Steamboat Springs Walk into Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret on the 16th Street Mall in Denver and your soul feels at home.
It’s a throwback joint that feels open and alive. There is a bit of “Cheers” to it, but it’s a wilder and a more untamed experience.
One night could be burlesque. The next could feature a national act or a French singer. Heck, some nights might even have drag bingo.
The best nights, the nights when the club tips its cap to a bygone era of smoky lounges, evening-gowned singers with chops and good simple tunes, it’s likely Lannie Garrett is on stage.
Garrett’s musical acumen — and her inviting and entertaining style — have made her a Denver icon.
On Friday, Garrett will bring one of her best acts to the Chief Theater in Steamboat Springs with The Chick Sings Frank.
A pre-show cocktail party begins at 6 p.m. at Harwigs/L’apogee. The cost for the pre-show party and reserved seating is $100. General admission tickets for the show are $35.
Reservations for tickets can be made by emailing email@example.com; tickets also are available at All That Jazz.
Garrett will present songs and stories of Frank Sinatra along with her band and a style all her own.
“My musical tastes are all over the board,” Garrett said, a hint of rasp in her voice. “As a singer he set the standard for singers and phrasing. When he recorded, everything was fabulous. You can’t go really go wrong singing those songs.”
It’s just one of the shows Garrett has mastered. She does a comedy show called “The Patsy Decline Show.” She also has a swing band, a jazz band, does a cabaret show, does songs from movies and now her most recent show, “The Great Women of Song.”
For Garrett, it’s been a long and, at times, unnerving road.
Her childhood was anything but ideal, living with abuse and regret. She dropped out of school early but always remembers watching entertainers on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” It warmed her heart and tickled her creativity thinking of being on stage.
Finally, in her 20s, the urge to get on stage became too much. She started as a backup singer taking in everything she could. Eventually she moved out front, that shyness drifting away with the comforts of a stage.
“I think any person who really wants to be artist and that’s their trueness says, ‘I have to do this or I’ll die,’” said Garrett, who has opened for Ray Charles and Tina Turner. “I knew ‘I have to figure out how to do this.’”
So Garrett did. Growing up she saw all sorts of performers, even ones she didn’t like.
But it was the entertainers and comedians who drew her in. She loved Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Janis Joplin, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett.
There was something about their stranglehold on the audience.
“It’s their timing,” she said. “I love that connection to the audience.”
But it was that throwback and lack of options that made Garrett who she was. It’s why her nightclub and act feel refreshing. It’s not that mass-produced gunk that slithers into today. It feels real, even in its simple form.
“Lannie is such a dynamic performer,” said Tamara Belend, the executive director of the Chief Theater. “She has the ability to cater to everyone. This show the demographic caters to Sinatra from people in their 20s to their 80s.”
For the Chief, it’s another way to find its niche. Belend admitted with the venue still in its infancy, trying to find its market is a challenge.
And Belend — who used to perform at Lannie’s — thought what better way to tap into a vast audience than with a throwback, red-haired babe with a unflappable voice singing Sinatra classics.
“Right now the Chief is an unknown entity,” she said. “What it is and what it isn’t, we don’t know. What we’re trying to do with programming is make it as eclectic as possible. We’re trying to cater to many different people and all ages.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com