Review Fix Exclusive: Mary Elizabeth Micari Talks ‘Granny’s Blue-Mers’ And More
Review Fix chats with playwright Mary Elizabeth Micari, who discusses her upcoming show, “Granny’s Blue-Mers,” detailing its origin, inspiration and goals.
About The Show:
Singer Rev. Mary and pianist Dan Furman, joined by Courteney Lynn Wilds and Liz Rabson Schnore, unveil a steamy array of vintage bawdy blues paying homage to performers like Mae West, Sophie Tucker, Bessie Smith, Rosa Henderson, Ruth Brown, Stella Johnson … and Barrel House Annie, to name a few.
You’ll be amazed at all the meanings “grease my griddle,” “hot dog roll,” “mighty tight,” “arriving in low,” and “put some sugar in my bowl,” can have.
Rev. Mary, a former, Broadway staffer, is a trained singer in numerous genres including jazz, blues, showtune, even classical opera; Courteney Lynn Wilds is a trained opera singer and producer of a TV station devoted to opera and musical theatre; Liz Rabson Schnore performs at Brooklyn’s Jalopy Theatre and School of Music. Backing them up is celebrated composer and jazz pianist, Dan Furman.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Micari: It depends on what I am singing. In the case of blues I listen and listen and play and play until I find something that feels like a groove for me. The song has to have a hook for my voice and my mind and body. I feel music before I hear it. It sort of seeps into my bones first and then I hear it. Blues lives in my bones. It never leaves there so if a song or a player makes my bones buzz…well then its right. Also, with this act I was really trying to show how the women who really formed blues in general and specifically these comic songs were so damned amazing. They were brave and powerful. Voices ringing out no fear of being ostracized. Singing to the four winds about sex in so many different forms. I had seen the movie “Bessie” about Bessie Smith and have been a fan of Mae West all of my life. I am doing this to honor them too, their work too.
Review Fix: What makes this different or special?
Micari: No one really sings these songs too often. These songs are FILTHY with a capital F! They are not vulgar. Just dirty as hell. I love them.
When we think of blues we think of the old guitar players like Robert Johnson or even a more current artist like Eric Clapton or Hozier or Keb Mo. So many of them are men!!! Its mostly from a male point of view. I have no problem with male blues artists but it has been sort of a thing. The man, the guitar and the blues. What about women?
Well of course as I mentioned above there’s Bessie but what about Lil Johnson, Barrelhouse Annie, Ida Cox, Ethel Waters, Lucile Bogan (the filthiest of them all!), Ma Rainey, Memphis Minnie and so many more? What happened to them? Well here I wanted to explore them and the way they explored their sexuality in song.
I am doing only a 60-minute show this time but we have tons more to come. I also am working with amazing artists. I was/am and opera singer who now sings the blues…really not ever crossing the streams…I don’t sound like an opera singer! I also have Courteney Wilds with me on back up and on some solo vocals who is also a trained operatic singer. Both of us love the blues just as much as we love opera and the training we have gives up more quality of singing but also more power and we can use our voices in more intense ways. This is unusual I’d say. Then there’s Liz Rabson-Schnore whose really natural sound vocally as well as her expertise in blues and older music as well as things like Punk Rock come into play in all she touches. Her ukulele playing and musicianship are also fantastic. Of course without Dan Furman who is a composer as well as an amazing pianist, arranger and coach we would be nowhere at all. Dan has an amazing way of “using” a piano like these songs talk about sex! It’s a great thing to hear and watch. This is what is unusual. We are all trained and experienced, each of us is older too. Yes, we are all a “certain age” and with that age and training comes experience. Adding all that to simple blues songs with great lyrics makes it something not really heard before. Also, we are all dolled up, costumes, wigs and more. It’s a really great show.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this process?
Micari: Being a student of human nature, I think I learned more about being a woman and how women view sex. I have come to realize more that taking sex too seriously is silly. Sex is fun and it’s like a great party. I feel freer. I am surely freer now. Even though I am older I feel like nows the right time to get this done. I think as an older woman I have so much more experience to talk about.
Review Fix: How does it feel to be a part of something like this?
Micari: This is F*****g FUN! That’s how it feels. To be surrounded by such amazing artists, to let my voice go on this music is like ecstasy! That is how it feels. Like fun, freedom, Sex, power, magic.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this show and for the future?
Micari: This is the first show. I want to get booked EVERYWHERE anyone wants to hear great blues and laugh their asses off. That’s my goal. To perform a lot.
Review Fix: What do you think your audiences will enjoy the most?
Micari: I think the first would be the lyrics then the music. Then of course our amazing performances.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Micari: For me what is next is more composing, something I have been dipping into in an entirely different mode of music and some Gaelic and Italian singing, harp and piano study, more work on my washboard technique and a more serious blues act with sad songs as well as some unusual ones too.