When: August 17, 2013
Where: State Theatre, Falls Church, Virginia
Mary Ann Redmond has to be one of the first concerts I ever saw with my wife. I remember going to see her in the mid-'90s at City Blues, a small club in Washington DC, with some of her friends. Never heard of her; no idea what to expect and when this small, perky, blond haired woman got on the diminutive stage, I wasn't expecting a great deal. Shame on me ... For the life of me, I don't know how Redmond packs such an amazing voice into that small body. Anyhow, I've been a fan ever since. Over the ensuing years I've seen her play a couple of dozen times ranging from a restaurant in a local mall, small outdoor concerts, to the usual Washington area clubs. I've seen her play for crowds consisting of a couple of dozen folks, to audiences consisting of thousands. And one thing's remained consistent - I have yet to see a show that wasn't top notch.
She's a pretty big deal in the National Capital Region (over the years she's won something like two dozen Wammies (Washington, D.C.'s version of a Grammy)). Unfortunately that recognition hasn't travelled much beyond her local fame which is a shame since she has an amazing voice, a broad repertoire, a beguiling stage presence, and a top-notch backing band - I'm always amazed someone hasn't swept in and grabbed her rhythm section - drummer Deren Blessman and bassist Mike Tony Echols.
Lots of Redmond fans adore her softer material, but I'll tell you they're missing the boat. Redmond is at her best when she goes for AOR blues (Greg and Duane Allman would be proud to hear her cover of 'Whipping Post') hardcore soul (Ann Peebles 'I Can't Stand the Rain'), commercial pop (Patty Griffin's 'Time Will Do the Talking'), or rocks out (know how Aretha appropriated 'RESPECT' from Otis Redding? Well Redmond basically does the same thing with John Hiatt's 'Cry Love' - there's a section where she latches on to one of the high notes and literally holds it full-tilt for 30 seconds). Even better - her cover of
'Crossroads' is simply killer.