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REVIEW: Nellie McKay @ Berbati’s Pan (Portland, OR – 3/31/10)

1st Apr 10 (Thu) 4 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

Nellie McKay‘s most recent album, As Normal As Blueberry Pie, came out last year, and while different from her prior records, it definitely fit in her catalog nicely.  It featured her at her campiest but also her jazziest, versus her edgier side. For evidence of the campiness, check out the lovely publicity shots over on nelliemckay.com.  The serious and silliness perfectly fit her personality.  I wouldn’t want Nellie any other way.

On to the show…

The venue, Berbati’s Pan, was known to me more for its rock acts.  The “jazzy, bluesy, singer-songwriter evening” in store for us was bound to be a big question mark regarding how it would come across… well, it was delightful.  The lighting and small couches on the outskirts of the club made for a nice atmosphere.  We got to the show just before Howard went on.  Most of the people were hanging out on the chairs & couches; so we got some spots right up front.

Howard Fishman opened up the show and hit the stage around 8:45pm.  He played guitar in Nellie’s backing band, the Aristocrats, last fall.  He played a good set of bluesy standards and originals.  He had a lap steel guitarist, Henry Bogdan, playing with him.  He played about 25-30 minutes, primarily “upbeat blues” tunes… with a few darker tunes thrown in near the end.  Some of my favorites were “The One Rose (That’s Left in My Heart),” a silly song about the Red Sox, and the capper called “Best Days.”

After a short break, Nellie hit the stage alongside both Howard and Henry around 9:20pm.  Her set was a more stripped down version of what she brought to Seattle last fall.  A great selection of Doris Day and other older standards, with a few of her own songs thrown in for good measure.  Her originals were some of my favorites for the night – specifically “Toto Dies” and “The Dog Song.”  The newer cover tunes added to her setlist – “Small Day Tomorrow” and “Two Sleepy People” – were really great as well.

She was a giddy and lovable as usual… very jokey and generally in a delightful mood.

Setlist: about 75 minutes

  • Do Do Do (Doris Day cover)
  • Sentimental Journey (Doris Day Cover)
  • A Wonderful Guy (Doris Day cover)
  • Georgie Girl (The Seekers cover)
  • Mean to Me (Doris Day cover)
  • Prisoner of Love (Kitty Wells cover)
  • Close Your Eyes (Doris Day cover)
  • “Happy Birthday” (to Becky)
  • If I Ever Had a Dream
  • Toto Dies
  • P.S. I Love You
  • Mother of Pearl
  • Alone When It Rains (duet with Howard Fishman)
  • The Dog Song
  • A-Tisket, A-Tasket (Ella Fitzgerald cover)
  • Small Day Tomorrow (Bob Dorough / Fran Landesman cover)
  • Crazy Rhythm (Doris Day cover)
  • Encore: “Old-fashioned Bodega” (title unknown)
  • Two Sleepy People (Hoagy Carmichael cover, duet with Howard Fishman)


many more photos below

Howard joined her on vocals on two songs.  “Alone When It Rains” is actually a song of his, which was sung last night as a tribute to her former dog, Charro.  The Hoagy Carmichael duet (“Two Sleepy People”) had a giggle-fit lyrical screw up, but they kept rolling with it.  Henry’s lap steel changed the Doris Day sound to a more bluesy feel from the jazz sound of the Aristocrats backing band.  The more stripped down Nellie backing band was a treat.  I hope she keeps on swinging through the Pacific Northwest.

They’re off to Seattle next (check out more tour dates below).  Catch them if you can!

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Coheed & CambriaYear of the Black Rainbow

no free download or torrent here
2010 Tour Dates (so far)

  • 3/28/2010 Los Angeles, CA Alex Theatre
  • 3/29/2010 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
  • 3/31/2010 Portland, OR Berbati’s Pan
  • 4/3/2010 Seattle, WA Paramount Theater A Prairie Home Companion
  • 4/10/2010 Delaware Water Gap, PA Deerhead Inn
  • 5/15/2010 Sellersville, Pennsylvania Sellersville Theater 1894
  • 6/1/2010 through 6/12/2010 New York, NY Feinstein’s at The Regency
  • 9/17/2010 Monterey, California, United States Monterey Jazz Festival

NELLIE McKAY with HOWARD FISHMAN PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2010 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Higher Resolution (8 pics)

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REVIEW: Nellie McKay @ Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley (Seattle, WA – 10/20/09)

21st Oct 09 (Wed) 5 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

So, I had tickets to see Ben Folds with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra at Benaroya Hall last night.  I hemmed and hawed and finally decided to sell my ticket on craigslist to go see Nellie McKay instead.  I dig both of them as artists, and the main reason for the hemming and hawing was the whole symphony aspect (I mean, I’ve seen Ben Folds Five or solo a half dozen times already… so the symphony take on it was my main draw).  Ah, but… Nellie totally has my heart when in a piano/vocalist celebrity deathmatch with Mr. Folds.  She’s quirky, cute, writes and sings both silly and political songs, has a passionate love for animals (she’s a vegetarian with a stance on animal cruelty that makes me proud), and… you rarely know what to expect from her musically on any given night.  I’ve seen her twice prior, and both times were fantastical suprises.

Sorry, Ben.  Next time?

As a consolation for the Ben Folds fans, there’s a free mp3 stream (or download if you do some research, i.e.- “view source”) from the Huffington Post of the Ben Folds collaboration with author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, etc).  It’s a jab song at the ex-fiance of ex-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin‘s daughter Bristol… from the HuffPo, I present you “Levi Johnston’s Blues.”

Speaking of the HuffPo… here’s a recent article / interview with Nellie McKay by Michael Giltz.

Oh, so Nellie’s latest album, Normal As Blueberry Pie, is all about Doris Day (a total of 14 Doris Day tracks in the recording session, and one Nellie original).  Two of the 15 session tracks are more difficult to get ahold of, unless you want to buy both the “exclusive” Barnes & Noble bonus track version and the iTunes bonus track version.  Have I mentioned that Universal Music Group’s tactics suck!? Anyway, the album is great (special track tactics notwithstanding).  The album lacks some of the bite and wit of Nellie’s prior 3 (and a half) solo albums.  But, I love it all the same.  It’s got Nellie trademark nostalgia / campiness, as evidenced by the photos surrounding the release (see to the right).

OK… on to the review of the show…

I really dig Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley.  It’s small and intimate (but large enough for the room to breathe).  Also I like the idea of making an experience out of the show – a fantastic meal, great atmosphere, and an attentive audience makes for a wonderful evening.  Oh, and free parking in downtown Seattle is like the cherry on top.  This was only my second time here (Hiromi in June was my first), but it is quickly becoming one of my favorite venues in the PacNW, if not ever.  I just wish it wasn’t so far away from me in Eugene all the time.

Nellie went on around 7:40pm with her backing band, The Aristocrats.  This was my first time seeing Nellie with a band.  They were excellent.  They were all younger than I was expecting.  I mean, this wasn’t her studio backing band… but as hired guns solely for touring, they really worked well with Nellie in a fun & playful way.  The band was Nellie McKay (piano and ukulele), Howard Fishman (guitar), Charles Schiermeyer (sax), Ben Bynum (drums), Scott Litroff (violin and flute), and Daniel Policar (keys).


Setlist: just shy of 90 minutes

  • If I Ever Had a Dream
  • Close Your Eyes (Doris Day cover)
  • Sentimental Journey (Doris Day cover)
  • Send Me No Flowers (Doris Day & Burt Bacharach cover, Nellie on Uke)
  • Do Do Do (Doris Day cover) *a fave of the night*
  • Mean To Me (Doris Day cover)
  • Dig It (Doris Day cover, Nellie dance-off) *a fave of the night*
  • The Very Thought of You (Doris Day cover)
  • A Wonderful Guy (Doris Day cover)
  • I Remember You (Doris Day cover)
  • “I Killed Larry David and I Liked It” / Grunge Song *a fave of the night*
  • Crazy Rhythm (Doris Day cover) *a fave of the night*
  • Black Hills of Dakota (Doris Day cover)
  • A-Tisket, A-Tasket (Ella Fitzgerald cover)
  • The Dog Song *a fave of the night*
  • Encore: Zombie (with Gary Danielson on sax)
  • I Wanna Get Married (Doo Wop Version, with Gary Danielson on sax) *a fave of the night*

So, yeah, holy crap… Nellie just keeps on getting better each time I see her.  I thought I’d be slightly bummed by a mostly Doris Day set (as I really like Nellie’s original songs a lot), but the Doris Day material was really fantastic in a live band setting.  The addition of a jazz combo behind her really made the songs gel, and her interaction with the others was really fun.  She’s kinda of a nutty person (or maybe as corny as Kansas in August)… but I wouldn’t want her to be any other way.  I didn’t get a chance to meet her after the show, but I had a fun night regardless.  Nellie and the Aristocrats are playing a second night (Wednesday, October 21st) at the Jazz Alley.  If you go, drop me a line with your thoughts on Night 2.

Some of the best lines of the night by Nellie…

I still can’t go back to Olympia, because I have overdue library books.”

There’s hashish in that music… that was a score!” (really funny in context)

The Jazz Alley’s description of Nellie as a “martini cool chanteuse” was kinda of spot on. :)  If you don’t have her newest one, get it… it’s fun (and out on vinyl, too):

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Erik FriedlanderTopaz

NELLIE McKAY PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2009 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Higher Resolution (12 pics)

Limited to 1200 pixels wide or tall (49 pics)

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Nellie McKay is adorable

14th Oct 09 (Wed) Leave a comment

As Family Guy‘s Peter Griffin would say… Nellie McKay‘s latest is frickin’ sweet.  It came out on Tuesday (10/13/09), and its 13 tracks are great!  You can hear a glimpse streaming over at nelliemckay.com.  Here’s a promo “making of” video (click picture):

Normal As Blueberry Pie is Nellie’s Doris Day tribute album with the quite cute album cover.  You can also get some cute (and quite campy) wallpapers over on her official page:

Slight gripes… I bought it on CD & vinyl and then found out that Barnes & Noble’s version of the CD has a bonus track (“I Want to Be Happy“) and the album only version on iTunes had a different bonus track (“I’ll Never Smile Again“).  Eff me!  I hate you, big label Universal Music Group (you suck)!

~Dan – np: Alice in ChainsBlack Gives Way to Blue

Nellie McKay / Zappa Plays Zappa

21st Aug 09 (Fri) Leave a comment

More information about Nellie McKay‘s upcoming album… Normal As Blueberry Pie – A Tribute To Doris Day (out October 13th). 13 songs, one new McKay song:

Tracklist:

  1. “The Very Thought of You” (Ray Noble)
  2. “Do Do Do” (George & Ira Gershwin)
  3. “Wonderful Guy” (Richard Rodgers / Oscar Hammerstein II)
  4. “Meditation” (Antonio Carlos Jobim / Norman Gimbel)
  5. “Mean to Me” (Fred E. Ahlert / Roy Turk)
  6. “Crazy Rhythm” (Joseph Meyer & Roger Wolfe Kahn / Irving Cesear)
  7. “Sentimental Journey” (Les Brown & Ben Homer / Bud Green)
  8. “If I Ever Had a Dream” (Nellie McKay)
  9. “Black Hills of Dakota” (Sammy Fain / Paul Francis Webster)
  10. “Dig It” (Hal Bourne, Johnny Mercer)
  11. “Send Me No Flowers” (Burt Bacharach / Hal David)
  12. “Close Your Eyes” (Bernice Petkere)
  13. “I Remember You” (Victor Schertzinger / Johnny Mercer)

It’ll be out on Verve Music Group.  No cover art that I could find, yet…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dweezil & Co are hitting the road again.  It’ll be my fourth time seeing them, once for each Zappa Plays Zappa tour.  This time, yay, a Eugene date!!  No official dates released yet on zappa.com (or on Pollstar as of now),  but it looks like after the Progressive Nation tour with Dream Theater, they’re at least hitting Eugene (Saturday, November 28 at McDonald Theatre).

~Dan – np: Peter MulveyLetters from a Flying Machine

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