The Two of Clubs
Our Jazz Ship(ley) Had Come In
Thos Shipley sings at the intersection of jazz and theater. He takes lyric-driven songs, to which he applies his sophisticated jazz chops and his golden voice - and he then support those lyrics in high style. He's all about interpreting songs; the pretty sounds he makes are part of the luster of the lyric. Over the course of his mesmerizing show at The Encore, his results run the gamut from fascinating to brilliant.
Backed by the talented twosome of Joe Barbato at the piano and Jerome Harris on bass, Shipley stands center stage, confident and commanding. He plants his feet and does something few jazz singers do: he sings from his heart. Whether he stings an uptempo tune like "Let's Fall in Love," a power ballad such as "Unchained Melody," or a gospel number of his own creation called "Sunday in New York," he imbues them intelligence combined with deep feeling. You can catch him at The Encore in a benefit performance on June 12 at 7 PM and in his regular show on June 13 at 9:30 PM.
Well, you could have knocked us over with an 8 x 10 glossy of Madonna when we saw the packed house at David Gurland's Neurotica, a cheeky tribute to Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie. The Encore was full-to-bursting with a crowd that was totally into Gurland's playful celebration of all things Madonna.
We hasten to say at this point that we didn't get any of the references nor did we know very many of the tunes. And after hearing so many of them, we're not much inclined to hear them again, either. Not that Gurland doesn't sing them well, because he does, but there's no meat on the bones of these tunes. Many of them are repetitious to the point of boredom. At least that's they way they sound to us. On the level of pure showmanship, however, Gurland put on a strong showing that was only marred by a certain amount of self-indulgent patter late in the act that drained the show of some of its momentum.
Gurland will be bringing Neurotica back to town shortly for one performance only during Gay Pride Week. Find out when and where at www.davidgurland.com.
Blue Jupiter is Far Out
Think Toxic Audio, excise the musical taste, and you've got Blue Jupiter, the latest electronic a cappella vocal group making a big noise in a series of shows at Don't Tell Mama. Hey, these guys are very talented; they don't hit clinker notes and they offer swell harmonies. But when all is said and sung, they're just making sounds, not really singing songs. Oh, their songs have titles, a few of which we actually know, but they aren't trying to enhance the meaning of those songs with their vocal pyrotechnics; they are merely trying to sound great. And they do - except the bass was painfully loud the night we saw them.
Singing mostly a variety of pop and rock tunes, some of which might kindly be described as lyric-challenged, resulted in a show with little on its mind but much in its mouth. Once you get past the novelty of a vocal group creating the sounds of musical instruments, the songs themselves have to have some import. When they do standards, or any songs with heart and soul - we'll go back to see them again. In the meantime, Blue Jupiter seems to fit its name: Big, cold and distant.
Show and Tell
Multi-talented Collette Hawley is performing every Monday night in June at Don't Tell Mama. A comedienne with a whip-smart attitude, she also sings, having starred in the Off-Broadway musical Avenue X. Edgy and always surprising, she's always worth catching.
Steven Ray Watkins is bringing his show Guilty Pleasure, Vol. 1; Olivia Newton-John to The Encore on Wednesdays June 15, 22, 29 at 7 PM and on Fridays June 17, 24, and July 1 at 9:30 PM. This looks like a potential standout. He's got three backup singers, a four piece band, and whole lot of charisma and talent.
Jamie deRoy & Friends, the most consistently entertaining variety show in cabaret, has its last show of its current run on Thursday, June 30 at 7:30 PM at The Encore. These events always sell out so make your reservation early and be prepared for a generous evening of talent in a wide variety of tastes and styles. deRoy is a warm and welcoming host in a show that has nurtured some of our most beloved nightlife stars.
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