Pull out your flapper dresses, berets and pinstripe suits. The mechanics at the Avery Hotel have been working all week on a time machine with a date set for 1920, and they expect to have it running by Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. sharp.
Karl Modery is at it again with a new piano show memorializing ’20s composers that got their start in New York City’s Tin Pan Alley, the world-renowned music publishing center from 1885 to the 1920s.
Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Hoagy Carmichael – just a short list of some of the show’s featured composers and Modery’s personal idols.
“My goal is simply to keep these guys alive,” Modery says. “They started it all and it evolved to this day.”
The outdoor event, dubbed “Tin Pan Alley Days”, will be sure to “edutain” – that is, Modery will be making sure attendees learn a thing or two with each song he slaps out on a grand piano.
Modery said it took a couple months of researching and practicing to write the show.
He’s excited to “grab ahold of the audience” and take them back in time. “If I can find people interested that recognize these songs, that’s a moment for me.”
If you see two vintage Rolls-Royces out front, you’ve come to the right place. Twenties attire is welcome and encouraged.
Gershwin and local guest singer, Lauren Robinson, will look the part.
Robinson “gets it,” Modery says. “She gets the walking through the crowd, brushing fingers across the table singing a sultry song … she’s an old soul, and she’ll bring whatever it is to the song that it needs.”
Modery, a Washington, D.C. transplant, picked up the keys at a late age, and has his eyes on Avery as a place to settle down.
Although he grew up listening to British rock, he says he should have “been born back then (early 20th century) – it feels so natural.”
His performance of Fascinatin’ Gershwin last year at the Bret Harte Theater brought back to life famous composer George Gershwin. The Avery show will be more stripped down, but sure to keep guests entertained with a compilation of songs from nine composers in all.
If all goes well, Modery will have the house gig at the Avery Hotel every other Thursday night.
Tin Pan Alley Days is precisely the kind of special event that owner Fred Baker has been looking to host.
“It’s what I want to inspire at the Avery Hotel to be special, as opposed to just weddings,” he said.
The event is sponsored by the Avery Social Club, a program of the hotel that had been offering monthly gourmet dinners prior to the pandemic.
Baker said that Modery – his daughter’s boyfriend – “is just wonderful. He’s just gifted, he can play anything.”
Slated for Oct. 29, the show will run from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Avery Hotel at 4573 Moran Rd, Avery. Cover charge is $35, with beverages and hors d'oeuvres included.
An added bonus – 100% of proceeds will be split between the Ebbetts Pass Fire District and Murphys Fire Protection District.
With outdoor seating limited to 36 socially distanced attendees, Modery said the event will offer a “small, intimate” setting, poised to transport listeners back in time to Tin Pan Alley in its heyday.
Tickets will be available by walk-in only on a first come, first served basis.