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Songs For The New Depression: Musicians/Singers Siegal And Axelrod Chase Away Recession Blues

Originally Posted: May 25, 2009

Edward Callaghan

Alan Siegal and Andrea Axelrod sang "Songs For The New Depression" at OSO Southampton Inn. Photos by John Wegozewski

Southampton - OSO at Southampton Inn continued its successful "Dinner and..." series with a special presentation that helped recession weary diners laugh at bailouts, chuckle at the absurdity of Madoff and forget for a moment their shrinking IRA accounts while savoring an elegant three-course dinner prepared by acclaimed Executive Chef Bryan Naylor and enjoying the witty musical send-ups by singer Andrea Axelrod and musician Alan Siegalon Friday, May 22.

Prior to dinner, cocktails were served in the lounge along with a hefty cheese board featuring an array of locally made cheeses from Mecox Dairy and Catapano's. Already in the mood for some cheering up, guests were swapping witty tales of cutting back spending and trying to find some humor in the situation. They were all very pleased to have an evening out that was not a wallet buster - hors d'oeuvres, a three-course dinner and entertainment for a pocket pleasing $25.

Once seated for dinner, attendees began with an artfully designed salad - a circlet of thin English cucumber filled with local baby greens, grape tomatoes, and peppers topped with frizzled onions and aged balsamic. Entrée choices included a potato wrapped salmon with wild mushrooms and sautéed spinach; Grilled Heritage chicken with whipped potatoes and broccoli; "Pork & Beans," Naylor's imaginative twist on the classic French dish, Cassoulet, grilled pork porterhouse with white beans and citrus cockle emulsion; and a basil risotto with jewel tone heirloom tomatoes, Reggiano cheese and a first pressed extra virgin olive oil. Coffee and dessert of decadent triple chocolate mousse roll in a strawberry broth was served in the lounge.

Andrea Axelrod and OSO Owner Dede Gotthelf.

Southampton Inn owner, Dede Gotthelf who had begun the dinner series in winter with the intention of offering locals an inexpensive evening out with entertainment had been so pleased by the community's response that she decided to offer the "Dinner and..." series for the start of the season.Gotthelf introduced the musical entertainment and Axelrod and Siegal took to the intimate stage in a living room like setting.

The musical duo worked with treasures from The Great American Songbook and twisted the lyrics for a 2009 sensibility giving a hysterical perspective on the Great Recession.

Opening appropriately with Gershwin's "Who Cares If the Sky Falls into the Sea" they turned the classic into a whimsical survey of love and bank failure. With "Sunny Side of the Street," Axelrod chirped merrily. "If I never had a cent, I'd be as rich as Warren Buffet". The pair drew howls with the plaintive "Try To Remember" from "The Fantasticks" with an opening that told everyone to suck it up, "Try to remember the kind of September when nobody panicked, nobody sold, Then, swallow, swallow, swallow"!

They followed this with a bluesy rendition of "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out", that beautifully displayed yet another side of Axelrod's lovely voice. Siegal fascinated as he played along on an eight-string guitar, providing her with the perfect woefulness as background for the old chestnut.

Deirdre and Phillip Patton shook off the recession blues.

Axelrod surprises and enchants audiences with the beauty and range of her voice and singing style as well as the wit of her patter. She has performed regularly in New York cabarets, as well as in appearances at the State Department, in The Hague, in El Paso and in the Berkshires. A regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, she wrote and hopes to revive her opera comedy show, "Shishkebopera!" She also recently presented a cabaret-concert, "War and Peace (Only Shorter), Songs from the Great and Not So Great Wars".

Siegal took up the guitar during the English rock invasion of the 1960s, played in a garage band, and was promptly directed into classical music by his elders and betters. He studied with Rodrigo Riera in high school and Jerry Willard in college. He kept his fingers warm throughout the building of his non-musical career, and in the 1990s drifted back into American music - not exactly Rock'n'Roll - getting involved with the Barbershop Harmony Society. With a few years' experience behind him, and the vast expanse of American song in front, he studied with guitar maestro Michéle Ramo and began to develop a sound of his own, performing on an eight-string Hei-D Mostro built by Rich DiCarlo.

He and Axelrod formed a musical partnership in November 2008 and have played a host of private events and benefit evenings. This first outing at OSO will surely be followed with another engagement later this summer with another variation of their act satirizing contemporary issues.

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