Opened the show last night with a couple of tracks by Madeleine Peyroux, who's playing this week at Yoshi's in San Francisco (we'll be catching the late show Saturday).
First track was from a recent tribute album to the Mississippi Sheiks, Things About Comin' My Way. She sings Please Baby "accompanied" by a house band whose guitarist, Steve Dawson, put the tribute together (I interviewed him for the House of Blues Radio Hour). The second song, Instead, was the first track on her most recent album, Bare Bones. Both those recordings were, in both the broad and narrow sense of the term, very bluesy. Yet somehow I rarely hear her name uttered in the same breath as "blues singer/musician." The Billie Holiday comparisons have been around from the get-go, and she's obviously been embraced as a "standards" bearer, but the blues label hasn't quite adhered to her, it seems. The same way that early Tom Waits kind of evades the blues label. Now the one time I've seen Madeleine Peyroux play, it was at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. She played an acoustic (nylon?) guitar accompanied by piano, bass, and drum -- sure, a jazz-y brush drum, but a blues-y repertoire.
That performance seemed to suffer from a combination of the Paramount not being a great venue for live music, and something amiss in the band -- she was pretty tentative, without much stage presence. But I chalked it up to an off-night, and now 3+ years later, I'm willing to give it another shot... of blues.