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Concert Fri Nov 16 2007

Concert Review: Baby Dee @ Hideout 11/15

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Last night at the Hideout, New York-based musician Baby Dee performed wearing a silky blouse, checkerboard capris, argyle socks, work boots and insane, untamed curly hair that covered a full two thirds of her face. Both her appearance and music are completely unclassifiable, the former falling somewhere between masculine and feminine, the latter a mixture of tender cabaret, guttural indie chanson and non-sequitur cackling comedy routine. The result was a wildy entertaining and assertively authentic performance that ended with the audience not wanting to go home, even after midnight on a cold work night in Chicago.

Her Wikipedia entry defines her as a “transgender musician from Cleveland” and her label, Drag City, describes her as “the badly angelic, Shirley Temple obsessed, high riding cat that ruled the streets of lower Manhattan in the nineties.” Neither description is particularly helpful, especially since most of the audience was neither from Manhattan nor probably old enough to have really noticed the mid nineties. So, the next time she's in down, or the next time you're in NYC, do yourself a favor and see for yourself.

Without saying anything at first, Dee began the concert by tuning her harp and then walked across the stage to play a soulful, melancholy piece on the Hideout’s old, torn open saloon piano. With Dee at the controls and in the Hideout’s dive-ish, fully Christmas-lit back room it felt like the cabaret club from the film “Short Bus,” where societal reject characters meet to let loose and be themselves (minus the free sex and nudity).

Dee, for sure, is comfortable in her own skin and the set list meandered from soulful ballads to catchy syncopated ditties ranging in subject from albino bees to the world’s religions (Mormons, Presbyterians, and Lutherans, to be exact). She sings in a guttural style reminiscent of Tom Waits and in between practically every song she cracked the audience up with weird stories (she once told a Swedish audience that they were all practically albinos and they weren't amused) and regular pokes at her blushing band – a couple of young men, a guitarist and double bassist. They’re so good looking, she boasted, “we’re going to be on the cover of Out magazine in a couple of days!”

In the middle of the performance, after she had accidentally performed the finale, she hilariously dismissed her two accompanists and proceeded to the harp, which she played with a vigor you don’t see at the Drake Hotel (or probably anywhere else).

She played the harp so vigorously, in fact, that, she stopped to tune it once again.

“The D# string is out of tune!” a good-humored heckler yelled as she adjusted the knobs.

“That string is bad, so you’ll just have to get used to me as I am.”

Baby Dee’s next album, “Safe Inside the Day,” comes out January 28, 2008. For now, listen at http://www.myspace.com/theonlybabydee. Baby Dee's website is http://www.babydee.org/.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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