On Friday June 22, Robyn Spangler brought back her revered show in honor of Linda Ronstadt - Why I Love Linda Ronstadt - to the Gardenia for one night only. After reviewing the CD last November, I was more than impressed with Spangler's talent and easy listening vocal quality. But what she gave me in person as a performer far surpassed my imaginings! Accessible, friendly with an aura of poise and self-confidence, Spangler is a vibrant night club singer who fully engages and entertains her audience. I had such a good time, when the hour was over, I wanted to cry out for more...more Nelson Riddle, more Gilbert and Sullivan! Leaving an audience wanting more is a sign of a truly great cabaret artist, and Robyn Spangler fills the bill.
Spangler performed about 10 of the songs on the album plus four others. Of those 10 she included favorites like "Desperado", "What's New?", "Lush Life", "When Will I Be Loved" and "You're No Good". Ronstadt essayed Pirates of Penzance in the 80s - a radical shift in vocal style - and in her show Spangler includes "Poor Wandering One", showing off her lilting soprano. Spangler indeed trained for the stage and Ronstadt considered Maria Callas a great contributor to her musical skill. She opens the show with "Heat Wave" and "It's So Easy", two of Ronstadt's rock favorites not on the cd. I love the way in which Spangler formats her presentation with casual anecdotes about the lives of both herself and Ronstadt, similarities and differences. I also love the select few minor costume adjustments in between, like adding a touch of elegance to the Nelson Riddle arrangements by putting on long black gloves. She talks about loving Linda Ronstadt, because she could relate to her musical passion as she passed through life's traumatic experiences. For example, when Spangler was a sophomore in high school at the height of her cheerleader popularity, she was in love with a jock, who dated her...and every other girl he managed to put the make on. Thus follows "Hurt So Bad" that depicts Spangler's own depression about love. She also praises Ronstadt for her strength of character as a champion female singer in the primarily male dominated business, calling her a woman who did not need a man to define her. Yet, ironically, at the top of her form, Ronstadt claimed to never feel more alone, even as a single mom. Not the case for Spangler who is happily married with a teenage son of her own. Different, yes, but equally, infectiously passionate!
Accompanying Spangler were incredible musical director Todd Schroeder on piano, who can literally make the ivories talk, and wonderful Tim Chritensen on bass. Both musicians also accompany Spangler on the album. As I've said before, Robyn Spangler does not do an impression of Linda Ronstadt; she sings her music and pays tribute to her tremendous versatility as an artist. This is a very entertaining show with a charm all its own. You'll come away with a delicious taste in your mouth for Ronstadt's music and for Spangler, who imposes a delectably fresh spin on it.