A Stranger on Earth: The Dinah Washington Story
Date and Venue 21 June @ 830pm | Columbia Theatre, New Westminster
Featured Performers Jayleen Stonehouse - Vocals / Olaf de Shield - Guitar / Mark Bender - Acoustic Bass / Jesse Cahill - Drums / Malcolm Aiken - Trumpet/ Dave Say - Sax /.Nick Apivor - Piano
The new entertainment venue in New Westminster, Columbia Theatre, close to the Columbia Skytrain station, was jampacked for this one-night concert of Jayleen Stonehouse who narrated the life of Dinah Washington and chronologically sang the music of this prolific Queen of the Blues, who had started her career in the early 1940s at a very young age. Her early songs were sung by Stonehouse in the First Part of the show: "Ain't Misbehavin'", "Come on Home", "Taint Nobody's Business", "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?", and in the second half of the concert, "Drinking Again" and the iconic songs "Cry Me a River" and "What a Difference a Day Makes"..
Stonehouse recounted anecdotes of Washington's love life. When she had an affair with the young Quincy Jones, she called his house and not knowing that it was his wife who answered the phone, she commented:"....I got your li'l ass drunk last night as we did the doggie three times." That affair probably broke up his marriage.
The ambience at this old theatre house was that of a cabaret, with the audience sitting in tables and drinking/eating as the show progressed. In the background, archival photos of Dinah Washington were flashed. The band was excellent, and the audience enjoyed their jazzy style.
Stonehouse has been called the female James Brown because of the raspy blues quality to her voice. The funk and jazz influences in her music give a uniqueness to her singing. There was a somewhat Judy Garland quality to her style because of the range and power of her voice. Perhaps she should also do a tribute to Judy Garland one of these days.
After listening to Dinah Washington's songs in YouTube, I saw how close Jayleen Stonehouse resembled her style, particulary when she did the "mmmms", an idiosyncratic trait of Washington's singing.
Washington, like many celebrities, died of an overdose of drugs at the height of her career at the young age of 39.
© 2013 Ed Farolan