MUSIC | “Alison Scott Live at the Dakota”: A strong document of a strong artist at the top of her game


Vocalist-songsmith-pianist Alison Scott is one of those real interesting talents. Been building a solid career. And looking back on 2009, her DVD Alison Scott Live at the Dakota is a crowning contribution to the Twin Cities music scene. 

Scott is, to say the least, strong. Inventive melodies, innate grit, and sound chops. Every performance here holds your ear. Doesn’t hurt at all that she’s backed by murderous axemen. You got Kevin Bowe (producer-guitarist-singer), Steve Price (bass, vocals), Peter Anderson (drums, percussion), Tommy Barbarella (Hammond B-3 organ), and Walter Chancellor (sax). It was one hell of a set.

Among the highlights are “Little Bit,” a nice, nasty taste of sweet funk with a jump-back hook. And reedy vocals that nail you. The song has hit written all over it. This cut gets decent exposure, it’ll hit the charts heavy, then take off like an airplane. The ballad, “When I Wake” is another hands-down hit, gospel-tinged pop par excellence. Ditto her hypnotic R&B turn, “I Stay Anyway.”

Director Mike Plant gives an interesting behind-the-scenes glimpse, splicing in interviews with the guys in the band. None of them lack personality. What you have here is a bunch of bad-ass musicians who get a kick out of gigging and have a world of respect for Scott. It’s clear she digs them in return.

It’s not easy to produce a performance video worth watching. You have to have something, yeah, that’s a given—an artist of ability, which is Scott to a tee. But you really have to have a director with a distinct vision. That, for instance, is where Michael Jackson’s This Is It tanked. Not even Jackson’s uncanny singing and dancing could make it work. Plant fully understands that viewing a live performance on disc doesn’t quite come up to seeing a performer in the flesh. He realizes you’ve got to sustain immediacy. And does exactly that. In spades. With Alison Scott Live at the Dakota, Bowe did very well indeed to bring Plant on board.

My sole misgiving is the cover of Carole King’s “I Feel The Earth Move.” Scott’s version is hard-charged and certainly works. However, when you do a cover, the idea is to put your mark on it. This she doesn’t do, providing merely a hint here and there of originality. It engages, entertains and the whole nine. The interpretation just doesn’t take the song anyplace new.

You’ll dig Alison Scott Live at the Dakota. This lady of song believes every note she sings. And you feel her.