Mary Bogue: The Red Lipstick Blues

| December 27, 2015

Mary Bogue

The Red Lipstick Blues

Metropolitan Room, NYC, December 3, 2015

Reviewed by Victoria Ordin for Cabaret Scenes

Mary-Bogue-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212For an hour or so, Los Angeles-based blues singer Mary Bogue and her dazzling band (Musical Director Steve Rawlins on piano, Calvin Hill on bass, and Jon Mark McGowan on trumpet) transformed the Metropolitan Room into a living and breathing museum of blues. From the first moments of the spoken overture about the ugly, painful history that gave rise to the blues—set to “Ol’ Man River”—one felt Bogue’s visceral connection to the music of Billie Holliday, Etta James, Sippie Wallace, Duke Ellington, and B.B. King. Like a rhapsode, she submerges her ego to the larger drama—by turns tragic, bawdy, and funny—she presents in both story and song.

The performer personalizes “Soul Shadows” (Sample/Jennings) with her own lyrics honoring her musical forerunners. Bogue’s enthusiastic rendering of “A Bad Case of the Blues” (Ons) provided a nice set-up for “It’s Only a Man” (Borne/Webster)/“My Man,” imaginatively arranged by Steve Rawlins and Marilyn Maye. In speaking about the grande dame of New York cabaret, Bogue lovingly captured Maye’s notorious bluntness. And nowhere was her passionate resolve to overcome life’s greatest setbacks clearer than in “I’m Going to Cry You Right Out of My Mind,” written by 92-year-old Linda Hopkins, the friend Bogue calls a “living legend.”

Even when Bogue is belting and swinging, one always detects in her voice (and her expressive green eyes) the vulnerability which draws her to this genre. “Evil Gal Blues” (Feather), “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do,” and “Rock Me Baby” (King) were all crowd pleasers. The audience’s disappointment as the show drew to a close was palpable. In a review of this length, one cannot do justice to Bogue’s alluring presence and colorful anecdotes, so I will simply say this: The Red Lipstick Blues is a cabaret experience not to be missed.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews

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