Down into the cavernous Chez Andre within The Standard East Village, deep red lights flooded a room usually reserved for rowdy behavior. This early evening, however, was more tame than the venue appeared, adorned with its vibrant graffiti and leather couches. The crowd, mostly made up of a generation of New Yorkers closely connected to the social circles surrounding Andy Warhol’s Factory, were there to quietly listen to one woman.
By means of an unconventional book tour, legendary rock journalist Sylvie Simmons took to the stage with her ukulele, book, and microphone. She began by reading passages from her recently released biography on the ever-elusive Leonard Cohen (titled I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen), then was accompanied by Fred Nicolaus (of indie rock band Department of Eagles) on acoustic guitar. The duo then alternated between performing Cohen’s songs, with Sylvie on vocals, reading excerpts from the book, and telling stories of the lengths in which she researched her subject. (She once jammed on her uke with a monk, for instance, while researching Cohen’s childhood.)
By the end of the night, all were entranced by the great power Simmons had over her audience, along with the the vast knowledge she had stored away on her topic; it was a magical evening for many a Cohen devotee.
By Chelsea Anna Burcz for The Wild.