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Hugh Laurie jazzes up the Riviera Theatre - VIDEOS

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

blog by Kathryn Przybyla  • 

This was a show like no other.

A fan of all genres, I had been looking forward to this jazz concert for weeks frankly because I have never been to a jazz show. The stage was set as if we walked into a dark lounge from the 1920s, with carpeted floors, dim-lit lamps and tassel-draped microphones.

Hugh Laurie, better known for his time spent as Dr. House on “House M.D.” has always had a passion for music, beginning piano lessons at a very young age. He’s even featured that skill in a few episodes of the hit show. But while taking a break from acting, Laurie finally agreed to give his music a try, after years of hesitation. His grand entrance to the show? Slowly arising from the band-pit playing on the Riviera Theatre’s famous Wurlitzer Pipe Organ.

Backed by one of the most talented group of musicians I have ever heard live, the Copper Bottom Band was the backbone to Laurie’s surprisingly soulful vocals—despite his British accent. Laurie and the band played many songs off his new album, “Let Them Talk” including “Saint James Infirmary,” “Swanee River,” “Tipitina” and “Buddy Bolden’s Blues.”

Hugh Laurie Blues
Photo courtesy of Facebook.

On drums, Jay Bellerose wowed the crowd with keeping an incredible beat, at time holding four drumsticks and keeping rhythm with bells on his ankle. Kevin Breit brought out an unknown number of guitars to pluck away at including banjos, electric, acoustic, mandolins and others for some impressive string solos. The entire horn section—made up of one man—Vincent Henry, included saxophone, trumpet, clarinet and even a few harmonica notes.

At one point, he was even playing the sax and clarinet at the same time. 

David Piltch on bass and Patrick Warren on the keyboard/accordion completed the unique group with even more impressive skills. The entire group was so packed with talent, I’m sure I missed a few instruments that they snuck past me. With back-up vocals courtesy of the incredible Sister Jean McClain, I was blown away by the sheer sound they were able to produce.

Laurie was an ace with the crowd, making them laugh and encouraging everyone to get into the music and enjoy their night. “God bless the individuals who have taken the time to restore that magnificent instrument and this spectacular building. Cheers to them,” he exclaimed referring to the Wurlitzer organ. In between sips of whiskey and a mid-set toast to the audience, I’m pretty cool with this actor-turned-musician attempting to make his hobby part of his career.

With a great outlook on music and his attempt at it, Laurie excels wit his “this is my passion and I hope you enjoy it” attitude. Gushing about jazz’s founders and playing songs so old that no one even knows who wrote them, it’s clear there is nothing else he’d rather be doing.

Here are a couple clips from the show at the Riviera Theatre on Tuesday night. For more information on Hugh Laurie’s music, head over to his website.

A clip from Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band performing at the Riviera Theatre.

Hugh Laurie thanks the audience after the show and prior to an encore set.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

TAGGED: blues, concert review, house m.d., hugh laurie, jazz, piano, riviera theatre, the copper bottom band, wurlitzer organ

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