Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Petra Goes to the Movies

In the interest of keeping things varied here, an entry that totally defies classification. Which makes cabaret a natural adoption by default.

Petra Haden comes to the table with pedigree - her dad being renowned jazz bassist Charles Haden. She spent her early years singing with her two sisters. Known for her huge range, she has experimented extensively with vast accapella arrangements where she can richly overdub herself into giant orchestral voicings. Her latest effort, titled above, has her jumping all over the genre from spaghetti Westerns to Bernard Herrmann classics and romantic John Williams themes. Striking at first is her upper register - and by that I mean coloratura. Runs that seem impossible. But on other cuts like the Goldfinger main title - she plummets octaves lower with a smoky timbre. Definitely worth listen if for nothing other than sheer curiosity.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Oh My! I have had this one in the wings for a good while now and waiting for the right time to "spring" it on us all. Rebecca Norberg sings the national Anthem!!!! This all in honor of Memorial Day Weekend.

And although it is not meant in the spirit of spite to her - one can not deny the presence of more than a healthy does of Camp. For one - I wish I could say that it was a time capsule. But it is posted from only a few years back in 2009. I cannot explain either the perm from 1987 nor the periwinkel blue sateen top. I knew it was going to be mammoth when I saw the 10 minute time frame of the clip. And also when I heard the synthesized trumpets in the opening fanfare. Perhaps we should be at the Olympic opening Ceremonies instead of a conference at the Mpls Convention Center? I am curious if the knights of the Roundtable were making an entrance. I am also betting most of us have never heard as many versions of the anthem either. With a modulation for each, it is a wonder there are still enough notes on a keyboard to manage the final verse that rises on and on. You can tell by the eyebrows that stretch with every ascending note.

Congratulations on the May Salon

Photo: Ok kids, I'm not done singing yet this week!  Please join me at the TWIN CITIES CABARET ARTISTS NETWORK (TCCAN), for our May Salon, this Saturday night, the 18th, at 8:00pm at Jazz Central in Minneapolis. Jazz Central,is located at 407 Central Ave SE (right across from the Aveda Institiute). 
I'm excited to share the stage with Joey Babay, Les Block, Debbie Scheriff, Dean Elwell, Sheridan Zuther, Vicky Mountain, Mary Keepers & Connie Dussl, with Steven Hobert on the piano. It's a lovely evening of stories and songs!
Doors open at 7:30. $10 suggested donation.
See you there!
We spend so much time pointing out things that are going on in other circles that we often overlook events within our own. So a heartfelt congratulations on our recent May salon from the past weekend. We are building an audience and filling the room at Jazz Central on a regular basis. As our member ranks are growing, we are able to offer up a full variety of talents. Material was a mix of old musical theater classics, some hidden gems, reinvented pop songs and a novelty numbers from our very talented cast of 9. A new pianist in Steven Hobert brought an energy to the stage. We are  doing good things TCCAN.

Friday, May 17, 2013


On a musical note - one of my favorite Google Current reads is Flavorpill. Mindless facts on all things entertainment. A recent one was titled ABBA Gold ranked from Gleeful to Glum. I think I sort of soured on the whole ABBA craze with the advent of Mamma Mia which turned their entire catalog into a juke box heresy. But I remember during my teen years how cool they were and how much of their music I owned on vinyl.

So I perused the article with a bit of apprehension. In hindsight, they really were a dynasty of pop music in the 70s & 80s. Of course there was the output of classic Top 40 material. But looking at this time capsule they were video pioneers, fashion mavens, talented musicians and icons. A bit of Liberace Vegas with the safety of Lawence Welk standards. Agnetha & Anni could sing the hell out of a lyric and had such a perfect blend that it is hard to tell them apart unless watching them on video. Benny & Bjorn could craft catchy pop with a hook. Their albums had range from musical theater to disco. You can see it in the videos which each have a sense of concept to them. Yes there are the hooks of Dancing Queen & Mamma Mia - but also mini dramas like Fernando and Thank You For the Music. They didn't have the tabloid drama of Fleetwood Mac, but with the double marriages in the group; looking at the later ballads like "One Of Us" and "The Winner takes It All" make the downfall seem inevitable. It is not surprising to me that they went on to write scores for the stage.

They are back in the news in light of the Eurovision contest which launched their careers and continues now 40 years later. But also a museum opening in Stockholm in their honor. Below is a link to the whole article which features 19 of their chart toppers in complete video form.

Flavorwire - ABBA Gold

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Go Rest High On That Mountain

I am constantly surprised by the range of stuff that classifies itself as cabaret material. This one comes from the world of country music and the recent funeral of George Jones. Vince Gill is amazing with the voice of an angel and a library of recorded material. But here he is at his raw best dueting with Patty Loveless on this classic Jone's hymn. His storytelling begins at 1:45 in the video. It has humor, dignity and much much heart as he explains how he came to his nickname of "Sweet Pea" and a fascination with ravioli on tour.

But the music that follows at 7:30 is at times wrenching and personal. Lyrics barely come out and he needs comfort from Loveless to continue. Truly personal and intimate with the audience. Cabaret? I would say so.

Molly Ollie Infree

This is partially in bad taste and a bit of "shadenfreude" or wishing the bad fortune of others. But it came up in our Executive meeting last night, pertains to cabaret, and gave us all an amusing chuckle.

In case you have not heard; Molly Ringwald is reinventing herself and entering the genre of cabaret singer. And this is not meant to slam. I am all about continuing to grow as an artist and trying on some of those dreams we have always dared to conquer. Unfortunately she brings clout with her along with major expectations. So it was that recently she appeared at the Dakota with her new show and was skewered by local critic Jon Bream. Here are some of his abridged comments where he took on the persona of favored Ringwald director John Hughes in a fictionalized dialogue.

Ringwald: “Good evening, Minneapolis. Usually we’re the Molly Ringwald Quartet. But tonight’s it’s the Molly Ringwald Trio.”  
Hughes: Wait a minute. You forgot to explain. The alto saxophonist is missing, right? He played a key role on your new album of standards, “Except Sometimes.” Explain yourself. Sometimes. You’re off to an awkward start....

Ringwald: “I have exactly 11 copies of my CD to sign. There were supposed to be two boxes shipped here. … What should we do now? I see lots of love-dovey people here this evening. There’s always that special someone you don’t necessarily tell your husband or wife about.”
Hughes: Who’s running this operation? Pack the CDs yourself. Ninety percent of the fans are turning out because you were one their favorite movie stars. They want an autographed CD. Nice setup, though, for “My Old Flame.” Good clear enunciation. But you seemed a little tentative like when you glided up singing “the sky,” you sounded nervous enough to want to pull the cord on your parachute...

Ringwald: “The next song is another one I just recently started to sing. Peter arranged it. It’s by Billie Holiday, who was known for singing, not writing, songs. It’s called ‘Don’t Explain.’ ”
Hughes: Nice move to sit on a stool for this slow, penetrating song. You got inside it. There was pain in the pauses in your phrasing. You went deep. Loved the way you kept repeating ‘don’t explain’ in a pained voice at the end. This suggests your potential as a jazz singer....

Ringwald: “How’s everybody’s dinner? Their food is very good. I had a salmon sandwich.”
Hughes: Who wrote this script? And when you introduced one song as “this is track 9 on the CD,” hello? Please say something intelligent, something that’s as classy and fitting as your black cocktail dress....

Ringwald: “What time is it?”
Hughes: Really, you do need a script. The set list should dictate the time, not your watch. Be in the moment. Pay attention to the lyrics and the crowd, not your watch.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Members in Action

The month is starting out with a bang for our TCCAN members. This week there are three projects to feature and I am sure more will be coming our way. As always - our TCCAN website @weebly has a full calendar on hand with dates, times and venues for easy access. Bookmark it.
Cover Photo
Pop Up Musical! is coming back for a 3rd remount; now bigger than ever. It showcases a cast of entire TCCAN members; Jennifer Eckes, Timm Holmly, Judi Gronseth & Kevin Werner Hohlstein. Billed as Four Singers and a Flip chart, it covers familiar songs in a not-so-familiar format. It is being presented by the Producing House in a brand new venue for St Paul, the Jerome Hill Theater. Shows are every Thursday in May @ 7:00 PM.


Erin Duffy brings her much awaited solo show to the Art Gallery at the Hennepin Ave United Methodist Church on Friday May 17th @ 7 PM. Entitled "I Never Went Away", it follows her personal story of an artist balancing music with her other life choices and demands. Tom Linker is on hand at the keys with direction by Ben Krywosz.

And lastly, new member Barbara Meyer is doing her own gig at Jazz Central this weekend along with pal Phil Mattson accompanying her. It looks at the Harold Arlen songbook - both treats and treasures. Down and Up With Love - Friday May 10th @ 8PM.