A gem of a show

February 17, 2008

There are times when writing feels like work, when my lofty aspirations of creating journalism that not just services, but encourages thought, seem exhaustingly far away. Occasionally, however, I’m lucky enough to observe something tangibly fresh and inspiring after one of these moments of doubt. Usually, this something is a creative work–a film, a staged reading, a concert–that reminds me why writing about the arts make me feel like an artist myself. These works need not be groundbreaking, but simply stemming from a passion to create and a drive to make it happen.

Singer-songwriter Dawn Derow’s Feb 12th cabaret show at The Duplex, Shooting My Arrow, was the most recent artistic moment to restore my inspiration.

A graduate of Boston Conservatory, Derow has performed on cruise ships, auditioned around the city, and compiled this assortment of songs to tell her story. Although she mixed in only the occasional original with covers of Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Tracy Chapman and others, Derow lent a personalized spin to all of them. Behind her breathy intonation was a trained instrument, lending her performance a kind of relaxed, confident quality. Her lineup of musicians, including bassist Antar Goodwin and hard-working pianist David Kreppel, was impressive as well. Her backup singer, Lara Janine, was so naturally charismatic in her own right that on certain songs it was downright difficult to not focus on her.

Sure, Derow could have opted for less spoken personal history and instead included a few more original songs in her program, but for a cabaret show, this one was refreshing in its lack of pretentiousness. Derow doesn’t currently have other dates lined up on her web site, but I’m already recommending some of my artist friends to check out her next show. I was inspired for her joy and obvious resilience alone.