Brothers Larry, Rudy and Steve Gatlin brought their rich country harmony to 54 Below for a single powerful performance Saturday evening thanks to the silver fox of cabaret, Jamie De Roy, who introduced them to the stylish venue. The Gatlin Brothers with their own guitars were backed up by Steve Smith on guitar and Shannon Ford on drums. Larry spoke the truth when he joked, “Only 80 minutes–it’s impossible to sing all the wonderful songs I’ve written.”
The format and song selection was in a large part improvised and they were responsive to requests. Larry’s amusing stories added to their performance. “Paul McCartney told me to stop name-dropping.” Of course he continued to do so throughout the evening, and introduced those recognizable in the audience including actors Tony Lo Bianco and fellow Texan Barbara Barrie and newsie Rita Cosby. Chewing gum, he explained, “Johnny Mathis told me to chew gum when I sing. The spotlight soaks up moisture.” He followed with an accurate impersonation of Mathis singing a few bars of “Chances Are.” And on to Elvis, who recorded two songs that Gatlin wrote, “Bitter they Are” and “Help Me.” Larry dedicated the latter, Saturday, to June Cash, since Johnny had asked him to sing it at June’s “going away party.” He did a beautiful job with the song.
“Sweet Becky Walker,” featuring Ford on drums, was a huge success. In addition to the Gatlin Brothers, Lance Horne did an excellent solo on the whimsical “Little White Asparagus” on piano. And Larry and Lance were terrific with “Right Here, Wrong Now.” The show continually built to “She’s A Broken Lady.” Everyone joined in. Jamie De Roy did two of her signature novelty songs, “Jews Don’t Camp” and “Duane Reade” to the tune of “Downtown.”
Country star Larry Gatlin with his rich tenor voice was the star of the evening singing one of his favorites, “Denver.” Gatlin said “I’ve stood on giant shoulders–Willie Nelson and Roger Miller– he taught me to listen to stuff.” He lamented young country stars are not the same. “But we didn’t do it like the Statler Brothers or Winona. It’s just different,” he told his son, Josh Cash Gatlin named after Johnny Cash, “the world is changin’ and so is county music.” A highlight of the evening followed with a song Gatlin said he wrote in ten minutes on the back of a restaurant place mat, “Johnny Cash is Dead and His House Burned Down.”
The audience joined the Gatlins in singing their hit “All The Gold In California.” Gatlin, who has a natural gift connecting with the audience, hopes 54 Below will be his New York home. So do we!