“A Thousand Kisses Deep, the Songs of Leonard Cohen,”` returns to the Nevada Theatre Friday and Saturday with an all-local lineup of 15 musicians and singers.
It’s the fourth regional production of a show that has drawn Leonard Cohen fans again and again.
“There are people who have come to every show. It’s certainly a testament to how people feel about Leonard Cohen,” said producer Paul Emery.
Emery first conceived of the show about four years ago after seeing Cohen live on stage at a concert in San Jose.
“In my mind, I kept thinking, ‘We can do that,’” Emery recalls.
So he put the show together, arranged the music, then went after the performers he wanted for the theater-like production. Emery plays guitar and sings during the show.
This year’s production features vocalists Anni McCann, Eleanore MacDonald, Kimberly Bass, Lea Hume and Shay Dillon. Arthur Gould plays cello, Ben Gillespie plays keyboards, Mark McCartney plays drums, Rick Kirkpatrick plays guitar, and Tom Schmidt plays woodwinds. Peter Wilson and Stephen Holland play guitar and sing. Local poet Molly Fisk will take the stage as well as music director Pat Jacobsen on bass.
“It’s remarkable to get so many fine players committed to the project,” Emery said.
Emery first produced the show for The Center for the Arts in April of 2011. It has played at the Nevada Theatre before and the 24th Street Theatre in Sacramento.
Leonard Cohen is a Canadian Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. His work often explores religion, isolation, sexuality, and interpersonal relationships. Cohen has been inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor. In 2011, Cohen received the Prince of Asturias Award for literature. In 2008, during a speech at Cohen’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Lou Reed described Cohen as belonging to the “highest and most influential echelon of songwriters.”
Now 78, Leonard Cohen has attracted a new generation of fans and tours the world’s biggest venues almost consistently.
“He’s bigger than he’s ever been. His music is very seductive,” Emery said.
Cohen released his first record in 1966. Emery’s tribute show is a combination of songs stretching all the way back to those earliest recordings.
The first set will be acoustic with guitar and singing. The second set will be longer, with a six-piece band loosely emulating Leonard Cohen’s own with guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, woodwind and strings. The songs in the second set will cover the contemporary period of Cohen’s music, from the 1980s and 1990s — rhythm and blues and “quirky jazz arrangements.”
Emery’s theater background influenced the Leonard Cohen tribute production he calls “formal” and “old school.”
“I wanted this to be more like a musical than a tribute concert,” he said.
Emery chose songs for their rhythmic composition and lyrical flow. He reviewed dozens of YouTube videos and endless recordings to get it right. After the show was put together, he enlisted bassist Pat Jacobsen to be music director and write charts for the show.
Emery moved to Nevada City in 1976 but first began producing shows in the area as early as 1972. He has 30 years of live performance under his belt and was the former executive and artistic director at the Center for the Arts. These days he is the news director at KVMR radio and produces events part time.
“I don’t perform that much these days but this is special and it’s real pleasure to play these wonderful songs with such great musicians,” Emery says.
Learn more at http://paulemerymusic.com/13/13-05-10-leonardcohen.html.