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REVIEW: Nellie McKay’s ‘I Want To Live!’ in Oregon @ the Shedd & Alberta Rose Theatre (Eugene 3/2/12 & Portland 3/4/12)

6th Mar 12 (Tue) 2 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOWs at the BOTTOM

I’ve seen Nellie McKay quite a bit since moving to Oregon.  She plays two-week residencies in New York on occasion (lucky!!), but she rarely hit the Midwest when I lived there.  Now that I’m here in the Northwest, I’m glad that she tried to swing by at least annually.  This time was for her new project, yet to be released officially in any form… I Want To Live! – a story of Barbara Graham, the third woman to be executed in the State of California (via the gas chamber at San Quentin).  It’s loosely based on the 1958 film of the same name.

This death row theme shouldn’t be a shock for fans of McKay.  She’s never been afraid to push boundaries – hitting political hot-button issues right out of the gate with her debut album, Get Away From Me (“Sari,” “It’s a Pose,” “Won’t U Please B Nice,” et cetera), and some of her non-jazz-standard followups Pretty Little Head (“Cupcake” and “The Big One”) and Obligatory Villagers (“Mother of Pearl”).

In person, though, she’s as lovable and jovial as some of her adorable, campy press photos suggest.  She’s also a great thinker, great interpreter of classics & standards, and a great artist in her own right.  She may have been “born in the wrong era” (her words), but she’s doing the best with her love of the classics by making a great mark and not giving in to the current trends in what a jazz/pop “woman and a piano” should sound or act.

The first hour of the I Want To Live! tour makes up the story of a woman who falls in with the wrong people, gets caught up in a crime, and – whether innocent or not – is found guilty of murder.  Nellie plays all of the emotions perfectly.  Love, mystery, joy, pain, frustration – all while weaving in standards and her own tunes to tell Barbara Graham’s story.  While she hints at Graham’s fervor for being innocent, Nellie leaves her opinion about guilt or innocence out of the musical.  She also leaves her opinion of the death penalty out of it, which – quite honestly – was shocking that she didn’t add some of her thoughts on it, specifically due to her past as being very politically opinionated.  Perhaps that will show up in the liner notes if this gets released as an CD or DVD some day…

 

I Want To Live! setlist: about an hour (both nights)

  • Billie’s Bounce [Charlie Parker]
  • Purple Haze [Jimi Hendrix]
  • Swingin’ On The Reservation [Ella Fitzgerald]
  • Please
  • Pity The Downtrodden Landlord [Woolf/Clayton]
  • April Showers [DeSylva/Silvers]
  • Isn’t It A Lovely Day [Irving Berlin]
  • They Say It’s Spring [Blossom Dearie]
  • Some Other Spring [Billie Holiday]
  • I Only Have Eyes For You [Warren/Dubin]
  • Don’t Worry Be Happy [Bobby McFerrin]
  • The Down Low
  • Call The Police [Nat King Cole]
  • Twinkle In Your Eye [Burl Ives]
  • Song For Troy Davis
  • I’m So Tired [The Beatles]
  • There You Are In Me
  • Small Day Tomorrow [Landesman/Dorough]
  • Chelsea Bridge [Billy Strayhorn]
  • Genius Of Love [Tom Tom Club]
  • Ah! The Sweet Mystery Of Life [from Naughty Marietta operetta by Young/Herbert] (gorgeous operatic chops on Nellie for this one)
  • Straight To The Top [Tom Waits]
    I think I got all of the cover tunes identified, if not, please comment& I’ll correct.

Eugene setlist, post-IWTL! (3/2): about 30 mins

  • One’s On the Way [Shel Silverstein]
  • Midnight Sun [Ella Fitzgerald]
  • ¡Bodega!
  • Clonie (audience request)
  • Sari (audience request)
  • Encore: A Wonderful Guy [Doris Day]
  • The Dog Song

Portland setlist, post-IWTL! (3/4): about 30 mins

  • The Dog Song
  • In a Sentimental Mood [Duke Ellington] (with false start)
  • Caribbean Time
  • I Will Always Love You [Whitney Houston] (snippet)
  • Encore: One’s On the Way [Shel Silverstein] (dedicated to Rick Santorum)
  • Mother of Pearl (with Michele Bachmann tagline at end)
  • I Wanna Get Married

Two wonderfully entertaining nights in Oregon.  Nellie and her band are excellent performers and entertainers.  Through wardrobe changes, police chases, drug addiction, and working in different musical genres – the band was on point.  At one point, the saxophonist mimics a crying baby simply with his mouth as the instrument, and it drives you mad how amazing he pulls it off without a talkbox or effects.

many more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Check out more tour dates below.

Next show for me… Adam Carolla @ the Newmark (3/11) and Puscifer @ the Schnitzer (3/14).

~Dan – np: Steven WilsonCatalogue / Preserve / Amass (live in Europe)

NELLIE McKAY PHOTOS
Eugene (53 pics) then Portland (32 pics)
all pictures (cc) 2012 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Nellie’s 2012 Winter/Spring Tour Dates (so far)

  • 1/25 & 1/26 – Minneapolis, MN Dakota
  • 2/9 – Lafayette, IN Duncan Hall
  • 2/10 & 2/11 – Elgin, IL Elgin Community College Arts Center
  • 2/12 – Louisville, KY Bomhard Theater
  • 2/25 – Park City, UT Eccles Center
  • 2/28 & 2/29 – San Francisco, CA Rrazz Room
  • 3/2 – Eugene, OR Shedd Institute
  • 3/3 – Kirkland, WA Kirkland Performing Arts Center
  • 3/4 – Portland, OR Alberta Rose Theatre
  • 3/7 – Chico, CA Laxson Auditorium
  • 3/8 – Santa Cruz, CA Kuumbwa Jazz Center
  • 3/9 – Hollywood, CA Catalina Jazz Club
  • 3/20 to 3/31 – New York, NY Feinstein’s at Loews Regency
    ^^^^ “SILENT SPRING – It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature”
  • 4/26 – Alexandria, VA The Birchmere Music Hall
  • 5/19 – Denver, CO Swallow Hill
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Nellie McKay – Oregon reviews coming by Tuesday

4th Mar 12 (Sun) Leave a comment

Nellie McKay’s I Want To Live! show in Eugene on Friday was brilliant! Portland is tonight.  Here’s a small taste from Eugene…

More photos, reviews and setlists for both Oregon shows will be up by Tuesday early morning.

~Dan

Nellie McKay in Oregon *this* weekend

29th Feb 12 (Wed) Leave a comment

Nellie McKay plays the Shedd in Eugene on Friday, March 2nd and the Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland on Sunday, March 4th.  Tickets are still available for both Oregon shows… so, get on it.  You won’t be disappointed!  I’ll have a review with setlists and photos of both shows posted early next week (likely by Tuesday).

I Want to Live!  a musical death row revue, conjures the life story of “a woman of dubious moral standards often a guest in seedy bars.”

New York Times’ Stephen Holden writes, “Inspired by the 1958 movie of the same name, I Want to Live! combines Nellie McKay’s virtually unlimited gifts as a singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, ukulele player, mimic, satirist and comedian into a show that is much deeper than its surface might suggest.  In the most lighthearted way they evoke a heartless environment of social injustice in which people who fall through the cracks are invisible to everyone else.”

“Pretty darned unique,” adds Michael Musto of the Village Voice.

“The McKay voice is a knife edged with honey. Which is good, because the words she writes are razor sharp beneath a homespun mantle.”Tony Gieske

It’s a rare treat to have Nellie in our neck of the woods; so I’ll be at both the Eugene and Portland shows. :)

~Dan – np: TW WalshSongs of Pain and Leisure

Nellie McKay’s New Year’s Eve… MURDER?!

31st Dec 11 (Sat) Leave a comment

New Nellie McKay video for “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” (by Frank Loesser)…

Oh no, don’t do it, Nellie!

Regarding Nellie, she’s hitting the road in early 2012 with her new show I Want To Live!  Catch it if it comes nearby!  I’m hitting Eugene and Portland!

Happy New Year to all ~157,000 page viewers this year (bots included).  See you all in 2012!

~Dan – np: Ani DiFranco – Which Side Are You On?

Nellie McKay – New Video & Touring behind her musical ‘I Want to Live!’

28th Jun 11 (Tue) Leave a comment

I Want to Live! a musical death row revue, conjures the life story of “a woman of dubious moral standards…often a guest in seedy bars…”

“Inspired by the 1958 movie of the same name, I Want to Live! combines Nellie McKay’s virtually unlimited gifts as a singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, ukulele player, mimic, satirist and comedian into a show that is much deeper than its surface might suggest,” writes Stephen Holden for The New York Times.   “In the most lighthearted way they evoke a heartless environment of social injustice in which people who fall through the cracks are invisible to everyone else.”

“Pretty darned unique,” adds Michael Musto of the Village Voice.

Nellie McKay – “I Want to Live!” limited tour (so far)
June 30, 2011 – New York, NY / Joe’s Pub
July 9, 2011 – Los Angeles, CA / Catalina Jazz Club
July 10, 2011 – San Diego, CA / Anthology
July 14, 2011 – San Francisco, CA / Yoshi’s

I Want to Live! promo

Beneath the Underdog
(music video from Home Sweet Mobile Home)

~Dan – np: A Perfect CircleeMOTIVe

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