California diva brings a unique blend of genres.
Blues idol Candye Kane delivered a remarkable performance Saturday, peppered with empowering monologues, perfectly executed guitar solos, and sexual innuendo. As is expected for events sponsored by the Tantramarsh Blues Society, the show on International Women’s Day was almost as packed as the nearly at-capacity Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas show at the end of January. Nonetheless, it was difficult to find a seat until the final half of the three-hour set, when the crowd moved to the dance floor.
Kane, who has been performing for thirty years, played a style of music that mixed swing and the blues, while adding a distinct southern California twist as it dipped in and out of surf rock guitar riffs. The product was a set that could be danced to effortlessly. Kane’s songs were powered by the always on-point guitar work of Laura Chavez, of whom Kane was quick to sing praises. The set included songs from her thirteen-album discography, padded out by a few covers, of which “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” served as a rousing encore.
The set was often intercut by lengthy monologues in which Kane spoke inspirationally of her life, career, and personality. These monologues contextualized the upcoming songs, or told stories of her life as an artist, living with pancreatic cancer, or family. She spoke about her time in France, opening a show for Ray Charles, and how much she was out of her element surrounded by all the snow in Sackville. She talked about growing up in east Los Angeles and how her mother, a police officer, taught her how to shoplift. Although at times she was a bit heavy handed in pushing her CDs, as a whole her monologues provided great insight into who she was and how her strong personality shone both through and outside of her music.
Unfortunately, as the first portion of the set wore on, Kane’s voice grew a little hoarse and it detracted a little from the performance. But, after a twenty minute interlude in the middle of the night, the performance had noticeably improved. Although she was not able to showcase the true extent of her strong singing abilities, what she lacked in volume she more than made up for in character.
Candye Kane, no matter the context, seemed like she lived the music she sung and was extremely comfortable in her own skin. She maintained an air of confidence and stalwartness, talking at length about her last five years of living with cancer, seeming to want nothing more than to genuinely help anyone else who happened to be in a hard time in their life.