Saturday, June 22, 2013

MargOH!s review of Amber Martin's Stoned Soul: Amber sings her Favorite Laura Nyro

MargOH! Is reviewing shows for Cabaret Hotline but due to some technical issues this review hasn't been posted yet but I wanted to share my thoughts on the fabulous Amber Martin. Here is my review of her show. I'd never seen one of Amber's full shows and she blew me away

Stoned Soul: Amber Martin Sings her Favorite Laura Nyro

Amber Martin is famous for creating hysterical characters like Brenda Snell and impersonations; her spot on Reba is a loving and hilarious tribute not to be missed. In her new show “Stoned Soul: Amber Martin Sings her Favorite Laura Nyro” you will find a showcase for her not so secret weapon, her monster of a voice.

As I stumbled into the nightclub 54 Below with my entourage there was Ms. Martin finishing her tech rehearsal. Fitting for the style of show we were about to experience.  Once the show started Amber sauntered on-stage in an elegant black satin evening gown, black gloves and rhinestone choker and her infamous tuft of curly blonde locks. I’m a gal who appreciates a little glamour and she was looking amazing as she blasted into “Save the Country” from Nyro’s “New York Tendaberry” album that was a hit for the 5th Dimension. Amber then guided us through what she called the substance abuse portion of the show and cleverly gave us a history lesson as she displayed her own Nyro vinyl collection. This section included ‘Poverty Train” and the soulful “Eli’s Coming” that was deliciously peppered with shades of Dusty Springfield. As I said before Ms. Martin owns a monster of a voice with a range that blasted us through one of Nyro’s most well known songs “Stoned Soul Picnic” with ease and a sense of nostalgic whimsy. Prior to starting the song she directed us to open our “bibles” (i.e. a biography of Nyro) and explained that the word “surry” in the lyric of the song has no clear meaning and when questioned about it, Laura replied "Oh, it's just a nice word."

Sometimes when an artist tackles an icon or their idol’s songbook it can easily turn into a vanity project or sycophantic orgy but in Amber Martin’s skilled hands there was an honest and authentic vibe in the room. She allowed the audience to recognize and appreciate the off- beat style of Nyro’s work even pointing out that Laura seemed a bit “crazy”. Martin’s charming spirit and her keen ability to reverentially poke gentle fun at her idols is one of her most brilliant qualities as a performer and provided light fun to the often heaviness of Nyro’s lyrics. After singing “Woman’s Blues” Amber explained that she had sung 45 minutes of Joplin straight through and that was nothing compared to singing the songs of Nyro, given her propensity for frequent and unusual tempo shifts and other unique composition choices. Then she took a swig of inspiration, coughed and went straight into “And When I Die” which was my favorite of the evening, an absolutely brilliant interpretation of an amazing and gut wrenching song.

In this show Martin is backed by an outstanding team of musicians including Matt Ray on piano, Claudia Chopek on violin, her pal and cutie pie talent Nath Ann Carerra on guitar, Patrick Johnson on percussion and vocals and Dave LeBleu on drums.

This thoroughly entertaining evening was capped off with a spirited version of “Nowhere to Run” a song from the album “Gonna Take a Miracle” on which Nyro had collaborated on with Labelle. Joining her was backing vocalist Patrick Johnson and special guest Asa Lovechild, a beautifully ridiculous powerhouse of a singer that works and tours with Nona Hendryx, formerly of Labelle. According to Martin they had no rehearsal time but you would never have known that as we clapped and sang along. But then that’s the type of artist Amber Martin is - humble, authentic and a bottomless cocktail of fun.

Stoned Soul: Amber Martin Sings her Favorite Laura Nyro is playing one more show at 54 Below Sunday June 23 at 7PM. Get your tickets and enjoy an artist at the top of her game performing the songs she loves. You can’t pay enough to see that!!


I rate this show 4.5 martini’s out of 5


 By MargOH! Channing