NEW REVIEWS: on JUDY' show at JAVA JOES in San Diego Oct 15, 99
This summer I moved back
to San Diego. Sitting in an employment office, I happened to catch that
fine interview by Randy Hoffman in the Reader, with the time-warping
announcement that you were not only alive and kicking, but scheduled
to perform in my old neighborhood in Ocean Beach. Some kind of cosmic
For decades you have been a mysterious, special figure in my musical
landscape, out there somewhere between Lotte Lenya and Yma Sumac, or
maybe Leadbelly and Al Jolson. But let me say that the performance you
gave last week was anything but some pale reflection of some good old
days, like one of those PBS specials. It was a knockout!
Listening to the new CD afterward, with its nice arrangements, excellent
studio musicians and backing vocalists, and fine choice of repertoire,
it struck me that only a live concert recording could even halfway capture
the real Judy Henske. For one thing, the pre-song patter and clowning
around are priceless. Then there are those faces, those gestures, all
the camp schtick - and the response of the audience, the way you get
them rolling in the aisles, then all choked up, then splitting their
sides again, with no warning and no mercy. The audience and that tight
little band led by Craig are all you need.
It's nice that some of the old-timers had a chance to wallow in the
coffeehouse atmosphere, candles, funny leather hats, and all that. I
didn't care for it much even in the 60's. But part of the kick I got
out of that concert was the presence of a contingent of young people
who weren't even born in the 60's but thought you were the greatest
new discovery of 1999. For me, it was a very exciting rediscovery. My
thanks to you and Craig.
- Jesse Smith 10/20/99
Oct 15, 1999 The earth shook tonight. Authorities are still debating
the cause. Some say it was a 7.1 centered near the Hector Mine in Mojave..
others believe it was the rare phenomenon of a performance by the legendary
Judy Henske, and her illustrious husband, Craig Doerge...at JAVA JOES,
in the Ocean Beach section of San Diego.
More than living up to her reputation of being completely "uncategorizeable"
and "uncontainable", Judy thrilled the crowd with an array of styles,
mixing songs from the old days with the couples newer compositions,
much as she has done on her new CD, LOOSE IN THE WORLD. The highlight
of the first electric set, a spellbinding rendition of their sensual
minor blues ballad, "DARK ANGEL," that left everyone in the room in
stunned silence. The audience then erupted with a long ovation.
Somewhere around the middle of the show, Judy and Craig did an accoustic
set of some of her early recordings on Elektra, Mercury, and Reprise.
In an amazing time-shift Judy managed to to summon up the exact feeling
and tone of her original '60's hit, "HIGH FLYING BIRD." It was flawless,
and it was postively eerie, hearing her conjure up that particular "place"
after all these years.
........as usual, all Judy's fans, as well as those curious new converts
whose destinies had led them down Newport Avenue that fateful night,
came away ecstatic! She had taken them -- as no one else ever could
-- on a magical trip through funky, long-lost, beatnik cafes... through
sexy, rock n'roll pantheons of hedonistic delight--and right on up to
the glittering heights of uptown, music hall razzle dazzle! Along the
way, she had led them down countless other hiden trails of human experience
-- including of course the depths of the low-down, broken hearted, soul-rending
blues. What more could they ask for?
When Judy and Craig are "on" there is nothing that compares; this show
was completely UNFORGETTABLE. No wonder there were people there from
all over the West coast.. and even as far away as Kansas.
-Steve Holliday 10/25/99