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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Not a Crotchety Doctor But Still Brilliant

So here is the first follow-up to how we were surprised by two of our “family room acquaintances.”

We’ve had Hugh Laurie on our TV so often over the past few years as Dr. Gregory House on the now-ended TV show named for the crotchety, but brilliant medical diagnostician that we hardly expected him to sing or play music. So it was a delightful surprise to hear how well he sounded when we heard him perform.

Friday night we saw and heard Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band, his six person back-up, perform New Orleans-style jazz and old-time music. What a treat. Laurie demonstrated not only his musical and vocal talents but also comic timing and the ability to captivate a live audience for well over two hours on stage at the Singletary Center at UK in Lexington Ky.

The stage was set as if it were your Great Aunt Nelly’s living room.  With lamps covered by shades askew, cloths draped over the pianos and tables, and an old-fashioned chandelier, you immediately felt as if you were in Nelly’s living room. That is, along with a few thousand of your closest friends and family.

Laurie sang, played piano and guitar. He was supported by a vocalist, an upright bass player, a percussionist who gave a fair impression of a one-man band, a keyboard player, as well as one musician, who, in Laurie’s words, played “blowy instruments” and another who played all manner of “plucky instruments.”  The music brought the audience members to their feet numerous times in delight.

Laurie also told tales of his motorcycle ride earlier that day from L’avul (the only time he departed from his native British accent) to Lexington, complete with a wrong turn where he found himself in a self-storage complex with gates that locked behind him. He credited his escape to the motorcycle dealer in the audience who had lent him the Harley.

Laurie also delighted the audience with reminiscences of his piano lessons as a child. Lessons focused primarily on posture and practices of songs “intended to destroy” any child’s incipient love of music. Except for one song, “Swanee River” which the teacher decided to skip. Thank goodness Laurie and his band did not make the same mistake. They rocked a wicked boogie-woogie version to the sold-out crowd.

If you have an Aunt Nelly in Louisiana who invites world class musicians to her parlor by all means skip Hugh Laurie’s tour. Otherwise, check out the tour’s schedule and get to the next performance anywhere near you. That’s as close as you will get to having Hugh Laurie and his world-class band perform in your living room.

You can read in Laurie’s own words about his inspiration to immerse himself in the music of the American south at


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