The Advantages of Vintage

By Benedict Burgess

We’ve all had those moments. You turn on the radio. You put on a record. The harmonies and melodies swirl until suddenly you’re somewhere else entirely – a dream, a memory, now unlocked with just the right key.

Carole J. Bufford is a master of such moments. Called a “21st century Barbra Streisand” by The New York Times and heralded as “One of cabaret’s brightest rising stars” by Time Out New York, she transports audiences into past decades with fresh takes on timeless classics. Now, Bufford returns to serenade Sarasota with her latest, never-before-seen musical revue, Vintage POP!

Carole J. Bufford. Photo by Peter Carrier.

“When I was on tour a couple years ago, I had a discussion with a woman after one of my shows,” shared Bufford. “She asked me what genre of music I’d classify myself in, and I told her that was something I constantly struggled with naming. She said, ‘I’d call your music vintage pop.’ I loved that wording and have used it ever since. Last year, I decided to go and actually begin making it into a show.”

The result is one of Bufford’s most sweeping projects to date. While she has previously revived the roaring twenties in Roar! The Music of the 1920s and Beyond and celebrated the swinging sixties in Come Together: When the ‘60s Met The ‘70s, this new revue charts a musical course spanning the better part of the twentieth century. From 1900s standards like “St. Louis Blues” to 1980s synth-rock hits, such as “Every Breath You Take,” this soundtrack showcases how popular music evolved over several decades.

“Taking a look at music from a distance allows me to see the landscape more clearly than if I did a show about the music of today,” explained Bufford. “You really hear how style and sound changed over time. How one thing led to the next. I stopped in the 1980s because I wanted to keep it vintage!”

Carole J. Bufford in Roar! The Music of the ’20s & Beyond (2017).
Photo by Alexandria Hill.

A Carole Bufford cabaret, however, is always more than just a guided tour through a Billboard Hot 100 list. Vintage POP! also tells the stories of the artists who brought these songs into the world and how they struck chords with millions of listeners.

“Though styles, sounds, fashions, and culture changed, we’re still singing about the same basic human emotion,” said Bufford. “The excitement of falling in love, the pain or anger when that love ends, and the striving to do better. You find those themes in music, no matter the year. My hope is that audiences will walk away from this show excited and reminded that music is a balm and a unifier. And we can all use more of that!”

Due to popular demand, Vintage POP! has already been extended three times and is now playing in FST’s Keating Theatre from March 24 – May 16, 2021. For tickets or more information, click here.