Review: The Jill (Sobule) and Julia (Sweeney) Show at Club Cafe

Early in July, The Jill and Julia Show came to town for one-performance only at Club Cafe on the South Side. Sobule and Sweeney are long tme friends who fuse musical interludes with storytelling and audience engagement for an entertaining, somewhat nostalgic show.

Sobule, an openly bisexual woman, has a whole array of post-“I Kissed a Girl” music including some biting political and social commentary – as well as delightful self-deprecating commentary on Katy Perry’s appropriate of her song title. Sweeney, an openly heterosexual woman, has an whole an array of post-Saturday Night Live performance and writing credentials, including two books and lots of guest writing gigs for popular television. She also brought along her teenaged daughter Mulan who staffed the merchandise table like a seasoned pro, but admitted to me that she doesn’t watch the show ” all of the time” when I asked her.  Considering her mother tells a hysterical (but probably embarrassing) anecdote about Mulan’s questions about sex – I’d tune out, too.

Ledcat with Julia Sweeney
Ledcat with Julia Sweeney

The combination of singing and storytelling is not unusual, but the warmth of the women’s relationship and their comfort interrupting one another flowed into the performance. Sweeney sang along with several Sobule tunes and when she did step back from the microphone, it was apparent she was mouthing the words and keeping time with her hands or feet. Sobule laughed and smiled at the stories, interjecting her own remembrances and occasionally correcting a point. It was like watching two best friends share their lives and that’s a very pleasant backdrop when you are discussing cancer and homophobia and poverty and climate change.

We had a table near the front so it was also amusing that Sobule’s set list was on her iPad (sorry, fan girls) while Sweeney had a huge raff of paper she was shuffling. After the show, Sobule talked with every single person and posed for photos with aplomb. Sweeney was gracious about autographs, but as we were chatting she confided “We’ll never get her out of here!”  Their destination for evening was Breezewood, Pennsylvania – I told her not to bother hurrying.

Jill talking with a fan - she talked to every single person at the show.
Jill talking with a fan – she talked to every single person at the show.

The crowd included many lesbians and bi women that we know and skewed a little older (maybe 40something and up) but it was clear these folks knew the songs and the stories – they called out for what they wanted to hear. Club Cafe is a nice venue – clean, smoke-free, some tables and a hard-working staff who somehow manage to serve the tables during the entire show. And the food is both good and reasonably priced – we had a hummus plate and split a small serving Margherita pizza.

I knew it was a concert I was meant to see when I found a “Jill and Julia Show” tote bag! Sweeney’s book is on my library request list and I’m working my way through Sobule’s albums. If they swing back through Pittsburgh, I’d say its a must-see show.

They’ll be in Eastern PA and Delaware in September.

Disclosure: I received a pair of passes which we raffle off on the website to a reader. I also received a pair of passes to review the show.



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