Live music is back and Shoshana Bean’s magical performance at The Bourbon Room was the ultimate return!
HOLLYWOOD, CA- Have you ever been to a show that blows you away so much that it sticks in your head and heart days after? One that just makes you smile to think about? Well, that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling since witnessing the force that is Shoshana Bean. The veteran Broadway star puts on a show with so much passion and energy and realness that you can’t help but be mesmerized. She’s a powerhouse of a vocalist but it’s more than just that. She’s raw and honest, and when you’re watching her, you feel like she’s your friend.
During the two-hour intimate performance, I saw people laughing, crying, hooting, and hollering and I’m certain my face looked identical to the mind-blown emoji the whole night. Seriously. Shoshana had the crowd in all their feels! I don’t like to throw around words like “magical” all the time, but this show truly was something special.
I was in attendance on the last night of the sold-out, three-night event and Bean repeatedly told the crowd her voice was shot and she would do her best to hit the high notes. Ummm- excuse me? If her voice wasn’t at its best, dear lord how much better could it have gotten?
The event was part of For the Record Live’s Summer concert series. I have to thank For the Record for introducing me, many years ago, to Shoshana’s voice way back when the company first started in Los Feliz at Vermont Bar (which later became Rockwell Table and Stage). I’ve been obsessed with FTR’s unique show experience for quite some time and was beyond thrilled when I saw they found a new home at The Bourbon Room in Hollywood. I’d never been to this venue and was stoked to walk into an elegant, 80’s rock bar/theatre. Pre pandemic, the venue hosted ‘Rock of Ages’ so the design caters to that musical era and me being an 80’s baby myself, well I was in heaven! The 200 seat custom-built theatre is a perfect space to host cabaret-style musicals and has a really unique and comfortable feel.
The set included classic covers, duets, original material, and a couple of brand new songs that Bean wrote during quarantine. She said it was a different experience to record from home and be able to take time outside of a studio where no one is rushing you. She also noted that it’s sometimes easier to belt away than to get soft and vulnerable, and takes a bit more. Whatever it took, it worked. “The Other Side,” is a prime example of the toned-down delivery that allows Bean to showcase her softer side. Another new song that Bean introduced to the audience was a sweet tribute, written for her friend from high school who had passed away, “1995”.
Bean belts like a diva but she seems so down to earth. I love that she shares the stage with her friends. Let’s take a minute to acknowledge her backup singers. Sweet baby J! Those guys can sing! (So much so, I had to write sang and not sing!) Jarrett Johnson and Kojo Littles brought so much soul and funk to the show and the harmonies were unbelievable! Anytime they came back on stage you could hear the crowd getting excited. And let’s not forget the band, those guys were on fire too! Pianist Davy Nathan is mad talented and watching him and Bean go back and forth in a jam session is way too much fun! Drummer Rob Humphreys and bassist Dan Lutz were equally impressive.
Bean also brought out some special guests to sing with her. First up was Jerome Wheeler whom she had recently met through her friend and fellow singer, Jason McGee, and was so impressed with his performance at a taping that she asked him to sing at one of her shows. How cool is that? A legend like Bean just saying, “Hey I dig you, wanna do a song at my show?”
Wheeler took the stage for a cover of PJ Morton’s “First Began” and what a fun performance it was. He seemed a little shy at first, but as the song went on his charisma shined and he found his groove. When he finished the song, Bean forced him back on stage to perform the song’s ending again, but this time with a little more gusto. And It worked! With Bean’s encouragement, Wheeler’s nerves settled completely and he delivered an even more electrifying performance. Wheeler’s smile lit up the room, clearly excited and honored to be there.
Next up was a performer who truly gave me chills. Bean told a story of how she did an Instagram contest to find backup singers for her shows in New York. She said it’s easy to find good singers but it’s hard to find someone who moves you. Noa Danay entered the contest and not only moved her, she blew her away. She invited Danay on stage for a duet cover of Bonnie Raitt’s classic “I can’t make you love me” and good lord was it good! Everyone in the room was in awe and I definitely had chills.
Later in the night another ‘holy shit’ moment happened when Bean and backup singers sang “Blood From a Stone” and were killing it but out of nowhere another friend from the crowd hops up on stage to sing the chorus and OH MY GOD, just goes to another level with the song! Luke Edgemon, where did you come from? The entire place was screaming in joy and then, like a mic drop moment, he just casually went back to his seat. Wow.
Seriously, if you ever have a chance to see Shoshana Bean live, DO IT! I’m often asked what was one of the best shows you’ve ever been to and it’s always hard to answer that- well now, it won’t be so hard. Thank you Bean and company!
For the Record Live continues their residency at The Bourbon Room with a string of “Tarantino Live” performances. The show opens on August 5th and runs through the end of September.