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Music Review: Deanna Bogart: Real Time

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Some things you don’t forget.

Like the day about four years ago when Deanna Bogart was in a shopping mall near her Maryland home, and a young cashier struck up a conversation. She didn’t know Bogart or her music, but spoke at length about her feelings as an outcast from her peer group.

“She told me she was thought of as `the girl in the band,’ and said she didn’t care if people made fun of her,” said Bogart. “When she asked if I though she was crazy, I told her `No. I’m still the girl in the band.’”

Such is the life of Deanna Bogart, who calls herself “the homely girl with the guitar who could sing a little.” From the time she first picked up a guitar at age 12, Bogart has never looked back except at such real life stories, which inspire her music — a mix of blues, jazz, boogie-woogie, R&B, and country. The result has not yet been wide fame or fortune but numerous critical acclaim.

Expect the same on her latest release Real Time. Once again, Bogart takes the sax and boogie-woogie piano to powerful, sophisticated extremes. But don’t grow so enraptured listening to her musicianship that you miss her powerful singing.

Of course, that would be akin to missing a vocal tidal wave, in which Bogart expertly takes her listeners from daydreaming on the song “Real Time” (“I was too young for disco, too late for the hop, didn’t get to Woodstock, missed the birth of bop, and I wonder what it was like in real time”) to heartache on “Are You Lonely for me Baby” (“Will u try, c’mon and try to forget, all the pain I brought you, go on and cry, I know I made u cry”) and “Wonder What the Weather is Today” (“Eggshells under my feet, every time we meet, first you’re out, then you’re in, change direction like the wind, I can’t get a read.”)

OK – her vocal talent is matched only by her musicianship, her writing is first rate, her range is incredible and critics sit up and take notice. So why is her music always pigeonholed as blues?

“I get in trouble saying this because the blues world has embraced us. I love that and I embrace that,” said Bogart. “But we are obviously not a blues band. I play boogie woogie. And I am all about music growing out of other music. I find that amazing.”

Perhaps just as many find it amazing that Bogart — with all her versatility and range — stays in Maryland, instead of seeking fame in New Orleans, Nashville, or Los Angeles. The reason, she said, is her love for her daughter.

“I was raised across the country from my dad. He was a weekend dad and it wasn’t the same,” she said. “So I am here. And it’s ok. I would do anything for her.”

Another thing you don’t forget.

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About Nancy Dunham