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BWW Review: Carole J. Bufford is Exquisite in COME TOGETHER—THE MUSIC OF THE 1960S AND 1970S at Feinstein's/54 Below


BWW Review: Carole J. Bufford is Exquisite in COME TOGETHER—THE MUSIC OF THE 1960S AND 1970S at Feinstein's/54 Below

She was singing before she even reached the stage, the sparkles on her red dress catching the light as she shimmied, the audience captivated and delighted by her rendition of "Come Together."

The song, rousing and upbeat, was the perfect choice to kick off Carole J. Bufford's show at Feinstein's/54 Below, a one-night celebration of the release of her second album, also titled "Come Together," which, itself, is a combination of the favorite songs from her latest two shows.

Bufford is a natural performer, confident and comfortable on stage in a way that makes it seem like she was born to entertain; when she speaks, it feels like she's speaking directly to you, and only you, even though the very vocal crowd would beg to burst that illusion. She briefly introduced almost all of the songs, giving them historical context and showcasing her in-depth knowledge of the artists and music she was paying tribute to - demonstrating, as well, her deep passion for the subjects.

But she's not only at-ease and wonderful when she's speaking, of course. Bufford's singing is hard to define, if only because it feels like the English language doesn't have the right words to capture the beauty of her performance. When she sang "You Don't Own Me," her voice was clear and strong, channeling the fierceness of the lyrics through the tone of her voice.

And Bufford was a fun performer to watch in this show, because it was clear she was enjoying herself as much (if not more) than the audience. "Different Drum" is a song about someone who doesn't want to be tied down to one person. In Bufford's hands and voice, it became an empowering piece about being true to oneself - all while having fun.

Her performance of "Spinning Wheel" was also beautifully done, coming as it did on the heels of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," during which her entire demeanor changed to better reflect the pensive, introspective nature of the song. The transition between the two pieces, so different in terms of mood, was seamless. One second she had her back half to the audience lingering on the final notes of one piece, and the next the lights were changing colors, she was dancing (as was the audience), and the mood was once again soaring.

"Harper Valley PTA" might have been one of the strongest performances of the night, although another folksy tune, "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," is also a strong contender. For that one, Bufford narrated the introduction of each instrument, until somehow they were all playing together in seamless harmony, and her voice was soaring over the audience, who was delighted and danced along in their seats.

She tied "Bridge Over Troubled Water," a song written during a turbulent time in American politics, to 2019's own political troubles, before captivating the audience with her rendition of the music.

When Bufford performed "The Letter," it all fell into place. Her voice is transparent, allowing every emotion of the lyrics to breakthrough, forcing the audience to feel every ounce of what the songwriter intended his listeners to experience, even the rough edges, even the parts we may not wish to feel. Buford's talent is great, and this song is an excellent showcase of just everything she has to offer.

The show, one filled with high notes, ended on yet another one with "Down on the Corner." Bufford is a brilliant performer, combining her singing prowess with the ability to enter into the character of each song, whether that means dancing along joyfully or looking mournful. She is a delight to watch, absolutely magnificent.

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From This Author Karis Rogerson