Barbara and Scott
The Two of Clubs

Cabaret Goes Country

Southern Comfort
Scott Coulter, Tom Andersen and
Tim Di Pasqua

They call their show Southern Comfort, but it’s more like Tenor Lightning. Tom Andersen, Scott Coulter and Tim Di Pasqua – three of cabaret’s most accomplished tenors - have joined forces to put on a dazzling country music show. Accompanied by Di Pasqua on piano, plus three sensational shit-kicker instrumentalists, Tim Kiah on bass, Alan Grubner of fiddle, and Marc Daine on guitar/banjo, this is a cabaret act that boasts a refreshing, bright sheen of professionalism.

These three singers are each terrific musicians with great voices, but together they are a heavenly choir with harmonies to die for. They have assembled an act that allows each to shine in their solo turns, but also gives full range to their glorious group work. In their slyly chosen opening number, "High Lonesome Sound," their sound is plenty high and lonesome only because there is no one in cabaret who sings higher than they do. During the course of the show, the usually soulful Andersen plays the comic card to great effect singing "Blame It On Your Heart," while Coulter brings sobs out of the audience singing "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Di Pasqua’s best number is a country-inspired song from his own pen called "One Thing."

The first two-thirds of the show consists mostly of less-known but deeply evocative country tunes. Having promised familiar songs, as well, at the end of their act they launch into a long medley of famous country hits that crossed over into mainstream acceptance. With these songs they clinch their argument about the enduring popularity of country music, while also singing the hell out of tunes like "Take Me Home Country Roads," "On the Road Again," "King of the Road," Make the World Go Away," "I Will Always Love You," and a slew of others.

As regular readers may know, we’re not generally fond of medleys. We would rather they fully performed each and every one of the ten songs in that medley, largely because they sing them so damned well. Besides, this show could easily sustain being a ninety minute concert rather than a sixty minute cabaret act.

Southern Comfort plays one more date at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on Friday, August 18th at 7 PM.

Cabaret’s Best Friend: Jamie deRoy

One of cabaret’s most venerable and valuable institutions is the variety show Jamie deRoy & Friends. If you want to see stars from other fields try their hands at cabaret, as well as catch established cabaret artists and up-and-comers on their climb, deRoy will provide it all in a sparkling ninety minutes. A careful producer, she puts each of her shows together with consummate care; in other words, each Jamie deRoy & Friends blends a wide variety of musical styles inclusive of jazz, pop, country and standards, not to mention a mix of standup comedy. She is, indeed, the Ed Sullivan of cabaret, except she’s a damned sight better looking. She’s also a specialist in parody songs, most of which are written for her by the talented Barry Kleinbort who also directs these variety extravaganzas. Light, fast and fun, these shows are one of contemporary cabaret’s most entertaining mainstays. Look for more Jamie deRoy & Friends shows in the Fall.

A Wolk on the Wild Side

Amy Wolk is an appealing young talent who recently performed – for one night only - her award-winning debut show, A Wolk in Progress, at the Metropolitan Room. We saw this show in its original incarnation and Wolk’s progress is clearly evident. Her, voice, while sometimes harsh when she belts, is otherwise much improved. The best part of her show, then and now, is the product of her personality; she’s very funny, and she has become increasingly comfortable on stage making her comic delivery even more clean, crisp, and entirely natural.

Diva Night at the Friar’s Club

Randie Levine-Miller produced a yearly extravaganza at The Friar’s Club called Diva Night. The only rules were that either the singer or the songwriters whose works were performed had to be (or have been) Friars. It was an uneven night of entertainment but two ringers and two surprises helped turn the show into a success. The two ringers were Broadway stars Mary Testa and Lisa Howard, both of whom stunningly performed a couple of songs each. No surprises there. Rena Strober, whom we did not know, but who had recently returned from performing a lead role in the musical Zhivago in La Jolla, stirred the Friars (making them stir-fried?) with a bold version of "Tits & Ass." Another surprise was Levine-Miller herself, who was a genuine revelation singing with verve and attitude – not to mention on pitch (a virtue not everyone that night could lay claim to). Levine-Miller was nothing if not genuine show biz!

-- Barbara and Scott Siegel

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