Lavay Smith with her Red Hot Skillet Lickers (from her Facebook announcement)
I have been aware of the Biscuits and Blues club, located just off Union Square, ever since I have been living in the Bay Area. By the same count I have been aware of Lavay Smith and her honoring of jazz traditions going back to the Forties within the same time frame. Indeed, for all I know, my first contact with her name was when I saw it on a Biscuits and Blues announcement.
Sadly, I have only seen her in performance once and that was in the Miner Auditorium of the SFJAZZ Center, far from the best venue for her repertoire. That repertoire is based heavily on jazz origins that can be traced back to Kansas City and the music-makers that put that city on the map. Thus, when Smith returns to Biscuits and Blues at the end of this month, she will bring with her a repertoire based on a solid command of the music of Count Basie, Jimmy Rushing, Joe Williams, Helen Humes, Lester Young, Jay McShann, Walter Brown, Jimmy Witherspoon, Myra Taylor, and Big Joe Turner. She will be joined by her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, which she calls her “all-star seven-piece little big band.”
Smith’s return visit to Biscuits and Blues will take place on Friday, June 29. She will give two shows starting at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively. The venue is located at 401 Mason Street, on the northwest corner of Geary Street, one block west of Union Square. The place is a supper club, so reservations are usually made for dinner and a show. Those reservations are handled by OpenTable, but they may be made through the event page for this evening on the Biscuits and Blues Web site. Tickets for each of the shows will be $24.