The Old Songs of the Bowery, Live

The Bowery near Broome Street in 1895NYPL The Bowery in 1895.

Lately, the Bowery has started to look more like Dubai and a whole lot less like a poor man’s Broadway. But for at least three hours on Sunday, old-time songs will echo on the street once again, as a connoisseur of vaudeville songs and a historian lead a walking tour of music from the Bowery’s heyday. Bree Benton, accompanied by a viola and accordion, will sing songs like “My Brudda Sylvest,” and “Yiddle On Your Fiddle, Play Some Ragtime” (which was written by one of the former Lower East Side’s most famous sons, Irving Berlin.)

“The songs are so full of life, they really speak to the people — the common people,” said Ms. Benton, who will play the character of Poor Baby Bree, a down-and-out kid from the Lower East Side. “People who couldn’t afford to be entertained on Broadway; they went to the Bowery.”

The songs Ms. Benton will sing are meant to evoke the history of the various destinations on the tour, she said. At the Bowery Mission, Ms. Benton will sing — of course — “The Bowery.” “The lyrics are about just how rough it is on the Bowery. It seemed liked a good song to sing at the Bowery Mission,” she said.

Poor Baby BreeKristine Walsh Poor Baby Bree

The tour, which will include guest speakers, will also stop by the Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery (order the knishes ahead of time) and the Merchant’s House Museum.

“We’re talking about the spirit that pervaded the Bowery during most of its history, until very recently. A more rambunctious spirit,” said David Freeland, the historian accompanying Ms. Bree on the tour. “The Bowery was just more rowdy, more working class, but also a site where so many different immigrant communities came together.”

The inaugural tour is just a warm-up for Ms. Bree’s alter ego, who will take the stage for a series of shows at the Bowery Poetry Club starting next month.

“I think this was such a fun period of entertainment, the height of the vaudeville era,” she said.

The walking tour with songs from the Bowery begins at noon on Sunday, August 28 at the Bowery Mission. (227 Bowery between Rivington and Prince Streets). The tour is free. For more info check here.

Updated September 15 at 10:47 a.m. to correct the spelling of Ms. Benton’s last name. The Local regrets the error.