MUSIC | Southern Songbook gets off to a swingin' start

Bethany Larson. Photos by Erik Hess.

The Southern Songbook, a three-concert series presented by the Southern Theater, swung into action Sunday night with a warm and diverse show featuring local performers spanning genres from hip-hop to funk to jazz. The evening's theme was "Lush Life," spotlighting the jazz-pop songs that constitute "the Great American Songbook."

The evening was hosted by Adam Levy—in hat and horn-rims, he looked and acted even more the part of a Gopher State Elvis Costello than usual—and Jake Rudh. In addition to introducing the performers and chatting with them about the songs, both men also sang songs themselves. Rudh's smooth performance of "Where or When" marked his public debut as a vocalist, and though the other performers were substantially more seasoned, the evening was marked by a sense of adventure and an endearing nervousness as the musicans applied their talents to immortal songs that have been interpreted by Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and other legendary performers.

The tight house band was anchored by Heiruspecs' Peter Leggett (drums), Sean McPherson (bass), and Josh Peterson (guitar), led by DeVon Gray on piano and supplemented by Chris Thomson on sax and Steve Roehm on vibraphone. Taking center stage, in turn, were Janey Winterbauer, Mayda, Toki Wright, Bethany Larson, Omaur Bliss, Ashleigh Still, and Ill Chemistry (Carnage and Desdamona). Though performers operating outside their usual genres—Mayda, Wright, Bliss, and Ill Chemistry—provided an interesting spark, it was the jazz vets who ultimately owned the evening. Most notably, Larson's commanding performances of "My Funny Valentine" and "Someone to Watch Over Me" demonstrated the enduring power of the music from that remarkable era.

The Southern Songbook continues on February 14 ("Desire and Death") and April 14 ("The Rites of String").

Southern Songbook


Janey Winterbauer

Janey Winterbauer

Janey Winterbauer


Southern Songbook

Southern Songbook

Peter Leggett


Mayda

Mayda

Mayda

Mayda


Jake Rudh

Jake Rudh


Jake Rudh and Adam Levy

Jake Rudh (left) and Adam Levy


Southern Songbook

Southern Songbook

Bethany Larson


Omaur Bliss

Omaur Bliss

Omaur Bliss


Southern Songbook

Southern Songbook

Josh Peterson


Ashleigh Still

Ashleigh Still


Ill Chemistry

Ill Chemistry

Ill Chemistry


Sean McPherson

Sean McPherson


Adam Levy

Adam Levy


Southern Songbook

Steve Roehm


DeVon Gray

Southern Songbook

DeVon Gray


Toki Wright

Toki Wright


Ashleigh Still and Adam Levy

Ashleigh Still and Adam Levy


Southern Songbook

Chris Thomson


Southern Songbook

1420 Washington Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55454
612-340-1725

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    Jay Gabler's picture
    Jay Gabler

    Jay Gabler (@JayGabler) is a digital producer at The Current and Classical MPR.