NY Music & Cabaret Review by John Weatherford
Elaine St. George reprised her tribute show to Steve Goodman Sunday, July 27 at the well-known jazz club, Iridium, NYC. 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of Mr. Goodman’s death, from Leukemia, at age 36. Having been given only a few years to live, he managed to survive for 16 more. Ms. St. George holds a wealth of knowledge about this singer-songwriter, whose country-rock style incorporates personal stories as he worked diligently to live every moment to its fullest. Ms. St. George is also a story teller and has a charm and warmth that allows the audience to share her caring and appreciation of Goodman.
Many of Mr. Goodman’s compositions were made famous by other singers. “City of New Orleans” is possibly the best known of his works. Ms. St. George tells the romanticized story of Goodman finding out where Arlo Guthrie was going to be drinking after a concert. The story goes that Goodman went to him at the bar and asked if he would listen to a song he had written. Mr. Guthrie said that if Goodman bought him a beer he would listen while he drank it. So, he did, and the rest became folklore. Unfortunately, Ms. St. George muses, it was all a fabricated story. Few things happen that ideally. The truth was more reasonable, if less exciting. A meeting had been set up by a manager who thought the song would be right for the singer. The rest is musical legend.
Ms. St. George has a flare for presenting the songs of Goodman with a generosity of spirit. She is supported by wonderful artists, Ross Patterson on piano, Adam Armstrong on bass, and Karen Waltuch on viola. These masterful musicians bring a rustic, yet, rich sound enhancing the wealth and passion of his stories. Ms. Waltuch also sings with Ms. St. George in several of the renderings. Their voices share a blend that is more than comfortable, it is soulful.
Another highlight for me was “The Ballad of Penny Evans.” Humor is used often in Goodman’s songs, but in this beautiful story of a young widow denouncing the government for what it has taken from her, and so many others, it is riveting. I might also add, quite timely. “I’m Old Fashioned” and “Somebody Else’s Troubles” were presented with humor but seasoned by Ms. St. George with an unexpected grace.
Ms. St. George will be part of the cast in “Remembering Elaine Stritch,” an all-star celebration of the life of Elaine Stritch at the Metropolitan Room on August 7, 2014. She’s a pistol, as my mother would say, and she knows what she likes. Experience her when you get a chance. You won’t be disappointed.
*Photos/Video: Russ Weatherford