One would like to be more gently disposed toward Josh White Jr., who appeared at the Cellar Door last night. His father was a pioneer folk/blues figure and Josh Jr. has been performing since the age of four. He ought to be a lot better.
From the moment White reached the stage, he displayed an ill-conceived and unfocused presence that was too long on rambling discourse and too short on substantial performance. Until he settled down, in the last third of the program, White tended to accent the worst aspects of the folk revival as dredged up from otherwise easily forgotten memories of the "Hootenanny" TV shows. Vocal bravado replaced convictions and sing-alongs emphasized his thin delivery. White is an interpreter, not a writer, and though he gave adequate readings of Bill Wither's "Grandma's Hands" and Hy Zaret and Lou Singer's "One Meatball," the program was pedestrian and uncommonly flat.
Much more impressive was the opening set by James Lee Stanley, a vastly underrated and under-recorded song writer who displayed a whimsical humor that balanced the poignant mood of muc of his material. His send-up of a Latin-boogie hit, "Oh Digitalis, Oh Cortisone," based on medical jargon, was the highlight of the evening.