Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Ronnie Spector at City Winery

New York City native Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett made her vocal debut at the Apollo at age 11. Later, she and her sister, Estelle Bennett, and their cousin, Nedra Talley became a teen vocal trio called the Darling Sisters, later known as the Ronettes. The Ronettes released a few singles without success until they connected with producer Phil Spector's "wall of sound" studio work. Ronnie adopted Spector's name professionally to become Ronnie Spector and later married him. The Ronettes had a string of hits during the early to mid–1960s, but the hits ended shortly after the British Invasion, the Spectors went on hiatus in 1966, and the Ronettes folded in 1967. Ronnie Spector periodically surfaced to sing on albums by Jimi Hendrix, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Eddie Money, the Misfits and the Raveonettes and recorded solo albums. The original Ronettes reunited only for the vocal trio's 2007 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Spector's fifth and most recent album, English Heart, her first album of new material in a decade, was released on April 8, 2016. Spector now lives near Danbury, Connecticut.

In 1988, Spector began performing at the Ronnie Spector's Christmas Party, a seasonal staple at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. In the summer of 2012, Spector debuted her one-woman biographical multi-media show. Her most recent composite, Best Christmas Party Ever, named after her 2010 five-song Christmas EP, Best Christmas Ever, was a combination of both her traditional Christmas show and a reflection of select portions of her career, augmented by vintage slides and videos. Presented over two nights at City Winery, the show began with Spector covering Gene Autry's "Frosty the Snowman," moved through several Christmas songs and cover tunes, most of the Ronettes hits, spoken word and visually-aided reminiscences, and ended with Spector dancing in a Santa suit. Now 73 years old, Spector maintains a distinctive voice, but lacks her youthful range; she did the best with what she had, and what she had was a guided musical tour of an era a half century ago. She sang covers of songs by Frankie Lymon, the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five, the Bee Gees, and the Carpenters; she updated her songbook with songs by Johnny Thunders and Amy Winehouse; it was those Ronettes songs, however, that enchanted her audience. Was it the best Christmas ever? Probably not, but it was a sparkle in the tinsel.

Visit Ronnie Spector at www.ronniespector.com.

  1. Christmas (Comes But Once a Year) (Amos Milburn cover) (sung by keyboard player)
  2. Frosty the Snowman (Gene Autry cover)
  3. Because (The Dave Clark Five cover)
  4. Do I Love You (The Ronettes song)
  5. It's Christmas Once Again (Frankie Lymon cover)
  6. Baby, I Love You (The Ronettes song)
  7. So Young (The Ronettes song)
  8. Sleigh Ride (Arthur Fiedler & Boston Pops Orchestra cover)
  9. I'll Follow the Sun (The Beatles cover)
  10. What'd I Say (Ray Charles cover)
  11. Walking in the Rain (The Ronettes song)
  12. Best Christmas Ever
  13. How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? (Bee Gees cover)
  14. (The Best Part of) Breakin' Up (The Ronettes song)
  15. You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory (Johnny Thunders cover)
  16. Back to Black (Amy Winehouse cover)
  17. Be My Baby (The Ronettes song)
  18. Encore: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (Jimmy Boyd cover)
  19. Yesterday Once More (Carpenters cover)
  20. I Can Hear Music (The Ronettes song)