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Jim as Judy GarlandCHANNELING JUDY
By Fred Goss (taken from advocate.com)

     When I was a teen and Jim Bailey appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show to do his impersonations of Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Peggy Lee, I was always with my family. So 30-plus years later I went to see Mr. Bailey doing “Judy Judy Judy” at the Hollywood Roosevelt’s Cinegrill.

     The house lights dimmed, hushing the SRO crowd. The little combo struck up the notes of the Carnegie Hall overture, and then Bailey hit his mark in a lilac pantsuit, something I could easily picture the sprightly Garland wearing.

     Then he began to sing. I wish I could tell you what song it was, but the evening is all a blur now because within a matter of moments Bailey had become Garland—right before my disbelieving eyes and in my jaded ears. Of course he did the standards—eerily correct renditions of “The Man That Got Away,” “San Francisco,” “Chicago,” “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart,” “Over The Rainbow,” and many more—but it was the patter that really sold me, that stammering, dithery Garland way of telling a story.

     Musically, two moments especially shine: “Old Man River” was in full throttle when one of “Judy’s” jerky tics disconnected the microphone. Without missing a beat, she threw down the mike and finished the song unamplified—to one of many standing ovations. The other highlight was hearing “I’m Still Here” sung Judy’s way. In that moment I realized Bailey is no mere mimic but a true interpreter of Garland, a channeler if you will, and a genuine artist. Short of having actually been at the Carnegie Hall concert, I wouldn’t swap this memory for anything.


Copyright 2005 Jim Bailey. All rights reserved.
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