By Mabel Suen
By Cassie Kohler
By Evan C. Jones
By RFT Music
By RFT Music
By Tom Finkel
By Ryan Wasoba
By Roy Kasten
Those familiar with Michelle Willson's music know there's a simple explanation behind the goofily sinister name of her backing band, the Evil Gal Festival Orchestra. When Willson, a Massachusetts native, started singing the blues, one of her signature tunes was "Evil Gal Blues," a Lionel Hampton composition originally made famous by Dinah Washington. This connection to the legendary Washington goes a long way toward explaining Willson's musical approach. Sure, she's basically a blues singer, an assertion borne out by her victory in the 1993 Blues Foundation International Competition and her subsequent nomination for a W.C. Handy Award. However, Willson can also swing and groove like a jazz vocalist. On her forthcoming Rounder recording, Wake Up Call (set to hit record stores on Aug. 7), Willson moves easily from jump blues à la Louis Jordan ("Water, Water") to scat ("Mi My Moo"). Accompanied by plenty of slinky Hammond B-3 organ licks and tasty sax solos, Willson proves herself equally adept at soulful ballads and even a little New Orleans second-line action.
Wrap it all up in the funky ambience of the Broadway Oyster Bar, and you've got one great way to spend a Sunday evening. Plus, the music kicks off around 8 p.m., so you'll have time to recover for work on Monday.
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