Bridgeport singer performs the songs of Judy Henske in ‘Queen of the Beatniks’ revue


The last time Meredith DiMenna performed “Queen of the Beatniks,” her musical revue of Judy Henske, in New York City, she got an unexpected email from a representative of the celebrated chanteuse.

The email read:

Break a leg!

Love, Judy Henske

PS She wants the venue to know that she is actually 6 feet tall, not “nearly.”

“I guess they saw the write up (about the show) somewhere online,” said DiMenna, who returns to New York City to perform “Queen of the Beatniks: The Songs of Judy Henske” at Joe’s Pub on Tuesday, March 4. “The press release said ‘standing nearly six feet tall.'”

Henske, who was uncommonly tall for a mid-1960s female singer, didn’t want to be misrepresented. For the singer, whose full-throated voice, penchant for experimentation and irreverent personality made her an inspiration to many musicians, including DiMenna, standing out was a point of pride.

“(Her height) was part of the reason she was noticeable but also part of the reason she never quite fit in,” DiMenna said. “And I don’t think she cares about fitting in!”

Here’s more about Henske, via the event’s Facebook page:

A performer who bridges the gap between Judy Garland and Frank Zappa, the legendary Judy Henske is the best singer you’ve never heard of: from 1963, when she confounded audiences with her performance of “God Bless the Child” on the Judy Garland Show, to 1966, when she riffed on whores on her Jack Nietzche-produced live album, “The Death Defying Judy Henske,” to her psychedelic folk classic “Farewell Aldebaran,” recorded for Frank Zappa’s label in 1969, Judy was too many things to too few people to become the household name her considerable talents merited.

DiMenna, one half of the Bridgeport folk duo, Oh, Cassius! and a featured guest on The Stepkids‘ single, “Legend in My Own Mind,” will perform an overview of Henske’s recorded material, including “Danny Boy,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” “I Know You, Rider,” “Til the Real Thing Comes Along” and “High Flyin’ Bird.”

Tickets to the March 4 show, which cost $15, are available here.

Check out footage from DiMenna’s performance of “Queen of the Beatniks” from July 2013, and a live performance from Henske, below:

Scott Gargan