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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 28, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 22
A Dyke About Town: Incredible old timers Pinetop Perkins and Martin Charnin
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A Dyke About Town: Incredible old timers Pinetop Perkins and Martin Charnin

by Mercy Moosemuzzle - SGN Contributing Writer

Pinetop Perkins
The blues Pinetop Perkins played at the age of 95 at Jazz Alley last week amazed Mercy and Cuteness. Bass player Bob Stroger opened by singing a song he had played with Jimmy Reeves, 'White Lights, Big City,' with his nice, big voice. 'CC Rider' and 'I've Got the Keys to the Highway' had nice turns by guitarist Little Frank Krakowski.

Willie "Big Eyes" Smith came to the stage with a big smile of appreciation toward the guitarist. He knocked Mercy and Cuteness' socks off singing and playing harmonica on his song "I'd Rather Be With an Old Woman," which he had written 30 years ago. He also nailed "I Was Born in Arkansas," "I Just Want to Be Your Lover Man," and "You Talking About Your Woman, I Wish You Could See Mine."

Pinetop Perkins was led to the piano, with his gray hair and lanky body. His fingers smoked on "Chicken Delight," "How Long Baby," and "Down in Mississippi," inspiring the harmonica, bass, guitar, and Kenny Smith on drums to rock out with him. His voice rang out for "The Ladies Call Me Pinetop Perkins." Willie Smith, with his luscious voice, joined him on "I Got My Mojo Working, But it Just Won't Work on You." Mercy could see why their new CD is going to be called Joined at the Hip.

Willie Smith joked, "Buy one of our CDs and give it to someone you don't like." Perkins left the stage, and Smith and the rest of the band played delightful encores of "I Know My Baby" and "The Hoo Doo Man."

Cuteness said, "He's pretty spry for an old man. It's amazing he still tours."

Amelia
Mercy and her friend Jewel went to see Amelia, which is the first commission by Seattle Opera. They started with the pre-talk, which involved Jonathan Dean interviewing librettist Gardner McFall. Mercy is still feeling sad about the death of Perry Lorenzo, who also kept her laughing for many years doing those talks.

McFall has written poetry, particularly the book The Pilot's Daughter, which dealt with the death of her father, who had been a bomber in Vietnam. That story has been adapted to Amelia. Mercy and Jewel agreed the libretto and Stephen Wadsworth's staging were involving. Kate Lindsey, William Burden, and Nathan Gunn acted well and sang beautifully. Jane Eaglen shone as her aunt, who is a midwife.

Mercy found the music by Daron Aric Hagen forgettable. Jewel wished it had been a rock opera or a movie with a '60s soundtrack.

On the other hand, Assonance and Desire Didactic, another friend of Mercy's, loved the music. Assonance felt the orchestral music, in particular, was moving. While Desire had to agree with Mercy that although there was no music she could sing from the score, she found it uplifting in its metaphor of flight.

The night Jewel and Mercy saw Amelia was LGBT night. Mercy agreed with Jewel that every night is LGBT night at the opera, and decided not to even look in on the reception.

Follies
Mercy and Cuteness are very much looking forward to seeing the Showtunes concert version of Sondheim's Follies, at The Moore Theatre in Seattle on June 5 and 6.

"Follies remains one of the sure-fire argument starters in the musical theater," read the original recording's liner notes. "The show smudges the lines between reality and theater & challenging an audience to abandon its illusions, not just about the theater, but life itself."

Newsweek said, "It's a brilliant show, wonderfully entertaining, extraordinarily intelligent with a stunning direct appeal. & Sondheim must be credited with as brilliant a burst of creativity as American theater has seen in a long time."

Filled with favorites like "Broadway Baby," "Losing My Mind," and "I'm Still Here," musical comedy doesn't get any better, and as cults go, this isn't a bad one to join. We've all had the experience of leaving a performance of a play so powerful that we can't quite adjust once it ends.

Mercy wants you to know you can get your tickets for a reasonable $15 or $25 at www.stgpresents.org.

Pearl Django
Mercy is really looking forward to seeing Pearl Django's CD release celebration, including the welcoming of guitarist Troy Chapman and farewell to guitarist Neil Andersson on June 15-16 at Jazz Alley. Band members include Troy Chapman (guitar) and Ryan Hoffman (guitar), Rick Leppanen (bass), Michael Gray (violin), and David Lange (accordion).

The music pioneered by Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and his partner in swing, violinist Stephane Grappelli, is still utter bliss in the esteemed hands of Pearl Django, now celebrating their 15th year of performing and recording. With a continuously fresh and entrancing sound, bands like Pearl Django rejuvenate a love and talent for "Gypsy swing," a style that was once the height of sophistication. With urbanity, romance, and a sense of urgency, the music of Pearl Django reaches out to the sophisticates of a new millennium as something joyful and timeless. Gypsy jazz and "hot club" music has been enjoying a major resurgence across the United States, and Pearl Django continues to be one of the busiest proponents of that style. Pearl Django's followers include Reinhardt and Grappelli fans, guitarists and guitar enthusiasts who relish nimble and intricate picking, world music fans drawn to French and Gypsy accents, plus jazz buffs and aficionados of the swing scene.

The band has been one of Mercy's favorites for a long time. You can get your tickets at www.jazzalley.com.

Memories of Lenny
Mercy wants you to know you can hear Memories of Lenny by Martin Charnin free in the Paramount Theatre lobby, Monday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m.

This free event includes Martin Charnin's (one of the original West Side Story Jets) personal reminiscences of Leonard Bernstein, and features a never-before heard reading of a 1987 conversation recorded at the Dramatist Guild in New York between Bernstein, Sondheim, Lawrence, and Robbins, with Seattle actors portraying the four giants. Bernstein songs performed by a Showtunes cast member will round out the event. This free event is part of the Seattle Celebrates Bernstein Festival. To learn more, visit www.seattlecelebratesbernstein.org.

Martin Charnin, who has been involved in the creation of over 125 plays and musicals, is best known for creating, directing and writing the lyrics to Annie. He began his theatrical career as an actor in the original company of West Side Story.

The West Side Story experience had a profound and lasting influence on Mr. Charnin. He will reminisce about those indelible moments with Robbins, Laurents, Sondheim, and particularly Leonard Bernstein, recalling those early rehearsal days, and his 1,000-performance tenure as a Jet.

No Bernstein memories can be called to mind without some actual singing, and Charnin will have his wife, the Broadway star Shelly Burch, performing several songs from West Side Story. There is a rumor that Charnin himself will try to remember "Gee Officer Krupke" and croak out a note or two. (He introduced the song in 1957).

Recreating the 1987 conversation will be Charnin, Mark Rabe, David Koch, and Victor Pappas. Maggie Stenson Pehrson, Showtunes' executive director, will serve as moderator of this unique segment.

A question and answer period will follow this 60-minute event, where Mr. Charnin will reveal as much as he can - except his age. Be there! There will never be a West Side Story experience like this again!

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