Doing Research in the 21st Century

by Ron Squeri, February 2008 guest blogger

Athough this is not an exhaustive guide, it hopefully may be a good starting point. Automation, the internet and search engines have expanded the music research process. I recently was helping a fellow cabaret singer with some research on a new show she was thinking about putting together.

The theme for the show had to do with songs that a particular character sings in musical theater. (no, I am not going to give it away)

Using my computer, and my itunes library, (which I do have to admit is extensive in the musical theater genre), I listed every musical theater show for which I had a CD (over 500 CDs). I then called for some assistance from Mr. “Google with Glasses” (it helps to have a spouse like this in the house.) We went over the list, highlighting those shows that we thought might fit the criteria. Then I proceeded to put the list in a very safe spot in the house.

After two weeks of looking for the list, this morning, it magically appeared. (Thank you gremlins). In just three short hours, using Google, Yahoo!, Gracenote, Wikipedia, Amazon, iTunes, and Sheetmusicplus, I had verified the list of shows, found the names of the characters matching the criteria, and got a smattering of songs that the character sang in the show. Before the advent of the searching technology, this would have taken months to research, and I did it all this morning, sitting in my gym shorts and t-shirt, sipping diet coke. (alright, this may have been too much information, for a number of you, but it IS a blog, and at least there are no pictures.)

I have to tell you, the one source that I found amazingly useful was Wikipedia. It sees that even the more obscure shows, some that only had 7 performances, are listed with lots of useful information. Of course, as always, you have to be very careful about the validity of the information that is on these websites, since the information can be entered by just about anybody. But for initial research, and to get a high-level song list for a show, it beats going to the library, and searching periodicals. At least for me it does.

Signing off,

Ron

Wendy Lane Bailey’s Master Class has been postponed

The “Words and Music” master class being taught by Wendy Lane Bailey and Laurel Masse’ has been postponed to March 15, 2008, due to inclement weather. Wendy reports that because of the date change, there are still a few openings. So if you were thinking about going but couldn’t get in, now may be your chance.

The cost of the class is $150, there is a 10% discount for Cabaret Network and WAMA members. To reserve your space or find out more about the class please contact Park Road Management at parkroadmanagement@verizon.net, or call (646)831-0359. To find out more about Laurel Masse and Wendy Lane Bailey visit their websites www.laurelmasse.com and www.wendylanebailey.com .

Next Open Mic set for March 10th

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Please join us at our next Open Mic Night on Monday, March 10, 2008. Mary Sugar will be at the keyboard. Sign-up starts at 7:30; singing starts at 8:00. This all takes place at the Warehouse Theater.

Putting a Song on its Feet

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by Ron Squeri, February 2008 guest blogger

You have just heard someone sing this terrific song either on the radio, on a CD, on TV, in a movie, in a show or just heard it being sung by someone on the street, and you say, “Wow, I love that song, I want to give that one a try.” What are your next steps? You either find the sheet music for the song, or find someone to transcribe it from a recording. (Of course, if you get it transcribed, you have that performer’s arrangement of the song, not necessarily the original music or lyrics, so be careful.)

Now, you do at least some of your homework. You learn the lyrics and melody of the song. You find your correct key for the music. You study the lyrics and made decisions on your interpretation of the song, finding the nuances that make the piece your own. (Of course this is a given, but I can’t help to reinforce the process) Well, what’s the next step? You have to run it up the flagpole and see if someone salutes. Read the rest of this entry »

February ’08 Open Mic report…

…from the generous pen of Michael M. over at Miyazaki Cabaret Update. Thanks Michael!

Did You Catch Our Third Members-only Showcase?

In case you missed it, Michael Miyazaki has the complete rundown over at Miyazaki Cabaret Update.

Don’t Miss “Cookin’ at the Cookery”

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By Ron Squeri, February 2008 guest blogger

Folks, if you haven’t been to MetroStage to see “Cookin’ at the Cookery”, make your reservations NOW. I saw it last night, and it rocked. It is a book-show about “The Music and Times of Alberta Hunter“. I am ashamed to say that I never recall listening to Ms. Hunter’s recordings, but I will start to soon. I will not ruin the show for you by giving you a synopsis, you can look at other reviews for that, but sagfe to say, it is a well-written, and admirably performed book show about this jazz singer’s life and career. It is also a study in what I believe is a beautiful melding of the cabaret experience and musical theatre.

I usually have a difficult time connecting with a jazz singer, partly due to my lack of understanding of the genre, and the jazz performer’s usual emphasis on style, and rhythm over lyric and storytelling. Both Jackie Richardson, and Janice Lorraine told excellent and compelling stories last night using the jazz idiom.

Again, this is a show not to be missed. It runs until March 9.

Ron’s random cabaret thoughts…

by Ron Squeri, February 2008 guest blogger

Last night, I was talking to someone about cabaret, and something struck me, (and no, this time, it wasn’t our cat):

The job of a cabaret performer is to put their audience at ease.

If we do that, the audience, our new found friends, will have a good time, and will excuse many slight imperfections. Of course for me I long to see the imperfections, they prove that the performer is alive. As performers, we have to remember our audience is there to enjoy themselves. I have never gone to a show and thought, “crap I am going to hate every minute of this”. I go with the expectation that I am going to be entertained.

There are so many ways as performers we get in our own way. We rush to get new material into shows, leaving us shaky on lyrics, and more importantly interpretation. The audience can sense it, (like our cat) making them uncomfortable for us. I was once told by a cabaret guru that they would never put a song into a show until they had worked on it for at least a year. I personally think that is a lot of time, but in my experience, I would have to admit that at least 3 – 6 months is my preferred working time for a song.

Another way that we shoot ourselves in the foot is letting the audience “see” our work. I personally don’t want to see a therapy session, (unless the show is billed as such). Tears, screaming, and breaking down are fine in the development process, but should not appear in the final product. Of course, one of the best ways to hook your audience is to be edgy, or on the edge, just not over it. I find it much more moving, as an audience member, to see someone so full of emotion, that they are on the verge of a breakdown, as opposed to actually watching it. Again, our job is to put the audience at ease.

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Our Third Members Only Showcase is Just Around the Corner

cab-net-logo-with-gclef-600ppi.jpg The DC Cabaret Network is delighted to present its third Members Only Showcase on Sunday, February 10, 2008. Please join us for a wonderful evening of cabaret featuring our own DC Cabaret Network members at the Arts Club of Washington, located at 2017 I Street, NW. These talented cabaret performers will be accompanied by the extraordinary Musical Director Alex Tang. Wine and sodas will be available for a small fee.

The featured performers for the evening are: Davey Brown, Emily Leatha Everson, Matt Howe, Jill Leger, Kate McCann, Gita Morris, Barbara Papendorp, Dean Reichard, Mary Reilly, Justin Ritchie, Michael Sazonov, and Eileen Warner.

Reservations are highly recommended and should be sent to: info@dccabaretnetwork.org (please include your name, phone number and address)

Cost for the evening is $5 for paid members of the DC Cabaret Network and $10 for non-members (cash only).