Steve Tyrell

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Steve Tyrell

Café Carlyle, NYC, April 16, 2019

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes

Steve Tyrell
Photo: David Andrako

He is a must-see entertainer at the Café Carlyle during the winter holiday season, but actually, any time of the year is the right time for Steve Tryell. The affable Texan is back for the spring holidays with familiar songs, his Grade A-Plus band with its vibrant rhythmic backup and bluegrass twang, and his lineup of shining gems of the Great American Songbook spanning many decades.
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As a teenager, he began singing rhythm and blues in Texas with local bands, and decades later he was sailing on the charts with 12 CDs, all featuring classic popular songs performed with his signature whiskey tone and laid-back swing. He has worn many hats in the music business, not only recording his own albums, but producing, arranging, and writing for others. He provided a sound track for two popular film revivals—Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride, Part Two—and was offered a spot performing Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields’ “The Way You Look Tonight” along with a light swinging take of “On the Sunny Side of the Street” (Jimmy McHugh/Dorothy Fields). That led to his headlining the best nightclubs with songs that are by now, entrenched in his soul. The good part is that these songs are also entrenched in our own souls, and this makes his shows a feel-good part of any holiday season.

At the Café Carlyle, he opened with the good-time vibe of “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” (Harry Woods) and then went into romance mode with “It Had to Be You” (Isham Jones/Gus Kahn).

After the Golden Age standards, he took another oldie by Woods, “Try a Little Tenderness,” and gave it an Otis Redding spin (sort of), as he spoke about new standards from the ’60s and after.

He mentioned Van Morrison’s “Someone Like You” as one of the most romantic songs he knows.

A special shout-out went to Tyrell’s appreciation for Burt Bacharach and Hal David who, especially with Dionne Warwick, worked magic with Tyrell, who offered the classics like “The Look of Love.
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” and his encore, “That’s What Friends Are For.”

He tells the story of “Always on My Mind” and how it came to be written by Wayne Carson (with Johnny Christopher and Mark James) for Elvis Presley, although others recorded it long before it became a hit for Elvis and a staple in his concerts.

Tyrell is a comfortable fit at the Café Carlyle. He brings in the regulars, his patter comes easy and, reaching around the room, he shares family news and stories of his life, delivering a musical holiday delight any time of the year.

Elizabeth Ahlfors

Born and raised in New York, Elizabeth graduated from NYU with a degree in Journalism. She has lived in various cities and countries and now is back in NYC. She has written magazine articles and published three books: A Housewife’s Guide to Women’s Liberation, Twelve American Women, and Heroines of ’76 (for children). A great love was always music and theater—in the audience, not performing. A Philadelphia correspondent for and InTheatre Magazine, she has reviewed theater and cabaret for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia City News. She writes for Cabaret Scenes and other cabaret/theater sites. She is a judge for Nightlife Awards and a voting member of Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle.