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October 4, 2010


VIEWS

Some of the things that I saw in a few of the shows that I intended to review this week that I'd like to discuss are listed below. All of the issues are from various shows. While no show or performers will be named, I offer these obser-vations for the purpose of growth. Sometimes shows teach us what NOT to do!

> One person at an Open Mic had such a tremendous R&B voice but they had no mic technique and literally blasted us out of the room. Sometimes loud is just loud. You have a great, big voice but I could not hear you!

> Going along with the "less can be more idea", sometimes when it comes to creating an arrangement, ALL of your great ideas and harmonies do not have to make it on to the page. Riffing until you cough up a lung or repeating the same melodic theme over and over and over again requires restraint and editing! It's like the great painter that adds that one last brush stroke and realizes he's just ruined the painting.

> SHUT UP AND SING! - Particularly if you are doing a one song spot in an Open Mic situation ... give us one line and let us hear your beautiful voice. 'Nuff said.

> I saw a show where the singer was incredible, the voice fantastic, the band to die for and I walked out of the show and asked my friend, "Why did I hate that show so much? It was fantastic but I'm leaving feeling angry." My friend turned to me and said, "Arrogance!" Confidence is great but when it crosses a line of alienating or seemingly being self-congratulatory on stage, it's off-putting.

> Do you really need that extra instrument? Consider the size of the room and the size (or limitations) of your voice and know that when a horn enters in and makes the audience jump, it's not a good thing.

> Faux patter exchanges with your Musical Director when you are funny and enough as you are becomes a detriment to the overall show.

> PRESS KITS - I did a column on this once. There are two kinds of press kits - one that you send to get a job to a venue or booking agent where you need to include all of your bells and whistles (reviews, postcards from previous show, etc.) and the one that you present at a show for a reviewer to use to review your show. I personally don't want to read what anyone else has written about you on previous shows and certainly not the show I'm there to review! I usually just take the song list, the bios and the card for this show and leave the rest.

> SONG LISTS - Ideally? Song title, writers listing who did lyrics and who did the music and whether it's from a show or not. The year it was written is optional but appreciated. Marquee Five even gave me a sheet of paper for my notes - Cool!


REVIEWS

I saw 8 shows since Wednesday, September 22nd, here are the 5 that I am reviewing. Just a quick note, I will not be doing a "laundry list" of every song that's sung because I believe that can sometimes ruin the surprise of the show. I wish to speak more about the overall performances but, of course, exceptional moments on particular songs may be mentioned.


WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA
Wednesday, September 22nd - The Iguana.

Hosted by the lovely Dana Lorge & the energetic Richard Skipper, this weekly Variety Show continues to offer an array of talent from Opera, to Pop, to Showtunes, to Jazz and, this week, also from the West to the East Coast! Linda Kosut (see full review below); Nancy Tierney and Marilyn Cooney were all here from San Francisco and they repped the West Coast proudly. Nancy graced us with a beautifully sung Joni Mitchell tune and Marilyn was a double treat singing her own original songs. What a lovely voice and really good tunes.

Folks who brought down the house tonight? Steve "The Whistler" Herbst was sublime whistling Summertime and then Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Both numbers were just spectacular! The audience was rapt! Robert Gino made me belly laugh with his rendition of I Talk About Sex which I have heard before but he took what could have been a 1-joke song and made it into a totally enjoyable ride, for the whole ride. Very funny!

The jazz folks that have been showing up on a regular basis were all very impressive: Melissa Hamilton & EJ Decker have great voices & a gal named Vickie Burns, who is new to me, literally blew me away with her clean vocals and her easy, seemingly "organic" scatting. She was unfussy and straight ahead vocals. Like Peggy Lee, she swung hard but cool.

There were so many other acts this night (about 22 singers doing 28 songs over a 3 hour period with a 30 minute intermission) so it's hard to review everyone but I'll be back folks! Iguana is a true Variety Show AND, each week it's a different show.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA - 240 West 54th Street (Between Broadway & 8th Ave.) Hosts: Richard Skipper & Dana Lorge every Wednesday from 8:00-11:00 - $12.00 Cover Charge, No Minimum. This is a "by invitation only" to sing evening so please come to a show, speak with Richard and Dana and let them know you'd like to sing for them. They will give you a one song spot and, after hearing you, they may invite you back to do a 2-song special guest spot. The consistently fantastic band is Barry Levitt on piano and Saadi Zain on bass. Reservations: 212-765-5454. For more information please call: 845-365-0720 or visit: http://www.RichardSkipper.com
Sue Matsuki, Sue's Views, Reviews & News on http://www.svhamstra.com - Oct. 4th 2010


TODD MURRAY in CROON
Friday, September 24th - The Metropolitan Room.

From the moment Todd Murray steps on stage you know that you're in for a good time. He steps into the packed room singing un-amplified dressed to the nines in an impeccable tuxedo. He is tall. He is good looking. He is TALENTED! He then gets on stage and tells us that what we have just heard would have been how Crooners of the day would have been heard prior to the invention of the microphone which then enabled this new intimate style of singing called CROON. We now know that we are in for an interesting concept, from Rudy Valley to Bing to Sinatra to Elvis to TODD MURRAY!

Todd has a spectacular voice that is smooth, deep, sexy and pure. This lovely voice is only enhanced by the gents who shared the stage with him: Alex Rybeck on piano, Steven Doyle on bass and Sean Harkness on guitar. I personally loved the more "standard" tunes in his voice and style but I give him props for taking us on a journey of CROON through the ages. Todd sings some of the best songs ever written in this show, songs like: Lover, I Wanna Be Loved, You Are Too Beautiful, Love Me Tender, a very cool version of Perhaps, How Deep Is The Ocean and many more but I do not want to spoil the show for you by spilling all the beans.

I highly recommend that you go to his last show here in New York TONIGHT, Monday, October 4th at 9:30 at the Metropolitan Room - 34 West 22nd Street (Between 5th & 6th) $20 Cover / 2 Drink Minimum Reservations: 212-206-0440 - http://www.ToddMurray.com
Sue Matsuki, Sue's Views, Reviews & News on http://www.svhamstra.com - Oct. 4th 2010


THE LINDA KOSUT BAND - Jazz, Pop, Folk
Sunday, September 26th - Don't Tell Mama

The first adjective that comes to mind when I think of Linda Kosut is joyous! Linda literally bounds on stage as if to say, "I'm here, let's get this party started!" and it does! I will admit to having seen one of Linda's first shows in New York where she used hats and I remembered thinking, "Oh Cabaret 101 time!" She sang fine but I could not get over the hats. (I did a show like this once too by the way, I'm just sayin'!) Then she comes to town with her tribute to Oscar Brown Jr. and it became, and remains, one of my favorite shows ever. Super show, singing, band, charts and her acting ... it was all there. I dragged people to see that show.

So tonight I sit here and watch a gal who already has my respect, WOW me once again with a great band (Tedd Firth, Tom Hubbard, Jeff Lederer & Joe Abba) and vocals and energy but it's also her song choices and what she does with them that makes a person sit up and say, "She's FANTASTIC!" She's got what ya can't buy ... CHARM. She is 64 going on 29 by the looks of her, she declares, "I don't exercise, I photoshop!" but she was a knockout in her purple dress. Her story leading into her special arrangement of All By Myself Medley and the best version E-VAH of Give My Regards to Broadway made me tear up a bit on the emotional side of things while her Let's Ka-nock Ka-nees and Coney Island Washboard cracked me up on the flip side. She can also tell a story with the best of them! I'll let you know when she comes back to town. San Francisco is lucky to have her!
http://www.LindaKosut.com
Sue Matsuki, Sue's Views, Reviews & News on http://www.svhamstra.com - Oct. 4th 2010


MARY FOSTER CONKLIN & JOHN DIPINTO in
MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE OF LOVE

September 28th 2010 - The Metropolitan Room

Disclaimer: I've known Mary a long time and have been accompanied by John at a few shows but this is a "love letter" to their talent and not because I know them off stage.

THIS SHOW ROCKED! I can barely see the song list with all my scribbling all over it saying things like: "Colors in Mary's voice I have never heard before!" and "Harmony blend in their voices is FANTASTIC!" and "Great charts/ arrangements!" and at the end of the page, the ultimate compliment ... "Sad it's over." They sing an eclectic range of tunes from The Beatles to The Foo Fighters to Jon Hendricks to Percy Mayfield and while not all of their tunes are "jazzy" in nature, in their hands, there is a fresh new; "hep" take on every single tune. There are only two solos in the show.

Textures ... John DiPinto's arrangements (with Mary's input of course) gave us bossa, zydeco or what they call their "Gumbo Feel", to Vocalese, to a capella, to country blues to ... well, you just name it! This show was interesting on so many levels. John was only behind the piano for a few tunes and on squeeze box the rest of the time with Skip Ward on bass and Tony Ramano on guitar but the ever changing song feels and the fullness to their playing made them sound like twice their numbers.

With the exception of one tune where I felt the harmony was not "in the pocket", I'd have to speak about every single song in the show because this show is just that good folks! Mary Foster Conklin has the yummiest lower register a girl can sing in and John DiPinto is an imp on stage with a voice that seems to have no limits. Together they are friends making glorious music and inviting us in to enjoy it with them and you should! I am calling this show, THE BEST SHOW YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS WEEK! I'll let you know when this show comes back because it is a MUST SEE!

http://www.MaryFosterConklin.com
Sue Matsuki, Sue's Views, Reviews & News on http://www.svhamstra.com - Oct. 4th 2010


MARQUEE FIVE in 8 TRACK THROWBACK - Singer/Songwriters of the 60's & 70's
October 2nd 2010 - Don't Tell Mama

This award winning team of singers, Mick Bleyer, Adam West Hemming (arranger), Vanessa Parvini, Sierra Rein & Julie Reyburn collectively called Marquee Five have yet another hit show on their hands!

Great music by Wonder, Mitchell, King, Joplin, Dylan ... you know the GREATS ... by 5 very special and incredible voices. Just GO SEE THIS SHOW! It's like no other you will see out there. Music we all know done SO differently that it may take you a few minutes to realize what you're listening to. (This can be a good thing or a not so good thing but most of the time, in this show, it's a good thing!)

Beautifully played by Mark Janas on piano, Matt Scharfglass on bass, Tony Romano on guitar and directed by Joseph Ward, this is a fast moving, dynamic trip down memory lane ... and speaking of a "trip" ...

When I say Janis Joplin, I'm sure the first person that comes to mind is Sierra Rein, right? Here's this beautiful, classy looking woman rasping out to Joplin's Move Over in a jaw dropping performance that made me look at Sierra in a whole new light. The audience went wild for this number.

On A Case of You I was first thrown by the tempo of the song having known it no other way than how most sing it but in Vanessa Parvin's hands and lovely voice, and with Adam's super arrangement, it was like hearing a new story on a song I thought I knew well. Brava Vanessa!

Let me just say this, to do a show like this where the arrangements are yet another "star" in the show, it should be noted that the entire cast seemed to have an individual acting connection or point of view with each of the tunes that they were the lead on - also impressive in ensemble work.

The boys ... oh my stars ... Mick Bleyer's take on Elton John's Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word with Adam West Hemming's take on All is Fair in Love was STUNNING! The pain in Mick's voice as the "younger" man played against Adam's more mature perspective of pain with a little "oh well" thrown in - it gave me chills. Another audience favorite and one of my favorite moments in the show.

Disclaimer: Julie Reyburn and I are friends, good friends but I have "reviewed" many of her shows by postings to various places so it will be no surprise to anyone when I write:

Music is to Julie Reyburn what a Tech Director is to the stage ... Music IS Julie's light. It's like the minute she opens her mouth, she has a pin spot on her. Her Tangled Up in Blue and then later taking the lead on Will You Love Me Tomorrow showed me, once again, that this era of music seems to be Julie's "heart music" being the daughter of two hippies and all. She can sing anything but I love her doing this music.

A long review because there are so many notable moments and each singer is a star in their own right. There's a line in Jolene that said, "You can have your choice of men" and here we are seeing three women realizing Jolene has done exactly that, chosen all of their men ... the girls really deliver on this tune as well. Listen, I could go on and on but you should just go to see their last show which is:

Saturday, October 16th at 6:00 pm at Don't Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street (Between 8th & 9th) - Reservations: 212-757-0788 - $20 Cover / 2 Drink Minimum, Cash only. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
http://www.MarqueeFive.com
Sue Matsuki, Sue's Views, Reviews & News on http://www.svhamstra.com - Oct. 4th 2010


NEWS

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you try to see the following shows:

TODD MURRAY "CROON" - TONIGHT, Monday, October 4th at 9:30 at THE METROPOLITAN ROOM (34 West 22nd Street, NYC - 212-206-0440 - ) $20 Cover / 2 Drink Minimum

MARQUEE FIVE - Saturday, October 16th at 6:00 pm at DON'T TELL MAMA (343 West 46th Street, NYC - 212-757-0788 - ) $20 Cover / 2 Drink Minimum, Cash only.

JOYCE BREACH & SIR RODNEY BENNETT - Open a new show October 5th, 6th & 26th at 7:00 pm and on the 29th at 9:30 at THE METROPOLITAN ROOM (34 West 22nd Street, NYC - 212-206-0440 - ) $20 Cover / 2 Drink Minimum

JOAN RIVERS LIVE IN TIMES SQUARE - October 20th & 21st at 9:00 pm at THE WEST BANK CAFE/LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATER (407 West 42nd Street, NYC - 212-695-6909 - ) For reservations, go to: http://westbankcafe.com/beechman_theatre.html and click on TICKETS under Joan's flier.

HOLD THE DATE FOR ME!!! SUE MATSUKI in TRIOS - A BRAND NEW SHOW BY MATSUKI, TOROIAN & MILLHOUSE
Part of the Paul Stephan's TRIOS Series
Thursday, October 21st - 7:00 pm
Madison Avenue Baptist Church
Madison Ave. at 31st Street
Admission: $10.00 recommended donation

My long-time Musical Director, Gregory Toroian, my incredible Bassist, Steve Millhouse and I have been invited to sing at this wonderful church that does the most amazing things as part of their Outreach Programs so all proceeds from this show will go back to these programs. This will be a show of all new tunes or tunes that I have not performed in more than 5 years. Please join us. This is full out jazz show that just happens to be in a Church. All are welcome and, get this, there is no 2 drink minimum!

Sue Matsuki
Dream it, Believe it, DO IT!
e-mail me at SueMatsuki@aol.com

For more information on me or to read my resumes/reviews please visit my personal website at http://www.SueMatsuki.com/

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