Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Pam Lawson spends an hour on her favourite Cole Porter songs, with help from an extremely talented and versatile jazz quartet.
Pam Lawson is passionate about music, musicals and Cole Porter in particular. You can tell that from her opening remarks as she ponders on just how many of his songs she can get through in the hour available to her at Outhouse, a wonderfully bijou bar venue down Broughton Street Lane.
In the event, the show is anything but rushed, more a gentle saunter through a selection of Porter’s better known hits and a few dear to the heart of the show’s star. This sort of music is best backed by a sizeable band and, whilst this wasn’t going to happen in such an intimate venue (well, not if she wanted an audience), the enterprising Ms Lawson managed to surround herself with the right number of musicians to keep her on the straight and narrow.
Tom Findlay on keyboards was steadiness personified. The Guinness-loving Ed Kelly provided one or two wonderful, virtuoso moments on bass to add to the solid rhythms he supplied the rest of the time. And the multi-talented Dave Carnegie on drums (all the way from Barbados and who is apparently a dab hand on the ivories as well as something of a singer) kept everyone on the beat. But the stand-out musician (who was in some danger of eclipsing the headline act) was Colin Steele on trumpet. The mellifluous sound flowed from his instrument was like the waters of a babbling brook, providing almost a second voice to augment the soulful intonations from Lawson.
Songs like “Anything Goes”, “Miss Otis Is Unable To Lunch Today”, “Too Darn Hot” and, to finish, “You’re The Tops” will be familiar to Porter fans and there’s the chance to pick your own number for Lawson to sing as she bravely hands round a hat, inviting audience members to draw a song title at random from it. Dealing with this randomness is meat and drink to such an accomplished bunch of musicians but it adds variety to what is a pleasant, reflective hour of crooning.
In many ways, this is what the Fringe is all about. A real life example of the saying “don’t give up your day job”, Ms Lawson is living her dream (that of being a chanteuse) outwith her working hours. She’s assembled a band, found a venue, backed herself to draw an audience and put together a show that works. All in her spare time. Good on her. Long may she continue to pull in the punters.