Michael Sterling continues to present up and coming local talent at his beautiful supper club, Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello's. Sometimes the talent is known to me but in the recent case of Jayme Lake and Harley Jay, I was not acquainted with their work. Sterling discovered them over a year ago in a local production of Footloose. Lake and Harley met in the production and have since become a couple. But it took them a year of hemming and hawing to get up the act that they call Avant Garde that celebrates Broadway past and present.
Jayme Lake comes to us from Pacific Conservatory of The Performing Arts, a theatre program at Alan Hancock College in Santa Maria. The excellent program, designed to be away from the hustle and bustle of a major city, has, nonetheless, produced some bona fide stars. Jayme went on to perform Off Broadway in Hillary Agonistes (about Hillary Clinton) and more locally in the well received Songs for a New World at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre. Her best numbers were two first performed by the group Queen: "Somebody to Love" and "Who Wants to Live Forever."
Harley Jay, a gawky, six-foot, 140-pound rock singer, has appeared in Vegas in Forever Plaid and most significantly in Rent on Tour and on Broadway, appearing after 18 auditions as the lead character Mark Cohen. Oddly his rendition of "One Song Glory" was strangely uninvolving, but then it is hard to perform a song out of a context a performer gets used to. His best work came in his own compositions from his new CD Without Wax. He accompanied himself on guitar (he's an even better guitar player) singing "The Fall I Fell For You" and "Stuff Packed Up."
The real highlight of the evening was not provided by either of the two singers, as good as they were. Rather it was the guitar stylings of Laurence Juber, who had been the leading guitarist for Paul McCartney and Wings. Juber is a masterful musician and technician; his performance set a level that the younger performers could only dream about. But Juber is friends with the couple and kindly agreed to perform with them. Avant Garde was performed on April 3rd at
Sterling's Upstairs at Vitellos.