Rickie Lee Jones drops by School Night at Bardot in Hollywood
It didn't look as though anyone in the tightly packed space that is the Bardot club in Hollywood was the least bit thrown by the nominally surreal aspect of Rickie Lee Jones’ appearance there Monday night.
The veteran singer-songwriter dropped in for a brief live performance arranged, in part, to highlight her new DVD documenting ... a live performance.
The DVD, "Live in Stockholm," due July 5, is the first of her 30-plus year career, and after her quick solo set she said backstage that it was the culmination of a long-brewing desire to collaborate with filmmaker Ian McCrudden, director of the Grammy-nominated 2009 documentary “Anita O’Day -- The Life of a Jazz Singer.” Jones said she'd been wanting to work with McCrudden, who also has been a neighbor during her many years in Los Angeles, since she saw the O'Day film.
The often self-critical musician, celebrated both for her relentless sense of adventure in concert and perfectionism in the recording studio, said: "It’s got some pretty good parts. I don’t do much that later I don’t go, ‘Blecch, I suck.’ But on this, it’s got some good things on it." She did the 2010 show in a trio setting for which she was accompanied by bassist Joey Maramba and percussionist Lionel Cole.
The 2 1/2-hour video encompasses 19 songs spanning her career, and the audience at Bardot got a sampling before Jones took the stage armed with just an acoustic guitar. Monday's show was part of the 14-month-old School Night series at Bardot, curated by KCRW-FM deejay Chris Douridas, that's also hosted the likes of Chrissie Hynde, Neil Finn and Ron Sexsmith, as well as rising local and touring musicians the station is championing. Jones played just three songs: “Altar Boy,” a left-field cover of Jefferson Airplane's "Comin’ Back to Me" and one of her concert standards, “Satellites,” for which she recruited the house to provide choral backup.
Elsewhere on her current tour, she's decided to join the growing number of heritage artists who are performing entire albums in concert by playing her first two, 1979’s "Rickie Lee Jones" and 1981's "Pirates," from beginning to end.
“I’ve done so much of ‘Pirates’ and so much of the first record -- they’re never far from me -- I thought I’d like to do them in their entirety -- maybe even doing them in sequence as they are on the record; we’re still working that part out,” she said. Seeing Van Morrison play his 1968 album “Astral Weeks” on his 2009-2010 tour inspired her to try it with her own material. If one of rock’s most notoriously willful iconoclasts could do it, she reasoned, why shouldn’t she?
“Artists like that, their refusal to do what people want them to do for decades, then when they finally come and do that, maybe it’s fresh for them,” she said before stepping out of Bardot’s green room for a cigarette. “But the record has to be of a piece to make it worth doing in its entirety.”
For the record, 1:05 p.m. June 28: An earlier version of this post said the "School Night" series is sponsored by KCRW-FM. It is curated by KCRW deejay Chris Douridas.
-- Randy Lewis
Photo: Rickie Lee Jones performing during the 2010 concert at the Berns Salonger theater in Stockholm. Credit: Ian McCrudden.