A Bawdy Baby at the Bryant Lake Bowl
The only thing that stands between Baby Dee's coiffure and Sideshow Bob's manic 'do is a can of Aqua Net. When she sings, the crimson eruption that hangs in her face bounces and flops--she's a bawdy vaudevillian, a former circus performer, a Tin Pan Alley tranny trading in theatrical bombast and campy corniness. Her hair projects the emotions her face cannot, for she is playing a piano with an upright cabinet and looking only into its vertical wall of wood. The piano is off to the far end of stage right -- hey, didn't we once all agree that nobody puts Baby in a corner?
At plus-50 yrs old, Miz Dee is no baby--the real kids are her backing band, a 4-piece of indie rock runts who sometimes add to/ sometimes distract from her whimsical cabaret shtick.
"Are there any albinos among us tonight?" she asks at one point, but nobody answers--Brother Ali musta gone to the Daniel Johnston show instead. Confident that she can proceed without offending any of her audience, she launches into "Big Titty Bee Girl (from Dino Town)" off her recent Drag City release, Safe Inside the Day. "You just can't keep a good albino down!" she wails. It's not my cup of tea, but They Might be Giants must be kicking themselves for overlooking this particular angle on the novelty-songwriting front.
An accordion appears, but it's quickly put away again, to zero cries of protest. At a Baby Dee show, what you really want to see is a harp. "We have a harp," she says apologetically, "but we got here late, so it's in the truck." The band's late arrival has another consequence -- a few songs later, the venue puts the brakes on the gig; the Bryant Lake Bowl theater turns into a pumpkin at midnight, and we've got to clear out. Dee is gracious but clearly disappointed. "I coulda gone for another hour, easily," she says almost to herself as the house lights come up. If I may throw taste out the window, I would agree: its too bad Baby was aborted.