Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merriest and Happiest!

The warm and fuzzy disposition from Monday night's Christmas show is stubbornly staying with me. Could this possibly continue to Christmas Day? Stay tuned to find out. In the meantime, here's a warm and fuzzy classic holiday vid compilation. (I think it must be the champagne...)

Warmest wishes, Darlings.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Noir Nightingale goes Noel

Hello Darlings,

What a fabulous, festive time last night at my Christmas show:  "Noel Nightingale: Laura Shaffer's Vintage Christmas"!  Thank you to everyone who attended and made it such fun!  Incredible standing room only audience again, a cookin' band, and my special guest Art Vargas made it a night to remember!  Now I'm feeling decidedly unlike myself, i.e., all warm and fuzzy. Thank you ever so much to all my partners in Christmas crime. The fantastic band - Arno Marsh, Bruce Harper, Charlie Shaffer, Chandler Judkins, and Jeff Davis. My dashing special guest, Art Vargas. Marsha and Norm Ross, working their tails off. Peggy Caspar and Philip Esser, always generously donating time and effort. And the greatest audience on the planet, packing the room and throwing back the love! I'm humbled and grateful for all the lovely, amazing people I know, and the new ones I get to meet all the time through performing. 

The Merriest to all of you!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who knew?

I had heard that Hedy Lamarr was vehemently, even violently anti-Nazi.  Very interesting article.  Beauty, cunning, AND brains?

Until next time, Darlings!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Noir art

Hello Darlings,

I just stumbled on this fabulous artist. Niagara Detroit. Punk band singer and now pop artist, I love her stuff. Dangerous dames, double crosses, dark alleys. Check her out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cynics, hide your eyes. And ears.

Hello Darlings,

I have a VERY early Valentine's day offering for you romantics out there.  I can't get it to embed so it'll take you to the clip on YouTube.

xo, Darlings,

Friday, November 11, 2011

November doings

Hello Darlings,

It's hard to believe it's November already.  Though the temperatures here in Las Vegas are starting to make me believe it.  So, as we hurtle toward Winter, here is my current schedule of Las Vegas metro area shows and appearances.  You can still see me every thursday night at the gorgeous Mandarin Oriental in the 23rd floor sky lounge, with the New Jazz Testament.  I sing from 8:30 - 10:30, but the sublime jazz band led by Trumpet man Chandler Judkins plays from 7 -11.  Come for the music, come for the view, come for the delicious cocktails and small plate noshes, it's heaven.

Every second saturday (that's tomorrow, Dolls), I sing with the wailing Bruce Harper Big Band.  16 pieces of hard-swinging big band jazz.  If you've never heard a real big band live, you're in for a delight.   We're at the E String Grill from 2 - 4:40 pm, and there's a full menu so all ages are welcome.  We'll swing your socks off!  (Bring extra pair)

The following weekend, the 18th, 19th, and 20th, I'll be Art Vargas' guest again in his "Vintage Vegas Live" production show.  This is always such a blast.  Art is a charismatic and dynamic performer, and it's a ball to share the stage with him.  His Swank Set orchestra lays it down like nobody's business, and Miss Amy thrills the audience, especially the front row men, with her dancing.  The music, style, and swank of classic Vegas lives on.

Hope to see you out and about this month!  And please introduce yourselves, I love to meet the people who share the love for what I do. 


Monday, November 7, 2011

Catfight with class

...and I am so using that line the first chance I get.  This is from Footlight Parade (1933), Joan Blondell fixed Claire Dodd's little red wagon!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hit Parade production show photos

Photos are starting to come in from the Hit Parade show at the Suncoast last thursday, here are two.

I'm making some entertaining faces - enjoy!


Latest musical outings

Hello Darlings-

Wanted to report in on some of the fun I've been having lately.  Work has been nonstop the last two weeks!  And I'm not complaining, but I am looking forward to a spa day this week.  ;)  The very latest...

Thursday was a blast, doing the Suncoast Casino's Hit Parade production show.  This was another appearance where I buddied up with my dear friend and fellow performer, Art Vargas.  We were the featured act and hit 'em from all sides with duets, solos, and some fancy footwork.  Art is so fun to work with, it's like recess!

Friday I performed in The Fabulous 50s, a Boulder City Circle Production.  An ensemble company comprised of professionals and amateurs, we put on shows to benefit local charities.  They are always a ball and this was no exception.  Wonderful people - both cast and audience, and we always sell out!  Can't ask for more!

Saturday I did my monthly gig with the hard-swingin' Bruce Harper Big Band.  There is nothing like being backed by 16 pieces.  13 glorious horns and 3 banging rhythm.  Bandleader and drummer Bruce Harper puts together a great show each time and it is my pleasure to be able to sing with them.  Come out and see us at the E String Grill and Jazz Club on Sunset Road, every second saturday.

For more information on any of these shows, or on future ones, you can contact me here on my website,

Hope to see you soon, babycakeses!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Yvonne De Carlo

Today's birthday girl! Born in Vancouver, 9/1/1922, her heritage is Scottish-Italian.   Mini bio continued below photos -

An interesting tidbit: Yvonne's start in Hollywood was greased by the same showman, Nils Granlund, that got Joan Crawford her entry.  Her big break came in Salome, Where She Danced (1945), and Yvonne did her fair share of sword-and-sandal films, including a major role in Cecil B. DeMille's biblical epic, The Ten Commandments (1956), opposite Charlton Heston.  But her career covered many genres: Adventure, Western, Musical, Noir (the excellent Criss Cross and Brute Force), later successfully moving to TV.  She also had success on stage in Broadway and off-Broadway productions, combining her musical and acting talents, including a production of the opera "Die Fledermaus" at the Hollywood Bowl, and Stephen Sondheim's "Follies".  She published "Yvonne: An Autobiography" in 1987, and her final big screen role was as Aunt Rosa in Sylvester Stallone's 1991 mob comedy, Oscar.  She spent her last years as a resident of the Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, CA, and left us in 2007.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

From Lucille LeSueur to Joan Crawford

On New Year's Day in 1925, a 20 year old (or 19, depending on birth year sources) Lucille boarded a train for Hollywood. She had been seen by a NY-based talent scout for MGM dancing in a production called "The Passing Show of 1924", and after her second audition, was granted a standard 6 month contract. She had failed the first audition and local stage manager and nightclub owner, Nils Granlund, pulled some strings and got her the second one. Most of her early life and very early career were defined that way, by perseverence and determination. Shortly after her arrival in Hollywood, when she was given very little to do by the studio, she embarked on a frenzy of self-promotion. She pestered studio crew, photographers, makeup artists, coaches, etc., for acting, makeup, and style tips; took dozens upon dozens of promo photos of every type; daily made the scene lunching, dining, and at dance contests. The studio finally took notice and started finding parts for her in their movies. They gave her a new name, and in her third picture, Old Clothes, she debuted as Joan Crawford. After 1928's Our Dancing Daughters, the public was noticing her too. Fan mail started rolling in and Joan never looked back. She worked tirelessly and studied actors she admired. All her co-stars describe her as an absolute professional. By 1932 she was on top, a bonafide star and one of MGM's most bankable and in demand actors. For many, many more photos of early Joan, visit my facebook page: and look under 'photos'.


Friday, August 19, 2011

One of my favorites!

I love the song Deep Purple, and for me the definitive version is by Artie Shaw with vocals by Helen Forrest.  Check out this sweet little video made in 1939 of this song:

Most convivially,

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Upcoming gigs

Hello Darlings,

I'll be singing with the Chandler Judkins New Testament Jazz Quartet at the chic Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas (City Center) again this thursday, July 28th.  This fantastic band plays from 7 - 11, and I will join them from 8 - 10.  Come up to the gorgeous 23rd floor sky room lounge and get your jazz on.

Also on the near horizon is my monthly gig with the hard swingin' Bruce Harper Big Band.  It's the second saturday of every month at the E String Grill and Jazz Club.  The August date is the 13th.  Eat, drink, and swing!

Convivially yours,

Saturday, July 23, 2011

CD Release show/party

What a wonderful night it was!  Monday was my CD release show/party for my first effort on RKO Records, The Julie London Songbook.  And I couldn't be more thrilled with the turnout.  Sold out room, amazing musicians, enthusiastic audience...I know so many very nice people! Thank you to everyone who came out to support me! Thank you also to Tom Ficara of RKO Records, and Marsha K Ross and the E String!  The gents were outstanding, thank you to (r. to l.) Bob Sachs, Bruce Harper, Dave Hart, Charlie Shaffer, Arno Marsh and Bill King.  An overabundance of photos coming soon!  I'm receiving them from many sources and trying to whittle them down to one album as a microcosm of the evening.  Jazz is not dead in Las Vegas - and neither are jazz fans!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Vamp of Savannah and the CD Release Party

I had a ball this afternoon performing on, and co-hosting The Hit Parade, a show here in Las Vegas at the Suncoast Casino, with my friend and fellow performer, Art Vargas. Great band, great crowd, great sound and light crew. I fear I left a few feathers behind after Hard Hearted Hannah, though. Thank you to Nancy Porter for loaning me the fat, gleaming boa for that number! What fun.

Next up is the show/party to celebrate the release of my new CD, "The Julie London Songbook", with all my friends here in Las Vegas.  If you're going to be in town this monday, the 18th, drop by and join us at the E String Jazz Club and Grill at 2031 W Sunset Rd, from 7:30 - 9:30.  Cake, champagne, free CDs, and of course I'll be performing tunes from the album along with several others.   The sextet of superb musicians joining me for the live performance are the same great guys on the album:  Charlie Shaffer, Bob Sachs, Dave Hart, Bruce Harper, Arno Marsh, and Bill King.   If you can't make the show but want to hear the songs, hit up iTunes, Amazon, etc. for downloads, or the Store here on if you want the hard copy CD. 


Friday, July 8, 2011

Like peas and carrots (or champagne and cake)

I can't think of too many things that go together better than jazz and fine liquor.  And as I enjoy being thrown into that mix (literally, even), it was a pleasure to play a Moët Champagne and Belvedere vodka sponsored event last night in my hometown of Las Vegas.  I was accompanied by the superb Charlie Shaffer on piano and Bob Sachs on upright bass, in a swanky, old-west style, "upscale tavern" that was accessible by guarded elevator only, which gave it a cool speakeasy feeling.  We had a ball.  The specialty Belvedere cocktails and  Moët & Chandon flowed, while canapes and custom-paired gourmet cupcakes were served.  I can neither confirm nor deny that the band was responsible for the disappearance of a few cupcakes.

Convivially yours,

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekend shows for June 10th,11th, and 12th

Hello Darlings,
If you're in the Las Vegas area this weekend there is some fabulousness you should get in on!  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I'll be Art Vargas' special guest in his marvelous Vintage Vegas Live! show at the Rampart Casino.  Showtimes are 8:00pm on Friday and Saturday, and 4:00pm on Sunday.  Art is a charismatic, dynamic performer, and his show recreates the look, sound, and feel of 1950s-'60s Las Vegas.  I will be singing duets with Art as well as solos, and there is a showgirl and burlesque dancer and a swingin' live orchestra.  Tickets are $15 advance, or $20 at the door, and include one drink.  Swanky!

Also adding to the fabulousness factor this weekend is the Bruce Harper Big Band, for whom I am the vocalist.  A 16 piece big band (plus chick singer), blowing swing, jazz, and a sweet ballad or two.  Come see us at the E-String Grill, 2031 W. Sunset Road, this Saturday afternoon from 2-4:30.  It's a restaurant and bar, so you can partake of a meal and libation to go with your big band ear candy.  Swingin'!

Convivially yours,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Performance with Bruce Harper Big Band this saturday, May 21st

If you're in the Las Vegas area, come out to the E String this saturday afternoon from 2 - 4:40 to catch the swinging 16 piece (17 including me) Bruce Harper Big Band. These performances are always a blast, and sadly, are only once a month, so don't miss it! My numbers will include Avalon, Why Don't You Do Right, Too Close For Comfort, Boogie Blues, Thou Swell, and Satin Doll.  Hope to see you there, Darlings!   Eat, drink, and swing!  And don't forget to tell me hello after the show!

Convivially yours,
The Noir Nightingale

Saturday, May 14, 2011

This and that

Hello Darlings,

Nice to be back in Las Vegas and working on my home turf for a while.  Rehearsing some new tunes with Bruce Harper's Big Band, playing gigs around town with some of my favorite longtime bandmates as well as new bandmates, and lining up the songs for my next album.  I'm also enjoying just making the scene and sitting in with friends' bands, such as Chandler Judkins New Jazz Testament at the gorgeous new Mandarin Oriental hotel on the Strip.  Also look for another upcoming performance at the Rampart Casino with Art Vargas and his Vintage Vegas Live show.  Lots of music and fabulousness everywhere you look! 

Convivially yours,

Monday, April 25, 2011

Whirlwind weekend report

Hello Darlings,

Monday morning finds me back home to report on a fabulous on-the-road weekend of work and play.  Aren't they the same thing when you love your job?  I'm looking forward to more travel to promote my new album, The Julie London Songbook, which has JUST been released to all the download services.  Now on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc., you can download the complete album or single tunes.

Friday I played an intimate, high-end corporate event in Dallas, Texas.  In the gorgeous suburb of Southlake, technically.  Former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe was hosting a private tasting of his latest vintage of Doubleback wine.  He and his guests were so very gracious and friendly and I very much enjoyed playing for them.  Among the songs I performed were The Nearness of You, Don't Explain, Guilty, and Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  I love Texas and the people of Texas, and would have loved to linger, but straight from the event I hopped in a cab to the airport and flew to...

San Francisco, maybe the most charming of all the US metropolises.  I was fortunate enough to attend and "work" the Braves-Giants game at AT&T Park on saturday as a guest of Fox Sports.  I put work in quotations because my assigned job could hardly be considered as such by such a baseball fan.  I assisted (minimally, really) commentators Josh Lewin and Eric Karros, who were calling the national Fox TV broadcast of the game.  Otherwise I was toured around the ballpark, given special access to the field and dugout during pregame and batting practice, all the media booths, and the players clubhouse.  This was all very exciting for me, a long time Braves fan.  I met and chatted with second-generation Braves broadcaster Chip Caray.  His father, Skip Caray, was my all-time favorite Braves announcer, and his grandfather was the legendary Harry Caray of the Chicago Cubs.  I also got to chat with Fredi Gonzales, Braves manager, as well as Braves broadcaster and Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton, and his wonderful broadcast partner, the dry-humored Jim Powell, and was invited to join them in the booth for a couple of innings, which I did!  What a great day!  I was particularly impressed with the frantic and complex choreography that is a professional sports national TV broadcast.  Being able to be behind-the-scenes left me with a new appreciation of how much goes into it, and how on the ball (ha!) the whole broadcast team has to be to keep it all running smoothly and bring the game home to the fans.  And as a bonus, the Braves won!  (Sorry, Giants fans.)  Next morning, I flew to...

Las Vegas, just in time to make my gig out at beautiful Lake Las Vegas Montelago Village.  I play out there a lot and I always enjoy it.  The weather is perfect here right now, sunny and mid-70s, and during this lovely weather, we play on a large patio overlooking the lake and serenade the patrons as the sun sets.  It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it...

Melodiously Yours,

P.S.  Write if you get work!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wine, jazz, and quarterbacks

Hello Darlings!

What do the above 3 have in common?  Well, a lot of people (including yours truly) would happily combine wine and jazz.  But this weekend, in the affluent Dallas/Fort Worth suburb of Southlake, I'm going to toss a quarterback into the mix.  For those of you who didn't know, former Cowboys and Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe returned to his Washington state roots (literally) and started tending grapes. I'm playing an invite-only launch of his 'Doubleback' wine to the upscale Dallas market.  I've always enjoyed playing corporate events, and this exclusive wine launch/tasting promises to be a great one.  I will, of course, sample the vintage for quality control purposes.  I'm nothing if not responsible to my audience!



Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stanwyck, cont.

Continuing my Barbara Stanwyck spree, I watched Ball of Fire (1941) tonight. For which she earned her second Oscar nomination. With Gary Cooper and Dana Andrews, and also featuring the Gene Krupa Orchestra (She's a nightclub singer). Released through RKO Radio Pictures.  Directed by Howard Hawks. Ms. Stanwyck's costumes by Edith Head.

I may need that red, sequined, balloon-sleeved, midriff-baring, car wash-skirted gown made for me at some point. Well, I mean, you never know.

I ADORE this Edith Head designed dress that she wears in the later scenes of the movie, where she is set to marry mobster Joe Lilac, played by Dana Andrews.

And here she is, still in her nightclub gig gown, trying to convince Gary et al to let her stay overnight.  Snow White and the 8 dwarves.  Gary's a bit tall for the comparison, I know.

 Current DVD cover

A still showing her performing Drum Boogie with Gene Krupa and his band.  I have read that her voice was overdubbed with Martha Tilton's.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Lady Eve

Enjoyed the screwball comedy The Lady Eve (Paramount, 1941) tonight. I am more and more a fan of Barbara Stanwyck these days. And it also featured one of my all-time favorite character actors, Eugene Pallette. P.S. DIVINE wardrobe by Edith Head.  The white gown and accessories (huge feather fan!), in the scene where she attends the party given by Henry Fonda's character's family, reduced me to blubber.  

Friday, March 25, 2011

An often overlooked Golden Age of Hollywood costume designer

Props are due to Orry-Kelly, costume designer on MANY classic movies, including The Letter, which I recently posted about on my Facebook page. He was award-winning, prolific, worked for most of the major studios as well as freelanced. He roomed briefly with Cary Grant and Charlie Spangles upon coming to NY in the '20s from Australia.  (Had me at Cary Grant.) 

He was born Orry George Kelly on New Year's Eve 1897, in Kiama, New South Wales.  He moved from New York to Hollywood in 1931, where Grant greased his entry into First National Pictures.  By 1932 he was at Warner Bros, where he was chief costume designer until 1944.  From there he went on to Twentieth Century-Fox, and to successful freelance work.  He was awarded 3 Oscars for Best Costume Design, for An American in Paris (1951, shared with two others), Les Girls (1957) and Some Like It Hot (1959).

His style was, in general, less showy than contemporaries Adrian and Edith Head, so he's sometimes overlooked in vintage costume design conversations. But if you've seen Casablanca or The Maltese Falcon, you've seen Orry-Kelly. He traded high contrast, shimmer, and glitter for unpretentious, stylishly cut, very high quality fabrics with intricate details. Which is not to say he couldn't do glitz - Orry-Kelly costumed The Gold Diggers of 1933, one of it's memorable scenes being the opening, where a gaggle of beautiful women fill the stage singing and wearing costumes constructed from coins. Another memorable creation was Bette Davis' "red" ball gown in Jezebel (1938).  He was a favorite of Ms. Davis, as well as Kay Francis.

For 34 years, he gowned and costumed Hollywood's most beautiful women, and he once quipped that "Hell must be filled with beautiful women and no mirrors."
Last week, as well as the Orry-Kelly costumed The Letter, I also watched The Kennel Murder Case, a Philo Vance mystery (William Powell as Vance), and needed a drool cup for the wardrobe of the glamourous seductress next door to the victim.

He died of liver cancer in Hollywood in 1964. And according to wikipedia, "...was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills). His pallbearers included Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Billy Wilder and George Cukor and his eulogy was read by Jack Warner."

And now, the photos!

Fashionably yours,