Monday, September 18, 2017

Tricks of the Trade

This is another post in a series highlighting our upcoming TCCAN Cabaret Fest happening THIS weekend at Bryant Lake Bowl. Complete ticket info is in a link at the bottom of the feature.

One of our vital missions here at TCCAN is our Educational component. We truly are a support network for each other and a major aspect of that is sharing the tools we have learned. The Fest has planned for 2 workshops that give a glimpse of our art form and the process that goes into it. We were just speaking in promotion, that cabaret is the bridge where the improv of Jazz meets the structure of Theater.
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Vicky Mountain is our TCCAN education chair and a great fit with all her vocal mentoring that she also does at MacPhail. "The Education committee met in July to brainstorm the choices for mini segments of our Saturday workshop - where it comes under the heading of Enlighten. We broke it down into 6 topics: Story and Song; Song Selection; Song Interpretation; Intimate, Engaging Connection to the Audience/Break Down 4th Wall; Arc/Journey in Song;  & Craft." These small conversations will open doors for other performers, whether just experimenting or more curious to dive into our genre. "The reality is a fun, interactive, informative exploration of what it takes to put together a Cabaret set or show."

For Sunday, the 2nd day of the Fest, we are offering a true Master Class. Guest artists Ben Krywosz, Jennifer Scovell-Parker and Gary Briggle will work with a few of our members giving feedback from a directing, musical and interpretation viewpoint that is specific to the intimate settings that we aspire to.

Both Education events are a ticketed fee that can be purchased at the door or in advance via the BLB website.

Bryant Lake Bowl - Cabaret workshops 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bit By Bit... Putting It Together

This is the second in a series highlighting our upcoming TCCAN Cabaret Fest, to be presented Sept. 23rd & 24th at Bryant Lake Bowl.

The key component of both this and last years' fest was the performance element. And the mastermind of the concept is our own Joey Clark. When we were discussing how to feature what we do to audiences, and trying to find a new way to package it - Joey suggested the concept of "an endless roster of talent like we used to see from celebrities over the Labor Day telethons of old." Thus the concept of our Salonathon was born. Instead of trying to select a few of our artists to showcase - we ultimately decided to utilize everybody. This perfectly brandishes the range of our many talents as cabaret performers. We all bring 10 minutes of our best and come up with a Smorgasboard of stories.
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Joey has also graciously taken on the task of coordinating the massive effort. One can only imagine the spreadsheet for this. First; is finding the accompanists that can collaborate with us. It certainly requires more rehearsal hours. And obviously a few more pages of sheet music than is usual. This year Harrison Wade has agreed to play not one of the two evenings, but both! Every performer is fortunate to get an individual session and then there are group sessions where members can perform for each other and give some positive feedback. This way our Fest audiences are getting mountains of talent.

But even more daunting, is the task of coordinating schedules. "Anyone who is a freelance vocalist or actor knows that there is no such thing as a weekly schedule." With us it plays out more hour to hour as we multitask and run from one small gig to another. So when you take a roster of 20+ and the pianist, finding a few choice hours where everyone can convene is monumental.

Lastly; come the live performance elements. Working with Bryant lake Bowl for the technical elements of sound and lighting. Deciding which order gives the evening the smoothest flow of moods and music. Coordinating dressing room space for all. Last year we crammed us all into one single marathon. This year we are spacing it out over the 2 days with split slates on both Saturday and Sunday. We also realized that our audiences wanted programs that note our names as well as some of song choices which can be varied and sometimes cleverly obscure. If have not seen us en masse, come check us out for both the Performances and the Educational Sessions.

TCCAN Cabarets fest - Bryant Lake Bowl 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Finding the Perfect Space

This is the first of a series of features leading up to our 2nd Annual Cabaret Fest coming up on both Sept. 23rd & 24th. Last year's inaugural event was held at the Phoenix Theater and was an ambitious effort for our organization. Even though it was not a huge financial success, it did open doors to new audiences and members, and also made the bold statement that TCCAN is a sustainable presence in our local music scene.
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So the first in these blog posts centers on Connie Dussl - who is undertaking the reins as the Chair of the process. The first decision made has to be the VENUE. The Phoenix was a great fit for us last year, but their policy has changed from a day-to-day rental to a week rental fee, which was something that TCCAN could neither afford or commit to. Obstacle #1 was seeking out other venues that fit our calendar. TCCAN has made a strategic choice to have the annual Fest coincide with our Fall membership renewal. It makes perfect sense to showcase our members right as we are reaching out to other prospective members to join our ranks. Last year was held the first weekend in Oct. This year, scheduling has pushed it a week earlier in the final stretch of Sept.

Connie quotes "we made up a list of desired attributes. Then as we looked at each venue, we made lists of the pros and cons of each place." It is important for our cabaret audience to find a spot with an intimate setting. There are several small theater & music spaces in town, but this intimate component is lacking in most. Then - learning from last year, she came up with a checklist of haves and have-nots.

So, in looking for a location for our 2nd Annual TCCAN Cabaret Fest
  • Was there an acoustic piano and was it kept in tune? 
  • Was there a sound system, and, if so, a sound man? 
  • What was the lighting like?  
  • Was there food and drink available? How many patrons could we accommodate?
  • Could all ages attend? 
  • Could we hold workshops earlier in the day? 
  • What was parking or accessibility like?
  • And ultimately, what was the rental or gate?
This year, we chose Bryant Lake Bowl because it had the majority of the assets we were seeking. TCCAN has used BLB for our former showcases and several members have produced their own solo shows there. So there is a partnership with ground work already laid. Reaching out to Minneapolis audiences is also a key element in the choice. BLB is a strong fit in terms of the marketing edge they are able to offer up with the rental package and press contacts that we have not been able to tackle.
As final details are being ironed out, we anticipate a Fest that will surpass our impact from last year. Please check out links on our Facebook page, website and the Bryant Lake Bowl link to purchase tickets.