Benefit show brings soulful singer to Montrose

By Kent Green
Daily Press Writer

MONTROSE  Jazz vocalist Kevin Mahogany's Saturday night show took place at the Montrose Pavilion, but, with closed eyes, it could have just as easily been at a back-alley club in New Orleans, Kansas City or Chicago.

Mahogany played at the third benefit for KVNF and Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado. He and his band played to an audience of more than 400 for more than two hours.

Dressed in a dark blue suit, Mahogany sang tunes ranging from bee-bop to soul ballads to blues and jazz improvisation. His voice, deep and rich like a well-tuned saxophone, filled the auditorium with each number. He also playfully bantered with the audience, stopping a blues song at one point to remind people to clap with the beat. He also gave advice on another number, telling the crowd that the cool people snap during the bass solo. These bits were greeted with laughs and claps.

Mahogany said audience interaction was an essential part of the show.

Especially a concert venue like this, they're used to coming in and sitting and listening to a concert, not necessarily being a part of it, he said. And that's what we want you to do is be a part of it because that's a lot more enjoyable. So, yeah, we try and talk to the audience and speak to them, so instead of playing music at them, we're actually trying to involve them.

He also said it was part of getting people who may not be so familiar with jazz a little more into the music.

Any good band, that's part of their job, is to introduce them to that, just like we had them clapping during the blues, he said. They started (clapping) from that point on. It's kind of letting them know that it's okay to have fun.

Dave Bowman, owner of Blue Sky Music and Books, one of the show's promoters, said it was important to bring more jazz to the Montrose community.

We get a lot of bluegrass and county in Montrose; we don't get a lot of jazz, and I know there is certainly a following for jazz  to hear jazz you gotta leave Montrose, so we want to keep people here in Montrose.

Bowman also said he was happy to have the Montrose band Midnight Mesa play as the opening act.

It's really a thrill for me because I've known most of these guys for year and years to finally have them play the main stage of the pavilion I'm just as excited about that, he said, adding, It's a great benefit, we got a great crowd; this benefit just gets bigger and bigger.

Mahogany also was scheduled to play in Telluride Sunday and Monday. He wasn't on a big promotional tour, he said  his next album will be released in September  he was just playing a few shows here and there. He said he was happy with the Montrose performance.

I think it went well. Yeah, it was a nice turnout, and the audience was receptive to the performances, so I thought it went pretty good  and for a good cause, I mean that's the key.