In May 2017, innovative minds are coming together for a 48-hour round-the-clock event to “kickstart social good projects designed to improve our community, society and planet.” The Breakout Project in Kingston, Ontario invites “designers, dreamers, innovators, influencers and investors” to join the event where teams “will work around the clock for 48 hours to raise the human and financial capital required to take their project from ideation to completion in just one year.”
This is a networking event but it’s so much more. There are speakers and mentors to learn from, people from various areas of business to collaborate with and unique opportunities to innovate. It provides opportunities to learn from others but it’s also a place where you can fully participate in building something that is meaningful to you. “Attendees have a full-access pass to learning sessions, main stage activities, watch and engage with teams, interact with companies in Innovation Alley, participate in audience-only experiences, and celebrate in evening events and concerts.”
During the event, teams will raise the resources to complete their project over the next year. Teams will have a range of different projects that will go from idea to business over the 48 hour event. For example, “One of our teams wants to create a system whereby he can help train and certify one million teachers in a year for third world countries. His focus is Africa, but he knows the need is also great in other countries. We really want to help support projects that might improve the world for as many people as possible!” Attendees can donate a portion of their ticket value to the teams. Supporters can join in online with their contributions as well. The teams will go on to complete their project and in 2018 everyone will come together again “to celebrate achievements and kickstart a new crop of projects.”
The Breakout Project happens May 10-12, 2017. Tickets are $349 for the entire event. Buy tickets here. The event culminates with a free concert headlined by Sam Roberts Band. Can’t attend The Breakout Project in person? It “will be broadcast live online in a reality TV format. The live streaming combined with the power of social media means that our global audience can be more than just spectators — they can be active participants sharing their own knowledge, capital and connections to support the teams they believe in.”
It’s no secret that I love every show by Kat Robichaud and Misfit Cabaret since I’ve seen every performance they have done at Great Star Theater and always post about it on social media. Last night I went to the current show, GRIMM, which is playing this weekend and next only (get your tickets), and it got me thinking about why I like these shows so much. Here are the top seven reasons:
1. Themed Performances That Don’t Take Themselves Too Seriously
Each show has a theme around which the songs, costumes and acts are based. The themes are always original, unique, and artistic. But they also don’t take themselves too seriously. The theme is more of a starting point for each act to use as inspiration than a guideline for what will be found in the night’s performance. Grimm, of course, is derived from the fairy tales, with divergent acts including Snow White, puppetry, references to once upon a time and Neverending Story and more. It’s always fun to see the different interpretations of a theme, some of them looser than others.The next show after Grimm, Cinepheilia, is themed around cult films.
2. Kat’s Original Songs
Kat’s voice is the big draw for me and I always love her original lyrics. She writes two original pieces for every Misfit Cabaret themed show. They’re the highlight of every show in my opinion. In fact, when I saw her perform at this year’s Edwardian Ball, where she sung several of those originals, I suddenly realized that I knew a bunch of her songs by heart.
3. The Medleys
They also have a couple of song medleys in each performance, suited to the theme but drawing from a diverse array of different musical genres. They are endlessly fun every time. I love that there’s always a mixture of songs I know so well and songs I’ve never heard.
A great cabaret performance includes a range of different acts and Misfit Cabaret always meets that criteria. Kat is undeniably the star of the show but she does a great job of humbly highlighting the skills and talents of everyone she brings to her stage. There are people who have been featured in more than one show and new people each time and it’s always a delight to be introduced to both. GRIMM’s standout is Eliza Rickman who shared three songs last night, for two of which she accompanied herself on xylophone. She has a truly magical, ethereal voice. Amazing. That’s not to say that the other performers weren’t also great, because they were. Most shows include a burlesque performance and an aerial dance; those were both great pieces in GRIMM as well.
Eliza Rickman is working on a video for this song funded via Kickstarter; she performed the song in GRIMM
5. Quality of Performance Art
Kat’s style is this fabulous mix of classic rock with musical theater. It’s high energy, sexy, dramatic entertainment replete with fabulous costumes and interesting sets. These aren’t high budget productions but so much goes into the making of them that there’s always plenty to delight the senses. I am endlessly entertained throughout every show.
6. Great Star Theater
I won’t wax poetic about this historic Chinatown theater since I’ve mentioned it plenty of times in the past. I’ll just say that it’s an example of everything I love about the arts in San Francisco and it gets better each time I go and I’m thrilled to support the place as much as I can. The next big show isn’t one of Kat’s, but it looks good: Twisted Cabaret in March.
7. It’s San Francisco At It’s Finest
Kat may hail from North Carolina but everything about her seems so San Francisco. There are magical things about this city that captured my heart the first time I saw it and continue to make my heart flutter to this day. They aren’t easily describable in ways that don’t sound cliche but if you love the arts and activism and originality and celebrating-weirdness of this city, the things about the city that have stood the test of time across different social issues and many changes, then you’ll know what I mean. The audience at these shows celebrates that underlying energetic feelings; we are not the only ones to sometimes dress up for the theme, although we wouldn’t go so far as to say we dressed in costume since simple accessories don’t qualify as costumes in this heavily theme-dressed, event-loving city. Kat’s shows exude this “San Francisco creative energy” at every level.
SOULSKIN Dance has an upcoming San Francisco performance called SATIN & SWING that highlights the best of the 1920s flapper era while drawing connections with the period’s relationship to the modern day.
“Dance Mission Theatre transforms into a time machine, transporting us back to the 1920s. Glitz and glam sparkle from the dingy corners of a speakeasy. Raucous jazz blares, bringing bejeweled and sequined dancing flapper girls to life. An evening of indulgence has begun. The entry notes of Prince’s “Erotic City” ring in your ears, an echo from another time.“
In this interview, artistic director Adrianna Thompson shares more information about the upcoming performance and offers a compelling argument for attending live theater.
How does it feel to return to San Francisco?
Well, first of all I’m from San Francisco – born and raised. I have been back here in the Bay Area for the past five years and I’m thrilled to be back home. I have lived in many places during my lifetime – NYC, LA, Aspen, Colorado … but San Francisco has always officially been my home.
What are your favorite elements of the 1920s?
The music and the history of that period. The artists that had a clear visionary voice for what was happening during that time period.
How does this relate to us today?
The 21st Century reflects similar cultural, political, industrial ideologies as the 1920’s. Many are feeling powerless and without choice. In both eras, the people were exploring new ideas of of who they could be, who they could love, and how they could express themselves.
What is important about Prince’s work that comes through in this performance?
His work represents sexual revolution, free expression and the ability to love without judgment.
What can you share about your process of choreographing this work?
I like to work with great talent. I work with many collaborators such as DJ artists, composers, multi media designers, costume designers and dancers. I also enjoy creating a nurturing and positive environment that encourages personal growth and potential. To me this is the complete and universal truth of creativity when all participants are engaged.
What have been the most difficult part of this project?
What I find most challenging is scheduling everyone’s participation around their other commitments in their lives.
What do you hope people take away from the work when seeing it?
I hope that the audience can recognize the importance of live theater and what it shares to our community and the world around us. Live theater, like real life, allows for an experience that happens only once. No two nights are the same. Once the moment is given, it is gone forever. The beauty lies in the artists and audience sharing an experience that allows for truth to unfold itself before our very eyes.
What do you think is the most important issue facing the arts / dance industry today?
Art as we know it is becoming more challenging to continue because of the demands of what the world is offering society now. It is hard to survive as an artist. There is a lack of public funding and support is given mainly from private donors who are more likely to support long established institutions than smaller independent artists. It costs a lot of money to be an artist so a lot of great work will never be seen and new voices will never be heard because of the lack of funding.
SATIN & SWING has three performances March 10-12, 2017 at Dance Mission Theater. DJ CAMCON (Camille Conrotto) will design and live mix music on stage as part of the performance. The evening will open with two works created by guest choreographers: Robert Sund and Dylan Elmore. The 3/11 performance will be live-streamed at 8 pm and can be seen for $10 at Concert Window.
“Once again SOULSKIN Dance has teamed up with Andy Mogg Productions to offer a one night only Live Streaming of the performance. Renowned dance photographer Andy Mogg will direct a 3 camera shoot using the latest robotic Pan Tilt Zoom cameras. Live Chat Room participation will be available during the Live Stream.”
Photos by Andy Mogg.
WHAT:SOULSKIN Dance presents…
SATIN & SWING
SOULSKIN Returns Home to San Francisco for a 4th Season
–with Guest Choreographers Robert Sund and Dylan Elmore.
–Three Virtuosic Cuban Male Dancers perform in Satin & Swing.
Thrillpeddlers in Pearls Over Shanghai – 2009 Orig cast. / photo by Daniel Nicoletta
I remember when I first went to see Thrillpeddlers at The Hypnodrome, I had a tough time deciding between the Shock Box seats and the Turkish Lounge. Did I want the romance of being in our own little two-person cubby with extra effects or the comfort of lounging on carpets to watch the show? I went with the Shock Box, laughing when suddenly air squirted on to me, tempted to close the curtain and contain my date and I. I had only been living in the city a little while at this time and I fell in love daily with all of the quirks of San Francisco; this theater was one of those falling-in-love things.
But alas, San Francisco is a city of transience, and we are in a time of flux. Thrillpeddlers just announced that they’re losing their home at The Hypnodrome. Their future is unclear at this time. And folks who want the chance to have that unique quintessential San Francisco experience with them there, or who have been to the theater in the past and want one last blast for nostalgia, only have a few more opportunities to see shows there before the end-of-February closing.
First up: Naked Dudes Reading Lovecraft
“Marvel at some of San Francisco’s finest avant-garde actors and actresses, reading excerpts from H.P. Lovecraft’s finest works while displaying 100% visible sexy bits!”
Amazon Apocalypse, “Scrumbly Koldewyn’s new musical tour of Brazil and all things Samba! It’s part Fellini, part Antonio Carlos Jobim and always part Thrillpeddlers realness” was slated to run Feb. 23 – April 15, 2017. With the sudden news of the theatre’s closure, Amazon Apocalypse will be presented as a semi-staged concert for 3 nights.
Feb 9-11, 8 pm.
And Finally: Farewell to the Hypnodrome
“Bid adieu to our beloved theatre with custom made variety acts and song in this Valentine’s Day benefit final performance.”
Valentine’s Day, 7 and 9 pm
Get Your Souvenirs
There will also be a rummage sale on The Hypnodrome on 2/25-25 from 12-5 each day, where you can get good prices on set pieces, costumes, props, books, odds and ends.
It’s hard to say what’s next for Thrillpeddlers at this juncture. In addition to Amazon Apocalypse, they had already scheduled a revival of rock musical Cybererotica for a late spring run so they have projects, just no space. The sales from these last shows and the rummage sale will assist them in relocating. In this time of difficult rental space, who knows where they will go.
But the Thrillpeddlers have moved before. They launched in 1991 and didn’t move into The Hypnodrome until 2004. At that time, they only expected to be able to stay two years, so it was completely unexpected that the move didn’t happen until now. Artistic director Russell Blackwood shared in a statement,
“In October 2016 I celebrated the 25th anniversary of directing my first Grand Guignol horror one-act play, The Laboratory of Hallucinations upstairs at 30 Rose St. across from Zuni Café. Right off the bat I knew that San Francisco would provide a singularly ideal home for this theatrical genre.
After several years of sporadic producing, including the American Premiere of Clive Barker’s Frankenstein in Love at the Bindlestiff on Howard St. in SF, Thrillpeddlers co-founder Daniel Zilber and I produced the first of 17 Shocktoberfests, a full-length bill of one-act Grand Guignol plays, sex farces and fetish variety acts. After those first three annual Shocktoberfest!!productions at The EXIT Theatre and one at The Odeon Bar, the future of our cash-strapped itinerant company was unclear.”
And of course, as Peter Lawrence Kane wrote over at SF Weekly, “have been a spiritual successor to the famed Cockettes” who first performed in North Beach and at one time took their act all the way to New York City. So it is likely that in some form the show will go on … we will just have to wait and see how that turns out. That said, it’ll never be quite the same as seeing Thrillpeddlers at Hyponodrome so take the last opportunity if you can!
I read some really great books in 2016!! My favorites included Phenomenal, Season of the Witch, The Beautiful Unseen, Big Magic, Cards for Brianna, American Zoo, Always Too Much & Never Enough, and Hope In The Dark.
Heather Schmid is a classically trained opera singer who has worked around the globe as not only a singer but also a television host, philanthropist and spokesperson. She recently released a new album, called Transformations, that serves a beautiful reflection on the last three years of her spent touring Pakistan.
“The songs highlight the heart-stopping experiences, true grace, life, death, and humanity as she promoted world unity throughout Pakistan. The lyrics on the album were written by Pakistani legend Anwaar Magsood and the melody by Ashaad Mehmood. Phelay Hum Pakistani Hay fused the American pop rhythms with Pakistani regional instruments and local musician melodies. … Heather is a new-breed, millennial performer. Within our extant global community, Heather envisions her music as the bridge that can span cultural differences and connect people in their over-arching sameness.”
Heather shares more in our interview:
What does Transformation mean to you?
Transformation to me equals change so dramatic that you are never again the same. I think of Life never being the the same after a transformation. To me, transformation is growth. That’s why I named this album Transformations. After the past three years, I was transformed. I will never be the same person. I am changed forever because of dramatically positive and dramatically difficult struggles that I faced and I hope I am strong and better because of it.
How did you come to spend the past 3 years in Pakistan?
When I was a sophomore at Boston University as a music student, I went to Kenmore Square to learn how to meditate in a hotel conference room. As it turns out, on this night there was only one other person who also wanted to learn how to meditate. That was Rafay, and he was originally from Pakistan. Rafay and I are soul mates that traveled thousands of miles together and plan to travel thousands more. We were married in Pakistan among all of our relatives and I have traveled there ever since. Three years ago we decided to create a Unity Project in Pakistan to talk about Unity and celebrate the positive aspects of the nation. It was our hope to reignite a peaceful dialogue between our two nations.
Amazing! What is one stand out experience in Pakistan that has affected you?
There were moments in Pakistan that were quite harrowing, but that is never what I focus on. I remember the deeply rewarding positive interactions with everyday Pakistanis. Finishing the Unity song, performing in Pakistan, meeting and hearing the positive responses to the music is the greatest, most rewarding thing of my music career.
After the Unity song was released and become popular on the radio, TV and social media, I started to hear from people on the streets of Pakistan. Many talked about how the song was meaningful to them and how much it meant that in the middle of such negative press about their country, this was something that they could feel proud of. I was in a hotel lobby when a few medical school students eloquently expressed their reaction to the song. They detailed their feelings of despair with the current environment in Pakistan, how dangerous it was because of terrorism. Students credited the song with helping to ease their feelings of helplessness and shame.
What global issues are of most concern for you personally?
Access to Education is a very important issue to me. I mean… I can’t solve the world’s problems but I can help with education. In Pakistan, I see firsthand how lack of education perpetuates poverty. Kids that cannot read street signs are taken advantage of. Parents without enough education take their children out of school to help feed the family. Education is a pathway for a better life for generations. Even for me, educated myself about the cycle of poverty provides a much deeper understanding and hopefully keeps me from perpetuating subconscious biases. But nobody want to hear from a singer how she “educated myself out of my biases” blah blah blah… I was never the popular girl I will tell you that!
You were educated in music through Boston University. How has your classical training at BU influenced your career?
Classical Training means freedom and autonomy to me. I never had to rely on a producer to arrange a track for me. I could read music, write and arrange parts and open up pro-tools session and do it myself. If I had a great musical idea, I could write it down and arrange the parts mentally and sketch out the idea to see if it was any good.
I could sing any style of music because I had the classical training which provides a solid foundation vocally. I have the range to sing any part because I trained my voice for so long. I never had to wait for a song to come along that I could sing on. I never had to beg a producer to work with me. As an artist, when inspiration strikes, you want to be able to fulfill your musical vision. That is all possible with my classical training.
In China I learned and wrote music in Mandarin because of the language learning in opera school. When I was asked to perform and sing with an orchestra, we spoke the same language. Rhythms, beats, measures and notes was our universal language.
The other thing is, I own all of my own music. If I could not write, produce and arrange, which I learned from my classical training, I would be at the mercy of the owner of the tracks.
You also had a TV show in China, right? How does your TV show influence or tie in with your work as a musician?
The Ambassador was a show on CCTV in China. It followed my live shows, meeting locals, exploring the fun local tourist spots, also the charity that each show benefited. It was so friggin’ cool. I loved every minute of my touring life in China. It was basically a travel show, combined with a reality show, combined with my life as a touring artist. I learned how, as the only American in a region, you become a Music Diplomat almost by accident. It definitely seemed like local people were judging my actions to form their opinions about all Americans. I learned I better watch what I say! I definitely learned about music diplomacy through this show. It is what influenced The Unity Project in Pakistan.
What is your favorite song off Transformations?
Journey. That cello line seduced me. I am the snake with swirls in my eyes slowly uncoiling from the charmer’s wicker basket with that cello line. I’m done. The lyrics are brutally honest. I feel my own relentless anxiety fade away into peace through that song. It’s like a therapy session. Then I go back into my wicker basket and say “what just happened?”
What is the process of working with Anwaar Maqsood and Ashaad Mehmood on these songs?
Working with Anwaar Maqsood and Ashaad Mehmood was like being in the presence of greatness and just trying to soak it all in. They call Anwaar Maqsood the Shakespeare of Pakistan because he is such a legend. He is brilliant and smart and hilarious all at the same time. He has produced TV shows, songs, movie scripts, poetry for more than 40 years in Pakistan the whole time poking fun of the government in a smart articulate way.
It is no easy task to be an artist in Pakistan. There is virtually no support for artists in the nation. In a country with a history of martial law, military takeovers, widespread corruption, and terrorism; artists struggle on every level. Their forward-thinking mindset is welcome and persecuted at the same time. How can anyone think of inspiring, articulate, creative phrasing when they are worried about road closures and whether their family is safe? Ashaad Mehmood runs the only Cultural Arts School in the whole country. The stories they told as artists in Pakistan were inspirational, difficult to hear, and deeply moving all at the same time.
So powerful! What do you hope listeners will take away from the album?
Transformations is about connection … higher connection, universal connection, ancestral connection, spiritual connection. I hope the words, struggles and resolutions are universal. It is what helped me recover from failure, struggle and disappointment. I hope we make a connection through the music.
I went to a Fringe Festival play the first year that I lived here in San Francisco. I had met a potential date online, on Craigslist because it was used for it back then, and we met for a play. I recall that it was some kind of science fiction thing that also had to do with Elvis and that I didn’t like it at all. I recall even less about my date who I didn’t see again. But even though the date was a flop and the choice of play a miss, I loved living in a city with Fringe Fest. I remember that I took the cable car home from my date, because I lived in North Beach then, and I felt like there was nothing more romantic than wearing high heels, hanging off of the cable car, going back to the place where I lived with my best friend.
2016, Fringe Fest
I hadn’t been back to Fringe Fest since, despite loving and attending many local theatre performances throughout the years. Sometimes I think Fringe Fest just passed without my noticing it. Other years there was just too much going on – school or petsitting or travel. Often, there were just other things on the calendar; San Francisco is filled with events through summer and fall and you can only do so many of them in a given year before your emotional and psychological well is too full and you need to rest your mind. So somehow ten years went by and I didn’t attend Fringe Festival again … until this year.
A Mathematician at Play
The first day of the festival was last weekend, and we went and checked out a performance at Exit Theater called A Mathematician at Play, in which magician / mathematician Greg Tobo shared some inside secrets about how math can seem magical … while also performing magical feats like multiplying huge numbers in his head and filling in a soduko style puzzle at an advanced level in front of our eyes.
Last night we went and saw two more performances, back-to-back, at PianoFight. The first was It Came From Fukushima, a play inspired by Godzilla-style movies. It has the feel of old detective films with some martial arts and socio-political statements worked in. The program includes the old style of red/blue paper 3d glasses, and although they turn out not to be so necessary, it is fun to put them on. The play begins and ends with intensely beautiful live saxophone music. And it includes a monster.
Mathematician and Fukushima were both good enough performances. I didn’t think that they were outstanding but I didn’t dislike them either. I thought they were entertaining. I liked them. But I LOVED Queer Heartache, which was the third performance we saw. New York-based Kit Yan (formerly Laura from Hawaii) is a slam poet sharing his story through spoken word in one of those performances that touches on the political through being in touch with the personal.
Kit uses vignettes from different stages of his own life to reveal to the audience what it has been like to be moving along the gender spectrum, learning about self-identity, figuring out what that means in relationships from dating to family … particularly as a person of color. He shares snippets of life as a child growing up in poverty, as an older sibling trying to set an example for a young brother, as a straight man attending speed dating events, as a genderqueer man dealing with body hair and injury … as a human in various ages and stages approaching life with both seriousness and humor. Warning: this show has some graphic sexuality and even more graphic emotion oozing from between the lines. Raw and honest, sometimes funny, continually authentic, definitely a must-see in my book.
San Francisco Fringe Festival runs for another week. Queer Heartache has two more performances. There are also tons of other great things to see. The fabulous thing about Fringe Fest is that there is something for everyone. Each of the works are unique and different … and they are affordable enough that you can take a risk on a play that is out of your normal comfort zone. Support local theater.
100 Years: Wisdom From Famous Writers on Every Year of Your Life is a book that has short quotations about every year of life from birth through age 100. I had flipped through it a few times, checking out the selections for my current age and the ages of some of the people I know and some ages that seemed to be important milestones in my life. But this morning I sat down and read it from cover to cover and discovered that there is something in the reading of it this way that offers more than the sum of its parts.
Joshua Prager carefully curated the selections in this book to meet the criteria that each passage directly state the age it is describing and have information about being that age. Each author in the book is represented only once. In the introduction, he describes how some ages were, of course, easy to find many sayings about and others much more difficult. He also describes how the overall collection reveals the passages of life we all go through, despite individual differences in experience.
Having sat and read through all of the quotations, I saw that clearly. Two passages that sit side-by-side in age may be very different from one another (affected by gender, the era of the author’s life, and individual experience), but taken as a whole, there are clear trends and similarities to what most of us experience in any given age range. We see the ups and downs of childhood and adolescence and twenties and thirties and into eighties and nineties … and we struggle with the same human issues. We struggle with those issues in new ways at seventy compared to forty or twenty, and we have a different understanding of them, and there is a commonality among the shifts between perspectives of different ages.
One thing I thought was interesting was that the selections are all very individual reflections on the experience of being a specific age, without a lot of significant reference to loved ones. Interesting because I think certain ages tend to be equated with family; youth with the impact of parents and middle age with the concern over children, for example. Being 36 and without children myself, seeing so many of the people my age attending to their kids as their primary focus, it struck me that the book reflected individual inner experience rather than an outer concern that may or may not be universal. Either approach would have been suitable; this one struck me as an intentional choice and one that offers broad appeal because the parent could still relate to the thoughts and experiences of the individual inner world.
The book is a beautiful book. It’s got a coffee table book feeling to the design even though it is the size and shape of a hardback novel. There are different colored pages throughout the book. It’s not that each section is a certain color (blue for example can be seen throughout, and each decade has different colors within it) but there is a trend across all of the pages towards certain colors for certain phases of life. Lighter in some areas, brighter in others, black reserved for the very eldest years that are closest to death. There is a lot of white space on each page, a different font/ design for the beginning of each decade (as compared to the years that do not mark decades), and a slight shifting of word placement towards the end of the book. This all leaves an emotional impression about aging that, as I said before, offers more than the sum of the parts.
We all have feelings about aging, feelings that change and shift as we do age, and this book reflects that very human experience in a ways both direct and subtle.
I got Katara‘s DNA test down (Wisdom Panel 4.0) out of curiosity as to what it would say. Imagine my surprise when I opened the information packet for my 80+ pound dog and the first thing I saw was that she is 12.5% dachshund. Short-haired miniature dachshund to be exact!
It was really interesting to take a look at the breakdown. It goes back three generations. At that level, on one side, one great-grandparent is bullmastiff and the other three are unknown mixed breeds. This makes a lot of sense since I know she’s a Tosa (Japanese mastiff) mix and that breed itself was created from a mixture of many other breeds. It probably goes back too many generations to figure it out … could be some bloodhound, Dane, mastiff, pointer … no way to know.
It is the other set of four great grandparents that is know but mixed. On that side, she is equal parts Bulldog, Staffie, Akita, and Dachshund. A lot of that makes sense. She was from a meat farm in South Korea where there are a lot of Asian dogs, obviously, so the Akita comes in there. I can see lots of boxer/ pit bull style traits in her so Staffie makes sense. And I learned something interesting about bulldogs from the ancestry info:
So it was super interesting to learn about that. And then to see that supposedly her bulldog family member mated with a mini dachshund. Hm. I’ve told her that all 12.5% must have stayed in her ears But actually, if this is true, then her keen nose probably comes from the dachshund part of her. And her super unique coloring on her back is more likely to be from the dachshund than any of those other breeds. So interesting!
Whatever she is, she’s 100% lovable. And my life is so much better for having her in it. In fact, I’ve got a post up this week over at Fempotential about how great she has been for me:
Carly Ozard is a cabaret singer originally from the Bay Area who is returning her for a one-night only performance of her new show, MORE SHIFT HAPPENS, on August 18th at Feinstein’s at the Nikko. Learn more about Carly and the show from this advance interview!
How does it feel to be returning to SF for this show?
First of all, thank you so much for granting me this wonderful interview. It feels very welcoming!! I’m really excited to be coming home to the Bay because this collaboration is going to be one of the best we’ve ever had. We have Musical Director Rick Jensen and me from NYC, Drummer Brandon Walters and Guitarist Terrence Brewer and back-up vocalist Jennifer Haber all from San Francisco, and back-up singer Francesca Camus from Las Vegas all on one stage!!!
Is being back bringing up any fond memories?
My favorite memories about singing in San Francisco are usually with the Richmond Ermet AID Foundation. It’s always such a great evening for a fantastic cause and Ken Henderson and Joe Seilor (the show’s producers) are the best. I also loved working with Russell Blackwood and Scrumbly Koldewyn in the Thrillpeddler’s last season in the Untamed Stage (2016) and want to come back and do a role for them again, like, yesterday.
What are some of the things you’re making sure to see/do/enjoy while you’re here?
While home I’ll frequent Martuni’s and any solo shows or musical theatre productions that I can see as well as score a brunch at Café Klaus!
Awesome choices! There are a lot of local “cabaret” groups and singers … what does this term mean to you? How does it fit your identity as a musical performer?
Truly, I think it’s fantastic. We can always be inspired by people and check out what others are creating. I’m inspired lately by Kat Robichaud’s Misfit Cabaret, and anything that Joe Wicht is involved in is always going to be top notch talent. The Cabaret Showcase Showdown is a wonderful breeding ground for local talent. Oasis has unbelievable projects going on all the time! People are challenging themselves and I think it’s fabulous.
My identity onstage is always evolving (as it is offstage as well); I learn, I grow, and I make mistakes. I learn from them, and build in a different direction. There’s so many more bells and whistles that performers are encouraged to pursue. It’s no longer a singer on a stage with a piano. You need a band. You might need video projections or a costume change, a small set…. Or in NYC, sometimes a theremin.
Yes! Your work is a blend of many things! Mostly, it seems to be a blend of music, comedy and confessional. What can you tell us about the process of writing More Shift Happens?
My director Kristine Zbornik and I took a lot of self deprecation out and made the first half of the show more of what I call My Own Personal Chorus Line experience. I’m not a dancer – but I am a vocalist who has built a new instrument since moving to NY, and with it, I’ve been able to launch myself towards opportunities that my old singing voice wouldn’t have gotten me. I’ve been in the room where it happens, so to speak…. For Broadway and National Tour Casting, and it’s SCARY. I also think it’s important to enlighten your audience and share with them about the process of graduating from nightclub personality to actress, singer, taking on scripted roles for the first time. That’s the first half of the show. The second half takes us through some travels I experienced as a working performer for the first time. There are wonderful stories, some really tough ones, some that shake you up, and some that reveal some good juicy NY stories. I’m really looking forward to it!
Sounds so exciting! So it sounds like your work/ voice changed in the past decade since you launched?
I left San Francisco with a pulled larynx, and atrophied muscles around my chords. I was taken on by Bill Schuman who trains mostly opera singers, and we built a whole new voice. I can belt a high A now comfortably, which has gotten me callbacks for really big projects. I’m in the process of becoming a real honest to God dramatic soprano.
In terms of other changes, the terror I used to experience onstage hoping I would make it through the evening doesn’t happen anymore. The fear has subsided and now I actually can be present onstage and focus on my craft. Acting is hard. I had never been trained. I think a lot of people assumed I knew things when I never really did. When I lost my voice, I lost my identity. When I got my instrument back, it taught me to be grateful for something.
Also, Teachers. If you can’t find the teachers who have your back, KEEP GOING until the best ones find you, and then there it all will be for you….. the right time to learn and the best time to go forward in your next personal steps of growth.
Lastly, NEVER APOLOGIZE. I used to apologize for myself. I used to be insecure with what I brought to the table, and I used to pull an imaginary chair up onstage with me for all my baggage and self hatred. I’ve learned from some pretty blunt and honest influences while living in NY that it’s not helpful and really stunts your growth as well as shuts people out. NEVER APOLOGIZE for who you are onstage today. Accept who you are today, and do your JOB.
Well said. Hard to accomplish but so important. Wonderful! Changing subjects a bit, what is your preferred method of listening to music (other than live)?
I’m LITERALLY blasting my Spotify right now. I will soon be available for streaming, showcasing some great covers with the incredible San Francisco based Ben Prince as well as with EDM engineer Leo Frappier. Also… living in Washington Heights now, I’m blocks from Central Harlem where the best reggae is blasted on the streets and I walk blocks with my Shazam on automatic and get all my favorite beats and get lost in those selections. I love dance and reggae.
What a great experience! What else have you been listening to a lot lately?
Right now, I’m really into some Electric Dance Music like Kaskade- they’re fantastic to listen to, and I love Aloe Blacc, Avicii, Armin Van Buuren, and Local Drag Phenomenon Pollo Del Mar turned me onto Zoe Badwi. I also flood my playlists with a lot of Burning Spear, Bob Marley and the Wailers and underground reggae artists who I discover left and right now that I live near Harlem. OH AND PAROV STELAR. Have you heard his music???? It’s like…. Swing Techno. It’s my FAVORITE THING to blast when I’m getting ready for some Burning Man or Drag Event that needs a costume. I’m also becoming more familiar with Country Music. I’m really into Reba, Carrie Underwood, and of course following my favorite show Nashville. I’m also really getting into Aretha Franklin. I’ve been singing a lot of her hits with a huge band at the Friar’s Club here in NYC.
What a terrific collection of different influences. … More Shift Happens includes back up singers, directors and musicians … how do you approach collaboration with other creative people?
I’m so excited that Francesca Camus is joining us. She’s really a solo artist but I’m so grateful to work with her again. We went to college together and she is another one who has built her voice up to be a MACHINE. Jenn Haber besides being my bff is always the most professional backup singer and she gets it DONE. Both girls know how to SING. How I approach collaborations is with a lot of drop box and voice memo recordings, lol. We get parts plunked and sheet music pdf’d, and then I pay everyone everything. Rick Jensen is one of the most seasoned professionals in the business and he used to play at the Plush Room at the York Hotel with the infamous late Nancy LaMott so I am honored to have him in the music director seat. Terrence Brewer is a notorious guitarist in the Bay Area, so it’s really a gift to have him onstage with me. Brandon Walker and I haven’t met yet but I hear awesome things about his drumming skills.
Fabulous. It’s so great how the various technologies available to us today can be used to make so many things come to life. What is something you want us to know about More Shift Happens before we go see it?
This is one of the hardest shows I’ve ever done. I’m taking you to Broadway. I’m taking you to Nashville, Puerto Vallarta, San Francisco, back to NY all on one planet, while simultaneously acknowledging huge life-altering circumstances that come to shake us all up. It’s really a more universal project than it is about me me me. Come relate, enjoy and be entertained.