Sunday, December 29, 2013

Song Interpretation Workshop

Our TCCAN Education Committee is jumping into gear this very first week of 2014!

On Sunday Jan 5th @ 2:00-5:00 PM, we are hosting a workshop on how to take a song; from the words and notes on the page, and make it a unique interpretation to tell a story that has your own spin on it. This is more than transposing to a better key for your voice or finding the right tempo. It is about digging into the core of both yourself and the song to say exactly what you mean to, just as we do to sculpt our patter.

It will demonstrate techniques on up to 8 of our members and will be led and moderated by others on the TCCAN team. As part of our outreach in education, this and all workshops are open to both members and fans of our organization. However only active and current members may participate while anyone else is welcome to observe and learn. Please keep the afternoon open and share it with us.

Sunday, January 5, 2:00-5:00
MacPhail Center for Arts - Music Room 607
501 S. 2nd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Holidays

TCCAN had our annual holiday soiree last week. It was a great chance for us to get together and talk about life as well as work and cabaret. Kevin graciously donned his gay apparel and hosted us at his lovely house in Robbinsdale. We all proved to be great bakers and chefs with a veritable feast at the table and plenty to drink. A warm fireplace was on hand. Songs were shared. And even spouses joined in the fun. We were lucky to have such a great gathering to cap off the fabulous year we have had as an organization.

More to come in 2014 as we grow and flourish.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Acting the Song

Jumping on the band wagon of upcoming events from our fabulous Education Committee. This is something to ponder as we continue to grow. It is from a friend in NYC who is starting out his own producing theater company. And this is a published ad in Backstage.

It comes from Three Act Theater Company. It is educational in the sense that it involves 6 rehearsals of coaching cabaret artists. And then culminates in a public performance at the Metropolitan Room and is called In The Spotlight; a Cabaret Event. Of course being New York, they are auditioning for the 12 participants who will be part of the program. But it is still an interesting concept of both education and performance. Wishing them luck and attaching the audition notice - just in case anyone is going out East!

Acting the Song

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Street Corner Caroling in NYC

I thought it was time for another mindless post that has very little to do with cabaret, but muses on the songs of the holiday season. Especially keeping in mind we have our gathering this weekend and everyone should be coming with a song in hand to share with the group.

If you have not caught any of his antics, Billy Eichner is a NY fixture who accosts pedestrians on the street and bombards them with inane questions, giving them a dollar bill if they answer correctly. He is typical Manhattan in-your-face. He posts regularly on Funny Or Die.

This week's topic is stumping street carolers on lyrics to well known carols. His partner in crime is the hysterical Amy Poehler donned in a frumpy Mrs Claus wrap. Most passerbys are so stunned they have no idea how to react. But it is festive and funny. So a reminder before Saturday - look at your lyrics. Maybe Erin will pay you a dollar if you get them right???

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Phil Mattson interviews

Our very own Phil Mattson is featured in a deluxe two part interview and broadcast as 2 episodes on YouTube. It is a special program from advocate David Cummings on KFAI. In addition to Phil, it also interviews Sheridan Zuther and Les Block. It looks at Phil's huge legacy and in particular his fabulous vocal arrangements over decades now. Heavy on jazz with intricate vocalese passages. Stories about his career and the work he has brought to life with the Phil Mattson Singers, and the PM Singers among others.

If you are working on your laptop, cue it up and take it in over an hour or two. Great music from a great man. Takes great chops to do his material well! From Duluth, to Brainerd to the world at large. From swing choir to vocal jazz.

Phil Mattson interview part 1
Phil Mattson interview part 2

Monday, December 2, 2013

Lucia Newell: Song and Lyric Writing

This tip from member Vicky Mountain. It is a workshop being led by friend and colleague of hers - Lucia Newell. Lucia is a well known local artist and this is being presented as part of the Jazz at Studio Z series in St Paul. It is a dual evening of both workshop and concert titled Song and Lyric Writing - Emerging, Unfolding, Transpiring. It begins with a free workshop at 6 PM that is 40 minutes of discussion on the origins of her material through realization. She will hit on improvisation for discovery as well as her musical influences.

Following the workshop, there is a full concert along with musicians Zacc Harris, Phil Aaron, Jeff Bailey and Joe Pulice. Concert tickets are $10. Studio Z is located at 275 E 4th St @ St Paul in the second floor studios.

Be aware that this all takes place on Dec 14th - which is also the night of our holiday party!! But if there are any ambitious takers, you could do the workshop 1st and then zoom on over to Kevin's for the festivities.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Merry Measures in Chicago

Another event circulated from the Windy City. Details of our holiday gathering are coming out in the next few days, but here is their take on how to fit cabaret into the holiday season. 40 members will perform classics, chestnuts and oddities over two days at Davenports Cabaret in Chicago. All for the purpose of benefiting Hands Together, Heart to Art - a summer camp for young theater students.

I know assembling a Showcase can be a monumental undertaking - but as we continue to grow this might be a nice take on our holiday cabaret cheer here in the Twin Cities.... Loving their logo of a mic in Santa costume, which at first looked like a Pez dispenser :)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Keepin In Touch recap

For those that missed our Fall Showcase performance last Sunday on a chilly November evening, here is a quick recap.

TCCAN is evolving, both to challenge our members as well as a small loyal audience. This showcase bent the rules of our typical cabaret evening where performers would tell a personal story to set up their song. It took a bit more of a non-linear approach and the thread was a common theme of "how do we each practice the concept of keeping in touch." There was a trade-off where one member's dialogue often set the stage for anothers vocals.  For Rhonda it is about journaling thoughts into poetry or relating back to pay telephones and her father. For Jonathan it is about keepsakes that connect him to his family while forging an independent existence. For Barbara it is about grounding to the earth and taking her own personal space.... All things that are not the first that come to mind when pondering the theme.

Musically, we had highlights from a broad range of genres - standards, to folk-pop, to art songs. Jennifer brought a poignant Dar Williams story to stage in "The Babysitter's Here" as well as a Bacharach gem about leaving in "24 Hours From Tulsa." Connie had great variety from Mancini's "Two For the Road" to Frishberg's chipper commentary on insincerity in "Blizzard of Lies." Janet delivered charms of a letter abroad in Lloyd Webber's "Song & Dance Letters" and the simplicity of a relationship not bound to technology in Cosy Sheridan's "Carphones & Airplanes." Dean opened us up on a medley of tunes about the excitement of Travel. Barbara introduced us to some offbeat and humorous tunes by William Bolcom and also shared the stage with Joey in a Maltby & Shire piece that exposed a relationship where keeping in touch was obviously a snag. Gently and spiteful way to say goodbye.... On and on in a great evening that was all woven together by the tremendous Tom Linker at the piano and the generous crew at Bryant Lake Bowl. Both TCCAN and cabaret were well represented.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Keeping In Touch

You have heard about it in the press, on our Facebook page, radio interviews and recent TCCAN mailings. But this is the last call to get your tickets for our fabulous Fall Showcase. It is Sunday Nov. 17th @ Bryant Lake Bowl; 7:00 PM. It feauters 8 of our members - Jennifer Eckes, Janet Skidmore, Connie Dussl, Jonathan Peterson, Dean Elwell, Barbara Meyer & Joey Babay with Tom Linker at the piano. It is stories and songs all around the concept of keeping in touch and what that phrase means to us. The song range is from standards, to 70's pop to musical theater. Please come out and join us for a great evening of cabaret. 

Here are a few candids from our last run vocal run through.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Nightmare of Cabaret

With our own local show having it's premier this week (it will get it's own shout out in the next day or two), here is another buzz item from New York that sounded very interesting. For two reasons:

The piece itself has the long title Humpty Dumpty Cracks Up, The Nightmare of Cabaret. The press release is a bit sprawling and I am trying to get the scope of what exactly it is. But it mentions Christine Lavin as a cameo performer, which is bang for the buck alone. Then it also mentions "nightclub singers" which is a bit obsolete as well as musical theater - so I am not sure what it is attempting to be.

But I am also curious about one of the two venues it is presented at. The Duplex has long been a cabaret standby. But it also references a new place called the Playroom Theater on 46th. Although their website is not real flashy, it touts that it's a small and intimate destination for cabaret performances. Exactly what we need here in the Twin Cities.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Chicago Cabaret Documentary

This is a share from our own member Janet who still has ties to the cabaret scene in Chicago. The premise is great and aligns itself exactly with one of the TCCAN goals of bringing both awareness and an audience to what we do. Many are not familiar with the genre and confuse it with a jazz gig, a musical theater revue or sometimes even a burlesque show. So the idea of using media as a tool to "sell" our product is a no-brainer.

Of course that takes a different talent as well as resources. Chicago videographer Eric McHenry Brown is undertaking an indiegogo crusade for some of that assistance. It is another arts philanthropy site like Kickstarter which seeks investors for a project. He is centering on the small culture of artists in the Chicago area which should give him a wealth of opportunities.

As a side observation - I wish he would have sought out some of that same talent for his pitch. A few clips of sizable Chicago talent would be much more captivating than him sitting on his small sofa expounding the virtues of cabaret. It comes across more like an essay assignment instead of bells and whistles that might make someone say "sign me up!" Here is the link and wishing him luck on the project.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Patter Workshop

For anyone that follows the blog steadfastly, we do have a Patter Workshop coming up this coming Monday. Our Education committee is making great strides to make sure this component is a valued part of our mission.

This particular session is for members that want to invest time into the storytelling aspect of what they do. A chance to try sampling some of their writing in front of supportive peers. How do you make a seamless transition from your story into your song? This one is being hosted by Janet Skidmore at her home in S Mpls; 3029 3rd Ave S and will be moderated by Rhonda Laurie. Priority will be given to those performing in our upcoming Showcase this Nov. But any members are always welcome also. A reminder that any workshop is open to colleagues of current membership who want to attend on an audit/ observer option.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Talent Comes in Small Packages

I know sometimes the blog goes off on musical talents that are a far stretch from cabaret. But I think it is wise to open our ears to offerings outside the box. I have posted a few overlap vocals on here prior and they do always amaze me. When looking for a perfect blend, there is obviously not much that fits better than your own voice. Unless you are lucky enough to be an Osmond or a Lennon sister with some genetics in the pedigree.

This new find is Jacob Collier who is making mixes so dense that is hard to hear all the notes in his chord structure. It is pure jazz vocalese. But what I was struck by was his apparent young age. Looking at his screen shots, he appears to me a teen if that. Hard to believe that sort of range is coming from a single person, let alone someone you'd not think capable of octaves and perfect pitch. Below is his recent arrangement of the Newley classic Pure Imagination. One poster commented that it was super human and it does seem nearly that.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Motor City Cabaret

Just as we are attempting to make a presence here in the Twin Cities, it looks like Detroit has jumped on the band wagon as well. Check out the splashy new website for Cabaret 313. Just like our own TCCAN began in soirees of private homes, they are doing the same. Sandi Reitelman & Allan Nachman are spearheading the crusade as part of Detroit's cultural renewal.

Spring settings included Christine Andreas, Lousie Pitre and Carole Bufford. This fall they are bringing in Amanda McBroom & Ute Lemper. Great pedigree! It looks like their efforts right now are more about bringing in outside headliners. And no one venue is noted so it seems they are experimenting around town just as we are, to build a public clientele. I will keep their link on our blog for future events. 

Cabaret is catching on.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Piano or Gameleste

I would bet that we all consider the piano to be the instrument of choice for all of us doing cabaret work. It is a two-person gig with you and your music director. It is one of the big priorities as our venue committee is exploring spaces for us all.

But I found this interesting feed about new, unique and unusual instruments being created. These go beyond global music.

Bjork is always exploring new sounds and has used a Gameleste on some recent recordings. It is a combination of gamelan and celeste.

If you thought a trombone was awkward, how about this Bellowphone? It looks like a hybrid of a saxophone that mated with a pipe organ.

Or even bigger yet - the solar powered Sharpsichord. Check out the full link with videos below: 
Mental Floss - Instruments 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bagaduce Music Library

This resource comes out of a Showcase rehearsal with Connie. Besides being an asset of talent to our organization - the woman is a wealth of knowledge in terms of material. We got onto the subject of tracking down unusual and hard to find pieces of music that fit what we do. We have musicnotes et al which are certainly convenient. And our public library has some reserves which are mostly on hold. But she had recommended Bagaduce Music.

It sounds like it works as a co-op library based in Maine of all places. You buy an annual membership which then gives you access to their files. After that you pay for processing which must include mailing rates per song and there are limits as to how much you can have "checked out" during any period. They tout having over 250,000 pieces of rare and hard to find, including choral works as well. I did not spend a lot of time searching but it sounds like a great resource when we are hitting dead ends locally. Give it a spin - no charge to search, only when borrowing.

Bagaduce Music

Thursday, September 26, 2013

NY Cabaret Convention

More cabaret news on the National front. This from Stuart Hamstra and open to any of us that have a flexible schedule that can accommodate travel plans to the Big Apple. It is the 24th annual Cabaret Convention Oct 7-10th; presented by the Mabel Mercer Foundation and taking place at Lincoln Center Jazz.

An amazing roster of over 60 artists will be featured over the festival. Highlights that grab me include the opening gala hosted by KT Sullivan who is also the president of the above Mabel Mercer Foundation. "Come Fly With Me" celebrating the music of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy VanHeusen will be on the eve of Oct 8th with Jack Jones and Billy Stritch just a few of the singers sharing the stage. Oct 9th features my personal favorite Rodgers & Hart "Falling In Love With Love" hosted by diva Andrea Marcovicci with a slate of singers including Liz Callaway for starters. Just the tip of the incredible iceberg to take in. Grab a plane and buy a ticket.

Here is a link to their website:
Mabel Mercer Foundation

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

the Gershwins in Hollywood

For those of you that are music history buffs - a new twist on the cabaret genre. This coming from Charles Troy in Chicago. He is a graphic designer and former theater lyricist. Over the last ten years, he has combined his skills and passion to develop more than 50 seamless multimedia presentations on musical theater/ Great American Songbook subjects, combining scans, original graphics, edited audio tracks and video clips, coordinated with a scripted narrative that weaves all the pertinent events into a dramatic tale. 

The Gershwins in Hollywood is his latest "creation" which tells the story of George Gershwin’s life and his tragic last year through the timeless songs he and Ira wrote for Shall We Dance, A Damsel in Distress and The Goldwyn Follies. He showcases them in theater presentations, predominantly in his home area at the Skokie Theater.

Other offerings are the Creation of some of the great musicals like South Pacific or Annie Get Your Gun. Or great composer series on Cole Porter, Cohan, Richard Rodgers..... Sounds like a great Education project connected to great music. Check out his website