Meredith DiMenna: Queen of the Beatniks
March 18, 2016
A performer who bridges the gap between Judy Garland and Frank Zappa, the legendary Judy Henske is the best singer you’ve never heard of, dubbed “Queen of the Beatniks” by Jack Nietzche. A singer of unparalleled power and versatility, she was large in every sense. Standing six feet tall with a voice like a midwestern mash up of Etta James and Ethel Merman, she predated deep-throated alto rock divas like Janis Joplin, Grace Slick and Cher.
Vocalist Meredith DiMenna performs an overview of Judy’s recorded material including songs like “You’ve Been A Good Old Wagon,” “Til the Real Thing Comes Along,” and “High Flyin’ Bird,” as well as a selection of hits from the other big singers of the time period, Shirley Bassey, Brenda Lee, Connie Francis, Dusty Springfield and more, which put this overlooked artist in context.
Ms. DiMenna most recently appeared as guest vocalist on rock legend Johnny Winter’s Grammy Award-winning album Step Back, along with luminaries like Eric Clapton, Joe Perry, Brian Setzer, and Dr. John. She was also heard on the breakout single “Legend in My Own Mind” from psychedelic soul band The Stepkids. As front person for the band Saint Bernadette, All Music Guide raves about her “supple, velvety voice,” indie-rock magazine BLURT calls her the “illegitimate offspring of Robert Plant and Nancy Wilson,” and the New York Times refers warmly to her “Grace Slick-meets-Edie Brickell vocals at their most haunting.”
The show is musically directed by Jason Binnick, a media composer currently working on his first feature film. He is a member of the production duo Dreambag$ and records and tours with Ghostwise and Botanica, whose last album was the music for a new critically acclaimed stage adaptation of The Master and Margerita at the State Theater in Dortmund, Germany.