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In preparation for Talking Band’s 40th Anniversary Party, Ellen Maddow and I have been listening to cassette tapes, video tracks, CD’s, and MP3s of 40 years of Talking Band music. We are choosing the songs from past shows, which a stellar group of singers and musicians will be performing at the Party.   There is a lot to choose from. We are looking for songs from a wide range of our past shows, contrasting musical styles and moods, songs that the performers said they wanted to sing, and mostly songs that we still love. We also want to have some songs sung by the original performers, and other songs, in new musical arrangements, covered by performers who hadn’t done them before. We have narrowed down our list to about twenty songs going as far back as Bedroom Suite (1984), Ellen’s first show about the avant-garde housewife, Betty Suffer, and as recent as this year’s The Golden Toad. In between there will be songs from: Black Milk Quartet (1989), Party Time (1996), Star Messengers (2000), Bitterroot (2001), New Islands Archipelago (2010), The Peripherals (2012), and more.

The process of selection has been a great excuse for Ellen and me to dip into the rich archive of the Talking Band’s past work, uncover some wonderful material (as well as some not so wonderful material) that we had forgotten, and especially to be reminded of the fabulous work of so many artistic collaborators over the last four decades. We are truly excited that we will get to re-connect with many of these artists – some of whom are coming from great distances to perform in the celebration.

In addition to being a celebration of 40 years of creating theater, the Gala on April 27th is also a fundraiser. When you buy a ticket you will be helping Talking Band to continue bringing you new theater and music for years to come. Next season, we will produce a new play by Ellen Maddow, Burnished by Grief; launch the Marcellus Shale Project – a national initiative to develop regional productions of Talking Band’s play Marcellus Shale in communities effected by fracking; and start new theatrical explorations in the Talking Band’s Performance Lab on music, photography and time (the fruits of which will undoubtedly find their way into new work).

We have set a goal this year of raising $40,000 from individual contributions, and we are already halfway to our goal. In addition, two generous supporters, in honor of our 40th,  have created a $10,000 matching grant so that your contribution (whether it’s through a ticket purchase or a donation) will be doubled! So please join us! Bring your friends! Spread the word! You can buy a ticket and/or make a contribution here.

Listen to the song that Lou Reed said “should be a  hit single!” and then come to the 40th Anniversary gala on the 27th to hear it live and in person. This is “Hello Stranger” from Bitterroot (Music-Peter Gordon, Lyrics-Paul Zimet, Performed by Michelle Rios):