Let Me Entertain You: The Loser’s Lounge Tribute to The Rat Pack @ World Cafe Live 1.28.11

If I ever muse that I was born in the wrong decade, I’m really lamenting the fact that I never got to witness the legendary after-hours lounge shows of the Las Vegas heyday. Long after the tourists had had their fill of garish entertainment, the performers would gather in the casino bars to sing, laugh, flirt and mingle. Some of these magic evenings have been captured on film or record, but no facsimile can quite capture the thrill of experiencing these performances live. One troupe that brings vibrant life to the catalogues of many beloved musical acts is New York’s Loser’s Lounge.

Established in 1993 by busybody keyboardist Joe McGinty, The Loser’s Lounge collects New York’s brightest talents and brings them together for cabaret-style tribute concerts. The participants vary, though a core group is usually present, and the artist being saluted changes with each run. Past shows have featured the music of Harry Nilsson, The Zombies, Burt Bacharach, Devo and many others. The Lounge doesn’t have one fixed location, though the group tends to float between a handful of venues in New York City. For their Philadelphia debut, not only did the Loungers bring their most charming regulars, but a trove of music from those mythical titans of cool: The Rat Pack.

As was fitting for such an undertaking, the Loser’s Lounge band was quite expansive for this performance. A six-piece combo was supported by a four-piece brass and woodwind section, and between one and four vocalists occupied the stage at any given time. Each gasser was decked in a slick tux, and every beetle wore her finest eveningwear. Leading the first song was my buddy Sean Altman, who would turn out to be one of the most talked-about performers (and not just because of his red jacket and bow tie). His renditions of “Come Fly With Me” and “Besame Mucho” brought a charismatic humor to the classic tunes. Guitarist David Terhune delivered a tender take on “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and McGinty’s frequent collaborator Ward White belted out “My Way” with such gusto, Ol’ Blue Eyes would’ve surely approved. Another surprise was guitarist Julian Maile taking on “You Can Count On Me,” better known as Sammy Davis singing words to the “Hawaii Five-O” theme.

As for the ladies, Connie Petruk cooed a sultry “Sway,” Tricia Scotti torched it up on “Alright, Okay, You Win,” but it was Victoria Liedtke’s fiery delivery on “Big Spender” and gentle sweetness on “Night And Day” that stole the show. Petruk also took a duet with Altman on the adorably lovey-dovey “Two Sleepy People.” With a wide variety of Rat Pack-related tunes covered, McGinty himself closed the night with “New York, New York,” and led the group (and the crowd) in a round of “Birth Of The Blues.” Exiting World Café Live’s sold-out downstairs, I expected to be greeted by the sounds of clattering slots and anxious table games. Though the lobby was a far less exciting reality, the air of sophisticated swank lingered like the cool bite of a gin martini. Cheers to you, Loser’s Lounge.

Click the picture of the top of this post to see more pictures of The Loser’s Lounge in concert!!


~ by E. on February 3, 2011.

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