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Photo Credit :: Peter James Zielinski
Arts & Entertainment
Gavin Creel at Arlene's Grocery
By Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
November 14, 2005 
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It’s not often you witness a performer who mixes elements of Mick Jagger’s sinuous sexuality with David Bowie’s glam-rock posture and combines them with Prince’s seriously funky songwriting skills, but that’s what emerged during Gavin Creel’s Monday night performances at Arlene’s Grocery this November. Trained at the University of Michigan, Mr. Creel has been in New York for a few years now, appearing in Batboy and Hair, as well as La Cage aux Folles, and earning a Tony nod for his performance in Broadway’s Thoroughly Modern Millie, but according to Mr. Creel’s website (, it’s his own music which matters much to him right now. For those accustomed to hearing Creel sing sweet-and-bubbly, jazz-age musicals, Creel’s own material is equally romantic, though with a more propulsive and ass-thumping beat. Along with co-writer Robbie Roth, Creel’s songs often dispense with pronouns so that the longing and the heartache, the loss and the joy of life, is accessible to all. While his set at Arlene’s did not find him this time at the piano, Creel has, at other concerts, sat down at the keyboard to sing his heartfelt songs in his tenderly sexual voice. Creel’s clever and touching songwriting is limned with humor and romance, affording a glimpse not only into his heart, but also his head, and it’s not unusual to hear elements of other gifted singers, such as Sam Harris, Patti Labelle, Wilson Pickett, in Creel’s performances – but in the end, what makes Gavin Creel such a performer to watch is how he manages to integrate all of his many antecedents with such charismatic originality. A voice to watch may seem like a mixed metaphor – but Gavin Creel possesses that very potent combination.