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BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

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A troupe of family musicians prove that there actually are some surprises left in the world

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

Ten days ago I was on my fourth consecutive nineteen-hour day. It was drawing to a close and I had about forty-five minutes to go before I could put my head on a pillow, there to fall into an immediate deep sleep for five hours. My phone lit up on the other side of the room, and I was at that point in the day where my first thought was, "What IS it?!" A stroll a few feet away to examine the screen uncovered a text message from Jim Caruso. If there's anything I've learned, it is that a text from Jim Caruso is important, especially this late at night.

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

Although it would mean a fifth nineteen-hour day in a row, I had committed to seeing the Gunhild Carling show. The die was cast but nothing could have prepared me for what awaited me at the Birdland Theater.

Gunhild Carling and The Carling Family are the Family Circus. They are, literally, a musical act right out of Vaudeville, in one family. Never mind any comparisons to the Trapp Family Singers or that family band in that Disney movie - this is the real damn thing, live and in person, and they are astounding. This writer who sees as much nightclub, cabaret, and concert action as is humanly possible can honestly say I have never seen anything like this before. In simplest terms: The Carling Family is amazing.

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater Gunhild introduced two brothers, one sister, one niece, one daughter, and one mother. She also introduced two friends who were joining her family in their show, and about halfway through the program, a young man who may or may not be a teenager joined the family on the stage for a little violin (research after the fact informs that he is a nephew). Nearly every one of the family members switched instruments at some point, sometimes a number of times, proving that the musical household talent extends to each member. The talent doesn't stop at the playing of instruments and the singing of songs: there was also dancing. Daughter Idun does a lively Charleston, brother Ulf and niece Nanna do a mean jitterbug, and Gunhild herself is a tap-dancing fiend (clearly, there is nothing the virtuosa cannot do, as she demonstrated with each new Herculean feat of entertainment). There wasn't only the juggling of instruments back and forth from musician to musician, there was actual juggling by Ulf, who also sang and drummed on any surface standing still, from floor to mic stand to the top of his head. The entire ninety-minute program was one act of derring-do after another, and it isn't even about the dancing and the juggling and the general silliness of the wild and crazy antics filling the stage of the Birdland Theater (which may have never seen so many bodies on it!). The most impressive feats of the show were those of the musical genre.

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater The Carling Family is a troupe of world-class musicians, and whether they are playing compositions from the American Songbook, from popular radio, or from their own canon (because they are songwriters too, doncha know), the level of musical excellence is so exquisite as to actually be mind-blowing. My mouth was agape, jaw on the floor, head shaking in disbelief, and hand in the air, waving, like RuPaul when one of the Queens does something truly excellent. Whether melding harmonies or showcasing solos, the Carling family (and their guests, Dave and David) produced sounds at Birdland Theater so incredible that people were on their feet, dancing, they were clapping along, they were laughing at the sheer joy of hearing such sounds. It was not possible to be in the room with Gunhild and co. without being made happy. Indeed, never before has this reporter been in a nightclub where the party atmosphere was more immaculately captured. Yes, there are occasions like the Holidelic show by Everett Bradley that actually ARE a party, with dance floors and people getting down to the sounds of funk music, disco, and other party-based concerts, but this was the basement at Birdland, where there is no dance floor, only tables at which audience members sit and eat and drink and watch and listen. But when Gunhild Carling and co. are on the stage of Birdland Theater, the basement is a party venue. There is no question that it is this same party that the Carlings bring to each venue they play, which is why lovers of great entertainment, exceptional music, and circus acts need to put a Google alert on Gunhild Carling to find out when they are coming to a nearby town because they are not to be missed. This is a nightclub act that is worth the effort that it takes to see it, even if it means a long commute and a babysitter. The investment in seeing this act will pay off in joy, the most important of all commodities. Were Gunhild Carling and Family to play a week of shows at Birdland, this writer would be at every performance. I would pay to feel this good, five nights in a row.

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater At the end of their show, Gunhild (who did a fair amount of talking during the night, and who is wickedly and quirkily, hilariously funny) said, "Because all of you came tonight, we can COME BACK!" It was a cute remark that sounded like a return invitation to Birdland is contingent upon ticket sales. If that is the case, then, Gunhild Carling and The Carling Family should just move to New York and set up shop at Birdland because it is difficult to conceive of their playing a show that wouldn't be completely and totally sold out.

Thank goodness Jim Caruso saved me a seat.

The Gunhild Carling and The Carling Family band is made up of:

Gunhild Carling on trumpet, trombone, recorder, bagpipe, piano, drums, harmonica and vocals

Brother MAX on klarinett and violin.

Brother Ulf on drums trumpet dance and vocals.

Sister GERD on piano, trombone, and saxophone.

Daughter IDUN on trumpet, trombone, dance, and vocals.

Nephew HERMAN on violin and drums.

Mom AINA on banjo.

Niece NANNA on saxophone and dance.

Dave Post on bass.

David Ostwald on tuba.

Find great shows to see at Birdland HERE.

HERE is the Gunhild Carling website.

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater

BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater BWW Review: GUNHILD CARLING and The Carling Family Bring True Vaudeville To Life at Birdland Theater Photos by Stephen Mosher


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