BWW Review: Prolific Singer, Songwriter And Music Director Brad Simmons Has A BLUE XMAS With Friends At The Green Room 42
Heigh-Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
Brad Simmons is one talented boy my darlings. During his time in NYC, he has music directed Lysistrata Jones, Mr, & Mrs. Fitch - with John Lithgow, Me and The Girls - with Alan Cumming, and the musical film Hello Again - with Audra McDonald and Martha Plimpton, as well as playing multiple gigs at the piano for loads of his fellow cabaret artistes. His schedule overflows with offerings like Susie Mosher's Line Up every Tuesday night at Birdland and his own well-attended solo gigs because wouldn't you know it, he can SING. No, I mean he can REALLY SING. Brad is also 44 years old. We know this because, during his show at The Green Room 42, he told the crowd he was celebrating an anniversary. Twenty-six years ago, at 18 (= 44), in some strange land called Alabama, he came out to his conservative southern family. Their response was to encourage him to leave home and remain in New York. Not to create sadness here my dearlings, for Brad was all smiles all night, but being an old gay southern belle myself, Brad's story came into focus quite quickly. Reminiscent of our own former Baptist days back home, hearing and watching Brad perform with the passion and love with which he sang each note, and listening to the down-home music of his speech, I clearly saw young, teenage Brad on a piano bench in a church singing for Jesus... REALLY Singing for Jesus.
His head thrown back, voice hauntingly howling through some of his more emotional holiday arrangements and passing musical phrases back and forth between him and his musical guests, one could easily imagine all the praise and worship the young Simmons led before coming to grips and bravely coming out. All of that said, an evening of just hearing this tall, handsome southern glass of sweet-tea sing along with his "fancy band" - John Miller (of Mozart In The Jungle) on bass, Dave LeBlanc on drums, and Cameron Mitchell on guitars - would have been holiday celebration enough, BUT add to that the likes of the Very Susie Mosher, Catherine Porter, Elizabeth Ward Land and the Chaos Girls; Anne Runolfsson & Robin Skye and you have music for all your Christmases yet to come.
This mixture of players and singers mixed so well together and uplifted the audience so much individually that Bobby has to name this Christmas cabaret one of the best of the season. "But why Bobby?" I hear you ask... Because it was less a cabaret and more a full-blown concert. Each artist brought something so uniquely their own, as soloists (or in the case of the Chaos Girls, a duet) that when they mixed it up in harmony with Brad, it was beyond thrilling. The sounds that they found together on the sacred carols would have lifted hands heavenward in the tabernacle, and the secular Christmas tunes had toes tapping and heads swaying as the waitstaff brought more booze. Particularly special, for this rainbow boy, were the two instances when Simmons sang with Elizabeth Ward Land. His gravelly tenor wail, coupled with her high, clear powerful voice on their haunting, howling AIR OF DECEMBER had the audience holding their breath until it was appropriate to exhale and applaud. They would later do a mash-up to wrap up the show that proved they were the perfect match, vocally.
Susie Mosher's manic RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER dance proved that commitment to the bit can make comedy chicken salad out of an idea of chicken $H!+. "Hey... whyn't Dance around the stage like an idiot in a red nose and antlers and... ya know... make it funny." Well, as a matter of fact, she did, plus she proved what a vocal powerhouse she can be, to boot, with CRY ME A RIVER. Dueting with the evening's lady in red, Catherine Porter, Fogelberg's SAME OLD LANG SYNE touched all the hearts in the room and the CHAOS GIRLS' melodious dueting on Skye's CHRISTMAS MOON elicited more than one sigh from my table companion (and me for that matter).
Holding it all together throughout was Mr. Simmons himself, with expert conducting (a great deal of the time just with his head), a proficient piano playing style, and his superior rock/pop/gospel vocals, he truly brought the concert to his cabaret. Poking a little fun at his family back in Alabama, he followed his story of coming out and ostracisation (What? Bobby knows words!?) with his novelty medley of DADDY, DON'T GET DRUNK THIS CHRISTMAS, I SAW MOMMY KISSING Santa Claus, & HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS all in a perfect country and western twang. Finally my pets, we have to say that Brad Simmons' BLUE XMAS really hit us in our Christmas bells and we can say that, along with any of his other gigs throughout the year, you should plan on a holiday trip to spend a bit of cheer with this fine performer and his friends and so, we happily give Brad Simmons' BLUE XMAS 5 out of 5 rainbows.
See All Things for The Green Room 42: HERE
*All Photos By Yours Truly, Bobby Patrick