On Tuesday, the Music Unites Youth Choir will make its debut at Carnegie Hall singing The Who songs and wearing specially designed shirts from David Arquette and Ben Harper's clothing line Propr. Not bad for 47 New York public high school kids who had their first practice in October. "This is an entertainer's dream!" said Arquette. "For these kids to go ahead and cross 'Carnegie Hall' off their lists already is pretty thrilling."
The event--the Music of The Who at Carnegie Hall--will feature more than 20 artists, including Sondre Lerche, Bobby McFerrin and Gaslight Anthem, performing songs from the Who's catalogue. The Music Unites Youth Choir will sing music from the rock opera Tommy accompanied by the jazz trumpeter Steven Bernstein. The choir's Propr t-shirts couldn't be more fitting: they feature the red and blue Royal Air Force target that the Who adopted as their logo and a pinball machine in honor of Tommy, which Arquette said is his favorite Who album. (A limited number of autographed shirts will be available for sale.)
For Arquette, collaborating with Music Unites - a New York-based charity that supports music education and works to bring music to underserved communities - was a no-brainer. "The work that they're doing as far as bringing music to people and kids in low-income areas and just keeping music programs alive, it's great," Arquette said. "It's just so important for kids to be able to express themselves through music."
Though Arquette didn't study music growing up, he said it's always been a huge part of his life. "It's a spiritual thing for me," the actor said. "I find more religion in music than most organized religion." In the late '90s, when he wasn't busy filming Muppets from Space or Never Been Kissed, he fronted a band called Ear 2000 ("worst name ever!" he howled) that even had a song on the Scream 2 soundtrack ("That was pretty cool," he admitted). He also starred as Frank-N-Furter in an L.A. production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. "It was really cool, but I have really big calves and it was embarrassing being in high heels," he said with a laugh. "I did learn how to swing pasties, though. I think every lady should do it--at least once." His advice? "You have to have high heels on and you have to bounce." (Arquette is back on stage this month, starring alongside Annette Bening in the new comedy The Female of the Species at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.)
Now Arquette is taking trumpet lessons and collaborating with Los Angeles-based deejay DJ Bizzy on a performance art project he's dubbed "The Good Times." "Bizzy is an amazing DJ and basically I'll accompany him on trumpet, but really it's providing eye candy to different parties and events," he said. Arquette and his wife Courteney Cox-Arquette's daughter Coco recently started taking piano lessons. "She also has a flute and we have drums, so she's pounding away," he said. "Courtney is an amazing drummer and she loves Rock Band, so we'll all rock out."
Mostly, though, Arquette likes to let his musician friends, including his Propr partner Ben Harper, entertain him. "It's pretty incredible to have friends who are world-class performers come over and play their new songs," he said. "Sheryl Crow did that recently--she played us this song she had just written and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I instantly knew she just wrote a hit and a classic song that's gonna be around forever." Much like The Who's music.
For more info on Music of the Who at Carnegie Hall, check out http://www.musicunites.org/news.html
By Ellen Carpenter