My mom is in town this week and she loves to go out. That includes everything from dining out to shopping to live entertainment. Last night we met at the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square after work. We sat in the bar at Rialto (where I went for restaurant week in March) and had a delicious dinner. We started with three small plates: beets and candied walnuts, roasted peppers with golden raisins and crisped artichokes with spicy mustard. For entrees we had the penne with peas, asparagus and parmesan and the steak salad. It was absolutely fantastic.
After dinner we met two family friends upstairs for a live blues performance at the Regattabar. The performer for the evening was Janiva Magness, a decorated blues singer. My mother had seen her perform years before at a blues festival in New Jersey and was raving about her talent. After her guitarist introduced her as the three time winner of the blues female artist of the year award, and the recipient of the B.B. King entertainer of the year award, I was quite excited to experience her show myself.
Janiva came out in a diva extraordinaire outfit! This outfit was worthy of Tina Turner or Mariah Carey. She donned a skin tight, silver, sequin mini dress with a bright purple, embellished cape. Oh, and did I mention the 4 inch heels? It was super fabulous!
The entire set she worked the stage grooving, shaking and firing off high kicks! Janiva has certainly earned her entertainer of the year award status! She rocked out to the up tempo songs like she was alone in her bedroom imagining herself playing to a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden, but she could also play the most convincing, heart broken woman and make you feel like you were intruding on her break up. She was, in a word, magnificent.
Backing her up was a sensational keyboard player, Jimmy, who looked like every boy I ever went to Hebrew school with. While I always prefer a piano to a keyboard, he slayed it. Her drummer was also high energy and the steady beat for the band. I've never been great at being able to hear the bass through the other instruments, but since the whole sound was unified, I'm assuming her bass player heavily contributed.
Aside from Janiva, for me, her guitarist stole the show. He played melt-your-face-off solos that were incredible. He would close his eyes and just feel the music, they way only a true musician can. He made me wish I had an ounce of musical ability just so I could experience that level of joy and love for your craft.
Janiva told the crowd she is 53 years old and both a mother and a grandmother. Sister, you are out of control. I hope you keep killin' it in clubs across America until you are 103.
Check out Janiva's website and follow her on Twitter @JanivaMagness.
*Please excuse the blurry photos, there is no flash photography or video recording allowed during the performance.