Counting Crows, the veteran rock band, and Stromae, a French pop singer who is big in Europe, each canceled Twin Cities gigs last month just before show time.
Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz was apparently too ill to take the stage, and Stromae reportedly cut his mouth and a doctor advised him not to sing. Each concert apparently had sold about 3,000 tickets – both substantial numbers for their venue. Audiences were left disappointed (and given refunds), and neither concert was rescheduled.
Veteran pop and blues singer Maria Muldaur drew a near full house of perhaps 250 people to the Dakota Jazz Club Thursday night. She announced at the get-go that she was “fighting some kind of funky crude. I qualify as an old blues singer so I have the right to sound funky.”
How funky did she sound? Well, not the James Brown kind of funky. Take it from Muldaur’s own words. After the first verse of the first song, she blurted: “I sound like Bob Dylan.” And she wasn’t complimenting herself.
In the middle of another number, she compared her voice to Louis Armstrong’s. And, no, that wasn’t a compliment either.
It would be hard to be complimentary about Muldaur’s the-show-must-go-on performance. Should she have canceled?
Granted, the show, billed as “Way Past Midnight,” was maybe 75 percent talking because Muldaur, 72, offered a retrospective of her 52 years in show business, augmented with lots of slides and compelling stories. She’s a good talker, and it was entertaining and fascinating to hear about her well-connected career – her days in Greenwich Village, her Dylan encounters, her studying with Doc Watson in North Carolina, her lessons with blueswoman Victoria Spivey, her work with Dr. John in Louisiana, her collaborations with jazz great Benny Carter and her special recording session with Hoagy Carmichael. And she did talking vocal impressions of all the aforementioned folks.
But it was downright painful to listen to Muldaur’s singing voice. It made you want to pop a cough drop in your own mouth. She was consistently croaky in her middle and lower registers. Sure, she could be musical but it wasn’t pretty. And when she essayed her upper register, well, she sounded like Tiny Tim.
The set list and the back stories certainly provided a perspective on her eclectic career – from jug band and bluegrass to blues and gospel to pop and rock.
The gabby and often humorous Muldaur almost forgot to do “Midnight at the Oasis,” her 1974 signature song, and her slight purr of a voice made the piece almost unrecognizable despite the gallant efforts of her three-man band. At song’s end, the applause was tepid.
Muldaur, who had scolded a few fans for taking photos and for leaving early, mentioned that, post-show, she would be autographing copies of a new 25-song, two-CD compilation album at the Dakota's merchandise table.
“You can purchase it and hear the way it’s supposed to be sung,” she said.
Actually, under the embarrassing circumstances, the right move might have been to give each concertgoer a free CD for having had to endure an evening that made you feel bad for her and for yourself.