Brian Nash’s “Sunday Night Music Club”

May 6, 2024

As a pianist, an arranger, a vocalist and a second banana, Brian Nash has been a vital component of some of New York’s best cabaret shows by some of cabarets best performers. With his new show, Sunday Night Music Club, which debuted at The Green Room 42, he grabbed the spotlight center stage and he never let go. He brought a major rock concert vibe to the proceedings, along with the expected but, nonetheless, inventive cabaret and Broadway elements. He received remarkable support from his band, Elena Bonomo on drums, George Farmer on bass, and Craig Magnano on guitar; each of them took a night off from the pit of a hit Broadway musical to be there.

Brian Nash

For his starring role, Nash moved the piano downstage center and set up an electric keyboard behind the piano stool, at times playing them simultaneously—his left hand and foot on the piano, and his right hand and foot on the keyboards, appearing to be spread-eagled between the two as he flooded the room with music. He was aware enough to acknowledge the silliness of the image while, at the same time, creating the sounds he wanted for his spectacular arrangements.

The diminishing of the world of piano bar playing in a post-COVID New York City inspired him to revisit his traditional Sunday night gigs on the Green Room 42 stage. He included flashbacks to songs and mash-ups (dubbed “Nash-ups”) given his mastery of the piano bar idiom that promised some terrific numbers, and he did not disappoint. His unabashed joy and excitement were so palpable and so delightful that they proved irresistibly infectious. He blurred the borders between rock, pop, and Broadway and brought together Stephen Sondheim, Tori Amos, Billy Joel, Jonathan Larsen and Troye Sivan in a heady mix of style and substance that was by turns exciting, funny, moving, and surprising. It was a piano bar set transformed into art—highly accessible, entertaining art, but art, nonetheless. Nash would probably be the first to laughingly dismiss that assessment. 

He charmed everyone with a slowed-down, “sad ballad” version of A-Ha’s “Take on Me” (Magne Furuholmen, Morten Harket, Pål Waaktaar) that lost none of its charm by taking its rather haunting melody seriously. He attempted the same with “Rush” (Alex Chapman, Kaelyn Behr, Adam Novofor, Kevin Hickey, Troye Sivan, Brett Leland McLaughlin) but he retained too much of the original feel; he should have stripped it down completely and actually made it, as he put it, “…a sad ballad about poppers.”  His passionate attachment to one of his early inspirations, Tori Amos, resulted in stellar takes on “Tombigbee” and “Waitress.”  Sondheim was equally well-served with two songs from Company—a searing “Marry Me a Little” and a show-stopping “Getting Married Today” for which he sang all three parts while accompanying himself on both keyboards.  

The show was stopped once again with a seismic performance of Billy Joel’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” that grew into an unforgettable tour de force. Natalie Joy Johnson, one of his frequent partners in music, joined in a medley of “With or Without You” (U2, Bono) and Rent’s “Without You” (Jonathan Larson) that, even for this devout “non-Rent fan”, elevated the latter in unexpected ways. The best moment of the evening for me came when all the wild invention, all the knowing winks, all the irreverent fun was put on hold for a soulful, piercing, heartfelt performance of “It All Fades Away” (Jason Robert Brown, from Bridges of Madison County) that showed there was another, very different show brewing inside this incredibly gifted performer. 

“Midnight Radio” (Stephen Trask, John Cameron Mitchell, from Hedwig and the Angry Inch) would have been a fine choice anywhere else in the show but as a final number it proved somewhat anti-climactic. But then again, perhaps that was intentional—not fully ending the piece but just pausing until the next Sunday Night Music Club. Either way, it was a small reservation in a night filled with sensational singing and playing by an artist at the height of his powers. Brian Nash is a star.


Presented at The Green Room 42, 570 Tenth Ave., NYC, March 10, 2024.


About the Author

Gerry Geddes has conceived and directed a number of musical revues—including the Bistro- and MAC Award-winning "Monday in the Dark with George" and "Put On Your Saturday Suit-Words & Music by Jimmy Webb"—and directed many cabaret artists, including André De Shields, Helen Baldassare, Darius de Haas, and drag artist Julia Van Cartier. He directs "The David Drumgold Variety Show," currently in residence at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, and has produced a number of recordings, including two Bistro-winning CDs. He’s taught vocal performance at The New School, NYU, and London’s Goldsmith’s College and continues to conduct private workshops and master classes. As a writer and critic, he has covered New York’s performing arts scene for over 40 years in both local and national publications; his lyrics have been sung by several cabaret and recording artists. Gerry is an artist in residence at Pangea, and a regular contributor to the podcast “Troubadours & Raconteurs.” He just completed a memoir of his life in NYC called “Didn’t I Ever Tell You This?”