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The Pep and Molly Show
by Haven James

Artist: Pepe
Event: Performance at New World Home Cooking
Date: Friday, October 9, 1998

The artist formerly known as Pepe continues to work on defining his new identity, and this Friday, October 9, he'll present yet another face of his multifarious musical personality, co-hosting Lounge Lizard Friday with Molly Farley at the new New World Home Cooking Company. "Guaranteed to be a swingin' evening," Pep says, adding that you can take this one to the bank.

Anyone who's seen the Pepster or Ms. Molly play and sing in any number of combinations over the years would have to see this duo as a natural. Add to this front line team the backing of Paul Henderson on trumpet, Alan Murphy on bass and Bob Telson on drums and you have a band from bliss on the Rainbow Room scale. Playing an unusual assortment of songs from the '30s and '40s, they'll for sure have that torch burning bright in the lounge this Friday night.

Pepe has spent the better part of the last month writing out arrangements and fine-tuning them like a watchmaker. "It's like a rebirth for me," he says. "I haven't done arrangements like this for years; I haven't done these tunes." He used to do a lot of this sort of work and was heavy into jazz and working with a band most of the time. For the last ten years, however, he's been playing solo, partially due, at least, to the economic conditions facing musicians attempting to survive in the real world. Now, he states excitedly, "All of us have been fabulously talented, but side-tracked for years. We're back!"

Continuing in his ever-humble fashion, Pepe elaborated, "The arrangements are stunning and better than they were. We're thrilled to be playing again, together again."

Too enticing to resist, I did sneak into their Monday evening rehearsal at the Maple Lane loft, and no joke, these are indeed "very focused works" and "very elegant," as the bandmaster had described them. The enthusiasm and joy these musicians share is infectious: Molly singing "Mad About The Boy" chiming in midway through the keyboard intro, the muted trumpet picking up the fluttering heart, Murphy's bass beating an almost illogical intellectual climb up the ladder to the resolve. These kids would make even the nutty Terry Adams proud.

And, as it turns out, they are doing an NRBQ tune as well as some from the legends roster, including Noel Coward, Frank Loesser, Louis Prima and, of course, Gershwin. Deeply personal ballads, songs for swingin' lovers (a la Big Frank), Pepe characterized his lot as "soaked in the idiom."

Lounge Lizards Friday is an excellent outlet for this endeavor. The New World has been camped out to the max as Ric and Liz, Michael, Geoffrey, Bill, Cheyenne, Josh, Jackson, Scott, Carlos, Susanna et al have all put in extra hours to make the new habitat at the site of the old Getaway on Route 212 as cozy as their old stone haunt in Zena. And apart from keeping a number of Woodstock's starving artist eating and providing a new place to play, Orlando's New World team recently made a significant contribution to the Regional Food Bank's Movable Feast Program, which benefits communities all over the state, including Woodstock.

This year's fundraiser for Movable Feast was a Chefs & Vintners Harvest Dinner that took place at the Desmond in Albany. Four-hundred guests attended the event and more than $30,000 was raised to pay for soup kitchens, shelters, educational programs and the like, and Ric Orlando presided as master of ceremonies. A seven-course meal was served, each with an accompanying New York State wine, and remarkable as it may seem, it was all good. Eighty-five percent of the food was grown or raised in New York, Ric reports: "This year even the pantry items were New York State items, all herbs, the onions, the garlic, the carrots, the scallops, the basic aromatics that are used in the recipes were all drummed up from different local contributions from local farmers, so that's pretty cool." From ostrich raised upstate to the killer peppers, the dinner was unique, as chefs from all over the region participated in the preparation.

The Food Bank moves over a million pounds of food a month, and as each dollar donated represents 15 in buying power, this effort made a significant impact. "It's something we all do," as Orlando notes about eating. As a founding member of the Empire State Chefs Association, he and his comrades devote a lot of energy finding ways to make sure that people do.

This Friday evening will be a celebration of it all: good food, good music, good wine, good Margaritas, and all that jazz. Call 246-0900 for reservations, or show up early.

Haven James has been a consistent contributor to the Music & Arts scene around the Hudson Valley and beyond for almost a decade through his column, Werewolves of Woodstock, published weekly in the Woodstock Times

A writer, musician, philanthropist, and Mac addict; he lives reclusively, high atop Overlook Mountain with his son and a menagerie of animals, both wild and domesticated. Though currently unmarried, rumors abound as to his intimate relationships with Madonna, Sandra Bernhardt, and Eli Bach; though he insists these notions to be pure hearsay. His identity has remained a mystery to all but the closest of friends as he often travels in disguise and appears unannounced and undercover at concerts and venues in a dedicated effort to get the real story.

Go to the Werewolves of Woodstock page for more articles by Haven James.
Haven James can be contacted at

Posted on October 9th, 1998

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