Mar 27, 2010

Imelda May and Del Moroccos at Martyrs' - 3/15/10

Rockabilly = Rock ("N" Roll) + Hill (billy). I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do on a Monday night was go to a show (OK, not true, I can always rally but I did not really know the music beforehand). My friend Amy joined me for what turned out to be a night of great music even if it meant being shoved consistently by a belligerent over served woman and having your hair caressed by a strange woman (with her boyfriend) during the show. These events happened to Amy not me. So really I had no complaints. Oh, just one. I really wanted one of the set lists taped to the stage floor after the show but the rabid hounds got to them faster than I did. So my first review is of the warm-up band "Del Morrocos", an 8 piece rock "n" roll, rockabilly band. Think late 50's black rock"n"roll meets Johnny Cash (but female). The lead singer Gabrielle Sutton was very poised on stage and had a soothing voice. Her back up vocalists Sarah Goldstein and Adrienne Stoner really added great back up "doo wops" and finesse to the show. The songs were all entertaining and fun to watch. The band was also very tight. The only criticism would be adding a bit more passion and physical expression to the performance. One of the back up vocalists never really cracked a smile, the other looked like she was truly enjoying the stage and having fun. They all wore hoop earrings and black "flapper" dresses - check out the video. They have previously performed with the "Queen of Rockabilly" Wanda Jackson so they have been around the pros. The video here I believe is titled "I Don't Know" but ... I don't know. The group is currently on tour in Europe so although Chicago based, you won't be able to check them out for a while but please do. All in all a 4 out of 5 guitar rating.

And now for Imelda, Imelda, Imelda May ... where to begin (I ponder). Well, I must admit that I first heard of her when she played at Martyrs' several months ago. I did not go to the show but I downloaded her song "Johnny Got A Boom Boom" which is instantly lovable. Since the download, she appeared nationally on the Grammy's performing with Jeff Beck. Well at least I recognized her talent.
Her music is a blend of country and western, rhythm and blues, and jazz torch song. Her music is described elsewhere as "lusciously retro". Irish (Dublin) born Imelda began her music stylings at age 4 when she harmonized with her sister's folk rock band. She is a small person with a phenomenally big voice which she is able to use with varying intensity. She is both personable with the audience and completely engaged with her band. More than most singers, she individually showcases the unbelievable musicians in her band throughout the show. Her husband, Darrel Higham, is her guitarist and is one of the best.
Her Drummer, Steve Rushton is killer as is Dave Priseman who plays trumpet, flugle horn, and percussion. She was adorable in her green plaid dress (it was near St. Patrick's Day) and her high FMPs (see video for evidence). I loved every song and every moment. The show was sold out (hence the shoving and hair caresses). She mentioned that the last time she was at Martyrs' there were only 20 people. I am sure she is going to be a huge success and I will have seen her back when and at a small neighborhood venue. Her debut CD "Love Tatoo" is almost entirely written by Imelda and each song really captures her versatility (highly recommended). Loved the show, love Martyrs, 5 out of 5 guitar rating! Check out the video - I think the song is "Blues Calling" or "Long Way From Home". I would be sure except the set list was ravaged by others faster than me.

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