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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Evie Sands still ahead of her time

Evie Sands

Evie Sands at the Cutting Room (Photo: May Pang)

She had a hit in 1969 with Chip Taylor’s “Any Way That You Want Me” in 1969, but Evie Sands is just as well known for first releasing, in 1967, Taylor’s “Angel of the Morning,” shortly before Merrilee Rush’s Top 10 cover, and Taylor’s and Al Gorgoni’s “I Can’t Let Go,” in 1965, ahead of The Hollies’ 1966 hit version.

Evie Sands' "Any Way That You Want Me"

Sands went on to write songs recorded by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, Frankie Valli and Karen Carpenter, and reteamed with Taylor and Gorgoni and released the critically acclaimed album Women in Prison in 1999. The Brooklyn native has remained active as a performer ever since in Los Angeles, and brought a crack band to the Cutting Room Saturday night for a performance that showed that at 71, she’s still ahead of her time.

Of course, she played all the aforementioned hits and others like “Billy Sunshine” (1967). But she also played a lot of material written and recorded since the ‘60s, including tunes from her new self-issued Shine For Me EP. And she told some great stories, like how Brill Building-era songwriter/session guitarist Gorgoni—who was in the audience—had informed her early on that she was playing the guitar upside-down—same as she still plays.

In fact, Sands explained that the reason for the red-tape “X”’s affixed to one of her guitars was to prevent her strums from accidentally impacting the upside-down right-handed guitar’s knobs and switches. This, along with Sands’ corresponding unorthodox playing technique (her strings are upside-down as well), left at least one professional guitarist in the audience thoroughly dumbfounded.

Sands then played R&B legend Barbara Lynn’s 1966 hit “I’m a Good Woman,” after relating how she and Lynn—who likewise plays a right-handed guitar upside-down—performed it together during a makeshift Ponderosa Stomp gig in New Orleans earlier this month. It must have been quite the sight, as Sands’ rendition sans Lynn was memorable by itself.

Incidentally, Sands gave several songs to guitarist Jason Berk and bass guitarist Teresa Cowles, both well-established L.A. musicians apart from Sands. One song from Cowles was especially noteworthy: "We Go High," a song she co-wrote that was inspired by Michelle Obama’s memorable Democratic Convention speech line, and appears on her band Pacific Soul Ltd.'s latest album The Dance Divine.



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