Laguna Beach Live! Blues is a Woman hits it out of the park with sensational show at [seven-degrees]

Story and photos by DIANNE RUSSELL

Blues is a Woman, described as “a mix of performance and history, with a cracker-jack all-woman band” blew it out of the water in a sensational musical show on Wednesday evening at [seven-degrees] in the Canyon. 

“Blues are the rhythm of life,” said one of the band members. And true to that statement, there was a lot of rhythm and blues going on for two jampacked hours. 

The show channeled storytelling and music to bring to life the contributions of generations of women to the blues, an art form too often associated with a man and a guitar. The musicians covered singers from Ma Rainey to Bonnie Raitt so authentically that the crowd might as well have been dancing in Congo Square in New Orleans.

Lustily-sung lines like “Don’t you feel it in your blood – don’t you feel it in your hips” reflected the energy in the packed room, a mix of men and women equally mesmerized. The musicians themselves vibrated with electricity, red hair bouncing, dreadlocks shaking, ponytails swinging to the beat.

Laguna Beach band

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(L-R) Pamela Rose, Ruth Davies, Pat Wilder, Kristen Strom, and Daria “Shani” Johnson

Each band member in her own right was a standout and together, they melded into a powerful combination that epitomized the “blues.”

Vocalist/author Pamela Rose has performed for decades both in and out of the country and has six recordings; Tammy Hall, music director/pianist/vocals has acted as music director and accompanied many acclaimed performers; Pat Wilder on guitar and vocals, has spent the past 30 years as guitarist in the Bay Area; Ruth Davies has lent her upright bass stylings to many internationally touring artists; Kristen Strom on saxophone and vocals has performed with many well-known artists; and Daria “Shani” Johnson on drums and vocals is one of the most sought after drummers in the Bay Area.

“Why wasn’t this on the stage at the Playhouse?” an attendee was overheard to say. True that the show deserved an even larger audience, but the intimacy of the venue and the packed crowd suited the show better.

Laguna Beach room

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Packed room for Blues is a Woman

“I’m loving it,” trustee Cindy Prewitt said. “Sold-out shows like this one hopefully get the message across that Laguna Beach Live! isn’t just about jazz – we bring Laguna a wide variety of high-quality musical performances, from a cappella to chamber music at the Art Museum to bluegrass at LCAD. And stay tuned for a truly international concert next year. We’re still working on the venue.”

The crowd left with favorite lyrics buzzing in their ears, from “If I only had my way, the graveyard is where my man would lay” to “If you don’t like my ocean, don’t fish in my sea.”

An awesome evening!

For more information on Laguna Beach Live!, go to www.LagunaBeachLive.org.