This Christmas, the softer side of Mink Stole

Show at Creative Alliance won't be Waters' version

December 10, 2009|By Chris Kaltenbach | chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

After spending the night baking cookies, the morning putting a giant snowflake on her front door and a tabletop tree in her window, Mink Stole is very much in the mood to talk about her Christmas show at the Creative Alliance this weekend.

And there's one thing she wants to make clear right away: This show is all about Mink Stole, cabaret singer and storyteller. It will have little, if anything, to do with another incarnation of Mink Stole, the one who has appeared in every John Waters film but one, playing everything from Edie the Egg Lady's wicked stepsister to a ruthless contender for the title of filthiest person alive.

That Mink Stole, the John Waters Mink Stole, would doubtless put on a Christmas show for the ages, one that would be outlandish, over-the-top, possibly offensive and most definitely not OK for the kids. But this Mink Stole, the one taking the stage at the old Patterson Theatre Saturday night, is tamer, less confrontational and decidedly family-friendly - though no less original.

"My most recent subtitle is, 'Songs You're not Sick of Yet,' " Stole says with a laugh, sitting at the dining room table of her Tuxedo Park apartment. "There might be some songs that you are familiar with, but we're tweaking them in a way, so that they're a little less predictable - familiar, yet our own."

Not that the show will prove entirely unfamiliar. She'll be singing "The Little Drummer Boy," but the French version ("L'enfant au tambour"), complete with lyrics that transform the titular musician from a drummer seeking to play for the baby Jesus to a son offering his drum to the angels in return for bringing his father home safely from war. "It's a completely different story," Stole says, "and in these times, more apt."

She'll also, for reasons that sound downright mainstream, be singing "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," that oft-heard Andy Williams chestnut. "That's the one," Stole admits, "where every time it came on the radio, I got happy."

But beyond those two holiday staples, her audience will be forced to trust Stole's taste. The eight remaining songs on her playlist, she promises, are wonderfully obscure. That includes "Stay a Little Longer, Santa" ("I've never heard it on the radio, never," she says delightedly). And she'll be crooning her way through "A Once a Year Miracle," a song recorded by jazz vocalist Blossom Dearie, who died this year at age 84.

"They're jazz songs, sort of jazz-swing songs, which is the direction the band is moving in," Stole says. "We're moving a little bit away from the rock and roll toward jazz."

Stole and her band - Waller Turrett on upright bass, Skizz Cyzyk on drums and Scott Wallace Brown on piano - will be playing in public for only the second time; they debuted at a Creative Alliance show in March.

"Mink doesn't sing like anybody else," says Brown, whose day job is managing the Video Americain on Cold Spring Lane. "She has a very smoky quality, a very sultry feeling. I think people who haven't heard her, who know her only from the movies, will be very surprised."

As for the storytelling side, Stole promises a mix of tales both personal ("I have a love-hate relationship with the holidays," she says, declining to elaborate.) and seasonal. "I will talk about the pagan origins of the holiday," she explains, "and some Christian crackpots who don't want us to celebrate because of same."

But in the end, Stole promises an evening of celebration, a show that may be offbeat, but not off-putting.

"I'm not necessarily praising Christmas, but I'm not necessarily burying it either," she says. "At the end of the show, I want people walking out of here smiling. I'm certainly not here to ruin people's holidays."

If you go
Mink Stole's Christmas: Unwrapped & Unplugged starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave. Tickets are $13-$15. Call 410-276-1651 or go to creativealliance.org.

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