Music lovers at the Hotel Café discovered that the way you spell fun is R-O-A-M-i-e-s, as in the ROAMies, the delightful married duo of Alexa James and Rory Partin. They had the audience rocking, clapping, laughing and singing for almost an hour with a 9-song set that ran the gamut from original songs to early Beatles to Cajun classics.
Alexa James - who is a song writing and vocal power in her own right with several hit albums, a number 1 single and 5 top ten songs, not to mention several film tracks and a new single out now, “I Don’t Know How To Be Here”- kicked things off with a conversational nod to Mardi Gras and the upbeat happy tune “Fun To Love You” on the guitar. Her husband Rory backed her on the keyboard and Peter Cho added to the lightheartedness with his wicked banjo chops. You knew immediately, the evening was going to be fun!
With her Betty Boop eyes, curly crown of bright red hair and impish grin that manages to keep going even while singing, Alexa set a we-just-wanna-have-fun tone for the show that got the audience at Hotel Café leaning back in their chairs, tapping their feet and feeling happy they got there early.
After more banter with Rory and the audience, Alexa pulled out a ukulele, Peter traded the banjo for a guitar and Rory stepped up the keyboard and chimed in with vocal harmonies on “1234”, a love song originally recorded by the Big White T’s that underscored the obvious joy in their relationship. Alexa’s big round eyes added a kind of comic note by constantly glancing at her husband with a mixture of adoration and amusement, which would have worked even better if she hadn’t been completely on the other side of the stage with Peter and equipment separating them.
After some friendly kidding about an unplugged guitar, Rory shifted gears to a more emotional tone and took the lead on “15 miles”, an acoustic folk number that perfectly accommodated Rory’s New Orleans inflected vocals and Alexa’s higher key harmonies.
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The love fest continued on stage with jokes about the highs and lows of being married, generating chuckles and some outright laugher from the audience when Rory admitted that they have so much time together because “we don’t have real jobs, we are musicians”. Then they dove into a serious exploration of that relationship with “Still The One” as Alexa literally poured the emotion into lines like “I don’t want to lose my love for you”. Given the electricity between the them on stage, you knew it was from the heart.
Then we were time warped back to 1978 with the ROAMies version of the Herbie Hancock/Allee Willis “Come Running to Me”, led by Rory with Alexa adding gospel-level harmony vocals and hooks. They sent the wayback machine even farther into the past with the Beatles 1963 hit “We Can Work It Out”, done on ukulele by Alexa, after introducing it as a song about messing up and fixing a relationship – presumably, theirs.
The fun continued with the New Orleans Mardi Gras classic “Jambalaya”, steered by Rory who got the whole room clapping and signing. His Louisiana Cajun roots voice, pitched upward and backed by an infectious beat, was right at home. He and Alexa kept the audience going as they moved on to “Happy All The Time” and wrapped up with the “The Rest of My Life”.
The ROAMies are the best “big fun” you can have in a music club. My only complaint is that it was it over too soon and my cheeks hurt from laughing and singing.
Host, Music FridayLive!
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