Leonard Cohen Tribute at World Cafe Live

'I’ll stand before the Lord of Song….'

Rewind to 1990 and it's the opening scenes from the movie, Pump up the Volume. The pirate DJ played by Christian Slater, drops the needle on his turntable to play the opening music for his show. The deep, velour, melancholy baritone of Leonard Cohen, pops and crackles to life.

As the lush verbal bloodletting grinds out into the darkness, a whole new genre of music has been cracked wide open and part of me is transformed. This is among the greatest mysteries and powers of music. Like a first kiss, a roller coaster ride, or the first time you stand in silence and watch the lightening rip open the sky during a summer thunderstorm.

Rewind again and reminiscing about the hours of listening to records with his big sister Danielle, Adam Monaco vividly recounts the day she played Leonard Cohen for him for the first time. He was ten. He pointedly says, 'it changed my life.'

Fast forward... Twenty or so years later, Monaco has himself become an accomplished musician and entertainer. The Adam Monaco Band, Under the Oak, the driving force behind numerous creative projects, the co-founder of Working While Playing, and part of All Entertainment, Inc., also headquartered here in center city Philadelphia. 

Listening to Adam recount his memories around Cohen’s music, I’m hearing lines in my head from ‘Almost Famous’… When Zoey Deschanel (Anita Miller)  leaves her stash of albums for Patrick Fugit (soon to be rock writer William Miller) with a note, ‘Listen to Tommy with a candle burning and you will see your entire future.’ The way Adam talks about the relationship he and Danielle had with Cohen’s music, it’s hard not to feel the same sort of yearning and mystical nostalgia.

When Cohen passed, Danielle floated the idea of a tribute concert. Adam quickly reached out to World Cafe Live where he had played as part of the Adam Monaco band since Cafe opened in ’04. There was a genuine interest in a tribute show for such an iconic musician. To boost the appeal, Adam decided to make it a fundraiser for the non profit Working While Playing. Being the co-founder and co-executive director, it just made sense.

Adam and Danielle reached out to numerous bands and artists to have them come and play the show. Musician Sean Rowe contacted Adam out of the blue after seeing social media posts and straight up said he needed to be part of the tribute.

The night was filled with brilliant musicians and they played to a packed house. Adam and co-founder Danie Ocean presented  one of  Working While Playing's biggest supporters, James Hope, with a token of appreciation for his incredibly generous patronage.

To close out the event that raised thousands of dollars for Working While Playing, every one of the artists filled the stage and performed Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ together. It was quite the spectacle. The lights in the house were down low, but I’m fairly sure I saw tears in the eyes of many in the audience. It was a lively, vibrant, and moving evening at World Cafe Live.

Packing up my gear and heading out into the rainy Philadelphia night, I was thinking perhaps the real star of the event was Adam's big sister, Danielle, who not only inspired Adam but helped him pull this incredible event together. Now we just need to know when Adam’s next show will hit the stage!

Performers included: Under the Oak, Sean Rowe, Alex Radus, William H Travis, Ralph Magliano, Grace Madison, Kim Fink from Makin Music, Glim Dropper, Max Fisher, Chris Kasper, Bak Pak from Rockdale Music School, Catelyn Gipe, and Working While Playing Co-founders Danie Ocean and Adam Monaco. Check out the links to visit these great artists, as well as Working While Playing, All Entertainment, James Hope, & World Cafe Live.

Scroll down for more images and, stay tuned for updates on that next show!

'Put me in a pine box next to my mother and father. Have a small memorial for close friends and family in Los Angeles…and if you want a public event do it in Montreal.' - Leonard Cohen