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REVIEW: Leslie Vincent Rocks the Belvedere in Sold-Out Show (Crooners)

Singer-songwriter Leslie Vincent at her sold-out show at Crooners in Fridley, MN on Saturday, June 6.

It was 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the open air in Fridley on Saturday evening. At Crooners, however, things were cooler, with a cooling breeze blowing off the lake and running under the tented canopy of The Belvedere outdoor venue. Waitstaff streamed in and out of the main building, bearing iced beverages for the masses, as a lively chatter set in.

The actual temperature dropped slowly over the evening, but the figurative temperature got much hotter – and kept climbing – shortly after 7 PM. That’s when singer-songwriter Leslie Vincent took the stage and ensnared the audience with a thrilling, sold-out musical evening jam-packed with jazz and Americana. She was backed by the quartet of Ted Godbout on piano, Ben Ehrlich on drums, Matt McIntyre on bass, and Mike Lauer on guitar.

The musical main course started out with a playful rendition of “Do It Again” by George Gershwin and Buddy DeSylva. While the song is almost a century old (Gershwin and DeSylva penned it for the 1922 Broadway play The French Doll), it lost none of its charms with the excited audience. “These Foolish Things”, the soulful title song from her debut album, followed, including a poignant guitar solo by Mike Wolter.

Singer-actor Max Wojtanowicz (front right) joined Leslie Vincent (front left) and her band onstage for several songs.

The already high energy jumped up a notch with “Body and Soul”, a vocal duet with Max Wojtanowicz. The rendition featured Max’s lighter baritenor floating over Leslie’s huskier tones, spiced with fun banter. Max stayed on the stage for a second duet, “Can’t We Be Friends?”, the American standard song by Kay Swift and Paul James. Like “Let’s Do It Again”, it was originally written for a Broadway show (the 1929 revue The Little Show), and fit the pair’s voices delightfully.

Things took a Latin twist with a Portuguese song, “Corcovado”. This was followed by “Crazy He Calls Me”, the 1949 jazz standard by Carl Sigman and Bob Russell, famously recorded by Billie Holiday. Together, the pair were something of a lounging amuse-bouche.

Brisk roared back with the 1927 standard song “Side by Side”, for which Leslie Vincent was joined by her The Champagne Drops collaborator Emily Dussault. The duet was charming and funny, with the pair’s intertwining voices dancing through the pulsing arrangement. Dussault remained onstage for “Lily of the Valley”, an original song from the pair’s April 2021 album. This intimate duet with only Vincent on ukulele for accompaniment had people leaning in on every phrase. The first half came to a close with “The Sports Page”.

Leslie Vincent (left) and Emily Dussault (right) singing a duet as bassist Matt McIntyre strums in the background. Far-right: guitarist Mike Wolter.

After intermission, the show kicked off again with the 1934 jazz standard “Stars Fell on Alabama”  by Frank Perkins and Mitchell Parish, followed with a cover of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s 1973 song “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. The leap forty years forward into rock-and-roll went as smooth as butter, as was the following high-energy mash-up between “Rich Girl” and “Dirty Work”, for which Vincent was joined by vocalist Kate Beahen.

Four more songs closed out the evening: “My Baby”, “Black Coffee”, “Heavenly Day”, and a song that has become one of Leslie Vincent’s trademark numbers: “Rhode Island is Famous for You”. As with the larger setlist, these four trace out some of the core elements of Americana music: jazz, Broadway, witty wordplay, and intoxicating melody. It was a delectable close to the evening.

Leslie Vincent (left) and guest vocalist Kate Beahen (right) hamming it up mid-song.

Setlist: “A Night with Leslie Vincent” 

Part 1

  1. Do It Again 
  2. These Foolish Things 
  3. Body and Soul
  4. Can’t We Be Friends 
  5. Corcovado    
  6. Crazy She Calls Me 
  7. Side By Side
  8. Lily of the Valley
  9. The Sports Page 


Part 2

  1. Stars Fell on Alabama
  2. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 
  3. Rich Girl/Dirty Work 
  4. My Baby  
  5. Black Coffee 
  6. Heavenly Day  
  7. Rhode Island
Basil Considine