Deanna Bogart, who plays the piano and sings like nothing you've ever heard -- but should -- and her band put on a rip-roaring concert Friday at the Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis in celebration of the release of their new album, "The Great Unknown."
With Bogart, who lives in Howard County, on keyboards, sax and vocals, "Kajun" Kelley on guitar, Eric Scott on bass and Mike Aubin on drums, the band raised the roof with its seamless mix of blues, boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues, and jazz.
Bogart's stage presence is so infectious that she had the crowd spontaneously clapping and shouting in time with the music during the first song. Her vocal style is as full of vitality as her piano playing. Both display unflagging energy. Not even Bogart's 4 1/2 -year-old daughter, Alix, could stop her.
During "The Life of the Party," Alix climbed into her mother's lap as Bogart pounded with vigor while belting out the lyrics.
In addition to her electric energy, Bogart brings her sense of humor to a performance. Introducing "I'm Growin Older, But I'll Be Damned If I'll Grow Old," she announced she would be "on stage somewhere" when she is 97, to which someone in the crowd shouted, "Right here."
"When I'm 97, I'll be standing right here, real still," Bogart shot back. "I'll have 15 young men in gladiator suits right there," she added, pointing to the base of the stage.
The only disappointment was that Bogart did not showcase her much-touted abilities on saxophone. She gave a brief, almost half-hearted sax solo on "I Have Found Myself in a Love Funk" and skipped the sax solo that is in the album version of "But You Know." In her words, she "choked." Perhaps she sensed that the slow tempo didn't suit the mood she had set with her high-energy performance style.
To her credit, she cut the song short, announced, "OK, we'll play the blues," and launched into the best performance of the evening: "The Wrong Side of Love." This song was steamier than an Annapolis summer.
Bogart had a way of leaving the song hanging on one note, then picking it up with gusto and energy. When she sang about "wakin' up on the wrong side of love," she made it seem almost appetizing.
The concert wrapped up in the standard way, with brief solos by the band members, but the solos were anything but standard. Kelley's guitar solo displayed rock-star bravado. Scott, who co-wrote many of the songs on "The Great Unknown" with Bogart, played the most creative bass solo I've heard.
This is an act it pays to see live -- and to listen to on CD. Play it again, Bogie.
Pub Date: 6/18/98