Most of the 1999 Bistro Awards are announced ahead of time; Faith Prince, Lea Delaria, et al knew to be present when the annual cabaret honors were awarded Feb. 28. One prize, however, remained a surprise: the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award. 1999's winner was jazz and cabaret great Bobby Short.
For over 30 years, Short has been performing his act as the chic cabaret crooner in the tux at New York City's Cafe Carlyle. Four films later and a discography that includes discs celebrating Cole Porter (the 1999 Grammy Award nominated "You're the Top"), Rogers and Hart, the Gershwins and his own run at the Carlyle -- 1998's "Celebrating 30 Years At The Carlyle" -- Short is a well known cabaret mainstay. The singer-pianist even penned his autobiography, "Bobby Short : The Life and Times of a Saloon Singer," which chronicles his rise from poor African-American saloon pianist learning jazz from Duke Ellington and Mabel Mercer to singing celebrity.
The 1999 Bistro Awards were given Feb. 28 at the Supper Club. This year's winners included:
Outstanding Major Engagement: Faith Prince
Outstanding Musical Comedy: Lea DeLaria
Outstanding Vocalist: Alexandra Haas, Lynn Lobban, Carlos Martin, Lennie Watts
Outstanding Singer/Instrumentalist: Michael Garin
Outstanding Musical Group: Howard Fishman Quartet
Outstanding Songwriters: Marcy Heisler, Zina Goldrich
Outstanding Special Material: Tom Andersen - "Play Your Song For Me Blues"
Outstanding Musical Revue: "Hard Candy" - The Songs of Carol Hall, Conceived and directed by Mark Nadler
Outstanding Theme Show: "Toujours Cabaret" starring Sigrid Sunstedt: "Looking Around Corners For You" conceived, researched by and starring Heather Gilchrest, written and directed by Gary Lyons
Outstanding Comedy Performer: Rich Vos
Outstanding Musical Direction: David Maiocco
Outstanding Recordings: David Gurland, "David Gurland"; Dane Vannatter, "Flight"; Paula West, "Restless"
The special awards went to Karen Miller, Erv Raible and Rochelle Seldin of Eighty Eight's, Ruby Rims for nearly a decade of "Teddycare," a program to bring music to sick children, and John Wallowitch and Bertram Ross for a lifetime of entertainment. -- By Christine Ehren