I spent some time playing in cabarets in New York City during and right after college. Those West Village clubs like The Stonewall and The Duplex and Rose's Turn and especially Marie's Crisis, were super-fun places to kill a few hours singing showtunes with a bar full of other people who know all the words to "Surrey with the Fringe On Top." I even used to substitute and play the piano in some of them to make a few extra bucks on occasion.
I've been to a few shows lately that reminded me of cabarets. It's hard to recreate the vibe of a cabaret, especially when it requires a Time Machine of sorts. The 1930's/40's cabaret scene may not have required any suspension of disbelief, but it's all an act now.
That being said, I've seen a few acts attempting to recreate the cabaret scene in a postmodern light. (Or is that post-post-modern? I'm a little behind the times in my pop culture philosophy references. Forgive me.)
I saw one act in Austin that made me uncomfortable for the poor guy she picked on all night long. It was like an awkward stand-up routine where the guy in the front row is the butt of all the jokes, except this time, the cabaret songstress forced him to paint her toenails. In front of his girlfriend. (Note: she had strikingly fake red hair. The seductress, not the girlfriend.)
Last night here in Louisville, I popped over to one of my favorite venues, Headliner's, to be a guest of Lady Rizo, a cabaret act from New York City. She was entertaining, and had a hell of a pair of vocal cords. She also had a great wardrobe and changed clothes at least four times during the set.
I had one of those rock star moments where I had something else going on all night long, but I had promised to sing a song as a guest of Lady Rizo. So around midnight, I pulled up in the Smart Car (you can ALWAYS get rock star parking when you're driving a Smart Car), floated inside the club, headed backstage, sang a song with some of my favorite musicians ever, and floated back to the bar/audience. Good times.
This show is part of Ray Rizzo's brainchild, The Motherlodge Festival. It's the inaugural year, but I can already tell it's going to be a Louisville staple. Coinciding with the Humana Festival at Actor's Theatre of Louisville, The Motherlodge Festival combines theater with music in the way that Louisville loves to do. If you're out and about tonight, stop by The Rudyard Kipling on Oak Street to catch more of Lady Rizo's act, along with Dawn Landes and a few other stellar national acts.
I'm going to work on some new dance steps because Johnny Berry is playing right down the street from The Rudyard Kipling. And he plays late. Maybe i"ll wear my red boots.