PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Drew Gasparini, Alex Brightman, Andrew Kober, F. Michael Haynie Pick Songs for a New Year

By Michael Gioia
January 1, 2014

Singer-songwriter Drew Gasparini, who played a sold-out concert at 54 Below in December, will return to the Manhattan nightspot for an encore engagement this month. In anticipation of From Here & There, Gasparini and members of his "(M)orontourage" pick songs celebrating the New Year as part of this week's Playbill Playlist.



From Here & There: The Music & Lyrics of Drew Gasparini will be offered Jan. 29 at 7 PM.

According to press notes, "Volume 1 was a compilation of rock songs from all over Drew's catalogue but the brand new set list for January will showcase his compositions for musical theatre, featuring a number of songs from his award-winning musicals Crazy, Just Like Me and Make Me Bad (book by Alex Brightman), as well as the premiere of new songs from two of his latest projects: The Up and Down and The Wreck. And, of course, no Gasparini concert is complete without a good ol' jam session."

Joining Gasparini will be Justin Guarini (Romeo and Juliet, "American Idol"), Jason Gotay (Bring It On, Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark), Julia Mattison (Godspell), Ben Crawford (Big Fish), Kasie Gasparini and "(M)orontourage" members Alex Brightman (Big Fish), Andrew Kober (Hair) and F. Michael Haynie (Wicked).

Performers will be accompanied by Drew, Charlie Rosen, Adrien Godat and Marques Walls. Erica Rotstein produces.

In anticipation of the January return, The (M)orontourage — Gasparini, Brightman, Haynie and Kober — pick songs that celebrate the New Year and tell us why they made the list. The group has written scripts for stage plays, musicals and pilots, and they are currently developing a TV show and a live variety/comedy show.

54 Below is located at 254 West 54th Street. There is a $35 cover charge plus a $25 food and beverage minimum. For more information and tickets, call (646) 476-3551 54Below.com.

Drew Gasparini: "Year Round Summer Of Love" (LOLO). This song is a celebration of all the things that are pleasurable — summer, sex, good times and embracing the feeling of all of those things sticking around. Such a fun jam, and it happens to be written and performed by my rad girlfriend, Broadway's Lauren Pritchard (LOLO).

Drew Gasparini: "Graceland" (Paul Simon). This song is my favorite destination song. It takes you somewhere… to Graceland. The reasons the characters in this song all want to go to Graceland seem so, "Well... duh, that's where I need to go." It helps me stop monkeying around to know that my goals in each New Year are also very, "Well… Duh, I should just do that." It's something the (M)orons excel at… saying, "Let's do this" and then doing it. The New Year means NEW work, new possibilities. We are all going to Graceland. Also... this whole damn album is so off the hook. #Duh.

Drew Gasparini: "This Is The New Year" (Ian Axel). I love Ian Axel… I loved him before he was called Great Big World. I loved this song before it was on "Glee" when I heard him play it in Joe's Pub back in 2009. This song reminds you to not forget the past, but also to live in the moment. Promises you make should stick, and you should be ADVENTUROUS!!! A very important thing to remember in each New Year — adventure.

Drew Gasparini: "What I Got" (Sublime). Yes, I am a California boy, and yes, Sublime and the raucous sounds of dub-ska totally represent my childhood. "What I Got" off of Sublime's self-titled album brings me back to some of those CA road trips: Windows down. Scenic beach views. So much relaxation and love. This tune may have some specifics that not everyone can relate to, but the chorus comes around and makes this bad boy a universal gem.

Drew Gasparini: "#41" (Dave Matthews Band). This is probably my favorite song. Every time I listen to it, I hear something new. The groove switches so seamlessly, the lyrics are really mysterious and mean something different to me every time I hear the song. It's my favorite song to play drums to. But, in regards to the "New Year" theme, it references things you "wanted" to do... It inspires me to do those things. "I wanted to stay. I wanted to play. I wanted to love you." … Well, DO IT!

Andrew Kober: "2000 Years" (Billy Joel). New Year's is just as much about looking back as it is about looking forward, and this song manages to do both. From the opening piano riff, Billy Joel takes us through the history of humanity all the way up to today. "Time is relentless, only true love perseveres." You're damn right, Billy. It also doesn't hurt that I'll be spending my New Year's Eve with my wife at the Billy Joel concert in Brooklyn.

Andrew Kober: "Still Crazy After All These Years" (song by Paul Simon, cover by Ray Charles). Another song about looking back to look forward. I always use New Year's as a chance for reflection, and this song is the simple tale of a man who's loved someone the same beautiful way for years and years. Any year that I can look back and think, "I did it right this year" is all right by me. The Ray Charles cover brings a soul to the tune that I just love.

Andrew Kober: "For All We Know" (song by Coots and Lewis (1934), cover by Donny Hathaway). The lyrics of this gorgeous song speak for themselves. "Love me tonight, tomorrow was made for some, tomorrow may never come for all we know." I mean, come on. Love what's in front of you. Next year isn't a guarantee. I close all of my solo shows with this cover, and it's such a lovely way to say, "Goodnight, and I hope to see you soon."

Andrew Kober: "Next Year, Baby" (Jamie Cullum). …My favorite song about looking forward and making resolutions. This guy promises the things we all promise, but has the smarts to know that the most important thing is to tell the one he loves how he really feels. Add in a cool jazz/bossa nova feel, and it's a must-listen for me every Dec. 31.

Andrew Kober: "Auld Lang Syne" (Traditional, cover by James Taylor). Cliché? Maybe. But this is the song I always want to hear at 12:01 on Jan. 1. It's a nice reminder heading into a new calendar year that we should take the time to "drink a cup of kindness" in between gulps of champagne. There are thousands of great recordings, but I'm a sucker for James Taylor's version.

F. Michael Haynie: "Next Year, Baby" (Jamie Cullum). This song encapsulates the hilarious line in the sand that we call "New Year's." It's a time where everything seems hopeful and like real change is possible. I'm gonna work out more, eat better, drink less, etc.… "Resolutions: baby they come and go. Will I do any of these things? The answer's probably no."

F. Michael Haynie: "Work" (Iggy Azelea). This song is about hard work and determination, about being confident that you achieved something. It's about doing the exact opposite of what I implied with the first song. Every New Year you can mentally recharge and say, "Now get this werk!" It doesn't hurt that it is flawlessly rapped by the blond, Australian bombshell: Iggy Azelea. Me-YEOW!

F. Michael Haynie: "Nothing But a Good Time" (Poison). This is a toast-your-glass, kick-some-ass anthem for everyone who is willing to work hard. It's not about money or fame or fortune; all you need is a good time. And, that's what the New Year is for me — hanging with the people you love, even if they are (M)orons. I do have to say, though, my favorite version of this song isn't for sale. But if you take Alex Brightman to a karaoke bar, you may just witness the vocal pyrotechnics and showmanship of one of Broadway's best!

F. Michael Haynie: "Run Outta You" (Vintage Trouble). We measure life, relationships, education and bourbon by the year. But we also measure loss. New Year's is a time where we feel the losses of the whole year even if just for a moment. This song is about when you're ready to move on. Vintage Trouble is an amazing blues-rock band led by the vocal phenom that is Ty Taylor. Get their whole record!

F. Michael Haynie: "State of Mind" (Raul Midón). If you haven't heard Raul Midón, stop reading this article and look him up. Imagine a soulful, jazz-folk guitarist with a voice that can captivate you with its emotion and versatility. And, not only is he a jaw-slackingly virtuoso guitarist, but also an amazing writer. This song is all about finding that state of mind that lets you go forward and seize the world. Oh, PS, he's blind.

Alex Brightman: "Circa 46" (The Rocket Summer). I could listen to this song every day for the rest of my life. It gets me pumped up. It's a song about positivity and moving forward. As the song says, "Life writes the words, but you choose your own melody."

Alex Brightman: "Thrift Shop" (Macklemore and Ryan Lewis). I know that this song was one of the most played out songs of the last year, but there was a reason for it. I think 2014 is going to be (at least for me) the year of earning and saving. I'm going to live every day like I "got twenty dollars in my pocket."

Alex Brightman: "Oh My Dayum" (The Gregory Brothers). It's been my ringtone for the last year or two. It will continue to stay that way until I am forced to change it. The Gregory Brothers know how to make this brother laugh. Dayum, Dayuuum, DAYUUUUUM!

Alex Brightman: "The Phoenix" (Fall Out Boy). It's a pulsing, thumping, rock-mess of a song. It's one of those songs that you want to walk down the street to. I'm going to be walking into the New Year with supreme confidence. As the song says, "You know time crawls on when you're waiting for the song to start...so dance alone to the beat of your heart."

Alex Brightman: "Rich Girl" (Hall and Oates). I only picked "Rich Girl" because I couldn't put every H&O song on here. But, truly, every song they've ever written will be in my headphones until I'm well and gone from this consciousness. Daryl Hall… one of the best voices of EVER AND EVER. And John Oates… umm...he...umm...he harmonizes with Daryl Hall.