Every once in a while, the South doesn’t disappoint. Tonight’s Rene Marie show at the Second Street Festival in her former hometown of Richmond, Va., is like reading a Wim Wenders storyboard. Young ballers in throwback jerseys and do rags dance near old men in Hawaiian shirts and porkpie hats as jazz lights up a warm October night. Every aspect of this scenario is so implausible, and yet the gal at the center of this party on “2 Street” is too busy to dwell on such glorious absurdities. She’s singing about how Nina Simone changed her life.
“I need a little sugar in my bowl!” Rene Marie shouts, dropping her voice and making it appropriately gruff as she quotes her idol. “Goddamn!” She prowls the boards, her hands emphasizing syllables like an Italian fisherman, her light coat flapping in the breeze. Rene Marie struts, man.