At the Duplex, Phil Geoffrey Bond and company present a wonderful tribute to singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.
The performance we caught offered a lot of music but no patter. Not so much as a syllable was uttered about the life and career of Mitchell; everything that Bond wanted said about this extraordinary artist was expressed through her music. No doubt there were people in the audience who might have liked some biographical information about the woman, but there was something clear and clean about the fact that this was a purely musical evening. It sure didn't hurt the pacing; the performers came out bang, bang, bang and knocked out a total of 14 songs.
Among the highlights of last Sunday's show: Sarajean Devenport sang "All I Want" with youthful innocence, Rachel Ulanet gave a strong performance of "California," and Suzanne Fiore displayed a pretty voice and a genuine dramatic sense in "A Case of You." Also notable were Gabrielle Stravelli's "Woman of Heart & Mind," Karen Mack's "Chelsea Morning," and Brandon Cutrell's "The Priest Song." One of the most pleasant surprises of the show was Baby Jane Dexter's very cool rendition of "Be Cool."
How cool would it be if Bond could expand the show to a full evening's worth of entertainment instead of just an hour? We've been saying for quite some time that the economics of cabaret need to be addressed. If the program were longer, the club could perhaps raise the price of admission a little bit -- and they would certainly sell more drinks if there was an intermission. Most important, the audience would be getting more for its money and the singers would have an even better showcase. It's a win-win situation!
Some people take issue with the idea of pop and rock songs being performed under the cabaret umbrella, but we say, "So what?" Standards come in all shapes and sizes, and cabaret isn't only about Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and the Gershwins. Just as their creations have stood the test of time, "The Circle Game," "Both Sides Now," and plenty of other Joni Mitchell songs will be with us for the rest of our lives.