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Campbell Steele

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Marion, Iowa

Friday October 14 and Saturday 15

 

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Judy Butterfield

Under the Manhattan Moon

Feinstein's at Loews Regency
New York, NY

At twenty-one years old, Judy Butterfield is one of our main hopes for the future of cabaret. Poised as well as lovely, she has a humility in her singing and presence which both charms and disarms.

Under the Manhattan Moon surveyed New York through the eyes of an extraordinary college student and singer. “I’m living that Irving Berlin song, or that Joni Mitchell song, or that Stephen Sondheim song….” Butterfield declared. As with all good singers, she transported her listeners to another place, allowing them to see the situation in the song, aided by pianist Eli Brueggemann and the fantastic bassist Steve Doyle.

Her clear, full voice, flavored by the hard consonants and hoarse notes of contemporary singing, speaks of a young person engaged in both past and present music. This was evident both in Butterfield’s choice of songs, ranging from the Gershwins to Carole King, and the way she allowed her own story to parallel that of her grandparents’ New York courtship many moons ago. A beautiful arrangement of “I Walk a Little Faster” refocused our inner lenses to a city of tree-lined streets and manual parking meters.

With the help of director Clifford Bell, Butterfield creates an unexpected synchronicity as she weaves decades of different songs and stories together, allowing Christine Lavin’s “Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind” to converse with “Do it Again” (Gershwin/DeSylva). That leveling spirit is the mark of intelligent youth, which safeguards classics and suggests new ones. Butterfield may well become one herself!

Patrick Monahan
Cabaret Scenes
January 20, 2011