IT WAS A happy birthday for Sippie Thank God!
The Birthday Celebration for Sippie Wallace Friday night at the Michigan Theatre was a festive occasion for everyone, including the anxious audience.
The evening began with Jim Dapogny and his Chicago Blues Band. The opening number, “At the Jazz Band Ball,” set the ball in motion. The crowd was noticeably ready for some real jazz and blues, and the lineup did not disappoint.
Dr. John teased the audience by failing to appear on cue. It may have been unplanned, but the delay increased their anticipation. When he finally ambied onto the stage, the crowd roared. He satisfied their expectations with a raspy vocal version of “Such a Night.” He accompanied himself with a nlmble-flngered piano that was hard to beat. On his next number, Dr. John was joined by a set of bongos for a stirring rendition of “Right Place, Wrong Time.”
The slight-of-build young woman that was next on the impressive blues bill was Bonnie Raitt. It took a few minutes to recognize her, however. Gone were the long tresses and faded blue jeans. On this birthday night Bonnie debuted a new visual image: shortly cropped hair, shocking pink tights, a sky blue elf-like mini skirt, and black leather boots. Something changed outside, but it was the same old blues-belter Bonnie on the inside.
She commented on her appearance when she told the audience, “The Plasmatlcs gave us a run for the money yesterday, so I thought I’d dress like her (Wendy O Williams) so you guys won’t feel like you’ve missed anything.”
Well, this crowd didn’t miss anything from Bonnie. She began with a heartfelt song of her own, “Love Has No Pride.” Then there was wild applause for “I’d Give Anything to See You Again.” When she announced “This song’s for Sippie,” everyone roared. Bonnie did Justice to a Sippie cover, “Special Delivery.” It was “one of the first songs I ever heard Sippie sing,’’ Bonnie recalled.
Finally, it was time for the birthday girl. After 84 years, Sippie still knows how to shout a song. Clad in a white gown and cowboy hat, Sippie stood by Jim Dapogny’s piano and belted, “Why Don’t You Come Over to My House Baby, Ain’t Nobody Home But Me.” Her strong voice reverberated the auditorium and made her loyal followers scream with joy.
The “Texas Nightingale” did everything but shirp. Her style almost made you feel as though you were in a small blues dive somewhere, listening to Sippie sing just to you. Her slinky, sultry version of “I Want You and I Need You,” drove the crowd into hysterics. Sippie was singing the blues; real heart-warming blues. For the last few songs, Sippie was joined by the entire lineup. She sang a duet with Bonnie, “Don’t Advertise Your Man.” Young and old finally came together, and the blues will never be the same.
Bonnie Raitt performs “Me and the Boys” with The Bump Band, chats with Dave, is later joined by Sippie Wallace, who then performs “Women Be Wise” with Bonnie and Dr. John. Sippie tends to sing “shit” instead of “shout,” and it’s not edited out of the broadcast – Late Night with David Letterman – April 27, 1982