Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Lovely Lou

For those of us of a certain age, we can hearken back to the now shuttered Nye's Polonaise Room. It was never really cabaret, but for decades it was a song lounge and listening room when there was no other game in town. Before the Shout House, the Times, Dakota and Crooners. One never knew what "regulars" would roll in, or what tunes were on deck for the night. But the one constant that brought all of us back time and again was Lou Snider at the piano in the corner of the room. With her small rail of stools, a few mics to pass around and stacks of charts hidden behind the counter. Even I was in the final "class" of the golden age of Nye's before the college crowd made it a trendy go-to spot & far-too crowded room.

Last Sunday, the #Strib did a lovely feature on Lou as one of those monumental souls we lost this year in the Arts. Of course Prince was the headliner, but it was rightly so that she would be named right beside him as an institution that touched so many people in her 45 years there. I was astounded to read what a tragic childhood she lived. A mother that died while she was young. And then a depressed father that shot her and her siblings in desperation. She survived but always walked with a cane from the injuries - I had often thought is was likely polio or a medical condition. Somehow she defied odds and brought her talents and joy for life to the masses. Lucky us!

Both are gone now, as are many losses in 2016. But I will often recall the many times together that we shared Since I Fell For You in the key of E flat. She always knew what song and what key for me.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

the Evolution of Cabaret

This is a blog share of a blog post based on Porter Carroll Jr. Let me preface it by saying that this show is NOT the kind of cabaret we associate with us here at TCCAN. We are always trying to define very clearly what it is that we do. And this strays far from it. But I am also open to continued discussions of the broader concept of cabaret.

Background - Porter is a veteran Blues & R&B performer with a somewhat successful career as a member of Atlantic Starr who had a 70's history in the vein of Earth Wind & Fire or the O'Jays. So he does bring both clout and experience to the table. Looking at his work available, I think we would call him more of a song stylist hearkening back to the lounge acts of the late 1960's. The sort who is all about a slick showband, showcasing some vocal acrobatics in a small and savvy setting.

But what I do appreciate about the article is his sense of making a song uniquely his own, which we talk about often. Interestingly, he refers much to the Contemporary American Songbook which was a new concept to me. He talked about Gershwin & Cole Porter with a reverence. But he is also speaking about a baby boomer audience that gives that same respect to artists like Hall & Oates, Jimmy Webb & Frank Sinatra. Thinking about it, there is certainly an audience that would give credence to this mission. Here are a few quotes from him that I have to admire. "The listener gets to enjoy some familiar songs, presented in an entirely new way. Me and the guys in the band do, too. Every night doing this is a new experience for us. It’s an incredible feeling.” Then he goes on to say "But deconstructing old standards into new and imaginative creations is both a tricky and  risky business." It begs us to ask the question what is an old standard? And for our members - we do bring a wealth to the table. Some consider that to be something between Rodgers & Hart or Sondheim. Others would say it is Johnny Mercer. Or Joni Mitchell  & Carly Simon. As far apart as possible, but none exactly a wrong answer. Interesting water cooler discussion.

Full blog share:
Huffington Post: Porter Carroll Jr.