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  • Ed Schmieder

Five, four, three, two, one...

Updated: Apr 28

While there were no klieg searchlights swirling in the skies over Inspirence Studios in Bohemia last night, it happened. Long Island Stage streamed Episode 1 at 8 p.m. During the day, the stages were set. The sound and video techs prepped. As show time neared, local impresario and guest host James Skidmore, best known for his work with Patchogue’s "Alive After Five" series, prepared questions for the evening’s interviews with the artists.

Minutes before the director started the countdown to the live broadcast, Kate Van Dorn and her band gathered on the Studio Stage ready to begin their hypnotic set. The shades of The Cure, Bauhaus, and Lana Del Rey hovered over the stage. They hung in the air like incense that rose from the band’s darkly churning sound. Van Dorn played three of her songs: “Grain of Salt,” “In the Dark,” and “The Pines.” That last song would not have been out of place in the cult TV series Twin Peaks. Her languorous vocals enveloped in the roiling guitar atmospherics of Koudi (pronounced Cody) Wyoming’s black Gibson hollow-body. The bass and drums grounded them all.


The set was followed by a “fireside” interview with the guest host James Skidmore. All performances on Long Island Stage are followed by a sit-down that immediately connects the audience to the performers as the individuals and artists they are. In this exchange, we learned that Kate Van Dorn started as a teenage musician drawn not to contemporary country music but to the old guard: Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, and Townes Van Zandt; artists she described as darker songwriters. This explains why her shift to rock took a darker turn toward a gothic songwriting style and sound.


The evening’s second performer, Krysta Ferarra, flipped the script. Appearing in a sparkling black ball gown, she and her accompanist turned in an express train medley of songs that spanned time and styles.


Pop songs from the sixties and seventies received a variety of twists, but each was readily recognizable. The medley included Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me,” John Fogerty’s “Rollin’ on the River, The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” and Glenn Frey and Don Henley’s Eagles’ hit “Desperado.” Ferrara’s performances featured a voice versatile enough to span the stylistic shifts that each song needed.


There are “indoor” voices and “outdoor” voices, Ferrara has both, but they are a pop voice and an opera voice. The pièce de résistance featured her operatic training as she jumped centuries to 1898 and sang the well-known Neapolitan song “O Solo Mio.” Everyone in the studio held his or her breath as she used hers to hit every one of the stratospheric notes the song demands. The wide smiles shared by her and her pianist Rich Townshend made the moment even more triumphant.


James Skidmore’s questions at the “fireside” prompted effervescent responses. We learned that Rich Townsend has his own band, The Night Train, and they are itching to get back to local stages too. This performance suggests that Krysta Ferarra will make some guest appearances when Townshend’s train starts rolling again.


Episode two airs next Thursday, April 29. Stay tuned to Long Island Stage.

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