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Interview:
Rufus Wainwright "Does Judy" virtually, 5 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Back in September Rufus Wainwright launched "Rufus-Retro-Wainwright-Spective," an ambitious virtual concert series playing all of his albums from his living room in Los Angeles, with a small band and one or two special guests from the entertainment world as his small live audience.



The project was a huge success, and it comes to what Wainwright calls a "grand finale" this week with "Rufus Does Judy at Capitol Studios," returning to his 2007 recreation of Garland's famed Carnegie Hall concert. It's the first time he's performed the show in five years, and Wainwright is joined by his sister Martha -- virtually, from Montreal -- and Kristin Chenoweth, while Renee Zellweger, who won an Academy Award for portraying Garland in the film "Judy," comprises the studio audience.



Wainwright doesn't rule out more virtual work in the future, but this "Rufus Does Judy" show will bid adieu for now as he prepares to hit the road starting in September...



• Fans can expect a different kind of "Rufus Does Judy" performance as well. "I just used a little combo, no string or horn sections, and that actually turned out to be a really fun kind of angle. I can really riff off the other players. It wasn't necessarily about being so bombastic all the time; It was about just really a very intimate spirit, which of course Judy did marvelously well. The idea was to get as relaxed as possible and as fluid as possible and really dive into the music, which only a great recording studio can provide. I definitely got lost in the spirits of the basement of Capitol Records."







• Wainwright, 47, says by phone that he was looking for a big finish for his virtual series, and "there's no bigger scenario than the Judy Garland show." Figuring out where to do it was a larger discussion, however. "I wanted to do it somewhere special. At one point we thought about Dick Van Dyke's house, or maybe do it from an old Hollywood Mansion. Then I came up with the idea of doing it at Capitol Studios, which is where Judy worked quite a bit." He also sings into the same mic Garland used during the performance.



• Fans can expect a different kind of "Rufus Does Judy" performance as well. "I just used a little combo, no string or horn sections, and that actually turned out to be a really fun kind of angle. I can really riff off the other players. It wasn't necessarily about being so bombastic all the time; It was about just really a very intimate spirit, which of course Judy did marvelously well. The idea was to get as relaxed as possible and as fluid as possible and really dive into the music, which only a great recording studio can provide. I definitely got lost in the spirits of the basement of Capitol Records."







• There was a thought about Zellweger singing with Wainwright, but ultimately, he says, "she's onto other roles and didn't want to have to get up there and do a Judy Garland impersonation. So she was satisfied to just kick back and enjoy the music. There's a lot of banter between us, very naughty at times. There's definitely a kid of electricity there that is worth the price of admission."



•Wainwright recently released "Technopera," a collaboration with the Los Angeles electronic duo Ampersounds that was recorded several years ago, as part of this year's Pride Month celebration. "Zen Freeman, who's a DJ, just contacted me on Instagram and said, "Would you be interested in writing a topline to some dance music?' I was like, 'Sure, where do you live?' 'I'm two blocks away.' 'That's easy. I'll walk the dog and I'll walk in and sing something and go home.' so that's what we did, and it's not something new, necessarily, but I think it's great that it's coming out during Pride and at the outset of what is hopefully gonna be a more vibrant summer for people in bars, restaurants and clubs. I'm happy to be part of that."



• As he prepares for tour dates this fall with co-headliner Jose Gonzalez, Wainwright is also working on a Broadway music that's in its earliest stages. "That takes a lot of lead time, so I'm now negotiating with producers and dramaturgs and book writers and stuff, trying to hammer out something. That's probably where I'm gonna lay down my gauntlet, but I can't say much about it yet. It will happen, way down the line."



Rufus Wainwright "Rufus Does Judy at Capitol Studios" premieres at 2 and 9:59 p.m. Thursday, June 10, with guest appearances by his sister Martha Wainwright, Kistin Chenoweth and Renee Zellweger. Tickets via veeps.com.



Wainwright and Jose Gonzales perform Sept. 26 at the Masonic Cathedral Theatre in Detroit's Masonic Temple, 500 Temple St. 313-832-7100 or themasonic.com.

Web Site: www.veeps.com

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