Carrie Smith's varied background in gospel, blues, jazz and dance has prepared her well for the program of Bessie Smith's interpretations that she is presenting through Sunday at Charlie's in Georgetown. Of course no one could assume the mantle of that great American artist, but Carrie Smith likely comes as close as anyone ever will.
"I never know what I'm going to do next," she confessed, and then took us back to a 1920s Harlem rent party with "Gimme A Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer." Her contralto voice, completely in control, growled, rasped and shouted while her body ran down a catalogue of shimmies and shakes to match the proverbial jelly on the plate.
Diners chuckled between bites at "Kitchen Man," and the house broke up over "I'm Gonna Change My Lock and Key."
"Careless Love" was a sermon that became a cry of agony. "After you've Gone" brought forth a red-hot momma.
Andre Franklin's piano accompaniment was full of rumbles, wobbles and smears. For all his young years he has captured the period well. Bassist Steve Novasel and drummer Bertell Knox laid down a bedrock beat.
Listen, this woman could hold a concert hall spellbound. In fact, she has just returned from doing just that abroad.