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Review: DIFFERENT DRUM: THE MUSIC OF LINDA RONSTADT at Arthur Newman Theater At The Joslyn Center

3:00pm January 30th, The Joslyn Center, Arthur Newman Theater, Palm Desert

Review: DIFFERENT DRUM: THE MUSIC OF LINDA RONSTADT at Arthur Newman Theater At The Joslyn Center
Francesca Amari performs Different Drum: The Music of Linda Ronstadt
at Frankie's Bakery, Cathedral City, CA

One of our brightest stars in Palm Springs is vocalist and cabaret artist, Francesca Amari. She's a terrific singer, and I enjoy her performances around town, but it is her cabaret shows that really knock my socks off.

This is the third cabaret of hers that I've seen, and each one is completely different with one exception: every single one of them is a damn good time.

Review: DIFFERENT DRUM: THE MUSIC OF LINDA RONSTADT at Arthur Newman Theater At The Joslyn Center
Francesca Amari, You Make Me Laugh:
A Love Song to Gilda Radner

The first show I saw Amari perform was You Make Me Laugh: A Love Song to Gilda Radner, which I couldn't have loved more if I tried. I have seen it several times and it tickles me every time.

Then there was Hip to Be Square: Guilty Pleasure Songs, where Amari took us back in her personal time machine, sharing some of her pivotal moments punctuated by the soundtrack of her youth. It's a bit yacht rock-y, and tons of fun.

Review: DIFFERENT DRUM: THE MUSIC OF LINDA RONSTADT at Arthur Newman Theater At The Joslyn Center
Francesca Amari and Wayne Abravanel,
Hip to be Square

Now Les Michaels' Cabaret series is presenting her show Different Drum, the story of Linda Ronstadt's life with Ronstadt's own music providing the soundtrack. You can catch it at the Arthur Newman Theater at the Joslyn Center on January 30th.

Ronstadt doesn't have an easy range to copy. She's got major chops with the coveted "no break" between her head and chest voice. It's something she and Amari have in common, and I am always impressed by that whenever Amari sings.

"I was in New York for one year and I went to a vocal coach for a little while. He was the first person to explain what I was doing with my voice. I hadn't been taught it, but-it's called a mix. There is no break between your head voice and your chest voice and I just was doing it naturally. He worked on helping me strengthen it. But I didn't know I was doing that. And I think that actually came from listening to her because she doesn't have that (break)," Amari explains.

The show has some of Ronstadt's biggest hits: Long Long Time, When Will I Be Loved, and Desperado but Amari also provides some of Rontadt's less traveled roads such as her album of classics with breakout hit What's New, as well as a Spanish language album revisiting the culture of her youth.

Throughout her life Ronstadt has been a musician magnet. She was consistently hiring and collaborating with future rock stars. In fact, if it weren't for Ronstadt hiring Glenn Frey and Don Henley for her own band, The Eagles likely wouldn't exist.

"They were all so young and just starting their careers, Jackson Browne-he was her neighbor, the Eagles of course, Randy Newman -all these great people that were her peers," Amari says. "They were all just hanging around together, making music."

Amari takes us from Ronstadt's childhood, to her time with the Stone Poneys, Neil Young, then the Jerry Brown years and beyond, all punctuated with songs from her extensive catalogue of music.

The show was conceived by Amari and producer Rickie Lee. They've done a terrific job of crafting a show that not only tells Ronstadt's story, it showcases Amari's captivating cabaret stylings. She's truly in a league of her own when it comes to this art form, and Lee has taken full advantage of that.

Frequent co-star/accompanist/collaborator and musical director Wayne Abravanel once again impresses on the keys and backup vocals. The two have established a great rhythm together. Their duets are quite lovely.

One of the highlights was a song I'd never heard before, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It will stay with you long after Amari breathes out the last haunting note.

Review: DIFFERENT DRUM: THE MUSIC OF LINDA RONSTADT at Arthur Newman Theater At The Joslyn Center

As You Make Me Laugh was a love song to Gilda Radner, the same can be said of Different Drum. Amari tells the story with panache, wit, reverence and reverie. And her vocals? Amari's bringing all the Ronstadt to the yard.

Highly recommended.

January 30, 3pm @ The Arthur Newman Theater in the Joslyn Center

73750 Catalina Street, Palm Desert, CA

$15 cash only

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