Alex Rybeck on Bows

October 25, 2007
When I was putting together my piece on bows, I asked several people their opinion.  Alex Rybeck was so generous and insightful that I have to share it whole…

 I agree with you that Thank You’s and Bows need to be figured out and practiced.

The order in which people are thanked should be thought out. In most cases, it should be The Venue (perhaps the owner by name) who booked you, followed by the technical crew (lights, sound), followed by the director (if there is one), and then the musicians who share the stage, ending with the Musical Director. The final thank you should ALWAYS be the audience. (The idea is that the Thank You’s are listed in an ascending order of importance).

One pet peeve I have is when artists speak over the applause as they are introducing their band. Let each musician receive their share of applause, THEN say the next name. It’s also nice when the artist gives FOCUS to the musician being introduced.

When I’m onstage, being introduced, I personally like to acknowledge the artist with a nod when my name is mentioned, then I bow to the audience, and then I return the focus to the artist with another nod. This is clean and feels gracious.

As you have observed, there are many possible ways of bowing, and each artist needs to find which one works best for him/her.

Many newcomers feel embarrassed by applause, and they either act phonily humble (with an expression that seems to say, “Oh, is this applause really for ME? You mean you LIKED me?”), or phonily moved to tears (“This is the most incredible moment of my entire life”) , OR they try to bypass the moment altogther, and barely acknowledge the applause, which reads as “I am really uncomfortable and can’t wait to get on with the next song, or to get offstage, but I can’t tolerate accepting your Thank You”). And that’s what a bow is: it is acknowledging the audience’s Thank You. It needn’t be anything more than a simple, heartfelt, honest reaction to those who are thanking you. But just as the audience is giving you its acknowledgement, you must return it. Your subtext while bowing is, “I’m so glad to have shared this time with you, and I accept your thanks”.

This carries through when you Meet And Greet after the show. This is an important part of the gig! You may be signing your CD’s, or simply meeting people.  Either way, you will be facing people who will want to tell you how much they enjoyed your show. It’s important to give each person your full attention, and accept their feedback as graciously as possible (sometimes people will tell you what they DIDN’T like, and then it’s a real challenge to be gracious!). But, like your bow, it’s a chance to acknowledge their having come to see you, and to connect personally with your fans. (And remember that if someone DOES give you criticism, from THEIR standpoint, they are telling you — albeit at an inopportune time and in a possibly inappropriate fashion — that they care enough about you to offer what they feel is good and important advice to improve your presentation.)

One of the best pieces of advice I heard about criticism: if you hear 50 different opinions from 50 people, you can ignore it; but if you hear the same comment from everybody, then it’s valid and should be paid attention to. (For instance, one person may tell you they hated a particular song choice. That’s just one person’s feeling, and you can’t please everyone. But if a majority of your audience is telling you that this particular song doesn’t work, listen to them! This is true of comments about what you’re wearing, or the lighting, or sound, as well as repertoire).

Sometimes, you can’t rely on people to tell you what doesn’t work, because a lot of people will not feel comfortable being that honest. So you have to develop an inner “applause-o-meter” when you finish a song. Just like a comedian builds a set according to which jokes get the biggest laughs, a singer needs to get a feel for which numbers are the showstoppers, which get a polite hand, and which are met with uncomfortable coughs and/or silence! Some singers are defiant in their relationship with the audience, and feel like they should be able to sing whatever they want, damn the audience response. This is a dangerous attitude, and will eventually result in the lack of HAVING an audience!

This is not to say you can’t experiment, and occasionally throw in a number that’s “risky” — but you have to earn the right (ie, the trust of the audience) to do so. By programming something surefire right before and right after, you can sometimes “get away with” a song that may not always go over.

OK — I’ve rambled on way too long!

I’ve strayed way beyond your initial ponderings on bowing! So be it.

Take care,

Doug Bowles at Indigo

October 25, 2007

Doug Bowles






Alex Hassan, piano 

presented by

Jonathan G. Willen and Associates

Saturday, October 27

Doors open at 8 pm

Show at 9 pm

INDIGO is located at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE Washington, D.C. 20002  Tickets for all performances are $22.50 and can be purchased by calling the Atlas box office at 202-399-7993. Two drink minimum for all guests.  Guests can avail themselves of a wide variety of drink options and light snacks.  Seating is cabaret style at cocktail tables.

Report: Joe Peck’s Torchered Melodies

October 25, 2007

Who knew heartbreak could be so entertaining?

Joe Peck presented his program Torchered Melodies Tuesday night at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop billed as “Celebrating the Art of Losing in Love.”  It was a wonderfully varied program with the brilliant vocals one expects from Mr. Peck.  Music direction from George Fulginiti-Shakar on piano with bass support from Matt Murray was the icing on this great experience.

Here’s the song line-up:

  • Theme From Peter Gunn (Mancini / Livingston & Evans)
  • Runaway (Carr, Carr, Carr, & Carr)
  • Breaking Up Is Hard to Do (Sedaka & Greenfield)
  • Beautiful Maria of My Soul (La Bella maria de Mi Alma) (Kraft / Glimcher & Banderas)
  • I Should Go Home (Levy)
  • It’s Too Late (King & Stern)
  • Autumn Leaves (Kosma / Mercer & Prevert)
  • I’ll Forget You (Wildhorn / Knighton)
  • Until You Come Back to Me (Wonder, Broadnax, & Paul)
  • Kansas City (Leiber & Stoller)
  • Who’s Sorry Now (Snyder / Kalmar & Ruby)
  • You Must Believe in Spring (LeGrand / Bergman & Bergman)

Stephen Holden on Paula West

October 25, 2007

Stephen Holden reviews Paula West’s current Oak Room engagement:  “With each engagement Ms. West, who made her Oak Room debut in 1996, displays more courage, maturity, interpretive insight and vocal confidence. She and the quartet, which also includes Ed Cherry on guitar, Tony Reedus on drums and Barak Mori on bass, are a match made in pop-jazz heaven. Why a major record company hasn’t snatched them up is beyond me.”

Susan Werner at Wolf Trap

October 23, 2007

I Can't Be NewI’m so excited!  Susan Werner is coming back to town, playing at Wolf Trap on Thursday, November 1 at 8:00pm.

Although technically a “folk” artist, she is an amazing performer/writer whose work spans genres.  Her CD I Can’t Be New is written and performed in the American songbook style and is a treasure trove of material for cabaret singers.  Lee Lessack has recorderded Werner’s song “Much at All” which Terri Allen currently performs in Naked Cabaret.  Julia Murney has recorded “Misery and Happiness.”  And she’s even made a songbook available (with a service that will transpose songs into any key for a modest fee).

Her latest CD  The Gospel Truth goes back to her folk roots, with songs dealing with issues of God and religion from the viewpoint of a self-described “evangelical agnostic.”  However, this also contains a bunch of material I can see working in a cabaret setting including Sunday Morning, Probably Not, and Don’t Explain It Away.

The wonderful jazz/cabaret artist Linda Russell tells me that it’s really Werner’s early work, I should be listening to.  I’m glad I have discoveries to come!

She’s an amazing stage presence who accompanies herself on piano and guitar.  And with a stage persona best described as “Paula Poundstone’s musically talented younger sister” she’s wry enough that she could be amazing stand-up artist.

Report: Naked Cabaret

October 23, 2007

I finally caught Naked Cabaret Friday night.  And it was really terrific.  The content of the show was the same as the Fringe Festival version two years ago (absent Judy Simmons), but the cast — Terri Allen, Steve Cupo, Emily Everson, George Fulginiti-Shakar, and Lonny Smith —  seems to have grown in presence and interpretive energy. 

The show is a terrific assortment of contemporary cabaret-flavored music.  And it has a charming gimmick of using “secrets” culled from the audience (in a non-threatening way).

It’s running for two more Fridays, October 26 and November2, 8:00pm & 9:45 pm at the Warehouse.  See it!

Here’s the song list:

§         Everybody’s Got a Little Secret (adapted from Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist* byJeff Marx / Robert Lopez from Avenue Q — additional lyrics by the Naked Cabaret cast and Michael Miyazaki ) …Ensemble §         Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals (Michael O’Donoghue) … Emily §         How Lovely to be a Woman (Lee Adams / Charles Strouse from Bye, Bye Birdie) … Steven §         Nice (Stephen Flaherty / Lynn Ahrens from Lucky Stiff) … Lonny §         Younger Men (K.T. Oslin) …. Terri §         Funny/The Duck Joke (Stephen Flaherty / Lynn Ahrens from My Favorite Year) … Lonny & Steven §         Does Anybody Love You? (Billy Solly) … Steven §         Temporary (John Bucchino) … Emily §         Someone to Fall Back On (Jason Robert Brown) …. Lonny §         Much at All (Susan Werner) … Terri §         Telephone Song (Todd Hahn /Terri Allen) …. Terri, Emily, & Judy  §         I’ll Get Up Tomorrow (David Shire / Richard Maltby, Jr. from Closer Than Ever) … Lonny §         The Man That Got Away (Harold Arlen /Ira Gershwin from A Star is Born) … Steven §         The Portrait (Amanda McBroom) …. Terri   §         Toll (Jeff Blumenkrantz) … Emily §         Finale

Another Great DCCN Open Mic

October 23, 2007

I’m such a sucker for the DC Cabaret Network Open Mics.  Especially when Alex Tang is burning up the keyboards.

If you weren’t there, here’s what you missed:

  • Terri Allen
    • The Very Thought of You (Noble)
    • From Time to Time (McBroom) 
  •  Chris Cochran
    • A Quite Thing (Kander & Ebb)
    • Everybody Wants to Be Sondheim (Chapman)
  •  Jennifer Diffel
    • Stars & the Moon (Brown)
    • A Change in Me (Menken / Rice)
  • Colin James
    • My Man (Bibo / Woods / Yvain)
    • But Not for me (Gershwin / Gershwin)
  • Charlene James Duguid
    • I Whistle a Happy Tune (Rodgers / Hammerstein)
  • Emily Everson
    • Sweet Suffolk Owl (Hundley)
    • Marsupial Sue (Lithgow)
    • Halfway Down (Milne)
  • Racheal Goldman
    • So in Love (Porter)
    • Put the Blame on Mame (Roberts/Fisher)
    • Schroeder (Beethoven / Gesner)
  • Matt Howe
    • Where Do You Start (Mandel / Bergman & Bergman)
    • Don’t Give In (Finn)
    • Come in from the Rain (Manchester / Sager)
  • Marianne Glass Miller
    • I Can’t Be New (Werner)
  • Michael Miyazaki
    • Comedy Tonight (Sondheim)
    • I’m Not Afraid (Brel / McEwan)
    • And We Call It Home (Markham / Viorst)
  • Kathy Reilly-Repass
    • C’Est Si Bon (Betti / Hornez & Seelen)
    • Along with Me (Rome) 
  • Mary Reilly
    • Anyone Can Whistle (Sondheim)
  • Ron Squeri
    • I Love to Dance (Goldenberg/ Bergman & Bergman)
    • The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing (Berlin)
    • I Wish You a Waltz (Goldenberg / Bergman & Bergman)
  • Christy Trapp
    • Grateful (Bucchino)
    • It’s All Right to Cry
    • When I Was a Boy (Williams)

Peter Marks on Barbara Cook

October 23, 2007

Peter Marks reviewed Barbara Cook at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater.  It sounds like she did the same line up of material that she did at George Mason a few weeks ago.

“To Cook, emotional pitch must be as vitally projected as the notes, a task she seems to approach with both the tempered steel of an older artist and the humility of a young fan. Few stylists these days shape the contours of their personalities to words and music as successfully as she.”

 Marks had one really good point in the review — why hasn’t Cook gotten a Kennedy Centers Honor yet!!!!!

Reminder: Joe Peck at CHAW

October 22, 2007

Don’t forget!  The terrific Joe Peck is doing his show, Torchered Melodies, at CHAW (545 7th St , SE, Washington DC) Tuesday night, October 23, 8pm.

Reservations — 571-268-2160.  More info.

(I had an incorrect date on this post earlier.  Sorry for any confusion.)

Playbill Column: Kuhn & Mitchell

October 21, 2007

The Playbill Diva Talk column has a long interview with Judy Kuhn where she reminsices about growing up in DC and tells about the infulence Arena Stage had on her as a youth. 

It also features an extensive review of the Brian Stokes Mitchell Carnegie Hall Concert.