Beth Hart At The Mint
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By Lisa Goich-Andreadis
In 1997 I saw Beth Hart for the first time at the world-famous Baked Potato jazz club in Los Angeles on a popular jam night. A girl with wild hair, overalls and a shy smile approached the microphone. Chatter filled the smoky room as the first notes of Aretha Franklin's "Chain Of Fools" began to play. When the girl in the overalls opened her mouth, the room went silent as the gritty notes fell from her tongue into the laps of those in front of her. We all saw God that night and would never be the same.
Flash-forward 16 years to Aug. 22 — Hart took the stage in her hometown of Los Angeles at the Mint and the room was electric. Selling out shows across Europe, Hart has spent the better part of the decade building quite a career overseas. It was her unforgettable 2012 Kennedy Center Honors tribute performance to Buddy Guy of Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" with Jeff Beck that reignited her flame in the United States and brought packed houses across the country to this summer's U.S. tour.
In the standing room-only sold-out club, bodies pushed against each other to squeeze close to the stage. The spotlight went on and Hart walked out to whistles and applause. Donning pigtails, motorcycle boots and a black tank top showing off a spray of tattoos, Hart sat down at her piano, welcomed her followers and went into her first solo ballad, "Baddest Blues."
Following her opener, Hart was joined by her guitarist of 14 years, Jon Nichols. The solid friendship Hart and Nichols share showed through in between their notes, with he on acoustic guitar and she on piano. They started with "Better Man," the ode to Hart's husband, Scott Guetzkow, and rolled into a rollicking cover of Tom Waits' "Chocolate Jesus."
Hart wove her way through old favorites such as "Delicious Surprise"; a new jazzy arrangement of "Lifts You Up"; "Broken & Ugly" from her 2003 album Leave The Light On; her 1999 hit "L.A. Song" and a beautifully pure solo version of her song "Favorite Things" from her 1999 album Screamin' For My Supper.
Hart took the crowd to church with a gritty, deep-down dirty version of Donny Hathaway's "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know." Shouts of "we love you, Beth!" shot across the room. She then described the title track from her 2012 album Bang Bang Boom Boom as "a song about two people who are madly in love but are actually psychotic serial killers." Hart's sense of humor worked its way into several of her songs throughout the night, including "Stinky Feet" ("wash your feet you stinky mother f***er") and "The Ugliest House On The Block" ("It's funky-a**").
"Sister Heroine" — written for Hart's late sister — had people weeping. For the final song of the night, Hart called Guns N' Roses harmonica player Teddy "Zig Zag" Andreadis to the stage (aka my husband), for a dripping blues version of "Something's Got A Hold On Me."
"Chocolate Jesus" (Tom Waits cover)
"Lifts You Up"
"I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" (Donny Hathaway cover)
"Mood That I'm In"
"Bang Bang Boom Boom"
"Spirit Of God"
"Broken & Ugly"
"Something's Got A Hold On Me"
To catch Beth Hart in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
(Lisa Goich-Andreadis, a Detroit native living in Los Angeles, manages the Jazz and Comedy Fields for The Recording Academy. She's currently working on a memoir titled 14 Days and can be heard as a special guest on "The Mitch Albom Show" on WJR-AM in Detroit. For more information on Lisa and her projects, visit her website at www.lisagoich.com.)