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Deanna Bogart has built a successful musical career on a mixed bag of blues, jazz and R&B.

Hot "Bluesion"

Deanna Bogart hates putting herself in any musical boxes, but call her style "bluesion" if you must. When Bogart takes the stage, her1930's boogie-woogie piano can easily roam into contemporary blues, and her sax-driven R&B might venture into jazz or "fractured funk" territory. Genres tend to blur.

"It's just the way I'm feeling," the 41-year-old Maryland-based musician says, explaining the mix of styles she'll bring to Babe's on Wednesday, Oct. 4. "If it's good music, you play what's right."

Bogart has been playing what's right as a bandleader and band member for much of the past two decades. California blues festivals and Eastern Shore honky-tonk appearances complement the Canadian ski resort gig or the music festival in Switzerland. She's as glad to play the "roll up your sleeves and sweat" bars in South Carolina as she is the funky Parisian Left Bank "cave." She's recorded four CDs including last year's "The Great Unknown" and has won more Washington Area Music Awards than she can remember. Bogart has also shared the stage with many, including Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Little Feat and Marcia Ball.

Despite her experience, she still sounds surprised that she's made a go in the business and is able to support herself and her 6-year-old daughter, Alexandra, running her own band. When she first struck out on her own, she thought it was "just preposterous" to tour under her name. But as club owners and promoters started asking her back, she began to believe.

"It made me think I could be lucky enough to do this full-time," she says.

Bogart began her professional career at 21, moving from Arizona to Maryland to sing in Cowboy Jazz, a "Grateful Dead meets the Andrews Sisters" band. She was suddenly in an established group pushing a record and a career. Though mainly a harmony singer at first, Bogart knew some piano and says she really learned how to play during the six years she traveled the country jamming with the band onstage. She also picked up the saxophone.

"It was baptism by fire," she recalls. "I went straight to a… great band and hit the road [and] I loved it."

With Cowboy Jazz falling apart, Bogart left in 1988 and put her own group together for a steady job in the Keys. The gig was a demanding six nights a week, five sets a night, and the players hardly knew each other. But Bogart recalls it worked. "I was very comfortable walking the tightrope musically," she says. "…I learned a lot of songs real fast."

She returned to the Washington area where she played with some of the town's best, including saxophone great Ron Holloway. With Holloway she joined rock-and-R&B wild man Root Boy Slim for two years. In 1990, Deanna released her first CD and began touring under her own name.

She's recently cut back touring for "mom reasons" although Bogart is preparing for shows in Canada, the Midwest and the Keys. There's also a new CD in the works. Through motherhood and music, Bogart keeps it both light and firmly rooted. "I feel lucky and slightly cuckoo to be a single mom and make a living playing piano," she says.

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