Nellie McKay at the Dakota in 2008
Star Tribune photo by Marlin Levison
This time around, Nellie McKay had the right recipe. Absolutely the right recipe.
When she appeared at the Dakota in January, her performance was like blueberry pie (it was her tribute to Doris Day, one of her idols) instead of the fruitcake of her previous gigs at the Dakota. During Monday’s late show at the Dakota, McKay served the whole enchilada.
The New York cabaret star tossed in almost all the ingredients in her diverse kitchen – standards, Doris Day tunes, songs identified with Ella Fitzgerald, a little Lennon-McCartney, a 1967 pop chestnut and comedic originals seasoned with reggae, Latin and other flavors. Sprinkle in her wit, commentary and quirks (she pulled out a newly purchased pair of shoes from a Target bag), and this was a lovably eccentric, musically rewarding and thoroughly entertaining show.
Sounding like the daughter of Doris Day and Leon Redbone, McKay, 28, was a playful girl one moment and a ferociously swingin’ jazznik the next. To start most numbers, she would count the rhythm verbally or beat on the top of her piano. And her five-man Twin Cities band, featuring members of Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band from Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” took her direction and provided first-rate accompaniment. After the group finished “Beneath the Underdog” from her new “Home Sweet Mobile Home” CD, she gushed: “I never knew the Po-lease could be so fonky.” She wasn’t referring to the Police with southern enunciation but rather the funky drumming of Joe Pulice.
McKay’s 110-minute performance was rich in emotional and musical range. Carrying on like a hammy kid from “Glee,” she unleashed her swing chops on “A Tisket, A Tasket,” showed her deft phrasing and masterful melancholy on “If I Had You” and uncorked her wacky humor on “Mother of Pearl” (which she started, forgot the lyric, then scrapped; sang “Don’t Fence Me In” and then pulled off “Pearl” with panache).
Playing piano or ukulele,McKay teased her band (she called keyboardist Rich Dworsky “a former prison guard who’s now a Catholic priest and a GOP hopeful in 2010”) and she even dedicated a song to Kitty Carlisle Hart (“I’ve always had a strange identification with extremely wealthy people”) and another one to the late Barbara Billingsley, whom she remembered not only as June Cleaver on “Leave It To Beaver” but also as the woman” who spoke jive in ‘Airplane”.’ She also left the stage in the middle of “It’s Alright with Me” while the band grooved on to change dresses -- and then she returned to sing the chorus one more time.
Like I said, blueberry pie, fruitcake and the whole enchilada.
Here is a partial set list, as best as I can reconstruct it (she added about eight tunes not on her prepared list, some of which she hadn’t even rehearsed with the band):
Bruise in the Sky/ Sentimental Journey/??/The Very Thought of You/ Caribbean Time/ I Will Wait for You/ ??/Close Your Eyes/ The Dog Song/Body and Soul/ Georgy Girl/ A World without Love/ Bodega/ A-Tisket A-Tasket/ If I Had You/ I Want To Be Happy/ It’s Alright with Me/ Bluebird/ Wonderful Guy/ Beneath the Underdog/?? /Don’t Fence Me In/ Mother of Pearl/ Adios/ ??/ Broadway Melody/ Pasadena Woman/ Vote for Mr. Rhythm/ Crazy Rhythm ENCORE Unknown Reggae/Zombie
More from Star Tribune
More from Artcetera
Details on the big concert are expected after Labor Day.
It was another stop on The River Tour but he didn't do the 1980 album in its entirety. He mostly did hits and requests.
The third annual music fest, led by Trampled by Turtles, had to change sites due to heavy rain and construction at the horse track.
The Roots bandleader will head up Friday's and Saturday's after-parties, while Jake Rudh will DJ late on Thursday.
Lea Thompson will be the guest of honor at September's Twin Cities Film Festival special event
Recommended For You
On Mexican soil for the first time as the Republican presidential nominee, a firm but measured Donald Trump defended the right of the United States to build a massive border wall along its southern flank, standing up for the centerpiece of his immigration plan in a country where he is widely despised.
It used to be, in an election year, people could proudly wear T-shirts promoting their candidate. This year, I discovered, that is perilous.
The decision means the $15 minimum wage proposal and a police insurance question will not be on the November ballot. The state's highest court found that neither proposal to amend the city's charter met legal standards.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a knee dislocation that led to a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and other structural damage.
The three flythrough videos go room-to-room showcasing details in the Land O'Lakes Center for Excellence, the Basketball Development Center, and the Football Performance Center and Indoor Practice Facility.