|For Texas born Laura Tate her new release “Live From El Paso” is a milestone of achievement in a storied career that has taken her from stage to screen, in front of and behind the camera and around the world, with her heart always remaining in Texas. Recorded under the West Texas stars at the McKelligon Canyon Amphitheater, the concert benefitted the El Paso Community Foundation’s Laura Tate Fund for the Arts and marked the merging of her talents with her passion as an advocate committed to her community and to important humanitarian and educational causes.
For the special show Tate gathered a backing band of L.A.’s finest players including Terry Wilson on bass guitar and Tony Braunagel on drums along with veteran sidemen Jeff Paris on piano (Keb’ Mo’, Rod Stewart) and award-winning guitarist Doug Hamblin. No swinging band would be complete without a hot horn section, so Tate brought in ace brass man Lee Thornburg for trombone, Darrell Leonard on trumpet, and saxophonist Joe Sublett from the Phantom Blues Band, with fellow Texas Blues woman Teresa James, for backup vocals. The powerhouse group nimbly follows Tate as she works her way through a selection of fan favorites from her discography of torch songs, blues ballads and barnstormers, rock reinventions and jazz interpretations that explore the depths of life and love.
The opening number ‘No Place To Hide,’ from her album, “I Must Be Dreaming,” sets the tone by allowing the band to coalesce during the sultry rhumba, with its title also eluding to the aspects of the album being recorded live. Wilson and James wrote the driving Texas Blues rocker, ‘I’ll Find Someone Who Will,’ for Coco Montoya, so its natural they brought the saucy tune to Tate, who sings it with confidence as the horns add sharp hits to the arrangement. Tate then steps into the role of Nancy Sinatra to deliver a Rat-Pack styled reading of the Thin Lizzy hit from the 70’s, ‘The Boys Are Back In Town,’ that would have been a showstopper at Caesar’s Palace.
The bump and grind blues ‘I Need A Man’ finds Tate channeling Ruth Brown and then playfully working the boogaloo ‘Hittin’ On Nothing,’ from the Irma Thomas catalog, that features hot sax and guitar solos. Wilson leads the fine salsa tinged arrangement of the obscure tune ‘Can’t Say No,’ giving Tate room to play the vixen and ply her charms. She then gets sentimental on the ballad ‘Still Got The Blues’ and smooths out the swamp country tune ‘Nobody Gets Hurt’ to emphasize her point. Tate digs deeper into two songs from her favorite songwriter Mel Harker by first gender bending the tale of a disastrous affair ‘What A Way To Go’ followed by a loving reading of his Western Swing classic ‘Cowboy Jazz.’ The party rolls on with the Texas Boogie ‘Big Top Hat’ before closing with the sweet soul track, ‘If That Ain’t Love.’
The proceeds from the concert went to Laura Tate’s fund for the arts and this fine album will forever be a testament to the sincerity of her mission.
Rick J Bowen
Laura Tate, one of four daughters of a Southern beauty and an opera singer father, grew up in Dallas and began singing in front of audiences at the age of nine. While majoring in voice at the University of North Texas, she had the chance to tour with a theater repertory company and has worked as an actor and singer ever since. After training at the Herbert Berghoff Studio School of Acting and the Stella Alder School of Acting in New York, she performed off-Broadway and in other NYC productions as well as theaters in Los Angeles, Nashville, and Dallas and on musical touring companies.
In Los Angeles, Laura’s career turned first toward television with appearances in programs and series on every major network, HBO, and several cable channels. At the same time, what began as a gig in on-set craft services blossomed into a new career directing music videos, documentaries, and commercials. Working on music videos across the country, Laura assisted a wide variety of musicians including Phil Collins, Gloria Estefan, MegaDeath, and Cheap Trick. One of her documentaries, “Held in Trust,” which she directed and was narrated by Ossie Davis and Colin Powell, garnered national acclaim, receiving the PBS Golden Apple for Education and induction into the Smithsonian Institute Film Archives. Laura Tate is a member of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (SAG- AFTRA) and Actors Equity Association.
Today Laura lives in El Paso, a unique and vibrant community at the edge of Texas, New Mexico, and the state of Chihuahua. Well-known for her volunteer work for local women’s shelters, Alzheimer’s Association, Junior League, and many social-justice causes, Laura received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Returning to college as an adult, she finished her bachelor’s degree and master’s degrees in theater at the University of Texas-El Paso.