Great Women of Song: From Billie to Bette
If you ever dreamed of gathering all your favorite female vocalists for one night and spending the evening listening to their signature numbers while you sat back and nursed a drink, then you'll be interested to know that local chanteuse Lannie Garrett has the same dream.
Garrett has done unique covers of the great big-band hits, the songs for lovers, Django Reinhardt's and Stephane Grappelli's hits from the Hot Club of France, a fun knockoff of Patsy Cline for the annual stock show and her favorite themes from famous movies.
Photo: Alana Rothstein
Her new show, in front of tastefully colorized and sequined posters of Judy Garland, Billie Holiday and Patsy Cline, recounts compelling biographical details of these immortal divas—as well as Nina Simone, Bette Midler, Dusty Springfield, Edith Piaf, Bonnie Raitt, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Bessie Smith, Jo Stafford and Janis Joplin—before launching into unique interpretations and arrangements of their songs, seasoned with a sprinkling of impersonation in phrasing and inflection.
From Robin Ruscio's moody, bass-only accompaniment on "Walkin' After Midnight" to a rollicking "Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer," Garrett and her talented quintet put a new twist on the classics as well as some lesser-known compositions. Her English rendition of Piaf's "Hymn to Love" is sure to bring out the handkerchiefs.
Always the engaging hostess, Garrett adds to the festivities with forays into the audience to collar a mature gentleman for Peggy Lee's "Big Spender" and to dance with an 81-year old girlfriend to Bessie Smith's roadhouse rhythms.
Bob Rebholz's plaintive sax and Justin Adams' magic on the 88s get things in gear with "My Baby Just Cares for Me," and they continue throughout the card with choice riffs.
Mike Abbot's superb guitar work ranges from vibe-like atmospherics to some fancy licks around Bonnie Raitt's "Give It Up or Let Me Go" and the electric cries that punctuate "Piece of My Heart," Janis Joplin's anthem from the early days in San Francisco with Big Brother and the Holding Company
Todd Reid on the drums keeps everyone in the groove.
As a musical revue, "Great Women of Song" is a blend of satisfying favorites and obscure historical material that sometimes thrills and sometimes leaves us wanting something more definitive. Even so, Garrett never fails to sell the song.
Lannie Garrett's Great Women of Song: From Billie to Bette runs Fridays and Saturdays through October 24th. 303-293-0075.