Back in the early '60s, Barry Gordy's Motown label was more than just a record company; it was also a finishing school for several promising singers still in their teens.
Motown artists were instructed in every facet of their careers, from personal grooming to showmanship. Martha Reeves, one of Gordy's prize pupils, learned her lessons well.
What's more, she hasn't forgotten a thing. Appearing at Desperado's last night, Reeves gave 100 percent, turning in one of the most entertaining and joyful concerts of the summer.
She came out shaking a tambourine above her head to the instant rhythm of Van Morrison's "Wild Night" -- as if to warn the capacity crowd of what was to follow. Her voice was strong and clear, and the backing she was provided by a quintet of local musicians was surprisingly surefooted given the little time thy had to rehearse.
By the time Reeves began to recount her past hits, there was no stopping her -- or, for that matter, the crowd, wwhich filled in for the missing Vandellas whenever harmonies were needed.
Unlike so many of her contemporaries, Reeves obviously enjoys singing her old songs. That fact made "Heat Wave," "Jimmy Mack" and "Dancin' in the Streets" all the more irresistible and the extended ovations she received all the more deserved.