Versatility is the key to any greater performer, and Amy Douglas knows a thing or two about great performances. Since relocating to Boston from New York a few years ago, the Somerville-based vocalist has already shown several different looks during her time here: The piano-pounding classic rock powder keg called Feints showed Douglas’ powerful voice could fill arenas; the electro-funk sass of SPF 5000 put her voice in the drunken ears of those making out in the dark corners of the nightclub; and the sweet disco bounce of Sunrise Highway was thrust far beyond the glitter and pizazz by Douglas’ seductive prowl.
Now Douglas is set to launch a new Tuesday residency at Johnny D’s Uptown Music Club & Restaurant, kicking off tomorrow, May 12, and that versatility will take center stage alongside the performer and her piano. The Amy Douglas Happy Hour goes down from 5:30 to 7 p.m. each Tuesday in May (guests include Keith Pierce of Party Bois for the launch, then Tai Heatley and Jess Collins of Petty Morals on May 26), and it’s billed as whirlwind of musical exploration and arrangement with Douglas in the center kicking up the dust.
Just for us, she recorded a cover of Pulp’s 1995 classic “Bar Italia,” the closing track to the UK band’s Britpop masterpiece, Different Class.
So what can we expect from this rock and roll throw down?
“You can expect from this Happy Hour — my big voice, my bastard piano playing, intensity, drama, sex, revenge, songs you love played as you’ve never heard them, songs you hate played in a way that might make you love them,” Douglas tells Vanyaland. “You’ll hear Metallica swung, and you’ll hear Alice In Chains as a tango. You’ll hear funny stories and my foul mouth that occasionally drives the bus. I am here to provide a cosy, no frills, totally lo fi and laid back fun happening that hopefully serves as genesis point where all the real heads, all the real freaks, all the real kooks will meet, cheer me on, come sit in on a number or two, and of course, eat the catfish? It’s darn tasty!
The Amy Douglas Happy Hour is an extension of a few of her former lives as a performer in New York City, including Squeezebox at Manhattan joint and Tiswas home Don Hill’s, and Red Hot Mama, a “Hard Rock Vaudeville” show which she curated with her husband and fellow Feints conspirator, Dave Baron.
“As much as I love to write songs, and I love writing songs more than… anything, even singing songs, I loooooove arranging songs,” Douglas gushes. “I am an arranger’s nerd, and arranging is music’s proof that genre means shit; if a song is fantastic, in fact a great arrangement can make a song all the better. Case in point: Hendrix’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ or Earth Wind & Fire’s ‘Gotta Get You Into My Life’ — I just really get off on making arrangements out of songs, it’s a ton of fun.”
In the end, the Amy Douglas Happy Hour is a celebration of the song.
“My love of songs of all genres, and my desire to showcase them in a really intimate way that gives you a sense of the song first, is really what’s driving this,” she says. “That, and I just sometimes want to howl and scream, and nothing allows you to pile on drama like intimacy, certainly Diamanda Galas — patron saint of all those who… do anything like this, would have to back me up on that. Or try to kill me. It’s good either way.”