The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Madeleine Peyroux Busks Her Way To Old Town School

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 7, 2013 7:30PM

Photo credit: Vince Bucci/Getty Images

Close your eyes and listen to a few bar of Madeleine Peyroux singing and try not to compare her voice to Billie Holiday back when “Lady Day” had a new penny sheen to her voice, before the drugs and hard living. Holiday is but one of a litany of influences listeners will hear in Peyroux’s music, which is rooted firmly in vocal jazz, Tin Pan Alley, folk, country, blues, the painstaking storytelling of Leonard Cohen and French street music. That last one is something Peyroux earned personally as a teen, singing in Paris’ Latin Quarter at the tender age of 15.

Her debut album, 1996’s Dreamland, hinted at what was to come but suffered from a lack of focus and a mélange of notables from New York’s jazz scene. It wouldn’t be until 2004’s Careless Love that Peyroux would find a wide audience that’s remained loyal to this day. Both her original compositions and choices in cover songs are chosen specifically to fit her leisurely singing style and an instrumentation that would feel at home in a bar, concert hall or a whorehouse. Indeed, Peyroux’s music turns the clock back to a time when jazz was starting to find its footing and hadn’t made the jump from New Orleans brothels and Chicago speakeasies to Lincoln Center. A 2006 show at the Vic had the sit-down audience standing on their chairs throughout.

Peyroux’s April 5 concerts at the Old Town School of Folk Music dovetail nicely with the latter’s roots in folk and street music Tickets are still available for the 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. concerts. Opening for Peyroux is singer and actress Rebecca Pidgeon, aka "Mrs. David Mamet." (Click here for tickets.)