Skip to content

“Remembering Mabel and Bobby”: The Mabel Mercer And Bobby Short Tribute Concert

Cabaret’s Woodstock















I don’t often go to shows, but every once in a while a really great show comes along that is just too good to miss. I my case, it happened last week, and I missed it, not because I couldn’t go but because I didn’t even know it was taking place. As Stephen Holden wrote recently in the New York Times:

“For every musical genre there is usually an event that more people claim to have attended than could possibly have been there. In rock, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969 leads a long list of touchstones. Many would cite Benny Goodman’s Jan. 16, 1938, Carnegie Hall concert as Woodstock’s swing equivalent. For cabaret, a prime date is May 19, 1968, when Mabel Mercer and Bobby Short, who are now regarded as the field’s patron saints, shared the stage at Town Hall in a concert recorded by Atlantic Records.”

I have this 1968 record and let me tell you it is a gem. Mabel was some twenty years older than Bobby and he was quite literally her young portage. She had a wonderful talent of singing and playing the piano with just the right harmony below her voice. A rare talent, and you can hear how Bobby learned from her if you compare their styles.

I met Bobby Short in the mid-1990s just like anyone else who might have attended his shows at The Café Carlyle. We spoke briefly after one of his shows, in the back of the Café by the bar. I told him that I was the friend of Barnaby Conrad’s son, and he perked up and said, “oh, the bull fighter!” We always used to start our conversations this way because frankly there wasn’t much sense in assuming he’d remember me between visits. He was gracious and elegant and the ultimate “saloon singer” as he liked to call himself.

I never met Mabel Mercer. She died in the early 1980s long before I started making trips to New York. How I would have enjoyed seeing her sing and perform. Wow.

So recently, after 45 years, some folks from the Mabel Mercer Foundation put together a tribute concert to Mabel and Bobby at Town Hall, the same legendary location where they met in 1968 for their infamous concert. And I missed it. No, Mabel and Bobby would not be there, but on stage there were some very impressive talent who picked up the torch these two left behind.

Last year I recorded “Café Nights In New York” and there’s no doubt that it was influenced by Bobby Short who in turn was influenced by Mabel Mercer. In my case I created “original standards” as I like to call them — songs that could have been written by Cole Porter in the 1920s but played in the style of the 1950s. It was a very quick project and the result is something I’m very pleased with.

Next Tuesday, I’ll be performing selections from “Café Nights” along with popular American Songbook standards at Don’t Tell Mama — and I’ll be backed by Café Carlyle veterans, including Bobby’s drummer for 15 years, Klaus Suonsaari who Bobby introduced me to in the late 1990s.

I missed a great tribute to Bobby and Mabel some 45 years after their seminal recording at Town Hall in 1968. But I’m looking forward to carrying their spirit even if but for one night in New York next week — I hope to see you there.
Jack Phillips and his trio will be appearing at Don’t Tell Mama’s on Tuesday, May 28th at 8pm. Tickets are $15 (cash only) with a two drink minimum. For reservations, please call (212) 757-0788 or online at

Leave a Comment


Support Let Me Help Inc by shopping at

The Daisy Jopling Band To Perform “Who’s Who” At The Transfiguration Church In Tarrytown, NY Sunday May 12th, 2024 7 PM ET

By admin | May 9, 2024 |

The Transfiguration Church in Tarrytown, New York Presents “Who’s Who”, original violin arrangements of iconic songs by The Who performed by the Daisy Jopling Band featuring the Sleepy Hollow High School Chamber Orchestra on Sunday, May 12th, 2024. Location: Transfiguration Church 268 South Broadway Tarrytown, NY 10591 United States Tickets are $25 and can be…

Cyborg Drummer/DJ DRMAGDN Headlining Montauk Music Fest

By admin | April 9, 2024 |

Major Label BMG Records Artist & Producer DRMAGDN Cyborg Drummer / DJ will be making his Montauk Music Fest debut this year in May. DRMAGDN will be the Official Host & MC of The Montauk Music Fest plus play headlining sets on Friday 5/17 and Saturday 5/18 from 10pm-12am at Gurney’s Montauk Resort (290 Old…

RED CARPET EVENT @ Chelsea Table & Stage 4/12/24 Featuring THE AMERICAN RELICS & DRMAGDN

By admin | March 25, 2024 |

On Friday April 12th, 2024 beginning at 6:30 pm ET  there will be a Red Carpet event pre-show sponsored by Tribeca Records at the trendy nightspot Chelsea Table and Stage located in the heart of Chelsea at 152 west 26th street (inside the Hilton Fashion Hotel) in NYC. The Red Carpet will be followed by…

Live Review: Composer Randy Edelman Live at Chelsea T&S “2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Massacre” 03/16/24 and Record Release in NYC

By admin | March 17, 2024 |

There was an infinite vitality of velvet green flowing deliciously through the air as Composer Randy Edelman presented his 2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Massacre at the trendy new nightspot Chelsea Table & Stage in the heart of NYC on March 16, 2024….. a vivacious close to the spirited Irish Parade. His music is the…

DRMAGDN: Cyborg Drummer/DJ Debuts @ Chelsea T&S With Retro 80’s Party & Red Carpet Event 4/12/24

By admin | February 29, 2024 |

BMG recording artist, producer and World renowned, Global Touring Electrifying Powerhouse, DRMAGDN: Cyborg Drummer and DJ will make his debut at the popular, trendy night spot Chelsea Table & Stage (located at 152 west 26th street inside the Hilton Hotel) on  Friday April 12, 2024 @ 9:00PM. DRMAGDN will be celebrating his high energy brand of Electronic Dance Music (EDM)…

Going Steady: New Singles 2-23-24- 2-29-24 Reviewed

By Iman Lababedi | February 26, 2024 |

dance pop, gooey confection

US Top Ten Albums Tracking 2-16-24 – 2-22-24

By Iman Lababedi | February 26, 2024 |

75K EAUs is abysmal

Our Friend Tony Orlando’s Farewell Tour

By admin | February 25, 2024 |

“I still hit the ball, I just can’t run the bases!!!”

Sneak Peaks: New Album releases 3-1-24 – 3-7-24

By Iman Lababedi | February 25, 2024 |

contenders for the best punk rock around

Child Bite, Lamb Of God, Pantera At Madison Square Garden, Thursday, February 22nd, 2024, Reviewed

By Iman Lababedi | February 25, 2024 |

A three hours of hard rock, metal not metal, swift, loud, egoless pure metal

Scroll To Top