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Rev[erend] Mary and Rev[iewer] Robert

mary.jpgI’m SOOOO High: Rev. Mary’s Reefer Revue

Music & lyrics by various composers
Reviewed by
Robert Viagas

With all the recent debate and action on legalizing recreational use of marijuana, it’s hard to believe that until the 1930s it was completely legal to own, buy or sell the mildly hallucinogenic drug almost anywhere in the U.S.

Pot was adopted as the stimulant of choice among jazz musicians, who celebrated (and sometimes bemoaned) its effects in a surprising variety of (mainly) blues songs composed and performed 1910-1950 by artists including Cab Calloway, Stuff Smith, Marion Sunshine, Lil Green, Trixie Smith, and Fats Waller.

Those songs have been lovingly gathered and packed into the bowl of Pangea in the East Village, and lit up by Rev. Mary Whitebush (Mary Elizabeth Micari) and the band Granny’s Blue-Mers in a pleasantly baked nightclub show titled I’m SOOOO High: Rev. Mary’s Reefer Revue.

56393241_849998152008800_4570185080886001664_nThe broad-beamed brunette Rev. Mary gives off a bawdy Belle Barth vibe, perhaps left over from her previous revue of naughty ditties, Red Hot Mama. She spends the show performed with a heavy-lidded, knowing expression while a small smile plays across her brightly lipsticked mouth. She often accompanies her piano, bass and drum backup with stints on the washboard and kazoo trumpet.

In between songs like “That Cat Is High,” “Are You Hep to the Jive?,” “I Didn’t Like It the First Time,” “When I Get Low, I Get High,” “When You’re a Viper,” “Knocking Myself Out,” the worshipful “Sweet Marijuana Brown,” and the broken-hearted “All the Jive Is Gone,” Rev. Mary shares some of the history of the writers and their creations, and acts as the Urban Dictionary of jazz-based pot code words like jive, gate, mezzroll, tea, and viper.

Rev. Mary is supported by a swinging mix of singers and musicians including Mario Claudio, George Dixon, Dan Furman, Nori Naroka, & John Dinello.

Interestingly, the show stops short of the explosion of pot songs that accompanied the 1960s counter-culture embrace of the drug, and continued with R&B, rap, and on into our own Juul-fueled age. Sister Mary prefers her mellow weed lullabyes from the bittersweet jazz age.

I’m SOOO High: Rev. Mary’s Reefer Revue played a limited run through April 6 at Pangea in the East Village.

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