Road Report — A Martini at Martuni’s

katy-stephenI got to go to one of my favorite watering holes in San Francisco, Martuni’s.  It’s one of the last piano bars I know of in the country.  The bar has two rooms, a front room with the bar and a show room in the back.  (What I haven’t been able to find for it yet is a Web site.)

Katy Stephen, a terrific singer/pianist was playing in the showroom.  She has a vibe that is Nellie McKay crossed with Kenley from last season’s Project Runway.  Terrific vocal quality, singing everything from Stevie Wonder to a Mozart aria.  Her piano work was reminiscent of the early, fun, pop/jazz Ann Hampton Callaway before she decided to go the more serious jazz route.  She was also terrifically inventive and sensitive when accompanying other people who sang.*

I got a copy of her CD Saints of the Lost Cause Saloon.  It has the most complicated packaging I’ve ever seen.  It is delivered in a box that looks like it should hold note cards, and the disc is tied in a Jo Malone-esque black ribbon around a sheaf of individual pieces of paper/collage art giving info about the songs.  It’s an appropriate presentation for a fascinating, dense disc.  The songs, mostly written by Stephan, have a quirky folk quality enhanced by unique orchestrations incorporating instruments like organ, saxophone, and toy piano.  I’m looking forward to re-hearing the material. 

1 Betrothal
2 Here’s to Us
3 I’ll Grow a New Heart
4 Battleship Rose
5 Clouds
6 The Humming Chorus
7 On Stow Lake With the Nightingale & the Rose
8 Built to Fly
9 The Revenant
10 O Grace
11 Aileen
12 Some Where

(Yes, I got to sing.  I did Rhode Island Is Famous for You — with a lyric glitch in the 2nd verse — and Windmills of Your Mind with Stephan doing a fascianting tango break in the middle.)

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