Boulevard Music welcomes the return of a couple of fine musicians who will likely put a smile on the faces of listeners. Art Podell and Tracy Newman will share the spotlight Saturday, Feb. 15 from 8 to 10 p.m. at Boulevard Music, 4316 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City. Tickets are $17.50.
Newman is a founding member of the Los Angeles-based improv group, The Groundlings. She began writing TV comedy in 1990 with a writing partner, Jonathan Stark. Their first gig was Cheers, then Bob, The Nanny, Ellen, and The Drew Carey Show. In 1997, they won an Emmy and Peabody Award for writing the groundbreaking “coming out” episode of Ellen. In 2001, they created the ABC comedy, According to Jim, which ran for eight seasons.
She is also a singer and songwriter, who has recorded “A Place in the Sun,” called great traveling music, “I Just See You” and “That’s What Love Can Do to Your Heart.”
Boulevard’s Gary Mandell said of Newman’s songs: “You will not be able to get them out of your mind.”
Podell might have had a storied career as a folk singer during the “Folk Era,” but at the coaxing of friends, he found his way to the stage. He started in Greenwich Village with a fellow musician, Paul Potash.
Back in the day, another friend. Peter Yarrow, penned a song that he shared with Podell. It was a catchy little number called “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Podell and Potash recorded the song in 1961, more than a year before the song went big time with Peter (Yarrow), Paul and Mary.
While in the village, Podell and Potash released two albums on Columbia Record, one being, “Songs of Earth and Sky.” As folklore goes, that album influenced the early records of another pair named Paul and Art (Simon and Garfunkel).
In ’61, the A and P boys headed west to the Los Angeles folk scene.
“We were so successful, we broke up,” said Podell, who then turned to songwriting.
His songs have since been recorded by Rod McKuen, The Smothers Brother, Glenn Yarbrough, and eventually the New Christy Minstrels. Podell was one of the original members of the Minstrels, from ’62 to ’66. NCM led Podell on a whirlwind musical journey that included playing at Carnegie Hall, on national TV, college concerts and performances at the White House.
He co-wrote the title song for Ann Murray’s Christmas album, ‘Christmas Wishes.’
Podell met with the NEWS this week and shared some of his life.
He began his musical career as a youth growing up in Brooklyn.
“I began taking (music) seriously in high school and college,” Podell said. “My first recording contract with Columbia Records with a duet I formed with a (Potash) in 1959 in Greenwich Village. We were called Art and Paul and Sony Music has just this year released our two albums.”
As a budding folksinger, Podell said his influences were Pete Seeger, Bob Gibson, Lead Belly, Josh White and Burl Ives. Today, he says that he’s “solely (influenced) by great music from Brahms to Gershwin, to Lennon and McCartney.”
He describes his style of music as “narrative folk, with a slight lean toward jazz.”
Podell has recorded a solo album consisting of his compositions in 2014, entitled ‘From The Village To The Canyon, A Folksinger’s Journey’; several singles – ‘Blame It On The Russians’ and ‘Maybe Best We Change The Subject’, both political spoofs.
Of his return to Boulevard Music, Podell will again work with a familiar musician.
“Yes, this is a return show at Boulevard’s request,” he says. “I’m joined by Tracy Newman, one of my oldest (not eldest) friends. An incredibly talented songwriter and performer.
“Tracy and I have decided to dig out some of our lesser known songs this time, and mix them with some of our more recognized material,” he added.
The reunion show will offer something different for Saturday’s audience.
Podell continues to write and perform and hosts a bi-monthly segment of “Roots Music and Beyond” on KPFK 90.7FM – Los Angeles, a Pacifica Station in Los Angeles.
As for the rest of 2020, Podell said the rest of 2020 will play to a more familiar note.
“I guess the best answer is that I just want to keep doing what I love most for as long as I can. And that’s making music,” he says.
All shows start at 8 p.m. and doors open at 7:30 p.m. unless indicated otherwise. People who already have their tickets (purchased them in advance) get in first when doors open at 7:30 pm. After the people who already have their tickets are admitted any remaining tickets will go on sale.
Art continues to write and perform and hosts a bi-monthly segment of “Roots Music and Beyond” on KPFK 90.7FM – Los Angeles, a Pacifica Station in Los Angeles.