Prior to the release of her solo album last year, Cindy Bullen made a living as a backup vocalist for people like Elton John and Bob Dylan. Now she's out on her own, fronting a four-piece band and pushing a new album -- and a new identity. She still has a long way to go.
Bullen's performance last night at the Cellar Door underscored her influences and did little to enhance her own reputation as a musican. Like many rock 'n' roll women (most notably Marshall Chapman), Bullens is heavily indebted to Mick Jagger. Perhaps her pouting and prancing would have been more effective on a larger stage, but last night much of it appeared contrived and studied.
Bullens was nearly halfway through her 11-song set before she salvaged it with some unadorned rock 'n' roll. On "Steal the Night" and "High School History," her husky voice and the spring-loaded rhythms generated by her lean band finally jelled -- and polite applause gave way to calls for an encore.
Earlier, Tom Ogden entertained the audience with an act that capitalized on imaginary card tricks, erotic balloon sculptures and a rubber chicken, which he vainly attempted to balance on his chin. Not a class act but a very funny one nonetheless.