This is a reprint of my remarks about “Chasin’ Dem Blues” at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater presented in their Stackner Cabaret during the 2019 – 2020 season. This originally appeared on my Facebook timeline January 23, 2020.
Ever leave the Milwaukee Rep’s Stackner Cabaret thinking you’d like to hear another song or two? Well, with Chasin’ Dem Blues that isn’t likely going to be the problem. You will hear all or part of 34 blues songs during the show. So you are going to hear rousing renditions of your favorite blues standards and a few you probably don’t know! And you will whoop and hoot and clap along and join in with the sing along in the second act. Trust me on this.
There are four actors in Chasin’ Dem Blues. And the standout is Maiesha McQueen! Her presence and voice just fill the room from lights up to lights out! And Brandin Jay ain’t no slouch either! He will keep you mesmerized as well. And then there is Eric Noden…guitarist extraordinaire plus banjo and blues harp and James Scheider on piano and vocals (and he can dance!). None of them get a rest…for 34 blues songs!
And the side gift here is a brief history of the Grafton Chair Company, the parent company of Paramount Records, who made race records in Grafton Wisconsin. If you weren’t a scholar of the blues who knew what and where, well you will!!
One quibble: this is the blues and it needs a bottom. A bass guitar would be handy (but I may be biased having played bass in blues bands in college). But really, just mike that acoustic piano. Mr. Scheider is rolling the barrelhouse, walking the 12 bar blues, and rocking the boogie woogie but his left hand just gets lost in the mix.
Chasin’ Dem Blues: Untold Story of Paramount Records
Written and Directed by Kevin Ramsey
January 17 – March 22, 2020