H awksley Workman is a marvel. To see the guy around town - frequently turned out in a jacket that could double as a bath mat and absently nodding along to a private soundtrack - you'd never peg him as a musical savant who can play everything, write astounding music, sing like an angel and produce others.
Fittingly, for his Lee's show before an obviously devoted crowd, Workman did that rarest of things. He entertained in broad strokes but somehow kept it intimate.
Appearing on a stage gorgeously gussied up by two suspended wooden mermaids and shimmering panels, Workman rifled through his catalogue with the panache of an old hand, trading jokes and war stories but never squandering an opportunity to dramatically send his falsetto heavenward with heart-stopping vulnerability.
That he could command undivided attention for most of the evening was impressive enough, but by show's end, when people began singing along in earnest, Workman had cast a kind of magic on the room. Watching him - playing drums, keyboards, guitar or just howling into the ether - you could practically feel his connection to the music. You can't say that every day.
Workman's friends sparkled, too, none more than Sarah Slean, who added vocals to the new song Old Bloody Orange. Early the next day, Workman and Slean headed to Bearsville Studios in upstate New York to begin production of Slean's Atlantic label debut. After that, Workman's off to England to hold a residency, making the release date of his next disc vague. But it's certain Workman's on the path to stardom. Those lucky souls at Lee's Saturday earned bragging rights for when our boy blows up.
HAWKSLEY WORKMAN, at Lee's Palace, October 7. Tickets: $14. Attendance: 400. Rating: NNNN