Patrick DeGennaro

September 16, 2014 | By

Patrick DeGennaroA versatile veteran of New York’s cabaret scene, Patrick DeGennaro has become known not only for the many hats he wears (singer in many styles, musical director, songwriter, and vocal coach), but also for the way he has transformed his look over the years. Now a tattooed (he admitted an addiction), muscular, mustached rocker in jeans and tee shirt, DeGennaro is hardly recognizable from his earlier days as a longer-haired, softer version of his current self.

In a recent two-show appearance at The Iridium, he played a concert with his band, showcasing mostly his own compositions, mainly from his 2009 CD, “Broken,” as well as a good handful of brand new songs, mainly from his just-released four-song EP, “All I Need.”

With the new material, DeGennaro seems headed in a hard rock direction. Although he looks the part, I’m not convinced that this is his strongest musical suit. While he has a clever way with words, the music itself seems dated, as though from a successful but now forgotten ’70s band. Songwriting is tricky: how to create something that is both fresh to the ears but will also become timeless is a challenge. By contrast, the most successful selection of the evening was one of his songs from 2009, “I Hear Your Voice in the Rain,” a midtempo, percussive, smooth jazz number that one could imagine Al Jarreau wrapping his vocals around back in the day—and yet, still a pleasure to hear today. DeGennaro’s voice easily floated above the satisfying musical line.

A lot of DeGennaro’s own compositions call for a defiant attitude. The songs are presumably his life story, but I would have welcomed a few more moments of other colors—tenderness, humor, searching, and so on—as were shown with “…Voice in the Rain.”

Best among his new rock compositions are “The One,” a catchy uptempo that could be an easy sing-along favorite in a crowded bar, and “Naked Sun” (not on his EP), which he prefaced by saying that he was a beach addict, then noted, “I guess you could say I’m a seasonal writer.”

He covered only two songs. A self-confessed Beatles addict, he sat at the piano (for most of the set he stood at the mic, a bit of a surprise given his talent on the keys) and sang “She’s Leaving Home” (Lennon & McCartney), which was good. Even better was his rendering of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock,” which, enhanced by Alec Berlin’s aching, slashing guitar chords, became a desperate plea. Mitchell’s words seemed as relevant today as they were back in 1969. In the show I saw, he allowed one of his backup singers, Jennifer Heaney, to do a couple of songs, and she proved to be a crowd-pleasing soul singer, especially on the recent “I’m Not the Only One” (Sam Smith, James Napier).

As is often the case when a pianist becomes a headliner, DeGennaro would benefit from more free-spirited movement to match the groove of the music. When performing his edgier material, his body language is less forceful than it should be. Nonetheless, his many gifts should keep him very busy for years to come.

Unfortunately, part of the show was marred by sound problems, which may have been responsible for the lack of clarity in lyric delivery on the heavier rock numbers; at one point, the show even had to be stopped for several minutes, and DeGennaro, displaying patience and good humor, used the time to introduce friends and fellow performers in the audience.

The worthy band consisted of the aforementioned Berlin on guitar and Heaney on backup vocals, as well as Jorgen Kjaer (keyboards), Steve Count (bass), Clayton Craddock (drums), and Rachel Sullivan (backup vocals).

Iridium  –  September 9 (two shows)

Category: Reviews

About the Author ()

Kevin Scott Hall performed in cabaret clubs for many years and recorded three CDs, including “New Light Dawning” in 1998, which received national airplay. He also worked at the legendary piano bar, Rose’s Turn, and has taught cabaret workshops and directed shows since 1995. Kevin earned his MFA in Creative Writing at City College of New York. He is an adjunct professor in the Theatre and English departments at City College and Borough of Manhattan Community College. His novel, “Off the Charts!” was published in 2010, and his memoir, “A Quarter Inch from My Heart” (Wisdom Moon), in 2014. Kevin writes a monthly column and entertainment features for Edge Media Network, writes reviews for, and freelances for other publications.

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