Follow Us/Subscribe
Loading..
Search
Contact Us
Journal Index
Thursday
Feb262015

Recovering Loveaholic

LOVEAHOLIC
Written and performed by Alison Kimber
Accompanied by pianist Logan Watt
Season: Friday Feb 20 & Thursday Feb 26, 2015
Venue: The Jade Monkey


The first step of any twelve step program is to admit that you are powerless over your addiction. 

Alison Kimber freely admits to being a recovering loveaholic, that she has sometimes found her life defined and controlled by this addiction. Far from being embittered by the topic however, she still embraces the inherent joy that comes with the excitement of love pulsing through her veins. 

Her opening song “Hooray for Love” sums this up perfectly, but clearly her perspective and experience with love hasn’t always been positive as demonstrated in her medley of torch songs pining for the school yard romances that might have been.

Now that she is all grown up, Alison speaks with the perspective, humour and self deprecation of a woman who has loved and lost, and indeed loved and won.

Her anecdotes about internet dating are entertaining. Not only has her string of awkward dates provided great fodder for cabaret patter, by including these stories in her show Alison has no doubt made scores of cocktails and dinners tax deductible!

A show filled with love songs is bound to be ballad-heavy, but the repertoire is varied to a point. Alison’s interpretation of ‘Ne me Quittes Pas’ is the vocal highlight of the show, while her pianist Logan Watt shines in the country and r&b style of John D Loudermilk’s ‘Turn Me On’. 

Through, or despite all the dating, Kimber eventually found the man for her and the story of their connection elicits the biggest laugh of the night.

I’ve followed Alison’s cabaret performances from her earliest open mic appearances, through cabaret training and workshops, to the point where she is now. In that time she has clearly worked hard on her singing, scripting and stage presence and the results speak for themselves. Loveaholic is a solid cabaret show - well structured and conceived. Kimber is clear on the demographic of her audience - the choice of material and and her execution of it connected extremely well with everyone in the room. I look forward to seeing her next project.

If you are passionate about cabaret - join the Cabaret Confessional Community here.  

 

 

 

Wednesday
Feb112015

Jeanne Gies: I'm in love with words

 

 

“There’s something about singing duo with the guitar - there’s an intimacy there that I really haven’t found with any other instrument.”

Jeanne Gies has had the pleasure of performing with a number of great guitarists but her musical relationship with Howard Alden is celebrated on two recording projects she is currently working on. Both are based in New York City and have recorded and toured together since 2004.

She’s worked with some of the world’s best. Gies’ previous recording, Don’t Think Twice, featured eight different guitar players. All of the highest calibre. 

“Just as having a conversation with you is probably going to be different to than having a conversation with your best friend, every excellent guitar player brings something different out of me as a vocalist. When I talk about having a conversation: when I sing I like to have a lot of space, a lot of openness.”

However it was Alden and his seven string guitar (“the seventh string adds a beautiful extra bass note”) that Jeanne chose to collaborate with when she recorded an album of songs by Brazilian composer Manu Lafer in Sao Paulo. 

Lafer hired her last year specifically to write English lyrics to his compositions and to record them with Howard. The recording is now at the mastering stage and will be released around the end of the year. 

“I’m incredibly excited about this cd because it’s a meshing of Brazil and Jazz. Manu was so generous and gave us free reign to do our own take on his songs.”

Lafer gave Jeanne carte blanche. She knew, for example that the title of one song ‘Da Janela’ was the Portuguese word for window, but that is all the composer told her.

“I just took it from there. I wasn’t translating, I was writing from scratch. It’s a fascinating process - because it’s teamwork. Manu wrote the music, Howard wrote the arrangements, I wrote the lyrics and then I interpreted it vocally. I keep telling Manu that [on this album our duo is actually] a team of three, because without him being the catalyst none of this would have happened.”

While the composer is in New York finishing up another project, he and Jeanne will perform with guitarists Alden and Chico Pinhiero tonight, Wednesday February 11. The night will be a celebration of Brazilian music and they expect a lot of their Brazilian musician friends will come and sit in - in an open jam at Room 53.

On Thursday February 19 Gies will perform with guitarist Jack Wilkins and bassist Kelly Friesen at the Red Cork Wine Bar just across the road from Jazz at the Lincoln Centre. 

“It’s the debut of live music in that venue. It’s very exciting to play with musicians of that calibre such an intimate setting.”

If you are passionate about cabaret - join the Cabaret Confessional Community here.  

Jeanne often finds herself working with guitarists more than pianists. “That wasn’t a conscious decision on my part originally, but a mere practicality - a lot of the venues I was playing at didn’t have a piano. So what happened is that I got to know these great guitarists and I fell in love with singing with guitar.” 

“I will say that I don’t work from set arrangements and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to rehearse with these guys because they’re so busy. So normally we show up at a lot of these New York City gigs - I call the tune, give the key…and I never know how they’re going to bring me in, how they’re going to bring me out or how it’s going to play out but it’s always interesting interesting!”

“In March I will be singing with Lenore Raphael who is a very well known jazz pianist - so I’ve got nothing against piano players!”

Jeanne herself started as a clarinetist playing in a dixieland band in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when she was fifteen years old. By the time she turned nineteen the band had decided they weren’t getting enough work and we needed to crossover and become a pop band. As the female in the band the others insisted that she should sing. 

“I had no experience at all. I started singing maybe two songs a night, and ten years later I was singing all night.”

As she matured musically, the jazz approach started to appeal more and more. 

“It was so much more interesting than a lot of the pop where it’s the same thing all the time. So I started getting to know the jazz musicians in Milwaukee, but I decided that to hone my craft as a singer, New York City was the place to be because the greatest musicians in the world are so easily accessible here! More than anywhere else in the world, I think.”

“Since arriving here I’ve had the chance to sing and record with some of the best jazz musicians in the world. Eric Reed, Gerald Cannon, Willy Jones III and the late John Hicks. There’s something about the energy in New York that really makes you level up. I know it’s a cliche, but you gotta be good to get a gig in New York City. I always try to surround myself with the best musicians I possibly can because it makes you grow.”

While always ready to learn from the best, Gies also makes the effort to share the knowledge and experience she has.

In April she will preside over the annual Jazz Guitar and Vocal Workshop in Bolzano, Italy where she teaches singers and guitarists work with Howard Alden and Helmut Nieberle (from Regensberg, Germany).

“Both are exquisite guitar players; soloists in their own right who also love to play together. I’ve made a craft of singing in a duo with guitar, and a lot of the singers who are interested in improving come to these workshops. I teach the singers and they teach the guitarists separately, but then we come together and make music together.”

There’s an art to singing with just guitar. 

“When you’re singing with a full band - with a bass, guitar, horn, piano and drums - you have a pretty big cushion. But when you’re with just one instrument it is sink or swim - you can’t hide behind anything!”

A lot of ear training goes into singing with just guitar as well as

  • learning how to listen as to when to get in and when to get out
  • the importance of knowing your own key
  • how to communicate with the musicians
  • how to have your charts in line

“I try to make it really functional, not just focus on technique. Because at the end of the day, singers want to sing. Not alone in their basement, but they want the confidence to sing out!”

“As instructor, what I bring to the table is that I am actually gigging. When you’re in the trenches these days it’s not just about how great you sing, it’s also how well you can market yourself and what musicians you pick. We’re all self promoters.”

Bolzano looks absolutely gorgeous. The Schloss Korb where the group stay is like a castle with owners who are supportive of the music. 

 

“We’re in a tranquil, spiritual setting that allows the creativity to flow. This is our third year there and hopefully we’ll do many more.”

If you are passionate about cabaret - join the Cabaret Confessional Community here.  

Jeanne is also in the process of finishing a set of two cds that she recorded as with Alden. Featuring her own original compositions, the songs will include two written for her nephews Samuel and Gabriel. (Jeanne’s third nephew Raphael, was immortalised in song on Don’t Think Twice.)

When I write my own songs - the lyrics come first, the music second. When I did the project for Manu, the music came first. In a way, it’s a very different process. When I’m writing without the music in mind, I’m really visualising - thinking about my message, emotions and what I want to bring across lyrically.”

“When I wrote for him, it was a really different process because the music was already in place. I immersed myself in the sounds and the lyrics were inspired by what I heard.”

“Either way, I’ll tell you - I’m in love with words. I love the process of communicating in combination with the music. I’ve never really been interested in just writing poetry, I’m interested in the melding the language of music with the language of words.”

That recording is also at the mastering stage, aiming for completion at the end of this year. So 2016 is lined up to be the ‘Year of Promoting CDs’. Jeanne has recorded a special duet for the album but is keeping tight lipped about who her singing partner might be. 

Jeanne believes in musicians supporting each other so they can all grow creatively.

“I believe that as musicians there is room for all of us. There is an abundance of all good things, it’s not a competition. That’s my philosophy. There’s room for everybody and everybody has their own gifts to bring to the table.”

Nowhere has she experienced this more than in Brazil. “I’ve sung in a lot of different countries to a lot of different audiences. There’s something about Brazil - a musical spirit - that doesn’t have any scarcity to it. They come from abundance. There’s just plenty to go round.”

 

Signup for the Jazz Guitar and Vocal Workshop in Bolzano, Italy [here].

Jeanne (also a trained speech pathologist)works with singers and speakers worldwide via innovative, functional and highly effective skype lessons. For details - email her [here].

 

Related articles:

Simple Two-Question Survey for Cabaret Artists

3 Ways to Use Technology in Cabaret

Cabaret Manifesto 2015

Wednesday
Feb042015

Synth Pop Reflection on the Power and Pain of Celebrity

“I haven’t even been to bed yet muthafuckas”

Affluenza
The Butterfly Club, Melbourne
Written by Will Hannagan
Performed by Will Hannagan & Robbie Ten Eyck
Original Music: Will Hannagan & Thibaud Mateos
Season: Jan 22-Feb 8, 2015
Reviewed: Feb 1, 2015

  

Cabaret enfant terrible Will Hannagan debuts his new cabaret ‘Affluenza’ at the Butterfly Club as part of this year’s Midsumma Festival. His entrance in avant garde transparent plastic trench-coat couture sets the tone of the piece beautifully.

From the top of the show the stage is set for a Frost-Nixon scale showdown between recovering former child star William Hannagan and talk show host Robbie St Clair. 

The show plays out on the set of ‘Shades of Beige with Robbie St Clair’ - a parody of the tv talk show format that gives a nod to the ‘Between Two Ferns’ webseries.

Hannagan is desperately seeking a comeback and St Clair (played by Robbie Ten Eyck) is hoping this tell all interview will help lift his tired tv show’s ratings. He has returned post-rehab from his self exiled ‘London Years’ where he lost everything. “I lost my family, my funds, my career.”

Through his original synth pop songs Hannagan reflects on the power and pain of celebrity. He has captured the style perfectly and his brooding baritone voice perfectly suits the intelligent yet catchy moody and disaffected lyrics. 

Will has cowritten the songs with Thibaud Mateos and the tracks are Eurovision-ready, with pulsating beats and hypnotic synth work. The Butterfly Club is known for it’s pared back production and the venue’s sound system probably doesn’t do the music the justice it deserves. At times it’s hard to know where Will’s voice should sit within the mix - at times it gets lost within the track and at others it sits so far in front that he doesn’t have the full support of the accompaniment.

Affluenza deconstructs itself as the talk show sequences dissolve into ‘Real Robbie’ and ‘Real Will’ speaking candidly to each other when the cameras aren’t rolling. The relationship between the two is the most fascinating aspect of the show. The constant swinging back and forth between competitiveness and camaraderie is captivating, as is the rapid-fire pace of their scripted dialogue and the pace of the gags and innuendo. 

In this setting and staging the songs run a little long, the end of most of them could be lovingly trimmed. Where the repeated choruses and outros would work well within a music video or in a club, they slow the pace of the show.

Hannagan and Ten Eyck’s performances are wonderful in Affluenza. Their comic timing is strong and dissolves into a rich pathos as the show develops. The original songs are clever - the lyrics intelligent in some places and perfectly puerile pop in others. The musical staging of the songs could be re-considered to bring them to a more heightened hyper reality - perhaps in a venue that had the production specs to match.

Related link: Simple Two-Question Survey for Cabaret Artists

If you are passionate about cabaret - join the Cabaret Confessional Community here. 

Monday
Feb022015

Simple Two-Question Survey for Cabaret Artists

Dear Cabaret Performers -

I created Cabaret Confessional back in 2009 with a mission to

promote cabaret and its practitioners and serve as an archive, capturing a snap shot of cabaret history.

I’ve been passionate about the cabaret scene for nearly 20yrs and I’ve been on stage and in the audience in venues in the USA, UK and Australia. 

It’s my deep desire for Cabaret Confessional to be an online space that brings together performers from all around the world - a cabaret water-cooler, if you like. Somewhere we can share our triumphs, seek advice when needed and learn from each other.

Being a cabaret artist can be a lonely job when you’re trying to pull together all the elements on your own and I want to create a resource and a hub where all of us can gather.

In the past the site has focussed on what’s on and reviews, and while there is a place for that…there are already lots of places for that. Other wonderful sites that support cabaret. Reviews are great, they can be validating and a great review can give you a quote you’ll use for the rest of your career! 

But I have the sense that what is missing from our community (and it is a community - full of wonderful, colourful, generous souls) is a place where we can discuss the nuts and bolts of putting on a show.

So as I update Cabaret Confessional I’m trying to learn a little more about the problems and challenges you’re facing right now so that I can be creating content that is super valuable and useful for you. 

It would be really helpful for me if you took three minutes to fill out this simple 2 question survey that will help me create something that will be helpful to you.
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NSYJKZS

Thank you in advance, and as further thanks, if you sign up to the mailing list here I’ll make sure you get early access to whatever I create! 

 

Regards, 

Matthew Carey

Sunday
Feb012015

It Was a Good Time

Georgia with a G
Butterfly Club - Melbourne
Season Jan 28-Feb 1, 2015
Reviewed Thurs Jan 29, 2015

 

Georgia Darcy

 

It seems testament to a strong brand when you can hang other ideas or variations on it and it still stands strong - adding legitimacy to both the original and the derivative.

Liza With a Z must be in the same league as Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ and Sin City’s ‘What Happens in Vegas’. Not only did it establish Minnelli as a one word icon - think Cher & Madonna, but it spawned a template for probably hundreds of cabaret show titles, all seeking to lend their stars similar status and audience recognition.

Georgia with a G contains more than a passing reference to Minnelli, but the show’s star Georgia Darcy brings her own magnetic personality to the stage and establishes her place as a performer in her own right.

This is the show’s second season in Melbourne, playing at the Butterfly Club as part of the Midsumma Festival.

Darcy plays a scene from her youth where her seven-year-old self she would spend early mornings listening to her mum’s records when the rest of the household was still asleep. As she learned and loved the songs she would play on repeat she would mimic Al Jolson, Neil Diamond and particularly Minnelli.

Recreating moments from the album, Georgia always infuses the songs with her own charm and personality. She describes her journey from being a schoolgirl unable to express her passionate crushes on (female) teachers through to giving herself permission to step outside her corporate career and reengage with the music and performing she loved so much as a youth.

Songs borrowed from the television special include “Yes”, “Say Liza (Liza with a Z)” and the Charles Aznavour penned “You’ve Let Yourself Go” which Darcy performs with a touching intimacy.

Her accompanist Simon Walters played superbly, providing solid rhythmic foundation and lyrical accompaniment as needed. Georgia proudly announced that the UK born Walters had received Australian citizenship earlier in the week on Australia Day.

Traditionally burlesque shows have a cast member called the stage kitty who’s role it is to clean up the stage between acts. Borrowing from this idea, ‘Cecile’ (the alter ego of Louise Lawson) provided some hilarious physical comedy as she tidied the stage during Georgia’s costume changes.

The musical highlights of the show are “La Vie en Rose” sung in French and Michel Legrand’s “I Will Wait for You”.

The show’s greatest appeal is its genuine honesty. While not without showbiz glamour and clever staging (including a chair that almost steals the show) the heart of Georgia with a G is a story about a woman gaining the confidence to acknowledge her true passions and share them with the world. Occasional pitch issues in her singing are far outweighed by Georgia’s sheer force of personality and the generous warmth she brings to the stage. Her recent hip replacement allows her to release her inner-hoofer and there is a great physicality to her performance.

The show closed with a rousing rendition of “It Was a Good Time” - and it certainly was.

Georgia and Cecile (Louise) are already working on a follow up show “Life, the Universe…and Cupcakes” which promises more hilarious interaction between the two characters and the pair are touring “Georgia with a G” to the Avignon Festival Off (Fringe Festival) in July 2015.

If you are passionate about cabaret - join the Cabaret Confessional Community here.