Chorus and Verse
James Dalton
Chorus and Verse Blog
Posted: August 28, 2010 10:23 am (-05:00)
James Dalton
BLUES! Creating a Music Review

Yes, I work at a blues club in Manhattan and, yes, I like and have been playing blues music for a long time; but I have decided to take it a step further. Because I don't think of myself as a good writer, I'll spare you all at an attempt to introduce this idea cleverly, or with any poetics.

Since my last visit to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007, where I debuted my first one-man show titled "SHANGHAI TO MEMPHIS or Poorly Remembered, Badly Written Stories of Music and Love"(which got four stars, by the way), I have wanted to return with something new. I remember years back during my first Fringe in '98 playing Claude in a rapscallion cast at "HAIR," there was another show in the same theatre. This brilliant Scottish woman, who's name slips my mind, was doing a music review called something like "I Never Do the Same Thing Twice". Again, I forget her name right now, but she was amazing and the show was fantastic. Every afternoon, she and her music director/accompanist would rehearse the evening's new set list and, that night, basically did a whole brand-new performance, each different than the night before.

Why do I bring this up? Other than the fact that this "freshness" was a direct inspiration to my last show's different-every-night attitude (I changed my show every night, too, thank you very much), but I realize that I don't have to put on some bit of theatre-y, storyline-ish type thing in order to sing some songs that I like. Why can't I just pick out some tunes, grab a piano player and a bunch of my instruments, get a performance space that is comfortable and intimate, give it some sort of title and just put on a show? Clearly, I'll do some chit-chatting between the songs, a little like when I am doing a singer/songwriter gig, but can I really let the songs just speak for themselves? Well, I hope so, or I'm in for a big embarrassment this year...

This fall and winter, I plan on work shopping something called "BLUES!," which will be a music review exploring a larger scope of what blues music can be. Since I had vocal training as a youngster (if you can believe that one), I really want to see what I can do. Blues doesn't have to be just Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters tunes, or Nina Simone and Ray Charles... You can find these same feelings in Sondheim, Pepe Pinto, and even Monteverde, and so I am starting to get excited.

This will take a lot of work, and I am starting to assemble my team now. After I do NYC, it's off to London in the Spring and Edinburgh next August. We'll need a piano player that can read as well as improvise. We'll also need a good tech that can handle lights and sound and, of course, I'll need a good director that has an eye for design. With time, some PR will be helpful, but now, now is the time to build this show from the ground up.

With so much that needs to get done day to day, adding this one more thing, the creation of a show that will enable me to thrust my heart and soul out to the world, this will make it all the more challenging (as if I need it to be more so).

Questions, comments or maybe to join the team, email

James Dalton
James Dalton is a New Jersey-based singer/songwriter/performer that has had his ups and downs but still pushes forward and stuff.
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