Hague celebrates fifth Simply Myrna at Courtleigh
The structure of Saturday night's Simply Myrna at the Courtleigh Auditorium, New Kingston, was as uncomplicated and effective as the sole backdrop to the performances, a rectangle of white with the event's name in cursive.
Supported by a crack band, Hague sang, was joined by a guest, interacted with them, left, returned in a different outfit (each of which made an impact on the full house) and the cycle was repeated until the concert's end.
It is a format which has worked wonderfully before and the fifth time around was no different. Simply Myrna 5 was carried by not only the high quality singing of primarily Hague and contrasting guests Dobby Dobson with his cool, and an effervescent A.J. Brown, but also Hague's charm.
She was as much an elegant host making guests comfortable in her space as a performer, greeting persons by name and getting close to a few men in stepping into the high heels of the song's character, Lola, who gets what - and, apparently who - she wants. Her narrative between songs and guests, linked the show effectively, Hague indicating the show's consistent appeal when she said, "this is our fifth year and most of you have been here the time we have, keeping us going."
Hague beamed through it all, her smiles accompanying songs that were not dependent on histrionics for effectiveness. Adding immensely to the experience was the well coordinated stage movements, with persons moving on and off (including members of the black-clad band led by drummer Desi Jones) unobtrusively.
Hague literally started on a high - physically, singing the opening of Memory, as she descended the steps from the auditorium's highest seats. However, her unamplified voice was insufficient for the room's size and there was a distinct improvement when a microphone was brought into action with about a third of the way to go.
Hague stepped on to the stage singing "the way we were" to applause and Simply Myrna 5 was off to a strong start, the quality sustained to the end. Hague flicked up a heel, flaring the cream-coloured hemline of her dress even further as she sang I Wanna Kiss You All Over. It was the beginning of Hague's most extended solo stage stint, which included a collaboration with Marjorie Whylie only on grand piano and Sunlight Seduce Midnight, a winner in the Caribbean Broadcasting Union contest when it came to Jamaica but had not been performed since then.
homage to late husband
At the end of the slow tempo song, Hague paid homage to her late husband by simply saying, "arrangement by Sonny Bradshaw." Fittingly, the horn section of trumpeter Vivian Scott and trombonist Stingray, enhanced the sound significantly.
Hague moved through the audience in her Lola character, picking out various men with a quip ("Lovely shirt," she told one, backing away from another with "Danger!") in an extended piece which preceded Dobby Dobson.
The line, "my love why did we ever part", in his first song, could have been taken as being about his relationship with Jamaica, Dobson saying, "I have been away from you too long" and promising to change that. His gentle style, in falsetto to boot, went over very well, and he built the pace up to the reggae of Loving Pauper, into which he put a deejay section.
There were two surprises when Hague returned. One was her dress, a black number with shimmering silver flecks and the other was her choice of duet with Dobson, You Raise Me Up, a staple in the set of the other billed solo guest, A.J. Brown. The audience appreciated the song immensely and it was striking that Dobson's voice, as a male singer, was at a higher pitch than Hague's when they combined on the chorus.
Rupert Bent stepped forward on guitar for one song, and when intermission came all too soon after 75 minutes of music, there were those audience members who were reluctant to take a break.
The resumption was with a different song (I Want To Know What Love Is), a different outfit and guest - the colourfully clad Cari-Folk Singers. "That's why I have on this," Hague said, indicating her attire. "To keep up with them."
After the group joined her on the love song's chorus, Hague repaid the honour on the standard Yellowbird, singing her way off stage and leaving Cari-Folk's members to rearrange and dance through a selection of songs that included the merry invitation to "dip and fall back." Movement and merriment accompanied the songs.
'just having fun'
Hague returned in yet another outfit, for which there was applause. "I am just having fun," Hague said, with a smile which nullified any hint of boastfulness. "I hope you are, too," she said, to assenting applause.
Homage was paid to the late John Holt (who was a guest on Simply Myrna previously) with You And Your Smiling Face, Whylie accompanied Hague as she sang in Italian, which was followed by April in Paris for Hague's mother, with whom she spent time in France last year.
Hague's final guest, A.J. Brown, who also wore a broad smile, was in superb form, a seamless exchange of song between the two bringing him to the stage. Proclaiming "original music", Brown rocked with Love People, and grooved with the ballad You Captured Me. The audience showed a capacity to go beyond genteel handclaps by responding enthusiastically to Brown's request that someone say "pull up!" on My Father My Friend, Brown showing his range - in more ways than one - by following with Time To Say Goodbye.
His role as Third World Band's lead singer was not to be left out as Brown had the auditorium bouncing along to Now That We've Found Love.
It was time for a final outfit change by Hague, her black dress making a statement, and final music - though not lyrics, as the goodbyes and thanks were said to the music of Paul Simon's Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.