Micky Dolenz and his Monkees bandmates are enjoying a career resurgence that other legacy pop stars dream about. At 70, Dolenz just returned from a week in England, where he and Monkees guitarist Peter Tork performed two sold-out shows. He also has a new album on the way.
He’s about to sit-in with The Roots on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and do two more shows at New York City’s current cabaret hot-spot, 54 Below.
The first show will serve as a launch party for his album (via Broadway Records). It was recorded during three shows back in July.
Radio legend Jim Kerr introduced Micky and his band of theater hotshots led by musician-extraordinaire Michael Moritz. It was a different type of show for Dolenz, made up of Broadway classics and the most popular Monkees hits.
TheImproper caught up with Micky at his New York hotel to get the latest on his very busy schedule.
TheImproper: The 54 Below shows; how’d that concept come together?
Dolenz: I’d been in discussions with the Broadway producer Van Dean (who runs Broadway Records) for awhile now and we finally arrived at the concept of the shows. It’s called ‘A Little Bit Broadway; A Little Bit Rock and Roll,’ drawing on my Broadway experiences as well as the rock ‘n roll. Interestingly, one song ‘Don’t Be The Bunny,’ from Urinetown, was a song that got me quite a few of my Broadway roles.
Some of the songs from the shows I have done (Grease, AIDA, Pippin’), didn’t work as we had hoped. But ‘Bunny’ is a great one. We also do ‘Mr. Cellophane’ from Chicago and ‘D. W. Washburn’ from Smokey Joe’s Cafe, which has served me and The Monkees very well. It’s also the bridge between the two styles of music.
IM: The band for these shows is different too, right?
Dolenz: My musical director, Michael Moritz (piano, vocals), has worked with this group before and they’re exceptionally good (Adam DeAscentis, bass; Khaled Tabbara, guitar, Billy LaGuardia, drums). Their take on the Monkees hits is pretty spot-on, too.
IM: The stories that you tell before each song work so well. Do you see this perhaps touring over the country?
Dolenz: You never know; the reaction so far has been pretty strong, though playing for about 130 people, up close and personal, has been a new thing for me, that’s worked very well. I’ve played before 10,000 people, but never up close like this. But, it was great fun.
I’ve been blessed to have some of the best writers and it’s a fitting testament to their work. We also do a song (‘As We Go Along’) from the Monkees movie ‘Head’ (a Carole King song), that we haven’t done in a while, and the response is great. (Editor’s note: Micky told us that both Ry Cooder and Neil Young participated on the original recording of that song.) As far as a tour, that’s something that we’re talking about.
IM: This month, is almost 50 years to the day that the famous audition ad ran for ‘The Monkees’ television show.
Dolenz: Pretty much. It’s been an interesting trip to say the least. Next year, it’s The Monkees 50th anniversary.
IM: How was the reception in England?
Dolenz: England was great and the shows just terrific. We’ve put a few new things in the show that worked perfectly. The crowds have been 8 to 80. As I mentioned, going back to the BBC was just so much fun. I even visited the old studio where I did the ‘Metal Micky’ series.
IM: And your solo-shows continue through the rest of the year, correct?
Dolenz: Yes. With the great catalog I have, the performing is always a joy.
IM: By the way, how is the fine-furniture design and manufacturing company you started with your daughter, Georgia, doing?
Dolenz: This has been a great project for me, working with my daughter. Everything is selling out; each piece is numbered and signed, so each is unique. When I’m on the road, everything goes on hold somewhat, but when I’m home, we’re in the shop! Georgia and I just ran a seminar at the Dwell On Design show in L.A. and it was received very well. I’ve always dabbled in building, be it a heath-kit radio or designing something. It really is a dream fulfilled.
IM if you had your druthers, what would you like next?
Dolenz: I’d love to do another Broadway show; I’ve really become quite accustomed to it; they’re a few in the offing and before next year, I’d love to find the right one to do. One of the objectives in prepping this show was to perhaps identify that right next show.
Read more about Micky at his Web site.