Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Adelaide Rises Again

Each year at this time, while the rest of the world seems to get juiced by Pride festivals, Fringe festivals or Uptown Arts festivals - I dig into sources from Down Under where the Adelaide Cabaret Festival takes place. I have been a fan of it for years now and brag about it annually.

It is a smaller Australian town, rich in arts heritage. There had been a yearly Fringe festival, but when it fell on hard times a decade back, sponsorship picked up with the addition of cabaret. It grew quite quickly into a World event. It hearkens back to the original intent of cabaret as a political means of expression that was indeed both intimate & unique. But it also embraces every concept that could be remotely viewed as cabaret. Yes there are big names like headliner Dianne Reeves. But How about the Tiger Lillies featuring a set of the "fiercest, filthiest tunes for your perverse pleasures." Alter-Ego & Drag performances by names such as Meow Meow, Dusty Limits or Bourgeois & Maurice. Kim David Smith brings a Weimar cabaret fantasia of Marlene Dietrich meets David Bowie. There are songbook series with music of Jacques Brel, the Beatles and Cameron Goodall in his Sound of Falling Stars - songs and stories of great stars who died far too young.

I think the whole 3 weeks sounds like an incredible outing and need to start planning for a bucket-list trip to take it in one of these years. Maybe a TCCAN bus trip or cruise down? Who's game???

Adealide Cabaret Fest 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Patti Rocks!

We mention often the "New York Cabaret" scene. It is indeed a somewhat archaic expression and for younger audiences, that concept has certainly changed. Yes we have the fabulous 54 Below which has a constantly revolving door of New York artists singing everything from showtune medleys to recycled R&B. And they do seem to find a hungry audience. There is also the Duplex where almost anyone can flex their vocal muscles with their own spin on cabaret. But the glory days of intimate rooms with adoring crowds and monster talent are far and few between.

Grand Diva Patti Lupone has released old master tapes that reflect back to the end of those glory days. There was a small club in Lowertown called Les Mouches (the Flies). And just as she was achieving fame as Evita, she had a running gig there. To hear her tell it, she would finish a two-show day on Saturdays, take off her costume and make-up, head downtown and tear the stage up with a midnight act for some 8 months in 1980. A mix of everything from standards & rock to disco for a crowd that became a cult following.

Here is a clip promoting her cd on Ghostlight that was salvaged by vintage tapes from both LuPone and her musical director David Lewis. I can't believe this was released back in 2010 and I am just hearing of it now! Patti talks about the rawness of her voice - at first she was put off by it, but after years of reflection she speaks that it captures the energy and intimacy of the event. She also regales about that bygone era that we all idolize. All the big stars of the day including Ethel Merman would perform in their Broadway stints, hit the clubs where they would do an act into the wee hours and then retreat back to some artist's apartment where they would smoke cigarettes and sing around a piano. I know a handful of those New Yorkers to this day. I think it is maybe the audiences or the venues that are no longer craving this type of cabaret.