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Bits & Bytes
Joanne Klein & Marc Smason extended at Amore, Pianist Ruby Bishop charms on Mondays at Martin's, Seattle's Arnaldo! readies New York cabaret at Crepe
by Milton W. Hamlin - SGN A&E Writer

For this Labor Day Weekend-with Bumbershoot taking the arts and entertainment focus for Emerald City out-and-abouters-Bits&Bytes takes a quick look at the hard working Seattle artists who entertain week in and week out, often in low profile venues. Many of these talented entertainers do double duty-acting on-stage on the weekends, singing at a local pub a couple nights of week, hoping for a voice over now and then. Most have day jobs that pay the rent-and often subsidize their arts career. A few have been heard to mutter that most revered phrase-"trust funds."

Seattle seems to have no end to its entertainment scene. Take a look:

Among the hard working entertainers in Seattle, Joanne Klein and Marc Smason have to be at the top of the list. Smason-"trombone and vocals"-appears all over town week in and week out. With endless partnering, Smason hosts Marc's Open Music Workshop at Capitol Hill's On The House one Tuesday and returns another week with Smason's Jazz Workshop. Teamed with two instrumentalists, he headlines Buzzin' With& at the Lake City Farmer's Market. One night he heads a trio called Better World. The next, another grouping plays as the Marc Smason Trio.

Teamed with Joanne Klein-a triple threat actress/singer/cabaret headliner - they have appeared the first and third Sundays all summer at Amore, a popular Belltown-area café at 5th and Bell. It's rare that a musician gets a steady, reoccurring performance slot, and Klein and Smason, with various keyboard artists, have been steadily building a following at the Italian restaurant. And-great news-chef/owner Sean Langan has just extended the trio's booking through October. Langan, a long time Seattle restaurateur, has an intriguing entertainment line-up, and is happy that Klein and Smason are "catching on." He clearly wants his restaurant to be "the kind of spot" that features jazz and other live entertainment on a regular basis.

Bits&Bytes has made the every-other-Sunday appearances a regular focus this summer (and, full disclosure, counts Klein and Smason as "best-est friends" among Seattle musicians and entertainers). An early summer evening opened with the Gershwins' "'S Wonderful," a bouncy starter just right for a warm summer night. "Come On Home," a repertoire staple, followed. Cole Porter's once naughty "Let's Misbehave" delighted the crowd.

Craig Hoyer, the talented pianist that night (and many Sunday nights-but not all) charmed the audience with his tale of early childhood music interests.

"My family had no connection to music-I knew I had to play, but I had no knowledge of what that meant. I was so 'out of it' that I truly believed that the famous composer Cole Porter was the coal porter who brought fuel to our furnace&."

The night turned quiet as Klein took over with a plaintive "Where Is Love?" from Oliver! A teasing "(Say It) Over And Over Again" showed Klein at her musical best-part the eternal seductress, part the playful actress. Then it was back to the Gershwins with an upbeat "It's Nice Work If You Can Get It." Then back to ballad-land with Irving Berlin's immortal "Always." Back to the Gershwins and Broadway with a spirited "Of Thee I Sing, Baby." The first set ended with a sensitive "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To."

Another Sunday's second set opened with "Love For Sale" and followed with "The Look Of Love." An elegant "My Ship" turned the set into a sad, reflective mood which continued with "But Not For Me" and the haunting "Emily" and "You Don't Know What Love Is (Until You've Learned The Meaning Of The Blues)."

Another Sunday found Klein swingin' away with "Too Close For Comfort" early in the evening. A quick bossa nova trip to Brazil gave the set an upbeat Latin flavor. A reflective "(Song Were Made To Sing) While We're Young" delighted the patrons. "If I Had A Ribbon Bow To Tie My Hair," a fixture in the Klein/Smason songbook for decades, followed and charmed regular and new fans.

The second set opened with a melancholy "We Kiss In The Shadows" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved The King And I. Marc,who is singing more and more this summer, took the focus with the rarely revived "Blue Gardenia," alternating sax solos with the sad, sad lyrics. A spirited duo with "Will You Still Be Mine?" brought up the tempo. ·(Klein and Smason are partnered on stage and off&for those who were wondering.)

Smason and Klein start their two month extension at Amore this Sunday at 7 p.m. Check it out. Details and directions at 770-0606. See ya there. Full programming info on Smason's many appearances is available at www.marcsmason.com.

And Klein's current stage role-the showstopping Master Of The Market in the spirited musical/revue, North Arcade, at the Market Theatre-has been extended through mid-September. Ticket info at 325-6500.

(One last reference to "hard working" entertainers: Smason plays this Sunday afternoon from 3-5 p.m. at C&P Coffee in West Seattle. Klein has a 2 p.m. matinee of North Arcade. Then-then!-they arrive "refreshed and ready" for three hours at Amore, starting at 7 p.m.)

Another hard working Emerald City entertainer-and one who is truly a "living legend"-Ruby Bishop continues to delight a loyal, supportive Monday night crowd each week at Martin's Off-Madison. One of many keyboard artists who make Martin's a true, old fashioned "piano bar," Bishop "has been around forever" and has the stories to prove it. (On a reflective night, she delights in delighting her fans with tales of "fixin' dinner for Satchmo and his boys" when they toured in the 1950s.)

"I play the old songs that nobody bothers to play anymore," Bishop quips to her loyal Seattle fans-many going back 40 or more years-when she starts promptly at 8 p.m. "Lookin' good" and playing well, the stylish Bishop rolls back the decades as she launches into Rodgers & Hart's "Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered." She starts the tune straight but slips in a little stride piano, a little bit of jelly role fingering, but then it's back to the classic ballad styling.

"Twilight Time," "What Kind Of Fool Am I?" and "Stop, You're Driving Me Crazy" follow. Heavenly shades of the immortal "Stardust" continue the set. A Scott Joplin tribute follows with The Theme from The Sting obviously pleasing the crowd. "Misty" and "From Here To Eternity" follow, giving a plaintive note to the evening. A perfect contrast-"You're Feets Too Big"-with Bishop's croaky vocals brings fun fun fun back to the evening. An elegant "When They Begin The Beguine" turns Martin's into a sophisticated New York nightclub, circa 1940, if only for a few Cole Porter minutes. "Moonglow" follows-another musical trip to Nostalgia Land.

Bishop adds vocals with an up-tempo "Hard Hearted Hannah" but turns serious with "Guess Who I Saw Today?" A perfect first set closing, "God Bless The Child (Who's Got His Own)," showcases Bishop's vocal talents and keyboard artistry. One hour into the three hour gig, Bishop had played 17 songs, added a few comic one-liners, told a story or two. And she had two more hours to go&.What a talent.

Martin's Off Madison features piano entertainment nightly-with a variation or two. Thursday nights brings Bonnie Birch, billed as "Seattle's premiere accordion chanteuse" with French and Italian bistro favorites "and the de rigueur polka." (Note To Bits&Bytes Himself-Check It Out.)

An "open mike" format is featured Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Friday and Saturdays feature two keyboard artists, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. with "occasional guest singers" at the late night set on Friday and a "rotating cabaret" Saturdays in the second set. Julie Cascioppo-one of Bits&Bytes' favorites-headlines Sept. 8, 15 and 21. Live entertainment every night at Martin's-stop by and check it out for yourself.

Arnaldo!-"Seattle's favorite drag chanteuse"-is heading back to New York in late September for his second year of cabaret shows. The talented-and very popular-singer offers Just An Old Fashioned Girl for just two performances next weekend on the cabaret stage at Crepe de Paris in downtown Seattle. He plays Friday and Saturday, September 7 and 8, at 8:30 p.m.

As usual, the popular French restaurant offers a three course dinner/theater package for $50 or "show only" admission at $20 with an ala carte menu available. Arnaldo-"in boy drag"-is a member of the Seattle Men's Chorus and has "millions of fans" in the Emerald City. Most of them will be at the Crepe-his first appearance in the Cabaret At The Crepe series. Reservations-a must-at 623-4111. Yea, go ahead and tell 'em Bits&Bytes told you to call&.

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