Therese Curatolo of Postmodern Jukebox. Photo by Dakota Elizabeth

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Per the band, the show is being postponed until the fall due to corona virus concerns. All previous tickets will be honored on the new date and refunds are available at the point of purchase.

I finally have a reason to use the jazz-age slang list I printed out several years ago and stuck into a desk drawer for a rainy day. You’ll feel very hip to the jive, and I’ll include a glossary at the end, lest you think I’m all wet.

Pianist Scott Bradlee founded the music collective Postmodern Jukebox about a decade ago, and it continues to turn modern-day pop songs into fabulous sounding retro jazz gems that sound like they’re from a century ago and are the absolute bee’s knees. The collective’s current show is called Welcome to the Twenties 2.0, and it rolls into town on Saturday night for a show at the State Theatre.

The latest PMJ sorcery is their spin on what I consider to be one of the most irritating songs on the planet: the theme from “Friends.”  “Evolution of The ‘Friends’ Theme Song – 1920s to 1990s” was released on Feb. 21, and it features cameos from Phil Solem and Danny Wilde from The Rembrandts, the band that originally recorded the song in the mid-’90s. The PMJ version bursts with horns, multiple male and female vocalists, tempo changes and genres starting with the 1920s and cruising through the ’50s sock hops, ’70s Ike and Tina Turne-esque soul and ’90s grunge. The video is its own treat with floorflushers, and everyone is hitting on all sixes.

Other instances of Postmodern Jukebox putting its jazzy stamp on popular songs are covers of Radiohead’s “Creep,” The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” Florence + The Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over,” Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” and The Outfield’s “Your Love.”

Bradlee himself won’t be there but Postmodern Jukebox will dazzle and delight with a two-hour show featuring six instrumentalists (piano, bass, guitar, drums, horns), one tap dancer and three vocalists. One of those singers is Therese Curatolo who has been with the band since last June and whose vocals are the cat’s pajamas.


Curatolo is originally from Reno, Nevada, and she’s lived in Los Angeles for the past six years. She’s a live wire who knows her onions, and along with having vocal chops, she’s a real Oliver Twist. Curatolo went to school for opera and was classically trained at the University of Nevada. But she also developed a taste for musical theater and writing her own music, and during those college years, she got to sing with Martha Reeves and Stevie Wonder. “Not only are they pioneers in the musical world as we know it, they are absolute mentors for me as a musician,” said Curatolo during a hot socks telephone conversation.

Curatolo also sings with funk band Scary Pockets. Like Postmodern Jukebox, they’re a Los Angeles-based act. Additionally, Curatolo was in several A Magical Cirque Christmas shows, including the one that performed at Merrill Auditorium last November. Her dance card is full, and she’s loving every minute of it.

One of Curatolo’s favorite parts about being in Postmodern Jukebox is the stage persona she adopted last fall because she didn’t want to be “just another blonde singer doing jazz numbers.” Curatolo found a unique way to bring creativity and zest to the show. “I pulled from Velma Kelly, Roxie Hart (both characters from the musical ‘Chicago’), Helena Bonham Carter and Harley Quinn (DC Comics character) and I went, ‘You know what; she’s kind of a little twisted flapper clown.’ ” Curatolo named this alter ego Zozzie and said that she never knows what’s going to happen with her during the shows.

The Postmodern Jukebox show is a perfect excuse to don your glad rags and get out for a night that will surely be the elephant’s eyebrows. Wet blankets, however, should stay home.

Postmodern Jukebox
RESCHEDULED TO FALL 2020. New date TBD. State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland, $30 to $55 reserved seating.

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