Long local cabaret favorites both together and separately, vocalist Tom Michael and singer-pianist Beckie Menzie made a very strong impression at last week's Chicago Cabaret Convention. Completely lacking the arch pseudosophistication some people associate with the genre, they touched both casual listeners and aficionados with their directness and intelligence as well as their musical skills. They're reteaming for a one-nighter that will be their last formal appearance in town for a while; Menzie soon heads off to the world of summer stock, while Michael is curtailing live gigs to concentrate on wrapping up a new CD. Their show Cookin' Again will feature classics (a playful vocal version of the Dave Brubeck instrumental "Take Five" as well as standards by Gershwin, Berlin, Loesser, and Bernstein) and contemporary selections by the likes of Cheri Coons, Tom Andersen, and Michele Brourman (whose "The Ballad of Robin and Marian" gets medieval on the modern question of gender roles). A definite highlight will be the medley of ballads from Lost in the Stars and Aida; the idea of pairing tunes by Kurt Weill and Elton John might seem absurd, but Menzie's tasteful, thoughtful arrangement and Michael's supple tenor and expressive phrasing make the two songwriters seem like soul mates. Thursday, March 28, 8 PM, Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret, 1383 N. Milwaukee; 773-278-1830.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dale Fahey.