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This story first appeared in the September 1, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Summer’s exceptionally rainy climate has reduced New Yorkers’ cocktail conversation to cliché. “How about this weather” is just about all anyone has been able to talk about, and, sadly, the end of summer was no exception. Twenty-four hours before the Watermill Center’s annual Last Song of Summer concert, typically held outdoors at the center, organizers scrambled to secure an indoor venue in anticipation of Hurricane Danny’s arrival on the Eastern shore. Which is how Mary-Louise Parker, Anjelica Huston, Isabella Rossellini and Jay McInerney ended up filing in to the auditorium of the Ross Lower School in Bridgehampton for a special show, sponsored by Viktor and Rolf Parfums, by Rufus Wainwright, his sister Martha Wainwright and Norah Jones.
Martha kicked things off with several Edith Piaf covers that many felt outdid Piaf herself. Rufus followed with some of his hits and a few new tracks. “As a family we have a tendency for sadness,” he said, “so I was told to do something up-tempo.”
Jones crooned a new tune about her dog. “You never lie, and you don’t cheat and you don’t have any baggage tied to your four feet….Will you really be my only man of the hour?”
The singing and general conviviality of the crowd must have had some effect, because by the end of the concert the sun was peeking through the late-evening clouds. Rufus wasn’t surprised. “It always suns when I sing because I’m a Wainwright,” he said cheekily, before concluding the show with a group performance of “Heartbreak Hotel.”