Rita Wilson

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Rita Wilson

Café Carlyle, NYC, October 10, 2017

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Rita Wilson
Photo: David Andrako

I have to admit that when I am asked to review a vocalist doing a program of predominantly new material, I  approach it with a bit of trepidation. What will it sound like? Will I understand the words? Will I know the titles? Will the songs resonate with me? My trepidation disappeared shortly after Rita Wilson took the Café Carlyle stage. Her voice, beauty, humor, engaging personality, and excellent enunciation made for a delightful evening.

Although country-rock is not my genre of choice, I found myself tapping my fingers to the beat. Wilson said that, as a young girl, she listened to all genres of popular music, but liked country music best, because it told the best stories. Most of the songs that she co-wrote and performed told interesting stories.

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Her opening number, “Along for the Ride,” an autobiographical song about growing up in Southern California trying to be cool, performed with great energy and humor, set the stage for the rest of the show. Going back to her youth, Wilson performed a medley of the only two selections of the evening that she did not have a hand in writing: “Ode to Billie Joe” and “Harper Valley P.

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The wonderful “New Girl” is about a wife coming across a text from her husband to his paramour saying, ”My wife is going out of town, so we can have a great time” and the wife’s response to the textee. “Pay Me in Wine” is a great saloon song, performed country style, with the line “I did not come here to dance/I came here to drink.

” The introspective “Look How Far We’ve Come” is about a couple almost breaking up, but ending by staying together.

Her closer, “Throw Me a Party,” explains what to tell friends and family to do after the narrator has passed away. Wilson’s enunciation is perfect, which makes each story have an impact, especially with the energy she brings.

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.