Last night I had the pleasure of watching Dale Williams perform his lounge act at the lavish Peninsula Inn in Gulfport. Sometimes you need a few cocktails to make a small-town lounge act bearable - and the cocktails here were indeed top-notch - but I genuinely enjoyed Dale's show. Gulfport should count its lucky stars that Dale remains here and isn't in Vegas or Atlantic City where he really belongs.
Though his act is based around Sinatra's style, which he has down to a T, I have to agree when his website states that he's not doing an imitation of Sinatra. He doesn't mimic Frankie's mannerisms or come off like an impressionist. He has his own take on the Sinatra style. In fact, in many ways he's even more Sinatra than Sinatra - he uses the "wandering jazz vocalist" trick of Frank's to even greater degree, coming in on the melody at very different points than the ear expects. This was also a key technique used by Willie Nelson in his early years, and subsequently by Ray Price when covering Willie's songs. Back then, it was often misinterpreted by cowan's ears as simply, "ugh, he's singing the melody wrong, he's drifting all over the place and coming in too early or too late." That's jazz, baby, get hip or go home.
Dale also covers all sorts of post-Sinatra-era songs like Van Morrison's "Moondance", which are always a revelation when heard performed in the Sinatra style. At first it may seem like the cognitive-dissonance humor of Joe Piscopo's parody medley in which Ol' Blue Eyes sings incongruous Springsteen and Joan Jett covers, but in fact the man always did have an ear to the ground for the latest tunes to transform with his own magic - witness his covers of Petula Clark's "Don't Sleep In The Subway", Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" and "Song Sung Blue", Jim Croce's "Bad Bad Leroy Brown", Tony Orlando & Dawn's "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree", and Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are".
You can catch Dale's act at the Peninsula Inn every Saturday from 7-10pm, or listen to the audio clips on his website linked above.