Artist: MARIA MULDAUR

Title: MARIA MULDAUR LIVE IN CONCERT

Label: GLOBAL RECORDING ARTISTS

Release Date: AUGUST 2009

BY DENNIS ROGER REED

MariaMuldaurLive.jpgMaria Muldaur has had a somewhat schizophrenic career. Her early work was totally roots oriented, working with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, singing, playing fiddle and serving as a sort of folk music sex symbol. But by far her biggest success was as a pop jazz chanteuse warbling Midnight at the Oasis. To some, she's the iconic hippy chick with the long thick hair, dancing to Bob Dylan at Newport. To others, she is an almost Mae West-ian entertainer, as known for her repartee and cleavage as her song selection. Midnight has become, like it or not, a standard, at least judging by Wal-Mart and recent elevator investigation.

The years have been kind to Muldaur, and the seamless transition from nubile teen to "hot mama" has occurred. I once heard a folk music radio show host back announce one of Muldaur's songs with a reminiscence of seeing her perform at the Ash Grove when he was just 14 years old. He waxed eloquent about her vocal abilities and her fiddle playing. And he mentioned that she wore a very short miniskirt, and there was a raised stage and he was in the very first row... and his reverie sort of slipped into dead air time and then a recorded public service announcement. Bonnie Raitt has made a few statements about Muldaur's ability to enthrall the male of the species. Midnight At the Oasis indeed.

Her voice is somewhat of an acquired taste, sometimes rough and sexy in her lower register, and airy and sometimes almost cartoony in her upper register. She is a master at using her vocal instrument fully, doing whatever she can to cajole that last bite to the lyric AND hit that high note at the end. She is a great interpreter of songs. She is an excellent judge of material and more importantly, an excellent judge of material that suits her own style. (Linda Rondstat would've done well to run some of her choices by Maria for her opinion, and maybe we would've been spared Willin' or Sail Away.) Muldaur makes songs her own. Her arrangements may add elements of reggae, jazz, blues, country and pop, but a Maria Muldaur song is a Maria Muldaur song, no matter who wrote it or recorded it prior.

Much of her more recent work harkens back a bit to that rootsy sound, with an emphasis on the blues. Her 2006 Heart of Mine - Love Songs of Bob Dylan interpreted some of Bob's lessen known jewels in Muldaur's inimitable style. The production on Heart of Mine was fairly slick, with You Ain't Goin' Nowhere a welcome retreat into Maria's fiddle playing and more grease in the skillet.

Muldaur took it on the road, and recorded it live. The song list on Live In Concert leans heavily on Heart of Mine, even replicating the track listings from that recording. Live In Concert features some of Maria's between song chatter, and of course Midnight At the Oasis is obligatory. For reasons unknown, her hearty live version of You Ain't Goin' Nowhere is referred to by Muldaur as Ride Me High, and is listed as such. It's the most rowdy, and arguably, most enjoyable moments of the project.

Suzy Thompson joins on fiddle, and Kimberly Bass provides background vocals. Muldaur's crackerjack slick band consists of Chris Burns on keyboards; Craig Caffall on guitar; Danny Caron on guitar; Paul J. Olguin on bass; David Tucker on drums; and J. Jaffee on steel guitar and percussion.

If you're a huge fan, you'll need to get this recording. It's more for the completist, unless you loved Heart of Mine so much that the thought of a live version makes you dizzy, then your day has been made.

Dennis Roger Reed is a singer-songwriter, musician and writer based in San Clemente, CA. He's released two solo CDs, and appeared on two CDs with the newgrassy Andy Rau Band and two CDs with the roots rockers Blue Mama. His prose has appeared in a variety of publications such as the OC Weekly and MOJO magazine. Writing about his music has appeared in an eclectic group of publications such as Bass Player, Acoustic Musician, Dirty Linen, Blue Suede News and Sing Out! His oddest folk resume entry would be the period of several months in 2002 when he danced onstage as part of both Little Richard's and Paul Simon's revues. He was actually asked to do the former and condoned by the latter. He apparently knows no shame.