Thursday, February 27, 2014

Michele Lee

I think right now, Below 54 is arguably the ultimate cabaret club in the US. They have taken the old disco and transformed it into an intimate venue with a simple stage perfect for our genre. Even more impressive is the endless list of stars and talent that constantly fill up a calendar 365 days of the week. Obviously, being in New York, it is filled with stage talent. But it is also home to plenty of old marquee names that have made cabaret a mainstay of its own.

Michele Lee is one of those of the former generation. We may not hear from her as a common household name. She was a popular headliner in the 60's and 70's with television and film to her credit as well. But like all the other grand dames - she has never really gone away.

This clip from her solo show back a month also reflects exactly what we are aiming for in a cabaret evening; a connection with our audience, songs that have personal resonance and a small bit of unpredictability.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What is Cabaret - continued....

Not to keep harping the point, but to continue our dialogue. As individuals and TCCAN as a whole, we are still discussing what exactly cabaret, as an art form, means to us. Several words have risen; New York-style, personal storytelling, authentic, intimate. I think we all agree in general, but the semantics of it still begs conversation.

So to stoke the fire yet again, I am referring to the Chicago Cabaret scene. I get several feeds that I subscribe to - the two most prolific coming out of both Chicago and New York. Each has a much larger population of both artists and an audience with venues to take it in. But in this week's performance calendar, there was a huge gamut of choices. A new digs called Troquet, which promises a French bistro style of entertainment. The Singer's Spotlight on the 4th Friday of every month, is likely a partner to our own TCCAN Salons. Scott Gryder is promoting a "one-man parade of vaudeville entertainment" with improvised banter. The With A Twist Boys, a male quartet, is doing a show of girl groups from the McGuire Sisters to the Pointers. Jazz and sushi; check! Mardi Gras treasures with Michael "big daddy" Parcas; check. Even a Madonna tribute called "Lucky Star" by Melissa Young.

All of it is officially sanctioned by Chicago Cabaret as it pushes the limits of what some might call cabaret. I can't speak to how big each following is, but it is great to know that these performers are "doing their thing." I think it is just more impetus from the Executive Committee to membership, to get out, find your own voice and create your work. Remember for members, we also have a calendar to share your gigs. Some of you are ardent in getting them to Marketing, but just so the rest of you are aware. Just Do It!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February Salon

Sorry I have no pics to share from the past weekend, but some great music was shared by our members at the Town House last Saturday. Sooner or later, we will be free of these winter weekends that plague us. But meanwhile, our lucky audiences have been treated to some pretty fabulous sets of entertainment.

Our members have a broad range of talent and their musical repertoire amazes even me who knows tunes from every corner of the spectrum. Of course the holidays made an entry with some Valentine's chocolate love from host Jennifer. But we also heard some Christmas discontent as well from Connie. We had a German chanteuse complete with yodeling and hula hoops - where else can you find that. Songs with small town shout outs to Wisconsin & Michigan from Oron, Mary & Kevin. Rhonda did a trio of elegant treasures that were all new to me. Katia went from the Little Mermaid to Brandi Carlisle. Audience sing alongs, witty banter.... Another great TCCAN event.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Three Act Theatre

A huge shout out to friend and former colleague Eric Marc Olson who is making cabaret happen in the Big City. So many good things about what they are doing that reflect our intentions here as well.

Take time to read the post below the video. As we at TCCAN grapple to define what we mean by Cabaret, it is refreshing to see many of the same branding words used freely. "Singer/actor," "greater connection," "authentic & original."

Education is a KEY component of this company. Acting the Song is a great cabaret training, even if disguised under Musical Theatre repertoire. We can talk as much as we want about the days of the Great American Songbook, Musical Theatre et al. But when it comes down to it, our job as a cabaret performer is to dig beyond the melody of the song and discover what makes it uniquely "ours." Our workshops are making us ponder that, and like them, I think it would be great in the future to open those doors to others that want to explore too. Her name is Raffaela Cichheti and she got the chance to perform at the Metropolitan Room. I find it remarkable that they are using high school student's to tackle this. Granted it is NYC and there is a giant pool of people itching to do this there.

Lastly, our Marketing Committee has been developing a YouTube channel for us to use as an organization. What we do is a performance art and does not translate in published words. So the ideal vehicle to showcase the work we do is YouTube. The channel is there and we have a specific folder for any of our performance work. Please start adding it to our channel so we can show everyone the great work we are doing.