‘Firecracker’ Deanna Bogart lights up the bandstand
“I’ve never used a set list in my life,” says Deanna Bogart, explaining why she is a natural and intricate member of the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue, an improvisational band which travels by sea and land.
Whether it’s anchored in the Bahamas or inside a casino showroom, the “Blues Cruise” Revue concludes each show with jam sessions that sometimes last four hours.
“It’s truly a joyous experience,” said Bogart, who sings, plays piano and tenor saxophone. “I promise when we’re finished I’ll go out there with everybody and gamble. I love Tahoe.”
Bogart’s first album was released in 1990 and most recent, 2007’s “Real Time,” were both on the Blind Pig Records label. In between, she had five other albums with various labels.
The Maryland resident is no stranger to Tahoe. She played at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe in the late 1990s and also performed twice in Crystal Bay’s Tahoe Biltmore.
Before starting her own band, Bogart was a member of Cowboy Jazz, which played 1940’s Western swing. Afterward, she joined the Washington, D.C. group Roy Boot Slim, a rhythm and blues band. Bogart’s band incorporates both styles and adds a good mix of blues and jazz and boogie-woogie. She likes to call the sound “bluesion.”
“To me it all comes out of the blues, it just doesn’t always end there,” she said. “I don’t put up any roadblocks either on the bandstand or at home writing.”
Tommy Castro, the bandleader of the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue, agreed.
“She completely does her own thing,” Castro said. “She doesn’t have any boundaries. It’s hard to even describe her music. It comes from all kinds of places.”
Generally, Bogart writes her songs on the piano, she said. She didn’t pick up the sax until she was 27 years old.
Her forte is the live performance.
“She’s a real firecracker on stage,” Blind Pig Records President Edward Chmelewski said. “She’s full of energy and she bounces around. There’s something about her live performance that strikes people.”
While Saturday’s South Shore Room show will be played to about 700 people, she had about 5 million listeners at an Oct. 13 gig. Bogart and Carole King were guests on the radio program “A Prarie Home Companion,” hosted in Baltimore by Tribune syndicated columnist Garrison Keillor.
While Bogart was excited about the chance to play with some of her Western swing friends who are in Keillor’s band, she received conflicting directions from the show’s producer. She didn’t know if she was going to play one, two or three songs. Finally, Bogart eased her mind by telling herself she would just bring her sax to the show and wing it. That’s what she prefers anyway.
“It always is what’s going on in the venue with everybody there,” she said. “On a good night, at its best, it’s a show that everybody feels in a unique kind of way when it goes well. Conversely when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.”
That goes with her philosophy she stated in a previous interview.
“Nothing hurts creativity like safety,” she said. “You can’t have magic if you’re not willing to risk the train wreck.”
The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue will open with a set by the Tommy Castro Band. Bogart will be in the horn section with saxophonist Keith Crossan and trumpet player Tom Poole. Bogart will take the lead in the second set, followed by the additions of harmonic player Magic Dick and guitarist Ronnie Baker Brooks. The show will end with an extended jam session.
“It harkens back to the ’60s and the festival express when musicians got together and went out and played,” she said. “I’m a lucky girl.”