4/28/09: Melody Gardot @ City Winery (96/100)

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Nice. Another show directly across the street from my work, and at City Winery. The place where Ed Kowalczyk murdered his own songs just a short time ago. That was a fun night. And so was tonight.

My boy Al came through with some tix for this show, courtesy of his boy Tony, who pulled through on this show and the Soundgarden or…excuse me…Chris Cornell show at Webster Hall back on day 76. This show was about as far away from Chris Cornell as it gets. City Winery doesn’t roll like that. They keep it civilized. Sit down, drink your wine, and let the singer sing.

Tonight’s singer was Ms. Melody Gardot, jazz singer/songwriter from Philly. She’s got an interesting and inspiring story. She was in a hit-and-run accident when she was 19, and during the extensive recovery process, she focused on music. She’s 24 now and still walking with a cane. But you might never know the pain she went through from her stage presence.

Melody was all personality, in her music and in her stage banter. You could not only hear her songs, you could feel them. She sounded much more mature than her age. Like she has been performing these soulful songs for 20 years. Then her sassy stage banter reminded you that she was in her early twenties. At one point, giving some people in the crowd shit for walking around.

“Hey, where are all you people going? Back to your seats I hope. We’re not taking a pee break yet. It’s not time.”

At my table tonight was my friend Al, Jim from Gibson Guitars – who I’ve met before – and Jim’s friend and landlady, Michelle. We had a great spot near the back that let us talk softly without disturbing everyone. But even that was impossible sometimes as Melody kept some songs really, really quiet. Almost to a whisper.

This show was yet another reminder of how much I now love jazz. I swear, if there’s one clear thing I take away from this project, it’s that jazz will play a huge roll in my life from now on. Maybe I’m getting old, and that’s what happens when you get old, but I love it.

Melody kicked it up a notch halfway through the set, which was nice. Because sleep jazz and red wine isn’t the best combination for someone who’s exhausted from seeing 95 straight days of live music. At home, maybe. Out in public, not so much. I was afraid I might fall asleep at one point.

Melody threw in some more crowd banter toward the end of the set, telling us how ever since she was a kid, she played with a brandy snifter on the edge of the piano to hold tips. Then when she got older, it was for booze. And tonight, the tradition was sadly broken since all they had were wine glasses. Which makes sense. The place is called City Winery.

I tried to imagine how to describe Melody’s sound, and my only real references for this sort of music are Madeline Peyroux mixed with some Norah Jones and Diana Krall. She was backed by a 6-piece band with trumpet, sax, xylophone, drums, stand up bass and cello. She bounced between the piano, acoustic and electric guitars. Using her cane to help her around the stage.

She sang one song in French. Played two classics in “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” and presumably the rest were off her new album. She wrapped things up around 11pm, and Al, Jim, Michelle, Tony and a few other people hung around at the bar to have another glass of wine, because why the hell not? And it’s good we did, since Melody herself hung out way past her show, and we caught her on the way out.

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I told her about the 100 Bands project, and that she was day 96, and she immediately hugged me and thanked me for picking her to be part of it. Hey, nothing wrong with a pretty lady singing to you all night, and hugging you before it’s time to go

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