Celebrate the power of women in the history of the blues with ‘Ladies in the Blues’ music theatre show at Liberty Hall, Dublin on February 14, 2020. Focusing on pioneering blues women, this live musical journey travels from the gospel roots of the 1920s, including the first recording by blues women, Mamie Smith, through vaudeville & jazz, to the blues rock of the 60s & 70s. This uplifting show brings these great women and their stories to life through music and evocative visual backdrops.
Valentine’s day 1920 was an iconic moment in blue’s history when Mamie Smith stepped up to the microphone in The Okeh Company in New York and shouted out “That Thing Called Love”. This was the first recording of a black female vocalist! It led to a second recording which sold 75000 copies in its first month of release and although it wasn’t a classic blues recording it opened the door to a generation of ‘Classic Blues’ vocalists. Through that door came Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Ida Cox, Alberta Hunter and many more.
Ladies in the Blues’ journey began in 2015 as a pub gig in the Hot Spot Music Club in Wicklow and has since performed to SOLD-OUT audiences in the Mermaid Arts Centre, and received standing ovations in national theatres and festivals across the country. This year the show performed on the acoustic stage at Glastonbury Festival, the largest greenfield festival in the world.
Fronted live on stage by four of Ireland’s greatest female exponents of the blues each with their own interpretation of iconic songs; these singers are accompanied by a crackin’ band of blues sidemen. The all Irish cast includes singers – Clara Rose, Ireland’s songstress of rockin’ blues; Wicklow native, Emma Nicolai; Dun Laoghaire Queen of Vaudeville, Jhil Quin on washboard and vocals and introduces special guest, Anne Randolph. Anne is Wicklow-based and has just released her new album ‘If this be love’. The show’s ‘house band’ are the cream of the Irish blues scene and comprise Ed Deane on guitar, James Delaney on keys, Eoghan O’Neill on bass and Kevin Malone on drums.
Once described by The Irish Times as ‘the centre of social anarchy in Ireland …’ , Liberty Hall, a former rebel stronghold and home to the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, is a fitting venue to celebrate the centenary year of these legendary women of the blues who survived great adversary to influence the course of musical history. Transforming the blues from local folk music into the art form it is today these blues women brought black culture into the American main stream and deserve to be remembered and celebrated.