Outside The Encore club on NYC’s 47th St., it was the hottest night of the year. So it seemed appropriate that inside, despite the comfortable air-conditioning, Enid was giving one of the hottest performances in town with her one-woman show: “Saloon to Salon.” The title is cute, and so is she, with shining dark eyes, creamy complexion, a wide grin (worthy of a Sardi’s caricature), and a wildly grand and glamorous coiffure she calls “Scrambled Hair” in her original (and amusingly self-deprecating) song of the same name. She arrived at the grand piano in a blue feather boa that matched the flashy indigo print of an off-the-shoulder blouse as breezy as the music that would follow.
Enid’s comic flair was quickly evident as she brazenly placed her tip jar on the piano and inserted the first dollar herself. She tells the audience of her delight that they are “coming along for the ride” in this musical journey that began in infancy, when her mother placed a toy piano in the crib, and advanced further when she met her first concert pianist at the age of three.
Opening with the title tune and crisp keyboard attack, she again poked fun at herself, reflecting on past popularity in the city’s gay bars where it was not unusual to see her surrounded by the likes of Rock Hudson, Vladimir Horowitz, Tennessee Williams, and Divine. Among her original songs that followed:
- “Starbus” was an amusing look at the quest for Hollywood stardom.
- The boogie-woogie beat of “Lay Back and Be Cool” had the diva up and bouncing, with one foot on the piano bench, while performing this sample of the many tunes she wrote for TV’s series, “Fame.”
- Keeping things funky, and always having fun, she brought pulsing rhythms, Latin flair, and jazzy instrumental interludes to “No Se Nada Mas”. As for rhyme schemes, how about “I was walkin’ my iguana down the streets of Santa Monica?”
- Proud of her Garden State background, her comic song, “Jersey Tomato”, made her a favorite of the Vegetable Association and landed on CBS news with a dancing tomato.
- While a bit heavy-handed on the keys, “Confessions in the Kitchen” was sultry and bluesy.
- Living a bit dangerously, Enid allowed audience members to suggest six random notes and four lyric lines, and then cleverly proceeded to compose an original (if not memorable) tune, on the spot, for her “Salute to the American Songbook”.
- The adopted Enid pays tribute to her natural father in “Picture of a Man”. She poignantly examines the “jigsaw” of her life and the “mystery hanging on a family tree.” Here she sometimes seems to whisper in the listener’s ear, and we become aware that it is not so much the quality of her voice, but moreover the unique style of delivery that makes her music compelling.
- “Taipei Memories” humorously recalls Enid’s stint as entertainer in a Chinese restaurant. Thus we learn the genesis of her trademark one glove, after being bitten by a customer kissing her hand.
- There is sweet reflection in the tribute, “Bobby from the Lobby”, honoring 50 years of service by a much-loved doorman at the Tudor Hotel.
- In yet another tribute, Enid’s “Waiting for You” is a wistful, gentle, and affectionate love letter to her soul mate. If the passion begins to overwhelm the keyboard, it was clearly a reflection of true love. We should all live long enough to inspire such a song.
- “Patchwork of Life” was a bit too harsh for these ears, and while I sensed it had great meaning to the composer, the lyric did not seem to clearly get that message across.
- The high-energy artist seemed to dance across the keys during yet another number from “Fame,” as “High Fidelity” was very well received by the audience.
- For her encore at The Encore, Enid brought a lighter keyboard touch and hint of classical influence to the pleasant title tune of her CD, “Take This Show On The Road.” (available online at www.cdbaby.com). One suspects she is already very well along that road, and perhaps the highlight of this program was also the best example of Enid as storyteller. Under a starry sky backdrop, the song “Enough for Me” was a smooth and richly poetic look at the pulse of the city in the wee hours of the morning. From the first roll of the garbage trucks to the bustle of the newsboys, from the first glide of a lark, to the lone blind saxophonist nearby, the song speaks of “Learning how to be free.” Enid seems to have learned that lesson very well.