This Sunday, November 15, Sag Harbor native singer-songwriter Raphael Odell Shapiro will open the annual Edna’s Kin concert at Christ Church. Every year since 2007, family band Edna’s Kin has donated a concert to Christ Episcopal Church (CEC) of Sag Harbor to benefit the church’s Pipe Organ Restoration Fund. Edna’s Kin member and CEC Minister of Music Dr. Daniel Koontz plays the pipe organ there every Sunday at 10 a.m.
This will be Shapiro’s first professional performance in his hometown as a singer-songwriter. Shapiro, fulfilling the very definition of an up-and-coming singer-songwriter, resides in Brooklyn; often tours in a well-traveled Honda CR-V and mixes folk, country and soul. He recently released an EP, Tre Subar, under the name “Odell,” which he recorded in Brooklyn and which is now available for download exclusively on Bandcamp. Shapiro is also a member of the original acoustic Americana duo Odell Fox with fellow singer-songwriter Jenner Fox.
Local audiences will remember Shapiro for his many performances with Stages Children’s Theater Workshop, including his portrayal of the Wolfman in Stages’ annual October production of The Frankenstein Follies. He was also cast in professional productions of Our Town and Pippin at Bay Street Theater. Shapiro graduated from the Ross School in East Hampton in 2008.
Here’s a snippet of lyrics from Shapiro’s single “Monster:”
“Grass is getting caught between my claws now, darlin’. Cold blood is pumpin’ through my veins…And I’m howlin’ out your name…”
Did the experience of portraying the Wolfman in any way inform your original song “Monster?”
There is a sort of kinship. Frankenstein Follies gave me my first opportunity to sort of flex my rock star persona muscles. It’s great to give kids power.
Will the November 15 concert at Christ Church be your first professional turn as a singer-songwriter in your hometown?
Yes, except for busking on Main Street when I was a teenager. It was pretty fun—I got a lot of good feedback.
But this is not your first performance at Christ Church?
Right, I performed there with The Duke’s Men of Yale in 2009.
Have you discovered any similarities between yourself and Johnny Cash since posting your “Long Black Veil” video?
I haven’t yet—still wearing a lot of black, though.
Will you be wearing a tuxedo for this Sunday’s performance?
We’ll see—maybe if it still fits.
What songs might we expect to hear in your performance on November 15?
Mostly originals from my new EP. I don’t have a set list yet. I do covers that include arrangements of soul and R&B. You might hear the traditional tune “The Blackest Crow.”
Who are some of your heroes in the folk world?
Bob Dylan, of course, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen. More contemporarily—Rosh Ritter, Joe Pug, Laura Marling.
Are you excited about performing with YouTube sensations Edna’s Kin?
I’m definitely very excited. We may close the show together with “Angel Band.”
You’ve spent several summers working at an arts camp in Alaska and your video for “Monster” was filmed there. How has your time in Alaska influenced you creatively?
The mountains and the water are magical. So many people are drawn to it—like they are to the Hamptons. In addition to nature—the community there is very, very supportive of artists and the arts.
Do you audition for shows these days?
Not right now. I love theater and it informs my performances as a musician—but it’s been great that, for the last couple of years, I’ve been able to focus on music. I’m playing a lot to get better, meeting lots of people, seeing what sticks.
What were some of your favorite things about growing up on the East End?
I really took it for granted. When I came back over the summers during college I realized what an amazing place it is—how beautiful and special the community is. I’m still close to a lot of friends from high school and from theater—I know they’ll all come back some time because they love it too.
Raphael Odell Shapiro opens for Edna’s Kin at Christ Church, Sunday, November 15, at 2 p.m. Advance tickets are $20 for general admission and $10 for students, available from Canio’s Books, 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor 631-725-4926, caniosbooks.com. All tickets at the door will be $25. Christ Episcopal Church, 4 East Union Street, Sag Harbor. 631-725-0128.