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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 Roosevelts 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 Garlandright before my disbelieving eyes and in my jaded ears. Of course he did the standardseerily correct renditions of The Man That Got Away, San Francisco, Chicago, Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart, Over The Rainbow, and many morebut 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 Judys jerky tics disconnected the microphone. Without missing a beat, she threw down the mike and finished the song unamplifiedto one of many standing ovations. The other highlight was hearing Im Still Here sung Judys 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 wouldnt swap this memory for anything.
Copyright ©2005 Jim Bailey. All rights reserved.
Master Tony Bonazzo: Tbonazzo@snet.net