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Chocolate Blues - Fringe World Review

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at:
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Ray, Nina, Billie, Aretha and Jake
First of all, let me say without equivocation that Jake Dennis has a lovely singing voice, rich, smooth like liquid milk chocolate and he's very talented as a singer.

His Fringe show Chocolate Blues was Downstairs at The Maj with accompanists Clive Dennis on guitar and Hannah Kim on piano was a cabaret-style celebration of Blues music.

Jake Dennis, Perth Fringe World 2019, Blues Music, The Maj,
Jake Dennis is in Chocolate Blues. (Photograph courtesy of Perth Fringe World)

The whole genre of Blues is very old as modern music goes the 1870s from the Deep South of America, although the name is even older 'Blue Devils' meaning melancholy and sadness goes all the way back to the 1600s.

Arising out of African musical traditions Blues includes spirituals, chants, jazz, rhythm and folk music it gained ground early in the twentieth century with the publication of the first sheet music I Got The Blues in 1908. It became famous with singers such as Robert Johnson (1911-38) and Ma Rainey (1886-1939). In the 50s Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf brought a rich gravelly tone and slide guitars.

Since the 1980's Blues has been even more popular than ever with great stars like BB King, Bessie Smith, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Billie 'Lady Day' Holliday and Eric Clapton and Little Richard.

It is a wide and fruitful field and one that Jake Dennis has chosen for his Cabaret style show Chocolate Blues. Now I admire Jake's voice very much, and I like the Blues (in moderation), but I think his voice is too smooth and velvety for the deep angst of true Blues.

You need a voice with pain in it for Blues Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Ray Charles. Jake is just too liquid. A lifetime of booze and cigarettes is what is needed for the real Blues sound.

My other problem with the show, and a bit more of a hurdle, was the banter and links from one song to another. He had a number of props coffee cups, a suitcase, hats and so on to help, but they felt too clumsy or possibly under-rehearsed for ease. It would not be too much to say it verged on the embarrassing.

But his voice is lovely, the singing melodic and excellent I just wish he'd stuck to that and in a genre that really suits his marvellous voice. It could have been so much better. But it won't stop me going to his next show.

The season has finished.

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Why? Jake has a beautiful singing voice
When: Chocolate smooth soulful blues man Jake Dennis serves you a decadent taste of the creamy romantic, cheeky, and sorrowful, rough ballsy blues. Deliciously warm classics by Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday and more.
Where: Downstairs at The Maj, 825 Hay Street, Perth
Cost: $25
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