Tribute to Peggy Lee

[This review ran in the Denver Post on April 5th.]

Two of our best local chanteuses, good friends Lannie Garrett and Alex Ryer, pay fond tribute to Peggy Lee, who inspired both of them as kids, in a lively cabaret review and reminiscence of the artist's songs, career, and life.

(Left to right) Alex Ryer and Lannie Garrett
Alex Ryer and Lannie Garrett
Photo: DanielK Photography
Though Lee is most often remembered for her unique, smoky style as a jazz vocalist, Garrett and Ryer take their show beyond the appealing 22 numbers they perform, adding (their own and Lee's) personal details and background, bantering in the manner that Lee favored in her own performances.

Flanked by four larger-than-life publicity photos of the come-hither Lee, Garrett and Ryer put their stamp on Miss Peggy's fabulous songbook, the lyrics for many of which the multitalented performer wrote. As always, Garrett's band, "The Errand Boys of Rhythm," run hot, cool, or swing as the mood demands, to Jeff Jenkins' snappy arrangements.

After their warm-ups, Garrett and Ryer get the club stoked with "I'm a Woman," drawing on Lee's steamy sexuality, for which she was famous. She was a pioneer in this regard in Caucasian culture, drawing inspiration from African-American songstress Lil Green. Lee's 1943 recording of Green's "Why Don't You Do Right?" with Bennie Goodman was her first #1 hit, selling over a million copies. Ryer's sassy impersonation of Lee on this one, along with Bob Rebholtz's sizzling sax, keep things hopping.

Lannie Garrett
Lannie Garrett
Photo: DanielK Photography
Garrett's trademark blues mastery shines in "Don't Let My Love Grow Cold," an aching tale that includes an awesome musical conversation between Denver's favorite redhead and Mike Abbott's red hot guitar.

In addition to Rebholtz and Abbott, Justin Adams on keyboards, Robin Ruscio on bass, and Todd Reid on drums dazzle us with their versatility.

Garrett has a great time luxuriating in Lee's magnetic aura while cozying up to the men in the audience during "Big Spender," another hit for Lee who was warned away from the piece—told that it was written for a whole chorus line—once again proving that Peggy could bring it like no other.

Alex Ryer
Alex Ryer
Photo: DanielK Photography
Ryer follows suit in a lively "I'm Gonna Go Fishin'," finding some big trout in the audience for whom to dangle the bait.

Among Lee's signature pieces covered by Garrett and Ryer are "I Wanna Be Around," "Fever," "Sunny Side of the Street," "See See Rider," "Is That All There Is?", "All Right, Okay, You Win," and "I'll Be Seeing You," the finale accompanied by a sweet visual tribute.

And lest we forget, Garrett and Ryer remind us that Lee was nominated for an Oscar in 1955 for her supporting role in "Pete Kelly's Blues," and in the same year did four of the voices and sang in Walt Disney's animated mega-hit "The Lady and the Tramp."

Peggy Lee left us in 2002, 82 years young, still swinging it from her wheelchair. Garrett and Ryer do her proud.

Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret presents Tribute to Peggy Lee through May 3rd. 303-293-0075.

Bob Bows


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