Nora Michaels delivers a great night of music at her 71st birthday show and CD release at Highway 99 Blues Club

by MK Scott

It was a great night of music and laughs on Friday, December 28 at the Highway 99 Blues Club (1414 Alaskan Way) along the waterfront in the shadow of the (soon to be gone) Alaskan Way Viaduct. The event was all about Seattle-based blues chanteuse, Nora Michaels, who used the gig as a way to celebrate her 71st birthday, launch her first solo CD, ‘Blue Lullaby,’ and say goodbye to the legendary Highway 99 Blues Club.

With the great Lonnie Williams on sax, Gina Zukoski on keyboard, David Salonen on bass and Dave Hill, Jr. on drums, Michaels performed bluesy songs like ‘I’m Gonna Play the Honky Tonks’ and ‘Blues in the Night, and that set the stage for an evening of great moments.

Along with the Highway 99 Blues Angels Pam, Dee and Nancy K, Michaels brought up Highway 99 Blues Server and Drag artist Kara Sutra to help her perform ‘La Vie en Rose.’

Michaels also performed my two faves from last year’s show, ‘Spare Man’ and ‘Dr. Long John.’ Michaels shows she still have lots of energy as she dances on stage.

Back in the 1990s, Michaels had a Public Access TV show, ‘On the Beat with Nora Michaels,’ that won Best Variety Cable TV show Western states in 1991. Also in 1991, she appeared in ‘La Mome Piaf,’ a cabaret show saluting the great Edith Piaf, at Cabaret de Paris in downtown Seattle. The show was directed by Duffy Bishop.

Michaels moved to Portland in 1994 for a short time and that’s when I personally met her and I saw her ‘La Mome Piaf show for the first time in early 1995, a performance that was Michaels at her best. I was reminded of that performance 23 years ago as she sang ‘La Vie en Rose,’ ‘Three Bells,’ ‘Hymn a L’amour’ and ‘Je ne Regrette Rien.’

I was thrilled when Michaels gave me and the SGN a shout out, saying ‘Thanks for your support!’

After the classic portion of the show, Michaels then performed six new songs from her new CD, including the tangle style of ‘It’s Not Over,’ written by Sam Weis, the swinging ‘Rest Assured,’ by Duffy Bishop, as well as ‘Wall of Sound’ and ‘No More Pain.’

When the first set was over everyone enjoyed some birthday cake. It was a great night to sit back and relax and enjoy some great music.

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