How’s this for a bio?
Working erratic day jobs through her 20s, singing at Detroit nightclubs into the wee hours of the morning, making a huge splash on the music scene before she was 30, being overshadowed by Diana Ross and The Supremes before the splash became a tidal wave, suffering the growing pangs of being in a “girl group,” dropping a Motown Records solo contract, then fighting them in court over royalties, having many alleged recordings locked away in Motown’s vaults, finding rebirth as a solo artist later in life, as well as a Detroit city councilor, actress, author, grandmother, and permanent fixture on the touring circuit.
Yes, it’s Martha Reeves, of course, she of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. And, yes, they’re still playing the circuit, this time performing four shows at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis Friday and Saturday.
Here’s why that bio is so important: Performing, especially singing, requires more than technique, it requires experience. The kind you can feel in your bones; Reeves has that, and then some. Every note she sings is tinged with her years in the trenches, and that’s a considerable bit of tinging.
Sure, Reeves and the Vandellas were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, but that’s been so long ago now it’s clear they’re not resting on their laurels. They’re still at it, and still bringing audiences innumerable amounts of joy with classics such as “Heat Wave,” “Dancing In The Street,” and “Nowhere To Run.”
It’s an embarrassment of riches, and there will be plenty for everyone to treasure if they’re wise enough to realize there is somewhere to run — it’s the Dakota.
This time the dancing won’t be relegated to the streets, it’ll be in our hearts. Calling out around the world …
If you go
What: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
When: 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, and Saturday, Feb. 6
Where: Dakota Jazz Club, 1010 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
Ryan Stotts is a Rochester freelance writer.