Review: Clint Holmes

I know almost nothing about Clint Holmes, aside from a passing familiarity with his 1973 hit “Playground in My Mind”. I was very pleased to find, seeing his show “Remembering Bobby Short” at the Cafe Carlyle, that Holmes combines a rich, warm truly muscular voice with casual elegance.

Holmes has been a Las Vegas performer for some time, but exhibits none of the negative qualities you associate with Vegas. He only has the good Vegas stuff: He is nothing if not sincere and authentic, and possesses a magnetic stage presence and a practiced but subtle showmanship that underlines what’s important in the show without overselling it.

The show itself is a heartfelt and well-researched musical tribute to Bobby Short, who appeared at the Carlyle for over thirty-five years (1968-2004), in the process becoming synonymous with New York sophistication. Holmes intersperses his song interpretations – which are reminiscent of Short without merely impersonating him – with the story of Short’s amazing life.

Holmes captures the full range of qualities that made Short a New York legend, from his roots as a “saloon singer” (best represented by Holmes’s raucous medley of the trashier side of Short’s repetoire: “Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer)” and “Truckin’”), to his more storied championship of the Great American Songbook (mostly represented with generous helpings of Cole Porter, a personal favorite of mine).

Short received wide fame in the late 1970s for singing in a TV ad (that also featured “Charlie’s Angels” star Shelly Hack) for the Revlon perfume “Charlie”. Holmes, tongue firmly in cheek, gives a rousing rendition of the jingle, that he then turns into a touching witty tribute to Short himself. At the other end of the spectrum Holmes finds the heartbreak in Rodgers & Hart’s “It Never Entered My Mind” more than any other singer I’ve heard before.

Holmes is backed by a group of crack musicians, some of whom had worked with Short. All in all, a class act, and first-rate cabaret.

For tickets, click here.

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