Live Last Night: Jerry Butler


"Sing the song!" shouted an exuberant fan as Jerry Butler began to perform "Let It Be Me" at Blues Alley on Thursday night.

"I'm doing the best I can," responded the 69 year-old R&B legend, whose best is still awfully good.

The exchange drew a big laugh from the crowd, which included comedian-activist Dick Gregory, seated at the bar.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Butler has played the Georgetown club during Valentine's Day week for 29 consecutive years, a ritual that always brings out couples that fondly recall listening to his hits or attending one of his concerts.

Truth is, Butler is so engaging onstage, wittily interacting with his fans and coolly living up to his reputation as "The Iceman," that he probably could ignore most of his hits and still send everyone home happy.

Though his voice lacks the range and finesse it once had, Butler projected a soulful authority throughout the opening set, performing with a tight six-piece band and punctuating requested favorites ("Western Union" and "For Your Precious Love," among many others) with an expansive blues medley dedicated to Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker and Duke Ellington.

"My Funny Valentine," however, was reserved for band vocalist Terisa Griffin, who displayed a lusty, show-stopping contralto.

The engagement runs through Sunday.

-- MIKE JOYCE

By J. Freedom du Lac |  February 13, 2009; 11:36 AM ET Live Last Night
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