I have a playlist in iTunes that I call Divas – it ranges from Ute Lemper and Lotte Lenya via Nina Simone, Cleo Laine and Peggy Lee to Alannah Myles, Carly Simon and k. d. Lang, Kavisha Mazzella and June Tabor. So I was surprised that I’d missed hearing of local muso Toby Beard. Last night I rectified this omission when as part of a friend’s birthday celebrations I went to the Fly by Night Musicians Club to hear Toby (Toby Beard and 15 piece band) launch her new CD Sleeptalk.
Toby at the Fly
Great gig – beautiful woman with a beautiful voice, dreadlocked blonde hair and feisty stage presence, she sang her own songs from her new CD and back catalogue (all new to me) and covered Little Red Rooster, Etta James‘s I’d Rather go blind and When a man loves a woman. The band included cellos, flute, smoking violin, awesome horns (trumpet, trombone and sax), something I have tentatively identified as a melodica, Mr Jean-Guy Lemire on harmonica as well as the more usual guitars, drums, keyboard and percussion.
The encore evoked Commedia dell’arte, first Jean-Guy appeared on stage for a mournful harmonica solo, turning to reveal half his face whitened and marked with the black tear of a clown, then the trumpeter echoed the solo, face fully painted, the theme was then taken up by the white faced violinist, poignant and plaintive (and remiscent of Latcho Drom). Fom behind us we heard the beat of the drum and we turned and parted to admit the band, faces painted white, each with the black tear or mark, marching funerealy in double file led by two drummers. Toby had switched her tunic for a red and white striped clowns vest and a top hat hid her dreadlocks. There was somthing about it that suggested a New Orleans’ funeral for a clown… this was the extended intro into the beautiful C’est L’amour.
A brilliant finish to a great evening…