Music: Upbeat Blues

"I ain't Bessie," Linda Hopkins disclaims, "and I wouldn't try to fool you." Well, yes and no. Like Bessie Smith, Hopkins came up in the South, with a mind bent on singing. And like the 1920s blues singer, who was an imposing 200-pounder, Hopkins, 50, is a handsome ample woman. Rustling her voluminous, diaphanous blue caftan, she shimmies across the stage of Manhattan's Ambassador Theater in a rhythmic roll that more than matches her vocal size. Me and Bessie, Hopkins' nearly one-woman musical revue (she is backed up by two dancers), recalls the history of Bessie Smith, from tent singer to...

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