Kelly Hogan and Wooden Leg

The Hideout--Chicago

August 19, 2004

I turned to my friend Angela in the middle of a song and said, "The music's really smart. It has a lot of stops and go's." I was validating Angela's musical taste, as it was her who's seen Kelly Hogan sing soul and jazz at The Hideout a few times. In an interview by The Chicago Tribune, Hogan had a similar outlook on her music: "I like dynamics, I like lots of drama--lots of R&B ballads with lots of stops."

The Hideout was a wonderfully intimate bar/performance room. It had an old piano in the corner by the stage. That's always a good sign. The place was cool, laid back, and hipsterish. For example, the club's name was laid out above the stage with colorful, laminated cardboard pieces you'd expect to see "Happy Birthday!" spelled out with. Once Hogan and her band got hot, it was standing room only, but that just gave the room more energy and happy anticipation.

Now, to Hogan and her band. I wouldn't be surprised if Hogan's soprano could get her out of captivity. Hogan played no instrument Thursday night, but her voice was the focus and more than enough. The kind of voice you need in order to cover Billie Holliday. The great thing about Hogan was that she never missed a note, never reached for more than she could get. I remember walking into the bar from the performance room to get a beer, and Hogan's voice was coming through the speakers as crisp as a recording. Hogan will actually be making a live album at The Hideout in a few weeks. Pick that CD up. I am one who's not worried about the possible quality of it.

Anyway, Hogan stuck to torch songs, and she was just as comfortable covering a country tune as she was a jazz song. Man, it was make-out music. This would be a great show for a date. At the same time, if you're recovering from a break-up, the music will just depress you.

Whether she was covering mournful ballads or moving through a maze-like groove with her band, she approached the material with the sincerity and seriousness of someone who's been around the block. Someone who's lost love at least a few times. I believed the passion in her voice, so she was able to bring me from a slower-paced song into a faster one without me questioning the change in style. Still, she wasn't stone-faced. She was friendly and in a good mood. She had an unexplainable confidence that drew me in. Hogan was joined by guitarist Joel Paterson, organist Scott Ligon, and drummer Kevin O'Donnell.

Her band was so tight! Every song was a success. As mentioned before, the band kept the songs interesting by twisting their tempo and direction. This definitely made the songs more relevant and gave them more kick. It made me smile, at least.

It all made me smile.

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