Brandon James Gwinn: Not Too Late

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Brandon James Gwinn

Not Too Late

The Duplex, NYC, April 13, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

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Brandon James Gwinn is probably known best for the years he has put in at Marie’s Crisis as pianist extraordinaire. This show was a delightful treat for regulars who showed up to support him at his EP release. Donning an American flag shirt beneath a button-up and cowboy boots, he looked every bit the modern Tennessee gentleman, only he was in Manhattan and, instead of splitting his originals with country ballads, he chose options with a little more Broadway musical/New Yorker vibe. One of the other flavors of the evening was certainly the fact that he is on his way across the country to tour with drag queen rock star Trixie Mattel. That’s a lot going on for this sterling pianist, as he also recorded two other CDs in the previous 12 months.

Gwinn shared his entire EP (which is on Spotify and iTunes) and named after the song “Not Too Late.” My favorite of his originals started, however, with “Stealing My Thunder,” about the jealousy that often wraps itself into the relationships between performers’ counterparts. It also became part of the theme of his show as he discussed his successes and years pressing the ivories while watching others, like the infamous Trixie Mattel and RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 queen Alexis Michelle, push onto further heights. I think we all can relate to the simple feeling of “Sometimes I think you’re doing it on purpose.

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Of course, he also sang songs about — and by — his friends. One of the most memorable of these was “Orange” or the “Sarah Fye” song, who was not at The Duplex for the show, because “she doesn’t live [in New York.]” While a little crass, it did grab a lot of laughs, just as most of Gwinn’s commentary between songs did, when he sang, “I am an orange, you’re an orange/let’s go fuck like oranges do.” He also selected one of Trixie Mattel’s best known numbers called “Little Sister” and added a little listless passion for the line, “If you only lived here, did you ever really live at all?

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To round out the evening, he also performed Marie’s Crisis standbys (and hopefully nationwide tour faves): The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World” (Alan Menken/Howard Ashman) and Sondheim’s “By the Sea” (Sweeney Todd). You can find him in a variety of places clearly, but if you stop into Marie’s, you’ll know him instantly by his line said after The Little Mermaid number, “Here at Marie’s, we always sing the reprise.”

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see