As Nancy And Beth, Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt Pay Tribute to Dinah Washington

Stephanie Hunt (left) and Megan Mullally are vocalists in the band Nancy And Beth, which recently announced a U.S. and Australian tour. (Photo: Giles Clement)

Before she was slaying audiences and snagging up Emmys as the character Karen Walker on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, actor and comedian Megan Mullally was digging through jazz bins in her native Oklahoma City, seeking out gems by her idol, Dinah Washington.

“I discovered Dinah Washington as a teenager and was never the same again,” said Mullally in a press statement. “She sang with such passion and style and feeling. I was always haunting record stores trying to psychically intuit which Dinah record to spend my last ten bucks on.”

Mullally’s own passion for jazz and American popular song — and for Dinah Washington in particular — has been an unbroken thread throughout her career. She has performed on Broadway in the early 1990s and would later front a band, The Supreme Music Program, with whom she would release three albums. In 2012, she and a close friend, fellow actor Stephanie Hunt (Friday Night Lights, Californication), formed the group Nancy And Beth. Together, they perform an eclectic program of early cabaret, Americana, blues and the occasional rap tune — they call it “punk-vaudeville” — along with splashes of choreography, comedy and, yes, matching costumes.

The band released their self-titled debut album in 2017, and now, as they prepare to embark on a tour of the U.S. and Australia, they have announced a new album due out in 2020. A new single from the album, “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” (written by Walter Rollins and Don Robertson), is available now. Fittingly, it was inspired by a version from Mullaly’s vocal hero, Dinah Washington. Stream it below.

For musical inspiration, Mullally returned once again to the record bins. “I’d usually pick [albums] with songs I’d never heard of on them, hoping to find something rare and amazing. and I got real lucky… with tracks like “I Don’t Hurt Anymore,’” said Mullally. “It was sort of a magical process, to find a special song that way.”

Other songs on the album include Hugh Williams’ “Harbor Lights” and another Washington classic, “You Let My Love Grow Cold.” In addition to Mullally and Hunt on vocals, the band includes Datri Bean (keyboards), Joe Berardi (drums), Andrew Pressman (bass) and Roy Williams (guitar). Petra Haden, daughter of bass legend Charlie Haden, also appears on vocals.

Stephanie Hunt and Megan Mullally

Nancy And Beth have several dates in the U.S. and Australia, including April 19 and 20 at Largo in Los Angeles; the Carlyle in New York City from May 14-18, 21-25; and the Boulton Center in Long Island on May 9. Tickets are on sale now.

Nancy And Beth’s self-titled debut is available on all streaming services. New music from the group’s second album can be heard in the audiobook version of Mullally and Nick Offerman’s New York Times Best Seller, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.

Fans who enjoy a hot beverage with their punk-vaudeville — and who doesn’t? — will be thrilled to know that Nancy And Beth has created an eponymous herbal tea blend with Portland company Smith Tea. The tea will be available for sale during the band’s tour, with proceeds toward the Southern Poverty Law Center.

See below for a full list of tour dates and for more information, visit the band’s website.

U.S. Tour Dates

April 19-20 Los Angeles, CA Largo
May 3-4 San Francisco, CA Feinstein’s at the Nikko
May 6-7 Chicago, IL City Winery
May 9 Bay Shore, NY YMCA Boulton Center
May 10 Ridgefield, CT Ridgefield Playhouse
May 12 Boston, MA City Winery Boston
May 14-18, 21-25 New York, NY Café Carlyle

Australian Tour

June 6 Hobart, AUS Wrest Point
June 9-10 Adelaide, AUS Adelaide Cabaret Festival
June 12-13 Melbourne, AUS Melbourne Recital Centre
June 16 Sydney, AUS Sydney Opera House
June 18 Newcastle, AUS Lizotte’s
June 19 Brisbane, AUS QPAC

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