Thursday September 4, 2008 / 8:00pmJanet Klein and Her Parlor Boys
How was your experience?
This was a very educational evening, and here’s what I learned: I don’t like 20s swing music. Let me restate that: I like 20s swing music for five minutes, then I hate it. I loathe it. It morphs into root canal very quickly with me. I’m reminded of Richard Gere’s line from “Pretty Woman”: “People's reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic. They either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don't, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.” The guy to my left enthusiastically attends the Parlor Boys’ regular monthly shows and can’t get enough. And Goldstar reviews are nearly uniformly positive. But the guy to my right was sliding ever-so-gradually lower in his seat, struggling to stay awake. Me, I was praying to God to alter the time-space continuum so I could effect a graceful exit sometime before my centennial birthday. Every song is just the same. I mean, JUST THE SAME!! Imagine one of their selections, Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies,” as performed with upright bass, jazz fiddle, and three guitars playing chunky eighth-note chords. Then multiply by 15 and you’ve got the evening. Janet Klein’s coquettish Betty Boop act is entertaining about as long as it takes to toast a Pop Tart. The musicians are outstanding, especially John Reynolds on one of the guitars. The most interesting part of my evening, the entire band is comprised of Doppelgangers: one of the guitarists looks exactly like John Kerry. The violinist looks like Tom Waits, another guitarist is Alan Colmes. The bassist is how I picture Rembrandt in my art-impoverished head, and guitarist Reynolds looks like somebody avuncular from some sitcom I’ve been straining my brain to recall. So at least we can say their performance was memorable since I’m still on Doppelganger Quest. The night begins with nearly an hour – an hour!?! – of film shorts from the 20s and 30s. Lord kill me now. Oh, how I long for that modern era of President Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart and indoor plumbing. The Steve Allen Theater was packed with 100 audience members in movable-yet-comfortable chairs on risers. Free parking is available in an ample onsite lot.