The Blues Broads – Delta Groove Music DGPCD154 – CD: 44:27 + DVD: 51:40 [9/18/2012] ****:
(Tracy Nelson – vocals; Dorothy Morrison – vocals; Annie Sampson – vocals; Angela Strehli – vocals; with Steve Ehrman – bass; Paul Revelli – drums; Gary Vogensen – guitar; Mike Emerson – keyboards; Deanna Bogart – keyboards, tenor saxophone, vocals)
Hip 1950’s crooners meet in Las Vegas for their summit. The Three Tenors played a world tour in some of the world’s most famous venues. So, where does a quartet of female blues legends play? Apparently in idyllic Marin County would be that place. Backed by a tight band, four blues singers (who go by the moniker The Blues Broads) thrilled the crowd at the small 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, California. Dorothy Morrison (Edwin Hawkins Singers), Tracy Nelson (Mother Earth), Annie Sampson (Stoneground) joined “The Queen Of Texas Blues” Angela Streheli (at her adopted home town) in an eleven-song concert featuring blues standards and some original material.
The DVD is a straight-forward account—directed by filmmaker John Korty—of this summit. Backed by a veteran blues band, the singers alternate leads and combine for deep harmonies. Opening with an original, Nelson glides through the number with her trademark gutsy vocals. Sampson’s deep-range alto delivers r & b sentiment on “Bring Me Your Love”. These women are committed to this venture and transition from front to chorus with graceful ease. With a connection to blues essence, “Walk Away” glows with a slow-burning intensity, as Gary Vorgensen executes some nasty guitar licks.
Strehli (the group organizer) is an accomplished artist. She offers a shout-out to various legends (Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed) on her composition, “Blue Highway”. Crisp phrasing and a touch of “howling” rev up the crowd. In homage to her roots, “Two-Bit Texas Town” is full of country-infected grooves. Nelson shares the lead without missing a beat. However, a defining moment arrives with Sampson’s zealous cover of Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. The slow blues arrangement (only on the DVD) captures the spiritual elements of Dylan. Younger “Honorary” broad, Deanna Bogart” (who plays keyboards) delivers a fluid saxophone solo. Simply put, they nail this one! Bogart sings lead and plays on “Iy Won’t Be Long”. Throughout the set, the four singers mesh effortlessly.
While there was a significant gospel undercurrent to the evening, the final trilogy approximates Sunday services. Morrison fronts the ensemble on “Mighty Love”. Then, a spine-tingling a capella rendition of “Jesus I’ll Never Forget” brings down the house. Bogart joins in (as a fifth “broad”), and they raise the roof with unadulterated fervor. It seems only fitting that the crossover hit (featuring the composer Morrison’s soulful reverence) “Oh Happy Day” brings the festivities to a joyous close. (The small audience is never shown.)
The Blues Broads also includes a CD of the concert with a different title sequence and one less track, but otherwise the same.
CD: Livin’ The Blues; Bring Me Your Love; Two Bit Texas Town; River Deep; Blue Highway; It Won’t Be Long; Walk Away; Mighty Love; Jesus, I’ll Never Forget; Oh Happy Day
DVD: Livin’ The Blues; Bring Me Your Love; River Deep/Mountain High; Walk Away; Two Bit Texas Town; Blue Highway; It Won’t Be Long; It’s All Over Now/Baby Blue; Mighty Love; Jesus, I’ll Never Forget; Oh Happy Day
Piano and Orchestral works from earlier 1900s