickets guarantee admission but not seating, which is limited.
Doors will open at 7:30PM.
All ticket sales are non-refundable, and benefit the Housing Works mission of fighting to end AIDS and homelessness.


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