LOW DOWN DIRTY BLUES – Written by Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman; Directed by Randal Myler. Produced by Lone Tree Arts Center (10075 Commons Street, Lone Tree) through October 27. Tickets available at 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org.
If you have been going to theatre in the Denver area very long, you will have heard the name Randal Myler. Randy was a long time director and casting agent for the Denver Center many years before he started writing musicals based on the works of deceased icons (Hank Williams, Janis Joplin, John Denver, Nat King Cole, and others). Many Tony nominations and Broadway runs ago, he started putting together the same sort of a musical homage to a genre instead of a person. He has achieved success with musicals such as IT AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT THE BLUES, FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN (the folk music of the Appalachian coal mining era), and MUSCLE SHOALS; I’LL TAKE YOU THERE (celebrating the famous music studio from that area). Now he brings the sultry side of the blues to the forefront by getting low down and dirty.
Five musicians have hung around after the crowd left in a Chicago blues bar to reminisce and sing their songs – rather than what the tourists call the blues. They revel in the suggestive lyrics and raunchy rhythms of songs like “Rough and Ready Man,” “My Stove’s in Good Condition,” and “Don’t Jump My Pony” if you don’t know how to ride!! Felicia P. Fields, the Big Mama after whom the bar is named, makes the smallest move of her voluptuous body and you suddenly understand what sexy is. In “If I Can’t Sell It” she tells the story about a man wanting to buy a chair in a furniture store. But she makes herself very clear when she declares, “If I can’t sell it, I’m gonna sit down on it. I ain’t gonna give it away.”
Chic Street Man sings about a “Crawlin’ King Snake” and invites you to “Come On In My Kitchen” and the women in the audience start leaning in toward the stage. His easy physical style and matter of fact delivery shows that he knows what he’s doing, on stage and off. They are joined in the vocal fun by Shake Anderson whose big voice rocks out on “I Got My Mojo Workin’” and breaks your heart when he sings of a lost love in “Death Letter.” Both men praise the beauty of a “Big Leg Woman” whose booty is so big, her jeans have to have four pockets across the back. They are accompanied and joined on stage by musicians Calvin Jones on bass and Jameal Williams on keyboard.
The first half of the program explores the flirtatious side of the blues full of double entendre and innuendo. Big Mama even went off the stage and got some of the men in the audience to help her get her mojo working. The second half continues but also gets into the more serious sad side with a heartfelt rendition of Billy Holliday’s “Good Morning Heartache” and Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.” The ever present gospel quality of the music came to the front with Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come” and Inez Andrews’ “Lord I Tried.”
The bar setting designed by Christopher Waller is so authentic, you can’t help but think you’ve been to that basement bar. Complete with beer signs and the ever present Christmas lights, it’s a place you would be comfortable stopping by for a drink and a listen to the music.
If you have the blues, if you like the blues, if you want to learn about the blues . . . . this is the show for you.
A WOW factor of 8!