Justin VivIan Bond Will Perform Material from the Album in Six-Week Residency at New Studio 54 Cabaret Venue, 54 Below.
The New Yorker has called Mx. Justin VivIan Bond “the greatest cabaret artist of [v]’s generation.” On June 5, Bond will release an album that perfectly reveals this dimension of v’s artistry: Silver Wells. On the intimate recording, Bond’s joined by pianist and producer Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), covers songs by Ronee Blakley, Kate Bush, Leonard Cohen, Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Mark Eitzel and Brecht & Weill, among others. Bond will perform material from the album in a six-week residency (June 4-July 9) at the new Studio 54 cabaret venue, 54 Below.
Silver Wells is inspired by—and takes its name from—Joan Didion’s 1970 novel Play It as It Lays, which, according to Bond, is one of the writer’s most stark and powerful masterpieces. For the album, Bond set out to choose a group of songs that would allow v to “cover” the book’s themes of dislocation, nihilism, postmodernist identities, loss and the retrieval of memory.
The songs are first-person and confessional, seemingly addressed from the narrator directly to the listener. As such, they lend themselves perfectly to the cabaret treatment they receive here: Almost all of the arrangements find Bond accompanied only by Bartlett, save for viola played by Maxim Moston (Elysian Fields, Antony and The Johnsons) on a few tracks, and a four-hands piano performance by Bartlett and Nico Muhly on “Talkin’ about a Revolution,” a favorite of Bond’s recent live shows.
Bond has honed a number of these songs over the course of v’s sold-out residencies at Joe’s Pub, and in Mx. Bond's Austerity Measures: A Snow Job for the Masses, in December 2011 at the Abrons Arts Center.
Silver Wells follows Bond’s 2011 release, Dendrophile, which consisted almost entirely of original songs and featured a significant cross-section of the New York music scene, including Sam Amidon, Rob Moose, Shahzad Ismaily, Beth Orton and Dawn Landes.
Bond was already a Tony nominee and a winner of Obie, Bessie, and Ethyl Eichelberger Awards when v released Dendrophile last year. In the press about that album—and v's responses to some of it—and, later in the year, with the publication of the memoir Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels, Bond sparked a vital discussion about gender fluidity and growing up trans in America. Having added the name Vivian and self-applied the trans prefix Mx. (instead of Mr. or Ms.) and trans pronoun “v” (instead of he or she), Bond has persuaded such mainstream media as The New York Times and The Economist to follow suit. It is not an overstatement to say that Bond has become one of the foremost spokepeople for trans experience.
Mx. Justin VivIan Bond is a writer, singer, painter, performance artist, and activist. This year Powerhouse Books published Susie Says, a collaboration between Bond and Gina Garan. In addition to the release of Dendrophile and the publication of Tango, 2011 included Justin Vivian’s art exhibition The Fall of the House of Whimsy, presented at Participant Inc. in New York City. Mx Bond was nominated for a Tony Award for Kiki and Herb Alive On Broadway in 2007. Other notable endeavors include originating the role of Herculine Barbin in Kate Bornstein’s groundbreaking play Hidden: A Gender, touring with the performance troupe The Big Art Group and appearing in John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus. For more information, please visit www.justinbond.com for more, including v’s blog, Justin VivIan Bond is Living!