By Mike Zellhofer
Approx. Running Time: 90 minutes
My grandfather always told me that, “anything worth doing, is worth doing right.” While we are not connected familiarly, singer songwriter Ross Martin obviously agrees. Over twenty years went into the creation of Miss Isabella Rainsong and Her Traveling Companion, and it is well worth the wait.
For me, this was a unique experience because I had never seen much less covered a play about one man playing a guitar. From the very moment the light came up Martin shows his audience that this is not a concert. This is not a play. This may not even be entertainment, but what it is, is an immersion into a life experience that will run the gambit of emotions and hopefully leave you feeling human as you come out the other end. Martin is a living, breathing concept album that will leave you yearning for his next release.
Set inside a current day Amtrak passenger terminal in Anniston, Alabama we find a lowly traveler (Ross Martin) waiting for train service to resume. A brutal storm and tornado sightings have forced the suspension of service. The traveler views the audience as fellow travelers, and being the southern gentleman that he is, takes this time to introduce himself. He notes that it appears we are going to be sitting here for awhile and asks if he may share a story.
The story he shares is his. An average, every day person who is at a point in his life where he needs a helping hand. There is nothing special about this traveler. He could be any one of us in the audience or reading this and for me, that is what brought me into the story. Mr. Martin is not only a talented singer, but performer as well. His portrayal of the traveler is genuine. He does not try to make you feel sorry for him. He doesn’t even offer an explanation of circumstances as to how he got to this point. He doesn’t have to; he is us.
Unbeknownst to him, help is around the corner in the form of Miss Isabella Rainsong (Dolly Rainsong), in the form of a guitar. (To find out more about Dolly Rainsong, the companion CD, blog or more, please visit www.missrainsong.com) Our traveler finds an envelope, containing a note, clipped to Miss Rainsong by a capo. He reads the note and their journey together begins. Our traveler eloquently tells the story of how they spent a few years together riding the rails together. As not to give away the big reveal, I will leave the story here.
Throughout the storytelling Martin plays thirteen pieces of original music loosely linked to the story at hand. The genius behind Martin’s writing of Miss Isabella…Companion is that those songs can be replaced by songs from another storyteller without taking away from the overall production. Martin’s music combined with his story made this particular show special. However, it would be nice to hear someone like Anthony Kiedis perform this piece and use song that he wrote. The whole concept is brilliant and just works.
If there is one thing that I would change in the production, it would be the number of songs. The story its self is strong enough to stand on its own. For me, thirteen songs were a bit much and I would cut it down to ten; five in each act, but still add Isabella’s Rain Song at the end. Ten would keep the show moving and still provide a nice sample size of Mr. Martin’s work.
This show should not be missed. It is an evening of entertainment bliss. Unfortunately, at the time of this review there are no future events scheduled for Ross Martin or Dolly Rainsong. Please visit the website for future shows.
As Jason would say, “This is what I thought of Isabella Rainsong and Her Traveling Companion” … What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!
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