Mary Elizabeth Micari: Reverend Mary Is the Lady in Black

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Mary Elizabeth Micari

Reverend Mary Is the Lady in Black

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, June 9, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Mary Elizabeth Micari

Reverend Mary Elizabeth Micari brought her talent to Don’t Tell Mama for an evening of tasteful reminiscing on love (unfortunately, usually lost) with her extraordinarily unique song choices that she seems to whisk out of the world that once was, such as “There Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth the Salt of My Tears” (Fred Fisher). Digging up the past is a habit of Micari’s—her past and others—and it makes for a little magic when you combine music from from 1910 through the 1950s with the diaries of a young performer in high school, college, and eventually early New York.

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The indelible theme: love, and how good and sucky it can be at the same time.

It helps that Micari’s love life has some interesting flavor. When she digs into her diaries, she finds plenty of nuggets. From simple things, like getting a guy to look in her direction, her stories quickly unfold, including the one about riding a bike home after her “first time,” and another about getting a postcard, a decade after a breakup, from a man who got away. One thing is clear: If she set out to get men, she did, and we had a good time laughing about it a decade later. A pair of my favorite songs were Buddy Johnson’s “Since I Fell for You” (1945) and Harry Warren and Edgar Leslie’s “Wasting My Love on You” (1930). Alan Lighty’s work on the guitar on “Since I Fell for You” added a lot, especially considering a big band arrangement had been pared down to him alone. Throughout the whole set, Dan Furman’s work on the keys and his music direction impressed.

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Also joining the group was John Dinello on bass and percussion.

Ending on other jazz classics, like “Cry Me a River” (Arthur Hamilton) and a “Good Man Is Hard to Find” (Eddie Green), Micari’s magic continued to hit the right note. By the end of the night, she had brought us through five decades of music and fewer-than-that decades of love. There were good times and bad times and a lot of lessons learned, although the one that sticks with me the most is the simplest of all: “’You Don’t Know What Love Is’ until you’ve learned the meaning of the blues.”

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