Bushwick Book Club: The Shining

Visiting New York a few years ago, musician Geoff Curtiss Larson was surprised to see a whole barroom full of folks having a blast in the name of Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. It was the monthly meet-up of the Bushwick Book Club, organized by his friend Susan Hwang, where a select lineup of songwriters performs a tune inspired by that month's reading selection. Upon returning home last year, he gathered together a dozen fellow musicians and assigned them his "favorite book of all time," Slaughterhouse-Five. The first October show at the Can Can drew a crowd of 20 or 30. The monthly shows proved so popular that they've since moved to larger venues. Larson's his cast of songwriters is constantly rotating. And growing: from the original 12 to some 100 performers who now ask to participate. None of the night's dozen-odd performers knows their timeslot—Larson pulls names from a hat. Each gets 10 minutes to perform one or two songs. Aside from Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States--for which Larson assigned a chapter per performer--he gives no directions. (The only time they discuss the chosen book together is during a pre-show dinner.) The musicians otherwise have free reign to interpret any aspect of each month's selection. Says Larson, "Everyone is excited to share their songs, but they're also secretly trying to one-up one another. For the audience, all they need to do is have a great time reading a book, then sit back and watch people's reactions to the book through song." Tonight's selection, appropriate for Halloween, is Stephen King's The Shining. BRIAN J. BARR

Thu., Oct. 27, 8 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 9, 2011

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