Originally published May 22, 2014 at The Los Angeles Beat
It was a magical night for the first ever Voila! Session, a newly created concert series taking place at The Lyric Theatre in West Hollywood. New Orleans legendary music man Allen Toussaint took to the stage in an intimate and spellbinding performance, his piano notes and captivating presence intoxicating the fortunate audience. It was just Toussaint on a Steinway along with a bass player and a drummer, but oh, what a ride… From a medley of rhythm & blues classics he penned for other musicians, A Certain Girl/Mother-in-Law/Fortune Teller/Get Out of My Life Woman to a soulful instrumental rendition of the traditional St. James Infirmary and hits written by him such as Yes, I Can Can and Southern Nights, this inaugural show at Voila! was a goose bump giver, a memorable inspiration maker.
The Lyric Theatre has been redesigned by visionary Voila! gallery owner Katrien Van der Schueren into an eclectic space with a surrealistic bend. The traditional green room that was always there upon entering has been transformed into just that, a GREEN room. Here the outdoors come inside with the walls, floors and ceiling covered in a kelly colored fake lawn. It is just a mere extension of the beautiful witchcraft happening in the Voila! gallery two doors south on La Brea- silver mannequins with lamps for heads, repurposed metallic hands that make a magical chandelier, a collage of alarm clocks to form a surreal wall piece, molds of mannequin faces to form a dividing wall.
Meanwhile, Toussaint turned on the charm during the show, telling witty anecdotes about performers he’s written for and worked with. When talking about the oversized ego on New Orleans Mother-in-Law and A Certain Girl singer Ernie K Doe, Toussaint sniped, “He was going to be rich or end up in jail. Either way I’d go visit him.” During a meet & greet after the show Toussaint answered questions for audience members and professed a secret love for heavy metal music, particularly Iron Maiden and Metallica. Look out for future events from the folks at voila! They promise this is only the beginning of much more magic to come…
The Lyric Theatre: 520 N La Brea Ave, L.A., CA 90036. Voila! Gallery: 518 N La Brea Ave, L.A., CA 90036; (323) 954-0418.