Robert Elias, A Girl Named Chuck and Sean Waterman
Chrystal Hartigan Presents the Songwriters Showcase – 05/14/12
The Broward Center For The Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, FL
It was a night of outstanding voices and vocalizations this past Monday evening at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts when Chrystal Hartigan Presents (www.ChrystalHartiganPresents.com) (www.facebook.com/ChrystalHartigan) hosted its second Monday of the month Songwriters Showcase featuring Robert Elias (www.facebook.com/RobertElias), Charlene “Chuck” Chuckaree (www.facebook.com/Charlene.Chuckaree), and Sean Waterman (www.SeanWaterman.com). All accomplished songwriters with years and miles of performance experience behind them, this incredible CHP evening was a veritable kaleidoscope of changing vocal patterns that engrossed, enticed, and thoroughly entertained the listener.
The show began with Robert Elias who was accompanied by the soft yet eloquent keyboard styles of Scott Rowell. Robert performed with such power and vocal range on his songs that I was immediately reminded of the likes of Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thorton (1926-1984), or perhaps one of her contemporaries like Sophia Urista (www.sophiaurista.com). Solidly based in both jazz and r&b singing styles, Robert’s resonate voice effused the room like a hearty New Orleans jambalaya. In fact, the sounds of his music were so entertaining that I would have enjoyed Robert’s performance just as much even if he were singing in Latin or Japanese. Like Bobby McFerrin has so amply proven, sometimes a great singer doesn’t even need words, but just great sounds to inspire and stimulate your mind, your imagination and your heart.
Charlene “Chuck” Chuckaree played middle stage during this in-the-round evening performing passionate songs about her relationships with women. Having a certain Etheridge essence, a kind of Sobule sensibility, an unmistakable Lang largess, and an undeniable O’Connor charisma, her vocal range spanned from soft spoken and soothing to up-front, rock-your-socks-off booming. I was spell bound by both the gist and sometimes grittiness of her voice which uniquely clarified every emotional nuance in the lines she sang. In particular, she also had the best lyric of the night in her composition about the bitter sweetness of easy-come, easy-go relationships titled Half Lit, when she sang, “I’m just a stranger here beneath you and you’re all that I can see.”
Sean Waterman rounded out the evening with a rarity so unexpected and so special that for those of you who missed this wonderment, you might want to take a moment and go listen to his song Sour Patch Girl (www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFa1T-aN9kE) recorded live the day before his CHP performance on Michael Stock’s weekly WLRN (91.3 FM, Miami, FL) Folk and Acoustic Music show. His voice, no his very soul is so youthful, so gender-less that when he sings it personifies Sade wrapped around any boy band you care to mention, or even Tracey Chapman soft-stepping it with the boy’s choir of your choice. In the mind’s eye and ear he can at once be male, female, old, and young, and amazingly he does it all in seemingly perfect pitch. Maybe that’s why he’s launching his own record label later this year (Waterman Records and Phonograph).
So I for one got an ear full this week at CHP. An ear full of Thompson, Urista, Ethridge, Solube, Lange, O’Connor, Sade and Chapman. But more than that, a heart full of Elias, Chuckaree and Waterman. Now that’s worth listening to.