Songs for the Season

Unique Musical Programs

Archive for the month “May, 2014”

Watch Your Step

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

When multiple opportunities arise, it is challenging to know which way to go. Right now my muse is telling me to dwell in the land of all of the above for a bit before setting off. I have discovered a model in the vocal style of Burl Ives, but I’m not quite ready to put my energies into a full tribute show. Yet most of my programming includes works associated with Ives. So I don’t doubt that a tribute show will emerge eventually and will be a rewarding project.

“Wilde and Woolley” is in development and the soonest I see performing it would be the winter of 2015. I’m working on the material with both music director Mathew Ellenwood and Claudia Hommel, my coach in SongShop. My hopes for creating this celebration of Cole Porter’s inner circle date back to the 1990’s. I’m thinking it should be pretty good wine by the time it is eventually served up.

Before spring gives way to summer I hope to present a few pieces of “It’s Spring Again” at open mic nights around town. “Poisoning Pigeons” was a hit at STRUT and I’d like to make it the third piece in my selections from the spring show. But I don’t see the spring show fully produced until 2015.

Matthew is guiding me toward working on the exiting new material in my fall show and a venue which greatly excites me is a possibility. So Another Autumn may be my next focus. It is true that fall is my favorite of the seasons, so that may be the way to go. And when we go we will go with faith in the journey and a happy heart.

Davenport’s Debut

Last night I made my Davenport’s debut.

For those who are not familiar with Chicago Cabaret, Davenport’s is a prime venue which happens to be the “home-bar” of the Chicago Cabaret Professionals. The program went very well and I thought I was well received. I performed a set chosen to introduce my work to the community answering the many questions I’ve had as to when they’d be hearing me sing.

I did my opening number from Boy Meets Boy the sophisticated and witty “Me” by Bill Solly, followed by a special interpretation of “Please Don’t Make Me Be Good” by Cole Porter and finished with “Poisoning Pigeons” by Tom Lehrer which David thinks (and I agree) kind of nails my Monty Woolley image. It gave me a chance to allude to my plans for Wilde and Woolley and let those in doubt know where I’m coming from!

Many of my fellow CCPers and SongShoppers attended as well as my spouse, David, and voice teacher, Matthew. It was an honor to be chosen for this prestigious showcase and a great pleasure to work with Nick Sula who was our music director and splendid accompanist.

I heard several supportive comments about my planned Wilde and Woolley project and people wanted to know when they will see it! I guess that means I’m committed. Let’s hope that Davenport’s will be interested in hosting it. David thinks it’s the right project for next steps with CCP.

There are several other irons in the fire however and I’ll be making my way through a number of options for next steps in general. I’m working toward an open mic night later in May, but am not fixed yet on what to perform.

Meanwhile I’ll just bask in the after-glow of an excellent Davenports – CCP Strut Your Stuff debut.

STRUT YOUR STUFF

8 p.m.
Monday, May 12
Davenport’s Piano Bar & Cabaret
1383 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago

Five members of Chicago Cabaret Professionals are showcased as they “strut their stuff.” Performers are either relatively new to the cabaret scene or presenting new material. Vocalists are Mary Fleming, Don Hoffman, Daniel Johnson*, Carol Moss and Patricia Salinski. Nick Sula is the music director.

Tickets are $15
Call (773) 278-1830 or visit davenportspianobar.com

*I’ll be doing my opening number from Bill Solly’s landmark gay musical “Boy Meets Boy” followed by a Cole Porter number which looks forward to my new project “Wilde and Woolley” as well as a demented tribute to Spring by Tom Lehrer. Hope to see you at Davenports – Dan

Voice of the People

Before I discovered musical theater as a young person, I was quite taken by folk music. It was beat-nick – hootenanny times and my favorite singers were Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel and Burl Ives. I never lost my appreciation for roots music as popular taste moved in other directions with the rock revolution. I have always liked bluegrass and folk.

But I went deeply into musical theater while I found little interest in rock music (except for rockabilly and folk rock). I had only a detached appreciation for the great rock artists. Who doesn’t like the Beatles, et.al?

Today I think of folk music as an important component of what I like to call Americana. This is a place where folk, Tin Pan Alley and the Great American Songbook intersect. I noticed that my favorites, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, had a strong affinity for Americana behind their enthusiasm for European models. Both were tuned in to popular music of their day: Stephen Foster / George M. Cohan meet Gilbert and Sullivan. And it is the place where my Songs for the Season repertoire primarily resides.

My experiment with performing Big Rock Candy Mountain succeeded in surprising but not altogether unexpected ways. My colleagues and audience at SongShop Live’s “Take the Ride of Your Life” seemed to agree whole heartedly that I remind them of Burl Ives and can fairly channel his musical material. This is such a rich vein of opportunity that it cannot be ignored. My one big concern about Songs for the Season is how to find an audience for my retro tastes. The Burl Ives connection may be one answer.

The enthusiasm with which BRCM was received has me thinking more seriously about a Burl Ives tribute show. One saving grace for me is that his repertoire crossed so many genera. Although he started out as a real folk troubadour, his career also encompassed film and theatre music which could lend variety and will probably be more interesting for me personally.

The other re-enforcing factor is that the more I listen to his recordings, the more impressed I am with his vocal technique as an aspirational model. He had such a pure “cantabile” quality and knack for lucid phrasing. His is a sound which I admire and can aspire toward.

So stay tuned. There may soon be more Burl Ives in the works: A Poor Wayfaring Stranger, The Foggy-foggy Dew, and yes, I happily observe that Burl Ives recorded Cole Porter’s The Kling-kling Bird in the Divi-divi Tree. Are we having fun yet?

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