In the spirit of the inaugural weekend, singer-songwriter Si Kahn opened his show at the Commerce Department Saturday night with a witty song about Ronald Reagan giving us government on horseback again, fueled by pure testosterone. He followed it with a fantasy about Jesse Helms getting pregnant and begging for the abortion he outlawed. Kahn, a North Carolina labor and community organizer, quickly moved from satire to poignant songs about his Jewish immigrant ancestors, his blue collar redneck friends and his fiance'.
The sold-out hall sang along with Kahn on his best known songs: "Aragon Mill," "People Like You" and "What You Do With What You Got." In addition to his own compositions, which have prompted justified comparisons to Woody Guthrie, Kahn performed a Ferron love song and an Aunt Molly Jackson monologue. The highlights of the show, though, were his love songs -- strongly sung, robustly melodic and deeply felt.
He was joined by popular sign-language interpreter Susan Freundlick, who turned Kahn's lyrics into mime and choreography. She and Kahn performed a key scene from Mark Medoff's play about the deaf, "Children of a Lesser God"; with Kahn accompanying on his beat-up acoustic guitar, Freundlick performed three political poems, the best of which was Amy Horowitz's "Letter From Jerusalem."