Sunday, March 1, 2009

She Put A Spell On You...

13 FEBRUARY 2009

On the second of two straight nights at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara for me, it was as much a 360 as the mind could bear: an evening in the company of that inimitable stylist, Cat Power, in a special benefit for DANCEworks.

First, a word about the location for those of you outside my so-called beltway…the Lobero is as close to a home base as I have. It started life as an opera house in the 1870’s, founded by Jose Lobero, hence the name. In the ‘20’s, it was ransacked by the Great Earthquake that leveled much of the town…(there’s a great picture of the California hotel on State St w/one wall completely down, you can see inside all the rooms…very hip!) A community facilitated effort saw its re.establishment, and it has chugged on merrily since, attracting performers of every stripe, from Marian Andersen to Baryshnikov to Bill Maher, and including 'Sings Like Hell', one of the first subscription concert series, now in it's 25th season!).

It is located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, on Canon Perdido St, formerly Santa Barbara’s ‘chinatown’ in the ‘30’s, home of opium dens & general shenanigans, and this history seems almost palpable during Cat Power’s set.

Backed by the Dirty Delta Blues Band, she, (a.k.a. Chan Marshall), tapped her inner Nina Simone and cruised gracefully through a set leaning heavily on her recent album of covers, “Jukebox”, and the trailing EP, “Dark End of the Street”; James Carr’s soul monument was one of many highlights, including her gender twisted take on Hank Williams ‘Rambling Man’, and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Fortunate Son’, slowed down to a methadone blues, but no less lethal…
Working back to her 2006 record, “The Greatest”, she dug out “The Moon”, and later loosed a towering version of “Angelitos Negros”, effectively capping the night.

The band features Erik Paparazzi, Greg Foreman, Jim White (Dirty Three), and Judah Bauer (anchor of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion!).

After the show, Cat came out & apologized (?!), apparently her expectations weren’t met, but from the cheap sets it was her usual magic, effective & evocative. She spent some time distributing to her fans the roses that were given to her, a nice closing touch...

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