Lady Rizo – Indigo CD Release
Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, November 10, 2017
The faithful gathered at Feinstein’s to pay homage to Lady Rizo (né Amelia Zirin-Brown), the cult chanteuse whose live performances have become the stuff of legend. Here to preview selections from her long-awaited sophomore CD Indigo, Rizo was in fine form; her strong, clear voice more powerful than ever, razor sharp banter honed like a samurai sword, and of course, an incandescent over-the-top performance.
Known for blending theatrics, comedy, and performance art, Lady Rizo’ s character backs it up with soaring vocal displays and considerable songwriting skills. Making her way through the crowd to take the stage, LR asked the lighting tech to keep the house lights down saying “these people look better in the dark”. It was one of many witty quips that speckle Rizo’s performances. Later she would chide politicians for their “opinion sandwich no one ordered”. Add her melodramatic onstage costume change and her signature long stem rose routine and you can’t help but fall in love with the Lady.
Rizo is far more than a pretty face with the comic timing of an Imogene Coca and the quick wit of a Frances Faye. An accomplished songwriter with a huge voice, LR is on par with her heavyweight peers Pink, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and Storm Large. She had her hand in co-writing almost every number she sang, many written with guitarist and longtime collaborator Yair Evnine. The CD has been percolating for four years and plenty has happened; an unfortunate divorce, depression, new love and a baby. The songs pretty much cover these topics, each presented as complete theatrical pieces.
“Albatross” (Lady Rizo/Ethan Allen/David Peter-Mellish), a slow tempo disco tune, reflects the pain of spending her first New Year’s Eve alone after her divorce. “Gypsy in Me” (Lady Rizo/Hans Teuber) finds her ruminating on the life on the road, living out of suitcases and hotels. Rizo can switch genre’s on a dime, exhibited on her original “It’s Alright”, a blistering soul standard that would make Etta James proud. “Hit of You” (Lady Rizo/Yair Evnine), with its hook laden melody may be a commercial hit while retaining Rizo’s quirky tempos and subject matters. This buoyant tune may reflect Rizo’s new loves, both the new baby (now two) and the baby’s daddy.
A haunting rendition of James Shelton’s intoxicating “Lilac Wine” came to LR via Jeff Buckley via Nina Simone. Along with Evnine’s stellar guitar lines, Rizo was accompanied by local horn master Adam Theis of Jazz Mafia, who provided the horns on the new CD. Smart choices from one smart cookie and one of the most electric cabaret performers on the circuit. Through Yair Evnine there’s a six-degree-of-separation to gifted songwriter Spencer Day and Rizo included a cover of his wry twist on Hollywood fame in “The Ghost of the Chateau Marmont”. She humorously states that “she’d like to be more famous, but not like today’s media whores, cause she deserves it.” Day also co-wrote the very orchestral “Living in Color” (Lady Rizo/Yair Evnine /Spencer Day), another possible hit. Rizo had her Rizophiles eating out of her hand by the set encore, a stunning mashup of Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” and the Donna Summer’s hit “I Feel Love” (Giorgio Moroder/Pete Bellotte/Donna Summer).