Bethesda Blues and Jazz sold out last weekend when Mary Ann Redmond and her party of four entertained non-stop for more than 90 minutes.
The audience purred right along with practically everything Redmond put out, and one had the feeling that most there were already fans.
Before he turned them loose, Bethesda Blues owner Rick Brown came out on stage to thank the audience for coming, and announced his club has surpassed 100,000 in attendance since it opened in 2013 after an $8 million renovation.
For some reason Ms. Redmond opened the show with a lacklustre "Come Rain or Come Shine," and if you weren't familiar with her music, you might have thought you were in for a loooong night, but that impression was not to last.
Soon afterwards, the entertainment took off, and all the players became stars.
For a while it was keyboardist and magical arranger Jay Cooley who stole the show, then Paul Langosch on bass took the limelight, then it was master e-guitarist Danny Leonard's (unannounced before show time) turn to shine.
No, wait, there was drummer Dave Mattacks who's played with Sir Paul McCartney, Jethro Tull, Elton John (to name a few) and he stole the show.
They were all show stealers, professional and incredible to hear all making music for the vocals of Miss Redmond who sings pop, jazz, soul, you name it, with some bossa nova thrown in.
Her soul sounds are something akin to Aretha Franklin. (Has anyone ever called her a "white Aretha Franklin"?) A fan certainly hoped her sexy version of Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar," set at a slower pace, is on one of her albums, and her low, guttural meows unlike any I've heard, made perfect for Peggy Lee's "Fever," a huge hit with the audience, like most everything Redmond sang.
Several numbers arranged expertly by keyboardist Cooley stood out: The Beatles' "Fool on the Hill" and "Can't Buy Me Love," Ray Charles' "Unchain My Heart," Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," and the Supremes' "Stop in the Name of Love."
Near the end, swaying fans stood in a chorus line, arms wrapped around backs to listen.
When the lights dimmed and the quintet left the stage, the whoops and applause from the audience soon brought the musicians back for one of Redmond's biggest hits, "Love Me Anyway" which she co-wrote with Todd Wright. It's sold three million copies.
If Redmond ditched those heavy office glasses and wore a sexy, sparkly number with red Dorothy shoes, and a mean boa to throw around, she'd give the men something to look at besides the funeral black outfit she had on like she was going to be whisked away after the show to a memorial service somewhere.
The performers' apparel overall was pretty drab (like a bunch of academicians'), saved by the lighting designer which brought some life to the visuals. (Music is not totally what you hear. Tones and emotions set the stage, too.)
The crowd sounds from the lobby bar occasionally drifted in to the concert venue during pauses, but everyone was having a good time, and that's what it's all about, Alfie.
Friday, Jan. 23, Be'la Dona, $20, dance night, doors open at 6 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 24, Carl's Rare Roast Beef Band, $10, theater seating only since it's dance night beginning at 8 p.m.
Where: Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814
How much: See prices online.
Future shows: Please check out the calendar.
For more information: 240-330-4500
Getting there: The Bethesda Metro station is about 1.5 blocks away, and parking is below the building (free on weekends). See directions.
To read about past shows, please click Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.