Saturday, August 20, 2022

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Sound Stage

A hum-dinger of a show


Local entertainer Steve Berry eschews praise during his Drake Diner performance.

Local entertainer Steve Berry eschews praise during his Drake Diner performance.

One of my favorite things about Des Moines is that you never know where you’re going to stumble upon live music. There are literally hundreds of places in town to find it, and now the Drake Diner is one of them.

Steve Berry is something of an entertainment legend in this city. From his television and commercial work with Prairie Meadows, as well as appearances on local stages around the city, Berry has proved beyond a doubt that he’s capable of putting on a first-rate show, and in the corner booth on an otherwise drab afternoon last weekend was no exception.

While waiting for his turkey club, Berry kicked off the show by quietly humming “Luck Be a Lady Tonight,” which true Berry fans will fondly remember from his 1990 performance as Sky Masterson in the Playhouse’s rendition of “Guys and Dolls.” From there, Berry launched into something that seemed kind of free-form. Maybe it was jazz. Possibly an original piece? The performance was at times hard to follow, because Berry made the odd decision to perform without a mic. Couple that with the bold stylistic decision to perform the songs both a capella and often with food in his mouth, and you had a truly unusual show.

My biggest complaint lies with the venue. Drake Diner needs to really work on its acoustics if it’s going to continue booking such avant garde events. At several points, Berry’s performance was so introverted and subdued, he almost seemed to be performing just for himself, and the venue’s lack of any kind of sound system made for a difficult listening experience.

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But, Berry continues to be a master showman, and — minor complaints aside — the Drake Diner show was probably one of his best. APRIL FOOLS

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