ArtsRock, the team that’s programming cultural arts events across Rockland County, has a busy week ahead, with three events that demonstrate the group’s range and reach.
• May 7, Grammy-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin plays Nyack;
• May 8, Jeffrey Friedberg hosts a Hula Hoop Festival in Nyack’s Memorial Park.
• May 13, comedian Robert Klein sits down with Elliott Forrest at Suffern’s Lafayette Theater.
Robert Klein In Conversation
Then, five years ago, Klein filmed his eighth HBO special, the first comedy concert shot in high-definition.
“For a geezer, I look pretty good,” says the 68-year-old Briarcliff resident. “I look better than I had any right to five years ago and I look even better on this one. It favors me.”
His ninth special, premiering June 12 on HBO, is called “Unfair and Unbalanced,” a jab at a certain cable news channel.
Before that, on May 13, Klein sits down at Suffern’s Lafayette Theater with Elliott Forrest — an ArtsRock principal and the radio voice of WQXR — to talk about his life and career.
“Elliott Forrest is gold to me,” Klein says. “Is there a classier disc jockey? I’m going to have a such a ball doing this.
Klein is donating his appearance to help out ArtsRock. He say he likes the format, “where I’m interviewed but I’m free to stand up and make havoc if I want.”
Chances are, he’ll want.
Klein plays Jennifer Lopez’s gynecologist in the just-released film, “The Back Up Plan.”
“Her husband was close by at all times,” Klein says, jumping off into a comic bit where he suggests Lopez’s husband, Marc Anthony — while watching Klein pretend to give Lopez a gynecological exam — was shouting: “Donde esta los manos? Los manos! No puedo ver los manos!” which translates as “Where are his hands? His hands! I can’t see his hands!”
Klein, the first comic to have an HBO special, in 1975, says his technique is stronger than ever.
“I’m better on stage than I was 20 or 30 years ago,” he says, suggesting seamlessly that to judge for oneself, one should purchase the DVD box set — “Robert Klein, The HBO?Specials: 1975 to 2005.”
The appearance in Suffern, he says, helps to support the arts.
“Most yokels in this country think that arts are some frizzy thing we add on later,” he says. “It quite simply isn’t. It has a soul of its own, in ways that can’t be easily quantified.”
Last week at Pleasantville’s Jacob Burns Film Center, Klein screened the documentary he narrated — “When Comedy Went to School” — about the Borscht Belt days of the Catskills, a time Klein wrote about in his 2005 book, “The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue.”
Klein has played Rockland before and hopes for a better outcome than the time when the air-conditioning in the Rockland Community College gymnasium broke down during a heat wave.
“Jay and the Americans was the opening act and he decided to do an hour and a half,” Klein recalls with a rueful laugh. “The people were wilted by the time I got on.”
Klein promises things will go better this time around in Suffern.
“There will be no suffering in Suffern,” he says.
In November, she played the White House, 20 feet from an intent President Obama.
In January, she won her second Grammy Award — best instrumental soloist performance (without orchestra) — for her far-reaching album “Journey to the New World,” a CD that represented another dream come true: working with her folk hero Joan Baez.
Isbin will bring her guitar and considerable talents to Nyack for a solo concert that will include the “Joan Baez Suite,” which was written for Isbin by the late British composer John Duarte. Isbin says Duarte used Baez’s early works “as a springboard to allow his own creative ideas to emerge.”
When Baez heard the composition, she offered to sing on Isbin’s album.
“It was a wonderful response to music she had given her blessing to beforehand,” Isbin says.
Baez will be there in spirit on Thursday, as Isbin plays the suite.
She’ll also perform a work that the great Afro-Cuban guitarist and composer Leo Brouwer wrote for her, the 17-minute-long “The Black Decameron.”
“I’ll play music from Paraguay, Brazil and Spain, as well,” she says. “Look how far you’ll get to travel without having to get on an airplane.”
Hula Hoop Festival
Jeffrey Friedberg — who programs ArtsRock’s Milk & Cookies series and is the leader of the Bossy Frog Band — says he’d love to try to get 200 people Hula Hooping at once. But he’s not pushing too hard.
The festival, at Nyack’s Memorial Park, will have music from four bands: a folk duo featuring a Hula Hooping fiddler named Alice, Turkish/Greek music from Nikolai Ruskin, bluegrass from Friedberg and the Hook Mountain Boys and roots rock from Compton Maddux.
It’s a B.Y.O.H.H. event, but if your Hula Hoop is in storage, Friedberg says there’ll be some for sale — or “rent.”
Sharon Isbin: 7:30 p.m., May 7. $20 advance, $25 door; The First Reformed Church, 18 S. Broadway, Nyack.
Hula Hoop Festival: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., May 8. Free. Nyack’s Memorial Park.
Robert Klein in Conversation: 8 p.m., May 13. $20 advance, $25 door, $50 premium includes post-show meet-and-greet. Lafayette Theater, 97 Lafayette Ave., Suffern.