If I had needed a GPS to find Joe’s Pub this week, I could easily have received directions from the very woman I was going to see. Karen Jacobsen was launching her seventh CD at the Pub on Tuesday night, and while fans would know of her music, most people would recognise her voice as the ‘Australian’ option on digital devices. She answers your questions on iPhone’s SIRI and tells you where to go via GPS with an accent born out of Mackay in Queensland. Karen jokes this was the tropical paradise she traded in for NYC. Nine out of ten of the most poisonous snakes in the world were in Mackay, but New York offered a perfect score!
Karen’s performance was a collection of songs entitled ‘Take a Little Drive’, inspired by the tragic events of Sandy Hook in Connecticut last year. She talked a lot about how she, and many of us, need to ‘recalculate route’, a GPS term that also serves life when unexpected things happen. So there were some tears and some tales, accompanied by the grand piano and cellist Stephanie Winters.
Joe’s Pub is not really a pub at all. It is an extension of the Public Theatre and with that comes the status of the man who established the venue along with the free ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ program in Central Park. Joseph Papp was a theatrical producer who believed in the accessibility of entertainment, and his ‘pub’ – more like a nightclub, hosts about 800 international artists a year performing across genres, from cabaret to jazz.
Karen has a powerful singing voice which serves her just as well in a football stadium as it did on stage. She has sung the Star Spangled Banner for the Boston Red Sox and for the New York Jets, and she has sung Advance Australia Fair for the ANZAC ceremony atop the Rockefeller Center. But when Karen asked everyone to stand for the national anthem at the beginning of her show, I was caught out by my own patriotism. I have never been in a situation where I found myself standing for the (American) National Anthem and the lack of hands on hearts in the audience showed there were other Australians in similar stance. It makes me wonder if I will ever be able to take the route calculated by Rupert Murdock for duel citizenship. That’s global positioning with a whole new tone…