Live From Adelphi: Carole J. Bufford- Fearless Females of the 60s and 70s

MD/Piano – Ian Herman, Guitar-Peter Calo, Bass – Mark Palombi, Drums – Mark McLean.

Carole J. Bufford has great affection and quite a bit of empathy for this period she was too young to fully experience, but looking back, felt men were musically represented far more than women. Thus this celebration of the era’s  distaff talent.

“Sixteen year-old Lesley Gore said she was tired of singing only frivolous party songs; she wanted something of substance” introduces “You Don’t Own Me” (John Madara/David White). Bufford opens with a sneer, then palpably revels in autonomy. Walking past Tower Records, Dusty Springfield heard The Exciters sing “I Only Wanna Be With You” (Mike Hawker/Ivor Raymode) and decided to go solo with the song. Bufford is playful from her crinkled nose to her body’s swing and bounce. “You stopped and smiled at me,” she sings leaning forward with delight.

Next comes a tandem “Anyone Who Had a Heart” (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) and “I Who Have Nothing” (Carlo Donida/Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller). The first is clip insinuation; arms now free, fingers spread. The second exercises skilled vocal control that swells, retreats, retracts and whips wide with a sob in her voice.

“I put those two songs together because it’s my lifelong dream to have Shirley Bassey and Dionne Warwick do a duet – but there’s a little bad blood between them.” Apparently in competition, both performers recorded the theme song for James Bond’s Thunderball. Both were then rejected in favor Tom Jones. Bufford shares just enough about a number to effectively give her audience context.

“No matter what you feel about the election, you can probably see the similarity of divisiveness to the 1960s. I think we should all remember to be kind and think about others who are not like us… Judy Collins had a song that captured it.” Calo’s singular guitar fingerwork buoys a pristine folk rendition of “Turn, Turn, Turn” (Peter Seeger/the Book of Ecclesiastes).

When Nancy Sinatra told Lee Underwood she wanted to sing his “These Boots Are Made for Walkin,” he said it was a man’s song. “Coming from a man it sounds abusive, from a woman, it’s just right,” she responded. A familiar bass vamp indicates the artist’s at-ti-tude. She’’s flirty and cocky; totally unselfconscious in front of cameras. “…these boots are gonna walk all over you” arrives a purposeful rasp. And she frugs!

With Herman’s arrangement, Bufford takes Cher’s “Bang! Bang!” (Sonny Bono) from the pop realm into something out of Brecht/Weill. She’s still, focused. Mama Cass went solo with 1931’s “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (Fabian Andre/Wilber Scwandt/Gus Kahn), a song to which she vehemently objected. This rendition has a nifty, old time sound; down stroke on strings and a sassy piano riff. History, as we know, proved her wrong.

Recorded by Jeannie C. Riley, Tom T. Hall’s “Harper Valley PTA” brings out the south in Bufford. Twangy guitar delivers a head-bobbing beat. “This may have been the last time when covering other people’s songs (read: hits) was welcome. I can think of no greater example than Nina Simone’s version`“I Shall Be Released’ (Bob Dylan). She brought all her experience to it.” The rendition is lfilled with gravitas. Calo adds appealing vocal harmony, evoking a spiritual.

One of tonight’s highlights is an interpretation of Carole King/Gerry Goffin’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” Originally what Bufford calls “infectiously poppy,” here, like King’s own version in Tapestry, the song is pure ballad. Stirring piano is refined/stroked. Without noise, the vocalist plumbs poignancy. Also affecting is Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” (Charles Fox/Norman Gimbel) whose layered instrumentation makes it rich without exaggeration.

Apparently Bobby Russell wrote “The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia” for Liza Minnelli. A little hard to imagine. It was recorded by Vicki Lawrence. Georgia Peach Bufford takes to it like home cooking.  Southern inflection is back. Long-lined lyrics draw out acting. She plays roles.

Bufford closes with Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” popularized by Janis Joplin. Laconic guitar sets a measured march. The vocalist commandeers her stage, whipping out lyrics. Cool, honky-tonk piano takes a turn. “Me and Bob-A-McGee” the vocalist sings. “Nothin’ ain’t nothin’”- she points – “But it’s free.”

There’s no questioning the sincerity of “Thank you for supporting the arts.”
The deft, enjoyable show offers an appreciative, upbeat reminder of the times.

All quotes are Carole J. Bufford

Presented by Adelphi University, Spot-On Entertainment, and RJ Productions

“I’ve always said that I feel more comfortable onstage than I do in normal, everyday life. Feeling the light hit me, hearing the band behind me, and getting thoroughly lost in song was positively therapeutic. I knew that not having an audience would feel a bit awkward, but what I didn’t anticipate was how exhausting and overwhelming it would be.

“I’m a high energy performer. A lot of that energy I get back from my audience. At the end of the night I was completely spent, but I felt more like myself than I had in months. I’d truly missed making music. I’m so thankful for innovative minds that continue to find mediums where artists can display their work until we can all safely get back in the same room..”
Carole J. Bufford

Opening: Ian Herman, Carole J. Bufford and Peter Calo

Adelphi University Performing Arts Center Live From Adelphi
NEXT UP: November 22, 5 p.m. – Kelli Barrett and Jarrod Spector
December 6, 5 p.m. – Eva Noblizada

About Alix Cohen (1692 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of ten New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, TheaterLife, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.