The 1960s are remembered for the British Invasion, the San Francisco scene and Woodstock, but a more traditional style of music also found a large audience during that decade of turmoil and change.
Perhaps no one typified the enduring appeal of traditional pop, big band and swing music more than the duo of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, whose music will be celebrated at the second installment in the Cambria Center for the Arts Theatre’s Cabar-esque series.
“I’ve always loved the power of a really good vocal duo — when I was a kid, the Everly Brothers, even Lennon and McCartney,” Anderson said. “It’s really synergistic. It becomes more than just two voices.”
Lawrence had several chart successes as a solo artist, including the 1962 pop smash “Go Away Little Girl,” a Gerry Goffin/Carole King composition that went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold more than a million copies. Lawrence had met Gormé, his wife and musical partner, nine years earlier when they appeared on the same episode of “The Tonight Show.”
The pair had several Top 40 singles as a duo and performed together for more than a half-century until Gormé’s retirement in 2009. She died in 2013. Lawrence, recorded his first album in several years, “When You Come Back to Me Again,” last year.
Despite the duo’s popularity, Anderson said, their music had been largely ignored when it came to tribute performances.
She decided to change that.
“The past few years, nobody had done Steve and Eydie,” Anderson said. “They’d done Streisand, they’d done Sinatra, but nobody had done a vocal duo.
“I’ve always loved their song choices. Steve in his tux and Eydie in her gowns were the quintessential ‘cool’ couple back then. Style is back in fashion, and the musical styles of Steve and Eydie deserve a second notice.”
Anderson is part of a husband-wife musical team of her own with Ames Anderson, performing together as the acoustic folk duo Simple Pleasures. For the Steve and Eydie show, however, she’ll be teamed with McCann, who has performed tunes by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Mel Tormé and Bobby Darin. His repertoire includes selections from the Great American Songbook and Big Band era through the 1960s.
“He used to run this little bar in Cayucos,” Anderson recalled. “He said, ‘Mary Anne, you have such a good jazz voice — you should do some jazz. Vocally, the sparks just flew. Steve and I match very nicely; our voices really blend.”
The admiration is mutual.
“Mary Anne has the pipes, the poise and the panache that Eydie had,” McCann said. “She can sing in five languages and has a five-octave range. I love the way our voices blend.”
Anderson said she and McCann have picked out about 17 numbers to perform in their two weekend shows. Each will do some solos in addition to their duets, with Anderson performing some Spanish-language songs.
Their band will feature guitarist Doug MacDonald, who’s also serving as musical director, vibraphonist/pianist Charlie Shoemake — a regular at the theatre with his Famous Jazz Artists series — bassist Dylan Johnson and drummer Darrell Voss.
“I love music, and I like jazz because it’s very free,” Anderson said. “If we can go home and we’ve put joy in just one heart, I can die happy.”
Anderson and McCann are performing as part of the theatre’s Cabar-esque series, which began with a pair of performances by Cambria’s Jude Johnstone in January. It continues in September with two more appearances:
A Tribute to Steve and Eydie
- Who: Mary Anne Anderson and Steve McCann
- When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14, and Sunday, March 15
- Where: Cambria Center for the Arts Theatre, 1350 Main St., Cambria, 927-8190
- Tickets: $20, available at 800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com