Tuesday, November 3, 2009

All Cake, No File by Donna Jo Thorndale

by Joe Straw

Growing up in Tennessee we usually sat around and listened to Bob Burke’s record player playing mostly Rock and Roll. Bob, all elbows and a wicked sense of humor liked Mick Jagger; my tastes included Elvis and The Beatles. Bob put on a country and western record, Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue”. We got a kick out of that song and listened to it for what seem like hours. For me it wasn’t so much the way Cash sung it, it was the reaction of the prisoners and the kick they got out of it.

So we come full circle with All Cake, No File A Johnny Cash prison tribute cooking show/concert from Actors’ Gang member Donna Jo Thorndale as Jewell Rae Jeffers a celebrity chef, home economist and the host of “Tastes Like Home” a live cooking show. It’s all fun, for a good cause, and part of the WTF? Festival.

Thorndale is a delightful actress and there is possibly something here for everyone including the pieces of the coconut cake she prepares on stage.

Jewell Rae Jeffers was raised in Kentucky, (Or is it reared? I forget?) No matter its Kentucky. She grew up in the sticks, right near, well across from the coalmines. Anyway, as we used to say, it’s just that side of Bum Screw, Egypt.

She has an accent and you can hardly understand her. Not so much what she says, it’s the way she says it. And she enjoys a man with a problem, “Don’t tell me. I will fall in love with you!” The bigger the problem the luckier you get!

So she comes out here to California to start her own show, “Tastes Like Home” only she really doesn’t have an audience. So she finds some. A captive audience so a speak. It’s prisons, where they keep the mean people and wouldn’t they like some down home white trash cookin’ with enough sugar to keep them bugged-eyed for a year.

And she only starts with the best of ingredients, Duncan Heinz cake mix, Pam, and Cool Whip. To which she says, “We don’t endorse any products on this show.” (All brands appear to be blacked out with black masking tape.)

She tells us a member of one of her audiences gets out of prison and later marries her. He’s got drug and alcohol problems (her kind of man). And he must love her judging from the looks of the sizable rock on her left ring finger. (Stolen, no doubt.)

Liberal in her views (A Unitarian, also, no doubt). Free health care, no wars, and not a supporter of anything having to do with the Republican Party is something watchable without equivocation.

This show has a lot of potential and judging from the improvisation on stage you may get something entirely different on other nights.

But, and it's a small but, the audience requires to be defined by Thornsdale. Is it a prison audience? Or is it a prison performer performing in front of a non-prison audience?

In any case, Thorndale’s expressions were priceless!

The Broken Numbers Band provided music and a Johnny Cash tribute band With A Bible And A Gun also performed a few numbers.


  1. My son-in-law just sent me the link to your site. You may remember him; he's your baby brother, Andy.

    If you have any interest, I also have a blog, http://www.crawfordharris.com

    On that blog I promise to make everyone angry with one, or more, or all of my posts.

  2. Oh, since you mentioned Johnny Cash, it so happens that my home is about a block from his grave.

    I am a non-fan of country music so I have no idea why I am living in Hendersonville.