Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Maud Hixson Shout Out

Image result for maud hixsonI think many of our members have their own connections with Maud, certainly via Arne. I myself don't know her but have seen her work around town several times. Although she is not a TCCAN member, she got some incredible accolades in the Chicago Tribune.

Recently she appeared at the Chicago Cabaret Festival, which is an off shoot of the Mabel Mercer Foundation in NY. The Festival is not an annual event, but this marked the fourth time it was held since 2002 where it was hosted at the Palmer House. We often think that our genre has lost its luster, but at events like this, it showcases the royalty that we have singing classics from what we still refer to as the Great American Songbook. I have no idea how Maud was fortunate enough to have secured a slot on that roster, but boy did she get some rave reviews from Howard Reich. "The biggest revelation of the night had to be Maud Hixson, a Minnesota-based singer making her Chicago debut ... leaving at least one listener wanting much more." There were takes on "the alacrity of her approach to rhythm", "her slightly gauzy tone and breezy phrasing", "her inherent swing sensibility driving the music unstoppably forward." Quite the glowing praise. This serves us all well in terms of putting us on the map as cabaret artists here in the Twin Cities.

Chicago Tribune - Cabaret Festival review 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Vintage Industrial Shows

Sometimes a cabaret singer just needs to make a living! Our TCCAN roster has those who do Senior gigs, Musical Theater or sets in dive bars just so we can also do the music we love. There was a time in the recent past where corporate America also appreciated our talents and had the money to invest in the music industry. 

I just caught a news tidbit about both Kristen Wiig & Will Ferrell collaborating on a new film musical about this bygone era that is a cross between the Broadway stage and a Buick commercial. I was lucky enough to do a handful in the early 90's before this sort of thing evaporated; Maurice's, Lifetouch, Alpine spices and of course Target. These events were not cheap talent shows, they were really extravaganzas with big bucks. The biggest I did was a trade show for Dr. Pepper in Dallas TX, where they flew us down, hired a full orchestra and even live circus animals on stage. I also was lucky enough to land one at a resort in Puerto Rico where costumes and sound equipment were held hostage at customs.

I was directed to a fabulous website that shares this forgotten era of industrial musicals. Writers like Kander & Ebb, Cy Coleman and Lerner & Loewe were not above lending their talents to original scores. Headliners like Florence Henderson, Peggy Lee & Mitzi Gaynor thought nothing less of themselves for taking the gig either. There is now a reader's version coffee table book called Everything's Coming Up Profits by Steve Young & Sport Murphy. There are companion discs for 3 decades of 50's, 60's & 70's tracks. It has been a revelation as I piece together a Cy Coleman set with loose trails of his material scattered along the route here. The list of products is mind boggling: J.C. Penney, Coca Cola, Ford Motors, Seagram's, Xerox, General Electric..... Fascinating nostalgia.

Check out the site and listen to these tracks!

Everythings' Coming up Profits 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Chicago Cabaret scene

Looks we are doing something right and somewhat of a role model for other markets across the country. I subscribe to a few mailings related to cabaret calendars. One of them is the Chicago Cabaret Professionals - which would be a "sister" organization to ours.

Where we have for years debated the semantics of a "showcase", they are offering that up the beginning of April. We now call this offering a Cabaret Salon where it offers a monthly chance to sample our members sort of ala carte. They are highlighting 5 of their members and just as we do, they have a host or an emcee for the evening. Each performer gets a short 15 minutes to craft their set into an arc of material. It also looks as if they play a bit with themed evenings, with upcoming sets in May that showcase Chicago composers, Irving Berlin and Ella & Lena for their female members.

Good to know there is a common thread in what we are doing for both our members and audiences.