Cherry Lane rocked the house with its 50th anniversary party at the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, New York.
The gigantic Brooklyn Bowl was closed to the public for the night as a who’s who of the New York music business schmoozed, rocked out to performances from the Cherry Lane songwriter roster, feasted on fried chicken, pizza, greek salads, and brownies, and drank to their heart’s content. Also, the bowling alleys were all taken with the competition alternating from intense to sophomoric fun, depending on which lane you visited.
Cherry Lane, which recently was bought by BMG Rights Management, has a catalog that includes songs written by by will.i.am, Ashford and Simpson, Leslie Bricusse, Edie Carey, Warren Haynes, Quincy Jones, the Kennedys, T-Bone Walker, Wolfmother.
Tom Paxton, the first writer signed to the company by founder Milton Okun, kicked off the night and was followed by Madi Diaz. Paxton, Diaz and Kyle Ryan teamed for a version of “Leaving On A Jet Plane,” written by John Denver. In the opening hour of the party, Cherry Lane CEO Peter Primont said that the company’s early years “were built” on his catalog of songs.
Diaz’s performance was followed by an intimate set by John Legend, who accompanied him on piano, a full set from Antigone Rising and a powerful performance from Delta Spirit. Before Delta Spirit performed, Primont thanked all for coming, thanked the Cherry Lane employees, past and present, and also remembered executive VP of business development Mike Connelly, who past away at the end of last year.
During his talk he read a note from founder Milt Okun, who couldn’t attend the event. “The conventional wisdom about a small business is that the founder is the genius and as new management in the next generation takes over, things begin to go downhill. Cherry Lane has taken the opposite path,” Okun said, crediting Primont and the Cherry Lane senior management for beginning an upward path that the company continues on.
Besides being proud of the Cherry Lane staff, Okun said, “Who would not be proud of a company that attracted Tom Paxton, John Denver, Irving Burgie, will.i.am, John Legend, Quincy Jones, Elvis and all the other gifted artists on our roster?
Okun’s note closed with mentioning the company’s next chapter, something that Primont also acknowledged. “The combination of Cherry Lane and BMG should prove to be one of those things that legends are made of,” according to a copy of his talk made available to Billboard. “My hope and desire is that 50 years from now, Cherry Lane will still be considered one of those special companies that everyone wants to be associated with.”