Dan Reitz was playing trombone that night at Mona’s and would join Kaye and Waldo as a trio. The proceedings were captured on iPhone video and posted to YouTube by his long-time friend, jazz partner, and funk band collaborator with The Essex, pianist Dalton Ridenhour. He was also a regular at ragtime revival festivals, but also a specialist in stride piano, blues, and early jazz improvisation. Months later, this September, Mr. Ridenhour needed a singer for a gig at Small’s, at which Mr. Reitz would also make an appearance. The fit was instant, and the trio was set. Of their earliest rehearsals, “The way the music was going, I had to follow [the groove]. The vibe we had, the energy, these were the reasons we were such a good fit; a team,” she said; “We came together on blues.” She found an affinity for the genre and its practitioners: “Blues is dirty and raw – singing about experience and love, what we all go through. I didn’t realize the blues were in me, how they related to my life, until I started singing them. The storytelling is explicit. The message is universal and filled with troubles we’ve all had. It makes our performances a shared and honest experience.”
With this lineup, they became Ida Blue, named in honor of Ida Cox. In October Ms. Kaye approached the co-owner of Freddy’s Backroom and Bar, (a local watering hole/oasis for the South Slope arts community) video artist Donald O’Finn, if they might play a regular gig there, long having appreciated the “strong sense of culture” pervading both the original and reopened spaces. Even better, the new incarnation had a vintage player piano perfect for Ida Blue’s repertoire! However, it could neither be completely tuned, owing to age, nor moved into the bar’s backroom performance space. It was therefore decided to make use of this fortuitous turn for the October Freddy’s debut. There’s just something authentic to an out-of-tune piano (and the attendant headaches of transposition) and chanteuse providing live entertainment at a saloon. The effect was noticeable, and it brought the bar patrons to inhabit a similar world as the performers, and of their forebears generations before. Before pubs were equipped with sound systems, there was live music, casually inhabiting the common space. Music was not something abstract, on a disc or page, but something that happened where people were, activated by people. The Freddy’s gig allows Ida Blue to maintain a tangible connection to an audience, without the boundaries of a stage or the self-consciousness of silent, reverent ritual. For this reason, they intend to keep their appearances there unexpected – to show up and play when they do, as part of the atmosphere and ambiance.