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Celebrate Leonard Cohen’s life and art at the Gershman Y

"An Evening of Leonard Cohen" takes place on May 18.
"An Evening of Leonard Cohen" will include music performances, poetry readings and more. | Getty Images
"An Evening of Leonard Cohen" will include music performances, poetry readings and more. Getty Images

Philly musicians, writers and artists will gather to share and celebrate a mutual love of musician, poet and visual artist Leonard Cohen, whose sullen yet sultry vocals connect listeners with his sense of separation from the world. The show will feature musical performances and poetry readings in addition to a screening of the short film “Ladies and Gentleman…Mr. Leonard Cohen.” Jewish arts and cultural center Gershman Y will host the event to celebrate the iconic artist, who died in November.

Dick Rubin is a musician known for caricaturing himself with costumes and a delightfully over-the-top stage presence while performing with his band, MINKA. Although his set at the show will be slightly more understated than his usual antics, he’s experimenting with material outside of his realm in order to get ready to embody the one and only Cohen.

“He’s not a trained singer but it works,” says Rubin.  “In ‘Everybody Knows’, it’s just a low growl. It’s an awesome texture. There’s a wall of deep emotion that he’s drawing from and he conveys it in his voice.”

According to Rubin, Cohen’s spirit will be present at the event. He and his bandmates performed a seance to summon Cohen’s spirit and ask it to take over Rubin’s physical being for the duration of the show. Whether he rocks the famous blue raincoat or not, Rubin hopes the show is something that Cohen himself would have been proud of.

Visual artist and poet Sarah Bloom will read a couple of Cohen’s poems. She became a fan of Cohen at a young age and his work has inspired her throughout her life.

“There’s a sense of longing in his poems,” says Bloom. “It’s a spiritual longing, and a sense of missing something.”

Although the show is in memorium of Cohen’s work and life, it won’t be a somber affair. Cohen was known for being a conversationalist and the life of a party.

“If you met him at a cocktail party, he would have been the center of attention,” says Rubin.

If you don’t want the night to end at one event, Rubin is playing another show with MINKA that evening. Think of it as the after party for the event at the Gershman Y. Head to the Barbary in Fishtown (951 Frankford Ave.) for Deviant Diskothek.

If you go:

“An Evening of Leonard Cohen”
Thursday May 18, 7 p.m.
Gershman Y
401 S. Broad St.
gershmany.org
$45