.

Rufus Wainwright, Jimmy Fallon and More Pay Tribute to Kate McGarrigle

Proteges and collaborators perform the late singer-songwriter's work in New York

May 13, 2011 2:40 PM ET
Rufus Wainwright performs during the celebration of the music of Kate McGarrigle at Town Hall on May 12, 2011 in New York City.
Rufus Wainwright performs during the celebration of the music of Kate McGarrigle at Town Hall on May 12, 2011 in New York City.
Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images

The performers at the Kate McGarrigle tribute held at New York’s Town Hall last night were a family in more ways than one. The late Montreal singer-songwriter’s literal relatives were there, of course – her sister Anna McGarrigle, her children Rufus and Martha Wainwright, and assorted nephews, nieces and in-laws. But there was also a heavy contingent of artists she mentored, collaborated with or otherwise inspired before her too-soon death at age 63 last January – people like Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Antony Hegarty, Teddy Thompson, Justin Vivian Bond, Krystle Warren, the novelist Michael Ondaatje and even Jimmy Fallon. Bond seemed to speak for almost everyone on stage when describing McGarrigle as "like a mother to me."

Although the three-hour concert was billed as "A Celebration of Kate McGarrigle," the prevailing mood was naturally somber. McGarrigle wrote and sang heartrendingly personal songs throughout most of her life; hearing them now that she’s gone was emotional, to say the least. Performers and audience members alike could be seen tearing up during highlights like "I Eat Dinner (When The Hunger’s Gone)" (a sweet duet between Harris and Thompson), "Go Leave" (a deeply felt rendition by Hegarty), "(Talk to Me Of) Mendocino" (sung by both Wainwright siblings with Jones), "Tell My Sister" (a wonderfully torchy performance by Martha Wainwright) and most of all "Proserpina" – the last song Kate McGarrigle wrote before her death, a sad, lovely, honest tune that brought nearly everyone back on stage to close the night’s first set.

Watch Emmylou Harris Perform a Tribute to Kate McGarrigle on Sirius/XM

But the show also made room for the warmth, humor and life that are equally characteristic of her work. There were bittersweet smiles to be seen during "First Born" (wryly crooned by the Wainwright siblings) and "Work Song" (enthusiastically interpreted by Bond). And Fallon drew unexpected laughs with a short stand-up bit, comparing the McGarrigle-Wainwright clan to "a very talented Brady Bunch" or perhaps the Von Trapps.

The tears inevitably returned when, toward the end of the evening, Anna McGarrigle led the rest of the family on "Kitty Come Home" – originally written after the breakup of her sister’s marriage, now taking on a newly mournful meaning. The show drew to a close a few minutes later with a group singalong of the folk standard "Dink’s Song," whose refrain of "Fare thee well" felt especially sorrowful.

Rufus Wainwright's Emotional Return to Carnegie Hall

"A Celebration of Kate McGarrigle" will return to Town Hall for a second sold-out performance tonight; all profits from both performances will benefit the Kate McGarrigle Sarcoma Research Fund. Those lucky enough to have tickets are in for an extraordinarily moving night of music.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Promiscuous”

Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com