The Ship restaurant, formerly Mt. Vernon at The Ship 24 Broadway – up on Route 1 South Saugus / Lynnfield is an amazing place for food and an evening out. We ventured up north on Friday after Thanksgiving, 11/29/13, and listened to Medford’s own Sharon DiFronzo and pianist John Ventura entertaining the dinner crowd.
We walked in to hear Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” as interpreted by the popular regional singer, My Funny Valentine, a unique arrangement of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and the Spinners “I’ll Be Around.” Alton Hollister guest starred with some cool saxophone lines that added to the jazz trio’s strength. The club, and the performers, allowed me to set up the video cam as DiFronzo will be a featured guest on Visual Radio in the new year. Set 1 concluded with the Etta James chestnut “At Last” around 8:45 PM.
The Ship had the Boston Celtics basketball game on at the bar, but the TVs do not interfere with the dining room. It’s two different worlds, and the piped in music is at a pleasant volume with Al Green and other mellow R & B performers – music reflecting the styles of the songs that the performers were playing.
DiFronzo’s voice is as warm and enchanting as I heard it over twenty years ago. A true veteran of the circuit, the shows are impeccably paced and the songs familiar and played with a reverence that was most impressive. Ventura took the piano for the second set singing a song from a famous north shore personality, Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny,” flowing immediately into James Ingram’s “Just Once”. Sharon re-emerged for the Donnie Hathaway/Roberta Flack classic “Where Is The Love” into Flack’s “Feel Like Making Love” (written by former York Beach Maine resident, the late Gene McDaniels of “100 Pounds of Clay” fame) into Gladys Knight’s “If I Were Your Woman” and Dionne Warwick’s “I Say A Little Prayer.”
Set 3 featured Bette Midler’s arrangement of “Do You Wanna Dance” into Pet Clark’s “Downtown” which DiFronzo cleverly changed to “Route 1” for different phrasings during the song. That wonderful Tony Hatch composition wonderfully suited to the dining atmosphere/experience. After a terrific guest appearance by DiFronzo’s musical friend Bonnie solo at the piano Sharon came back for more Carole King songs – “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (made famous by the Shirelle’s in the ’60s) and “I Feel The Earth Move” as the encore. This is not your typical supper club act, these veterans know how to put a program together that touches all the right notes – a great way to discover that the new owners of The Ship are continuing the tradition. Just lots of fun!
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.