Posts Tagged 'entertainment'

Music Monday: Caravan Palace on the Hootenanny

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Got the memo?

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The Cabaret Classics

One of the most potent forms of banned music was the cabaret of Weimar Germany. But the genre has always had a shocking and subversive edge as Michael Oliver explains.

It’s an interesting word, ‘cabaret’. Some French authorities insist it’s derived from an old dialect word meaning ‘a small room’; others that it comes from the Arabic and means ‘a place of refreshment’. Both seem rather appropriate. A smallish place, certainly; maybe not tiny, but much smaller than a theatre. The French also use the word boîte: box, an intimate space in which a voice with guitar or piano or at most a small band can easily make itself heard. Secondly food, or at least drink, is served during the performance. The original cabarets, in eighteenth-century Paris, were taverns at which street singers would call on their rounds, thus providing varied, more or less non-stop entertainment at no cost to the inn-keeper. They weren’t very respectable places.

Toulouse-Lautrec at the cabaret
What we mean by cabaret was invented in November 1881 when the famous Chat Noir (the Black Cat) opened in Paris, advertising itself as a cabaret artistique: it was intended as a meeting-place for artists, writers and musicians. This final ingredient blended with the other elements of the equation – intimacy, informality and a touch of the disreputable – to produce a unique art form. Its greatest exponent was Yvette Guilbert, and even if you’ve never heard her recordings you almost certainly know her: she’s the tall, thin, ginger-haired woman with long black gloves and an amazing range of grimaces who turns up again and again in the paintings and lithographs of Toulouse-Lautrec. Her songs, brilliantly funny, ribald, sometimes brutally realistic, are about everyday life, often low life. At one extreme there is the famous and irresistible Le fiacre (The Cab): a woman, sharing a cab with her lover, is appalled when a pedestrian falls under its wheels – the publicity! – but when she realises that the casualty is her husband… ‘Tip the cabby, Léon! We’ve no need to hide any more.’ At the other, La pierreuse (The Mugger’s Moll): she entices men in the street, then with a cry of ‘Piouit!’ summons her accomplice to strangle them. He’s caught, and the last sound he hears before the guillotine falls is a heartbroken wail of ‘Piouit!’

Continue reading ‘The Cabaret Classics’

Wordless Wednesday: Invasion Colchester V

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Music Monday: June roundup

What can I say, it’s been very much a month for soundtracks. Every time a new Game of Thrones season is out, I make a point of revising all previous seasons – listening as well as watching. So first place is no surprise.

The second and third, though, are largely through my son’s influence. His interest in Star Wars waxes and wanes, with this month being definitely on the wax, and all it took was watching The Hobbit trilogy to remind me why I love Howard Shore’s work. (Must rewatch LotR trilogy, ASAP.)

1. Ramin Djawadi (142)
2. John Williams (117)
3. Howard Shore (73)


Month at a Glance

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