Mary Bogue: The Red Lipstick Blues

| November 23, 2015

Mary Bogue

The Red Lipstick Blues

Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, West Hollywood, CA, November 20, 2015

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes

Mary-Bogue-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Mary Bogue is red hot! Her singing is impeccable, her emotion is palpable and the way she connects to the blues is real.

Whether singing about triumph, tragedy or down-and-dirty raunch, Bogue had her audience caught up in the grit of the music and the passion behind the lyrics — not only with her vocals, but with amazing support from Musical Director Steve Rawlins on piano, a sure-fingered Clarence Brown on bass and, particularly, from an outstanding Nolan Shaheed on trumpet. Shaheed was so strong on so many solos that reverberated through the intimate space that it took a performer as strong as Bogue to hold onto the spotlight.

And hold onto it she did, with one powerful number after another, from a hip-swinging take on “’Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do” (Porter Grainger/Everett Robbins) to the delightful “Rocks in My Bed” (Duke Ellington) to a medley of torch songs with opposite points of view — “It’s Only a Man” (Hal Borne/Paul Francis Webster), which downplays one’s emotional attachments, combined with “My Man” (Jacques Charles/Channing Pollock/Albert Willemetz/Maurice Yvain), which involves surrender of one’s emotions.

Bogue opened the show with the haunting “Soul Shadows” (Joe Sample/Will Jennings), which included some self-penned lyrics saluting the ladies who sang the blues before her, including Billie and Ella and Etta and Bessie, with particular attention to one of the survivors — Linda Hopkins, on the verge of 91, seated at ringside and clapping her hands and shaking her head in apparent enjoyment as Bogue sang. Referring to Hopkins as a national treasure, Bogue sang one of Hopkins’ own compositions (written with Luis Rivera and Ralph Bass) — “I’m Going to Cry You Right Out of My Mind” — with power, passion and deep emotion.

Along the way there were other down-and-dirty ditties, including: Sippee Wallace’s “I’m a Very Tight Woman,” which was abetted with R-rated comments from Shaheed in between trumpet blasts; Leonard Feather’s “Evil Gal Blues,” a real show-stopper that Bogue seemed to revel in; and the original version of “Hound Dog” (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller), which ended up as an audience sing-a-long with Stoller himself looking on from the audience.

Bogue had two guests in the show: Sylester Major, who displayed terrific phrasing in an appropriately dramatic “Ol’ Man River” (Kern/Hammerstein) and a gentle, jazz-tinged “I Cover the Waterfront” (Johnny Green/Edward Heymann); plus Paul Horner, who — intrigued by the title of Bogue’s show in pre-show publicity — took over the piano to sing a song he wrote for the occasion called “Red Lipstick Blues,” in which lipstick becomes a metaphor for evil.

Mary Bogue is scheduled to appear at NYC’s Metropolitan Room on December 3.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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