She Said: Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra
We brought back Choose Our Adventure to celebrate our blogaversary and we were so thrilled with response. Thank you all so much for your votes and for your enthusiasm! It was a great way to help us celebrate one year of blogging! Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra was the clear winner in the votes so Saturday night we headed out to celebrate with Doc, Chou Chou and the rest of the gang!
First of all the music was really wonderful. It’s always a treat to listen to live music. RJ and I love big band music, swing and standards. We always especially love getting to hear those types of music being performed! The music was awesome. It wasn’t even just that some of the selections were personal favorites (“Chattanooga Choo Choo”, “Girl from Kalamazoo”, etc.) the music was really well played. Doc leads a tremendously talented orchestra that was a joy to hear.
The personalities of the band as well as its leader and performers are part of what makes seeing Doc such a treat. He’s a funny, charming and energetic bandleader! He even used a megaphone a la Rudy Vallee to sing a college novelty with the band. I loved it! His respect and love for Cab Calloway is evident in his enthusiastic performance and spot on vocal similarities. Chou Chou is absolutely gorgeous! She was also captivating, funny, delightful and radiant. She’s a combination of the best parts of Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop and Sophie Tucker. Her outfits were absolutely gorgeous. The first outfit that she wore onstage was so darling it really reminded me of a box of Valentine’s chocolates and her orange and pink gown- stunning! Everything she wore was darling and she captured the stage upon every entrance. She’s my new hero! Seriously, I’m absolutely floored by her talent and stage presence. Doc and Chou Chou couldn’t have been nicer when we met them after the show (and got our picture taken with them). They are absolutely one of my new favorite couples. RJ and I are always interested in creative couples because that’s what our dream is to perform together and to write together. Doc and Chou Chou are such a great example of a couple that is fabulously talented and fabulous together.
I also have to talk about the Girlfriends. They are a group of lovely and talented girls whose performances really stand out and enchance the show. They all also have stage names, which I think is so fun! I want a retro stage name, too! Maggie Paxson (Magpie) sand the sweetest version of “Skylark” and I loved it! Linsay Demming ( Angel Puss) did an adorable version of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” and I usually don’t like that song. But, I loved her version. Lindsay Webb ( Moxie) did a cute version of “Central Avenue”. Shannon Vendemmia (Sugar) sang absolutely stunning versions of two very different songs: “Creole Love Call” and a German tango! Her voice is amazing! I loved all their outfits, too! Can I be adopted into the Girlfriends? They are awesome!
Another treat of the evening were performances by twelve-year-old Geoff Gallante. His version of “Swing on a Star” was so charming! He also did a great job playing the trumpet! What a talent!
I really enjoy attending shows with big band music or standards because I do feel that in many cases it’s so much more modest and innocent then popular music today. Music from that era is certainly not immune to strong innuendo and blue themes. While I’m definitely not a fan of “The Man from Harlem” and “Whatever Lola Wants” there were so many other great songs like “Embraceable You” and “Night and Day” that I still endorse this style of music far above the generalities of pop music today. The Girlfriends and Chou Chou are glamorous and sassy while still being very classy and that makes me a happy audience member.
I had never been to the Alden theatre before, but I definitely plan on returning. It was a good venue. I like anywhere that’s clean, has friendly staff and good parking!
They had filled in the orchestra pit for dancing. While I love dancing I felt riveted to my seat to watch the performances for a good bit of the show. I really loved what I was seeing and felt transported. Isn’t that what you really want out of a show?
If you get a chance to see Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra in one of their public performances, run; don’t walk to get a ticket. Don’t be surprised to see us, because I know we’ll be there! Because we are performers and artists we can sometimes be a tough audience to please. But Doc, Chou Chou and the rest of the gang far exceeded even our high expectations. I was entertained. I laughed. I danced. It was awesome! I’m already looking forward to our next chance to see them perform!
Kari’s Rating- 9
He Said: Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palm Orchestra
When Kari found this act for the fourth spot in our Choose Our Adventure, I thought it sounded like a cute little idea. It turns out that they played the Rainbow Room every New Year’s Eve for a while, and also had input into the design of local venue the Carlyle Club. That’s some pretty good big band credentials. This was really fun. Doc, Chou Chou, the Girlfriends, and the band put on an amazing show that will make you sad it’s over.
When I say big band I really mean it here. Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra boasts 23 members! You really do feel like you are transported back to a nightclub act sometime between the 20’s and the 40’s. Doc and Chou Chou do a great job not just with song choice, but also with the costumes, and choreography. You just can’t take your eyes away from this show for a second.
I loved their versions of Glen Miller favorites like “Kalamazoo” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. They added a fun flair that the current Glen Miller Orchestra doesn’t match. Geoff Gallante was an incredible surprise especially singing Swing on a Star. Geoff is only 12, but if you closed your eyes, you’d never know. The Girlfriends were also impressive when they got their chance to shine individually. Sugar (Shannon Vendemmia) showed off a tremendous voice on Creole Love Call originally by DC’s own Duke Ellington. Angel Puss (Linsay Demming) also added that trademark fun to “A-Tisket A- Tasket”, which I liked better than the last time we saw the Glen Miller Orchestra.
Doc is crazy and unpredictable. I can’t imagine anyone performing Cab Calloway songs any better. Doc clearly loves Calloway and he does such an amazing job. On every song he deftly wields his comically oversized baton like a skilled ninja slicing through the air with his katana. Doc can also play the trumpet and he shows some of that in the act as well. He even uses an unmodified plunger for a muter. He’s so great with the visual gags even including a megaphone for the number Collegiate.
Chou Chou really is indispensable here. She switches between silly and glamorous very easily and was very entertaining. Her interaction with Doc was charming leading to the best line of the night, when she says to the audience “He’s a mess…but he’s my mess.” Despite any flirtations with audience members that may occur, she makes it clear throughout that he’s her man and she’s his gal.
There were some technical problems with the venue that Doc and company had nothing to do with. The sound system at the Alden Theatre had quite a few problems keeping up with them, and even though they lowered a dance floor over the orchestra pit it still was a little awkward to get out of our traditional theater style seats and dance. I also had so much fun watching them that I didn’t want to miss a second of the action on stage.
Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra is definitely a show from a simpler time. Simpler does not mean free of vice, but it’s pretty mild compared to a lot of current media. There’s no swearing, but Cab Calloway songs are frequently about drugs. The costumes certainly keep everything much more covered up than you see in mainstream dance music. There are still some hip shimmies and things of that nature, but nothing nearly as extreme as Beyonce or the like.
Thank you dear readers for sending us on such an enjoyable evening. I look forward to seeing Doc and the gang again, the next time they perform.
Don’t forget there’s still time to enter our Giveaway for the Travel & Adventure show! We are giving away two tickets for either March 9th or 10th! Enter today!