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Monday, August 27, 2012

I Kissed a Weather Girl: Martha Wash at B.B. King's NYC

Martha Wash has had an incredible career in dance music. She was a Weather Girl along with the late Izora Whitehead and, before that, the duo known as Two Tons o' Fun, originally the back-up vocalists for Sylvester and, then, an independent disco act ("Disco Heat", "Earth Can Be Just Like Heaven").

Martha was also the lead vocalist for C&C
Music Factory ("Gonna Make You Sweat") and Italy's Black Box ("Everybody Everybody"). Our girl has been around, and she's done plenty of solo work, too ("Carry On," "Lift Me Up," "Keep Your Body Working"), all of which charted well with club-goers, and especially her gay fans.

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Ms Wash perform a full, 90-minute set (with no opening act) at B B King's in Times Square. Previously, I'd seen her onstage strictly at dance clubs, where the format only permitted her to do short sets to taped musical tracks. So this concert, with a marvelous live band and back-up chorus, was indeed the treat of a lifetime for me.

Front tables and seats were removed to make space for a dance floor because, when Martha Wash belts out disco hits galore in that amazing voice of hers, there's no way you can stay seated. "I want to see you dance your asses off," the diva insisted, and audience members took heed, turning that bastion of rock'n'roll into a 42nd Street discotheque west of X/L.

The Beaver gets down
"I just want to see movement! Just you dancing!" That was what Martha requested and, in the picture to the right, yours truly, Dj Buddy Beaverhausen throws his hands up in the air as he discos down to Martha live.

In a black top that sparkled with shimmery colors, and plain black slacks, our ex-Weather Girl was looking good and sounding phenomenal. In her pure, powerful and resonant voice, she opened with "Strike It Up," then belted out "Everybody Everybody." Ms Wash successfully sued Black Box's Italo-House producers "to receive proper credit, and appropriate royalties, as the vocalist on all of these songs. Wash's courtroom efforts spurred legislation making vocal credits mandatory on Compact Discs and music videos," states Wikipedia. Obviously, no hard feelings at this point, Ms Wash obviously happy to claim these songs, rightfully, as her own.

"I'm just a working woman," the diva stated, far too modestly in my opinion. "And this is my job." She promoted an upcoming album (release date and further info unclear at this point), singing three dance tunes from it (including the outstanding "My Time"); sang her solo hits, "Catch the Light," "Listen to the People" and the anthemic "Carry On" with great inspiration and conviction; performed her huge smash with C&C Music Factory, "Gonna Make You Sweat;" and finished the set with the classic "Keep on Jumpin'," which she originally recorded with Todd Terry and Jocelyn Brown.

Ms Wash described her demographic audience of party people as "chronologically advanced." Looking around the room, that seemed to be generally true; a sea of faces 40 and over. But it was also an enthusiastic and energetic crowd, many of whom were certainly not too old to boogie on down and who were in amazingly good shape to boot. Let's not write off our disco dinosaurs as of yet!

Of course, the international dance-music star returned for an encore after the audience was cued by her musical director to shout out: "Martha! Martha! Martha!" That invocation brought the diva back onstage to do "It's Raining Men," her #1 Weather Girls dancefloor and radio hit from 1982, written by Paul Jabara and Paul Schaffer.

It was a pleasure to get to meet Martha Wash briefly after the show, though we may understandably have taxed her patience due to an iPhone camera malfunction while my lips were stuck to her cheek for the photo op, perhaps a bit too long for comfort. Two tons of annoyance? I hope not. Martha yelled out to my friend with the camera, in true diva fashion: "werq it!" I'm sure she was just kidding. But the kiss was captured.

Love huh!


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