The powerful young R&B-inflected singer reminds us that Nina Simone is most definitely not Motown
It could have happened to anyone. Someone who wrote about Alice Smith‘s first night of a three-Tuesday residency at New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall made a mistake. In describing Alice’s set at the tiny Lower East Side venue, the writer said “she did a few covers of a few classic Motown tracks.” (We won’t name the blog or link to the post, but if you really want to see the whole thing, we’re sure you know how to find it.)
Sure, it’s a big mistake. But who knew that Alice read her notices? And who would have expected a critique?
But critique she did this week at the second night of her residency. Out of the blue, before launching into her Nina Simone-style version of the Oscar Brown Jr./Nat Adderly tune “Work Song (Chain Gang), Alice mentioned that the North Carolina-born Simone was not a Motown singer. Then she let on, in a good-natured but serious way, that someone had written about the previous week’s show and put Simone in a Motown context.
“If you don’t know, just don’t mention it,” she said, before launching into her nuanced version of “Work Song” once again.
You can hear a bit of her commentary, followed by “Work Song” and “She,” the title track of her upcoming album, on SoundCloud.
She clearly wasn’t mad, just a little annoyed, because she just wants to get it right.
So maybe we should worry as we write this. (Alice, are you reading? Thanks for the reminder about accuracy.)
But enough about that.
If you haven’t seen Alice before, you have one more chance to catch her in the intimate setting of Rockwood’s “big” Stage 2. We don’t know the official capacity offhand, and the Rockwood website doesn’t shed any light, but we’ve seen listings that say it can hold 300, which seems like a stretch.
She’s got a powerful voice, great song styling, and good taste in covers, whether they’re CeeLo Green or Nat Adderly-via-Nina-Simone. (She’s also got good connections; she married, and still opens for, Clarence Greenwood, aka Citizen Cope.)
If you don’t catch her next Tuesday at Rockwood, you’ll probably have to wait until April 11, when she says she’s headlining at The Bowery Ballroom. No ticket information is available yet.
DETAILS: 7:30 p.m.(doors at 6:30 p.m.), Tuesday, Feb. 12. Alice Smith. Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2. $20. Advance tickets here.