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Together Again!
Julian Fleisher and Martha Plimpton
Joe’s Pub @ the Public Theater

Written By Wendy R. Williams
Photographed By Evan Sung

Julian Fleisher and Martha Plimpton
Julian Fleisher and Martha Plimpton

Who doesn’t want to be a lounge singer? To sway and croon in a beautiful candlelit room just like Steve and Eydie? To stand on a stage and gaze down at a room filled with sophisticated New Yorkers drinking cosmopolitans and lounging on velvet banquets? And to maybe, just maybe someday wear a red velvet halter top dress and slither across a piano top like Michele Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys?

Martha Plimpton and Julian Fleisher
Martha Plimpton and Julian Fleisher

Well if you can’t do it you can watch it, so let me tell you about two smoking lounge singers , Julian and Martha. Yes I said Julian and Martha , the duo that rocked Joe’s Pub on Wednesday January 26th. And in case you are out of the loop and don’t immediately recognize their names, Julian and Martha are an amazing jazz singer named Julian Fleisher plus Martha Plimpton, the ultimate indie-chic movie star (The Goonies, The Mosquito Coast, Parenthood, Running on Empty, 200 Cigarettes).

First some background: Julian Fleisher was raised in the music business. His father is the classical pianist Leon Fleisher and Julian has been singing and playing all his life. And when he wasn’t singing, he’s been doing things like writing, producing and performing the song track for the movie, The Elysian Fields (starring Andy Garcia and Mick Jagger) and producing a CD for downtown duo Kiki and Herb (with contributions by Debby Harry, Isaac Mizrahi, Molly Ringwald, Rufus Wainwright and Alex Gifford of the Propellerheads).

Martha Plimpton and Julian Fleisher
Martha Plimpton and Julian Fleisher


Now here is little bit of background information about Martha Plimpton for people who may have been raised on an ashram (you actually could have met Martha there) and are not up-to-speed with popular culture. Martha is the daughter of Shelly Plimpton (the original cast of the Broadway musical Hair) and the actor Keith Carradine. She is also the granddaughter of the late George Plimpton, the famous photographer, commentator, writer, bon-vivant and friend of the famous (Lauren Hutton, Jaqueline Onassis). Mr. Plimpton was also the life-long editor of the Paris Review.

Now one night last year the Yale-educated (this makes him an Ivy League lounge singer) Julian was performing at Joe’s Pub and he just happened to “ask” Martha to join him in a set. History was made; Lucy got to sing with Ricky.

And after Martha and Julian’s first “accidental” performance, they quickly left for California where they perfected their act. Now it seems to me that they must have spent some of their time in La La Land with personal trainers, tanning specialists and hairstylists, because they both look just amazing. They were both wearing black (they had returned to New York after all). Martha wore a black satin halter top and black jeans and Julian wore a black shirt, black jeans and an Armani-looking jacket.

Martha Plimpton

Martha Plimpton

So now that you know what they wore, let me tell you about the night at Joe’s Pub. Julian and Martha entered and were greeted by a very appreciative crowd, many of whom they recognized. It appeared that they both had loads of friends in the audience, but that did not matter. The show rocked and perfect strangers would have liked it just as much as their friends did.

After a little bit of fun and banter, Martha and Julian told us that they were going to sing a set of songs that would exemplify their relationship. Okay. They then started with a medley of songs (with Julian on guitar) such as Moving On Up and 9 to 5. (I am still pondering the hidden meaning in their song list.) It was fun to watch them together because I could tell that they really liked each other – Martha acting a little goofy and quirky and Julian keeping a watchful eye out to not be upstaged. As Julian said later to explain his view of life, “B minor is not just a cord, it’s a way of life.”

The show continued with alternating solos and duets. Martha sang Endless Love (from the old Brooke Shields movie). She has a sweet throaty voice that is well suited to ballads. And then Julian and Martha sang the old Fred Astaire, Cheek to Cheek. Their voices blended beautifully, Julian is a sexy man with great pipes and Martha’s slightly husky soprano is the perfect complement

And it continued like that all night, alternating fun duets with siren songs and ballads; Julian singing a selection from Fiddler on the Roof and Martha singing Neverland and on and on. And then they would both sing a fun medley of song such as Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), Little Red Corvette and You’re So Vain. (Remember what I said about pondering the hidden meaning in the song list – have you figured it out?) Julian also sang some of his original work which was very nice indeed.

The show ended with a duet, Julian’s rousing “Jewish” version of I Will Survive. Mazel tov! Gloria Gaynor would have been very proud. The show was great and the audience just loved them and their marvelous band: Mat Ray, Piano - Nick Mancini, Vibraphone - Matt Clohesy, Bass - Pete Smith, Guitar - Chris Micheal, Drums! Bravo!

Afterwards, Evan and I went back stage and met Julian and Martha. I asked them if I could email them with some very important questions. They said yes, so here they are – my questions and their answers.

Wendy for Martha: Who does your hair, who made your top and jeans and where did you get your shoes?

Martha: Staci and Ben at Cutler Salon on E.57 St. cut and color my hair, and
they do a marvy job. I adore them. The blouse is by Jeff Mahshie for
Chaiken, and the jeans are Marc Jacobs. The boots I bought at Nordstrom
in Seattle and they're Sudini.

Wendy for Julian: Who does your hair, who made your jacket (please don’t return it – you looked marvelous) and pants and where did you get your shoes?

Julian: What Hair? Banana (Republic). Who knew?

Wendy for Martha: Are you romantically involved with a human being and if not, do you have any pets? If pets, are they cats or dogs and how many do you
have of each?

Martha: I have one dog, Alice, and one cat, Menges, and my romantic life would
scar your readers to hear about. Mainly I date very sane men; wealthy, be-yachted. Often royalty. I generally turn down about five marriage proposals a month. I prize my freedom above all things.

Wendy for Julian: Are you romantically involved with a human being and if not,
do you have any pets? If pets, are they cats or dogs and how many do
you have of each?

Julian: "And if not?" What if it's both? Indeed what if it's neither? Truth to
tell, I am romantically involved with both a human being and my pet.
Sadly however, they, I think, are having an affair.

Wendy for both: Where did you two meet? I am guessing that it was in
New York, so I wondered if you had the same personal trainer, hair
stylist or podiatrist? And by the way, can you recommend a good
podiatrist or should I continue to just look at the ads on the subway?

Martha: We met when I was doing Julian's boyfriend's play, Flesh and Blood at
New York Theater Workshop (which is on East 4th Street) in the summer of '03. Julian invited me to do a song with him at Joe's one night, and the rest is history. An excellent podiatrist is Sherry Greene on 57th and 6th. (I do a lot on
57th.)

Julian: Martha was digging into a plate of nachos with al the fixins in a pub
on East 4th Street, when I approached her about being my special guest.
I knew she had been a singer from her younger days. I surmised,
rightly, that if she weren't up to it, she'd turn me down. And if she
were, well, you do the transitive property...

Wendy for both of them: How many times a day do you go into Starbucks? What do you order when you are there? Don’t you think they should start
delivering? Do you think it is un-American to drink hot tea? (I am
from Texas and have to continue drinking iced tea – it’s the Texas
national beverage.)

Martha: Starbucks, huh? I don't know. Every now and then. I resent having to
pay five dollars for a cup of burnt milk and some brown acid water. But
I like their french roast beans, and use them at home when I run out of
Zabars coffee. Also, I LOVE hot tea. I am a tea connosseiur, preferring
Fortnum & Mason to Twinings. But Twinings loose tea will do in a pinch.
An appreciation for a good cup of tea is what separates us from the
beasts.

Julian: Starbucks is to coffee what the Gap is to jeans. I sew my own.

Wendy for Martha: I read on the Internet that you were conceived during the run of Hair (both of your parents were in the cast). Although I would
really like to know how the Internet can vouch for this fact (I mean, were they there?), I do have a question. If you were conceived during the run of Hair, that would make you the ultimate Age of Aquarius baby. Did you grow up to be a Republican?

Martha: No.

Wendy for Julian: You are an amazing lounge singer. Do you have a painting of
Neil Diamond in your apartment? How about one of those velvet
paintings of Isaac Mizrahi? If not, do you want one?

Martha: Don't EVER call Julian a lounge singer. He is SO much more than that.
He's a band-leader, an incredible arranger, a genius at putting a set
together, a consummate showman, and a shrewd businessman. But NEVER a
lounge singer. I may die.

Julian: (Julian had no response and absolutely nothing to say about whether or not he wanted that velvet painting of Isaac Mizrahi.)

Wendy for both: Have you ever thought about playing Vegas? And if so, which hotel would you prefer? The Luxor, Ceasar’s Palace, The Bellagio?

Martha: We intend to play all of the above venues before reaching our ultimate
goal, Binion's.

Julian: All three are too classy. I'm all about the Riveria.

Wendy for both: Is it important to you that any significant other be
able to sing or would that be too much competition for shower time?

Martha: I’ll let Julian answer that one.

Julian: All significant others should remain mute. What means this word "shower?"

Wendy for both: Your show rocks so I know our readers would love to
come see you. When and where are you playing next?

Martha: We'll let you know. It's a big secret. We like to keep our audiences
guessing.

Julian: To find out, visit www.julianfleisher.com

Rock on!
Wendy





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