Kevin on Kabaret :: It’s Official - March is Cabaret Month

by Kevin Scott Hall

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday March 6, 2013

It's official: Mayor Bloomberg has by decree announced that March is Cabaret Month in New York City. Get out and support those super-talented but struggling artists (even the headliners do it for love-there isn't too much money to be had in cabaret) and those magical rooms that are trying to stay busy.

Boston native Amy Correia returns to New York-the city where she lived for many years and started her career-for a one-night-only performance at Joe's Pub on March 14.

This show comes a year after she won the 2012 Independent Music Award for Best Folk Singer-Songwriter for her third album, "You Go Your Way." Correia won two Vox Pop awards (chosen by fans), for the album and for the song "Love Changes Everything."

An accidental career

Correia's career came about accidentally-quite literally. While attending Barnard College, she had a serious back injury that temporarily sidelined her academic career. She returned home to Lakeville, Massachusetts ("Lakeville" is the title of her second album and a song on it) and while recuperating and "doing nothing" began writing songs.

After her recovery, she moved back to New York and finished her degree but also started performing on the lower east side alongside other up-and-comers like Jeff Buckley, Jesse Harris, and Rebecca Martin. She was signed to Virgin Records (an album was never completed) and then to Capitol/EMI, which released her first album, "Carnival Love," in 2000.

In a phone interview, I noted that her music has that rootsy folk sound, but not so much the political and protest songs associated with the folk music of yesteryear.

"It's a really broad category," Correia told me. "But I do have protest songs. The politics comes through in the human stories."

I mentioned that the love she writes about in her songs is often flawed. "It's always a desire to connect versus a struggle to connect," she admitted. "The most committed relationship I've ever had has been with my own music. Music has been a way for me to explore an intimate relationship with myself."

After Capitol, Correia funded "Lakeville" with her own money, then went to the fans to raise money for "You Go Your Way." Demonstrating the new business model of fan-financed recordings, Correia's story was featured on CBS News.

Correia has been writing and recording new material with her new Boston-based band. "I'm trying to figure out the palette for the album, what kind of instrumentation." She laughed, "But I don't know if I have the nerve to ask for money again! But someone came up to me after a show recently and asked when I was recording again because he wanted to donate, so maybe they'll give again!"

She recalled the pluses and minuses of being signed to a major label. "You have a whole team of people focused on you, but you can also get pushed along in the stream and can lose your own vision. You have support in one sense, but no authority," she said.

Correia now faces the challenge of creating art while keeping the business afloat. "I focus mostly on the music and I've let go of the expectation," she said. "I can play and make money but I'm not as ambitious in terms of the business."

She is happy about her return to New York. "My Boston band has never played in New York, so I'm excited about that."

Correia is also excited about the recent resurgence of folk music, with the national record sales and Grammy recognition for Mumford and Sons and other guitar-based acts. "I think in this economy, people are stripping back, looking for something more human, direct, and raw," she noted. "I have a great hope for the future of folk music."

I'll be at Joe's Pub on March 14; so should you. . . .

Bistro winner

As this column goes to press, the 28th Annual Bistro Awards were celebrated this past Monday. This year's winning Vocalist is Tanya Holt, who has two shows at the Iridium on Tuesday, March 19.

Tanya came to cabaret by way of Lina Koutrakos and booked her first show at the beloved, now defunct '88s back in 1997. But in recent years, she became more widely known as the booking manager at the Metropolitan Room (until last year) and also sang back-up for many acts.

Clearly, she saw many shows as a booking manager. "I learned that we are all unique and special and to just be yourself," she told me. "Tell your story and make sure you commit to it!"

As for her Bistro Award, she said, "It means the world to me. I always say there is an abundance of talent out there so whenever I am recognized for mine, it's always a complete honor."

Holt calls her style eclectic, not favoring one genre over another. "If the song speaks to me, it goes in my repertoire," she said. Well, speak to us, Ms. Holt. Let's catch this rising star on the 19th . . .

Tom’s busy year

I recently caught up with Tom Vaughn, whom I profiled for EDGE last April. He had been enjoying a triumphant run of shows called "Trail of Cheers," his musical way of getting in touch with his Missouri roots.

Well, it's been a very busy year for Vaughn, who is now performing professionally as Dwight Thomas Vaughn. He brought his show back to his home state, went to Nashville to record his first CD (cleverly titled "In These Genes"), shot a video, and will now headline two shows at The Iridium on April 2. He's a genuine country singer-songwriter now! We need one in New York!

Of his upcoming show, Vaughn told me, "It will be a hoot with musical director Sean Harkness (guitar) and Raissa Katona Bennett directing, plus five other musicians and yours truly on piano here and there."

Although the band (including banjo and fiddle) is New York based, Vaughn said, "I am inducting my New York City players into the Missouri Hall of Fame by making them at least know the state flower and state motto!"

Vaughn has had quite a remarkable journey to get here. Time to cheer his upward trajectory. . . .

And now... Kev’s Faves

If you don't know Carly Sakolove yet, check out her videos on YouTube and then go see her show "I Hear Voices," where she's even better. This gal channels over a dozen diva voices nearly perfectly-but live, you get the mannerisms too, and a few turns when she lets the real Carly shine. March 29 at The Duplex . . . Beloved gay icon and hilarious raconteur Julie Halston is at Birdland every Monday this month . . .
Crystal Bowersox, in my opinion, had the best of all the American Idol albums I've heard. She celebrates the release of her second one, "All That for This," with two shows at Joe's Pub on March 6 . . .

Terese Genecco celebrates her fourth anniversary (longest-running nightclub on Broadway) with two gala shows at Iridium on March 26 . . . jazz great Rebecca Kilgore graces the Metropolitan Room stage, March 6-10 . . . The very inspired pairing of uber-vocalist Lorinda Lisitza and singer/guitarist Ted Stafford returns to Don't Tell Mama on March 11 . . . And B.B. King's is pulling out all the stops: the one and only Dionne Warwick plays the club on the 7th, and Helen Reddy-performing for the first time in ten years-is at the club on the 23rd and 24th. Keep on singin', keep the bells a ringin'!

That should be quite enough show to satisfy anyone. Until next month . . . I'll see you over cocktails!

Kevin Scott Hall is the author of Off the Charts! (2010, iUniverse) and the memoir, A Quarter Inch from My Heart (2014, Wisdom Moon).