SANTA CRUZ — The life and songs of Tom Lehrer, the maverick song writer from Harvard and current UCSC Professor Emeritus, are the subject of Viva La Lehrer IV, the fourth annual celebration of the man who made a pop music sensation out of the periodic table of elements.
Lehrer’s themes, found in “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,” “Polution,” “So Long Mom (I’m Off to Drop the Bomb),” “Masochism Tango,” “Vatican Rag” and others will come to life at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in downtown Santa Cruz with two shows on the eve of his 89th birthday Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
The shows feature approximately 20 musicians and performers, including Lori Rivera, former vocalist with the musical comedy touring and recording artists The Bobs, and Kylan deGhetaldi, keyboard player for the Youtube and pop music sensation Postmodern Jukebox.
Celebration founder and producer Peter Nichols promises Viva La Lehrer IV will the world’s biggest single Lehrer event ever, with more performers, more songs and more laughs.
“Each event we’ve put together has been bigger than the one before it,” Nichols said. “And this one will be ‘The Best of Viva La Lehrer’ bringing the best performers, most popular songs, and some most fans have never heard before.”
Also on the bill are: the Gold Standard barbershop quartet, Constellation; New York City-trained opera singer turned country diva, Lizz Hodgin; Cabrillo Stage Creative Director Jon Nordgren; Gail Rich honoree, Joe Ferrara; Jazz trombonist Steve Wilson; the Lehrer-dedicated skiffle band, The Lehrermen; the beauty shop trio, 3-In-A-Chord; versatile country/rock vocalist, B.D. Tacklind; fellow tap dance student of Lehrer’s, Olaf Schiappacasse; one-man duo “Me&Tom” and 12-year-old middle schooler Lowell Greene. Wallace Baine will emcee.
Lehrer has given permission to perform his songs but is otherwise not involved in the production. Proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Homeless Services Center.
Advance tickets are $26 available through VivaLaLehrer.com or by calling 1-800-838-3006. A special two-for-one price is available to UCSC and Cabrillo students and faculty. Tickets at the door are $30 and doors open for the two shows at 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.