If rock and roll is, as John Sinclair said, “just R&B with a marketing twist,” then boogie woogie may be R&B with no marketing at all ... except for Bob Baldori.
Since the late 1960s, Baldori, a.k.a. “Boogie Bob,” has played piano and harmonica with iconic artists such as Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and others. But without young pop-culture disciples like Jack White or The Black Keys bringing hip attention to boogie woogie, or jukebox musicals like “Million Dollar Quartet” revamping boogie woogie into a Broadway smash, Baldori would be virtually alone in promoting the style.
He’s faced that challenge when he’s tried to book his semi-autobiographical show, “Boogie Stomp!”
“I have this fight all the time with theater owners or producers who come up to me and see what I´m doing here and say, ´There´s no story, there´s no book,´” said Baldori of his theatrical production, which he has successfully produced five times. “Meanwhile, I´ve got season ticket holders walking out saying, ´That was the best evening in the theater I´ve had in 10 years.´ And they don´t even know who I am when they come and see it.”
Opening Thursday at Stormfield Theatre, “Boogie Stomp!” is a musical and anecdotal odyssey through the personal histories of Baldori, fellow piano legend Bob Seeley and the evolution of jazz, boogie woogie and rock.
The show is structured around the story of Seeley and Baldori. Seeley will perform with Baldori for the first weekend´s performances; in the second week, Baldori will be joined by pianist Arthur Migliazza.
Baldori conducted scholarly amounts of historical research for “Boogie Stomp!,” which he can casually recall like chord progressions.
“The word ‘jazz’ is probably Irish. It´s first in print in 1912 in a Los Angeles newspaper used by an Irish sportswriter,” said Baldori citing one specific factoid. “It comes from (the anicient) Gaelic ´teas,´ which means ´heat, excitement, fire.´”
Part history lesson, part platonic love story and part piano-driven concert, “Boogie Stomp!” is built around what Baldori describes as the “money moments.”
“You have these moments that move people for a minute, just change their whole life: That´s why they paid to get in,” said Baldori, likening the “money moment” to an electric connection between the artist and the audience that virtually sends viewers shooting to their feet. “You´re lucky in any (live performance) if it happens at all, let alone two or three times. But we do it a dozen times within the course of two hours. And we do it from the first number.”
201 Morgan Lane, Lansing
7 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays;
2 p.m. Sundays