Interviews

Published on August 28th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Leslie Mendelson On Touring With The Who, Playing Madison Square Garden & What Else’s Coming Up

A native of Long Island, New York, Leslie Mendelson turned a lot of heads with 2009’s Grammy-nominated Swan Feathers, as recorded for Rykodisc. 2017’s Love & Murder was Mendelson’s first new album in eight years, as featuring collaborations with Steve McEwan (Faith Hill, Keith Urban, Eminem), producer Mark Howard (Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams), and The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir. Mendelson has since recorded a new album, as set for an early 2020 release, beyond releasing a duet with recent tour-mate (and notable Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductee) Jackson Browne.

Also of note about Leslie Mendelson is that she will be opening for The Who at New York’s Madison Square Garden on September 1st. Mendelson ought to be no stranger to Who fans, given that she opened for the legendary band before beyond gigging alongside frontman Roger Daltrey. Following Mendelson’s opening set, The Who will be taking the stage with a 48-piece orchestra and conductor, giving attendees of the Moving On! Tour a fresh take on the classic Who catalog.

I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Leslie Mendelson herself about this September 1st show and what else is coming up for her. More on Mendelson can be found at www.lesliemendelson.com.

How did the opportunity to open for The Who come up?

Leslie Mendelson: The Who’s management approached me last year to open for Roger Daltrey. He had a couple of solo tours plus a week of shows in Vegas that I opened for him. It went well. I guess I passed the audition!

Is this your first time performing on the stage of Madison Square Garden?

Leslie Mendelson: I actually opened for them back in May, which I thought was a complete one-off. I did not expect this to happen again! I also sang the National Anthem for a Knicks game in 2017. Does that count? If so, then this is my third time!

How will your setlist opening for The Who compare to that of a residency show or headlining show in New York? More focused on “the Leslie hits?”

Leslie Mendelson: I have “hits”? I’ve actually been thinking about this all day and honestly, it’s exactly the same. Just trying to find the right songs and put them in the right order. But maybe you have a point and I should just play the “hits.” (laughs)

As a Long Island native, do you remember your first concert at MSG?

Leslie Mendelson: I know Steve Miller Band was my first rock concert but I believe that was Nassau Colosseum. I think my first MSG concert was either Roger Waters or Rush.

“A Human Touch” was recorded with Jackson Browne and has been released as a stand-alone single. Is it part of a forthcoming full-length album?

Leslie Mendelson: It could very well end up on one of our albums, but in the immediate future it will come out on vinyl for Record Store Day in November!

The Who gig aside, what is coming up for you career-wise?

Leslie Mendelson: I have a few shows coming up with Steve Kimock at the end of the month as well as a few of my own shows. We’re leading up to my album release of If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…, which will be early 2020!

What do you wish more people knew about Leslie Mendelson?

Leslie Mendelson: I wish people knew less of me. Whatever happened to mystery?!

Finally, Leslie, any last words for the kids?

Leslie Mendelson: Get off social media. It’s bad for your health. And don’t forget to brush your teeth.


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About the Author

is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He has been a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.


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