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Lounge/Gal songwriters/Open stage/Divas

Rick Fielding 14 Jun 03 - 03:30 PM
John MacKenzie 14 Jun 03 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,Diva past sell-by date 14 Jun 03 - 05:30 PM
michaelr 14 Jun 03 - 07:47 PM
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Subject: Lounge/Gal songwriters/Open stage/Divas
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 14 Jun 03 - 03:30 PM

Has anyone noticed how certain doors in the music business have opened as certain ones ground to a close? I didn't click into this until about a year ago, and by then the transformation had long since taken place, but I wondered if others had given it any thought.

When I was playing Hotels and bars etc. there used to be a sub-species of professional venues called the piano bar. Usually women who were fairly glamourous did these gigs and some (not all!!) were pretty skilled. They gradually died out...or ceased to be important in management's eyes, because guys would occasionally get hired, and THEY weren't seen as 'crowd attractors'.

The thing that these women would NOT do was play real jazz or original was a steady diet of standards. My Mom did this for a few years after I was born and I know darn well that all the songs in her repertoire book couldn't have been favourites of hers...."Feelings" after all!

At some point someone like Diana Krall (and dozens of others) broke the mold and became THE attraction rather than part of the scenery. A lot of hard-core jazzers think that what she and her cohorts play is watered down, but there definitely was a time and place that happened, and several candidates to fill the slots.

I see the same thing happening with all the young Grrrl singer-songwriters who've jammed Toronto's open stages over the last few years. It's the "Diva Market". The term Diva often has meant 'difficult or demanding', but like a lot of terms, young folks have turned it around to be very positive...and especially THEIRS.

Just think how the term "queer" was thought of a few years ago...and now it's defintely one of empowerment in the gay community.

About four of these breathy young gals "graduate" from the open stages each year, (out of probably a hundred of similar abilities...but without that "it" quality)
and although their first couple of gigs may well be at Folk-festivals, that's their only connection to folk music. Soon the Takamines are replaced by Taylors and they're in the fight for Avril Lavigne's or Celine Dion's spot.

I suspect Annie Di Franco had something to do with this...any thoughts?

There doesn't really seem to be the same opportunity for young Dylans these days...audiences still go to see the veterans like Paxton, and I have quite a few friends who are still young, (30 ish,) but are seeing that their whole careers are likely to be as an 'opening act' at fifty bucks. They're good too...but there just isn't an identifiable market.

Any just rambling. Any feedback?



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Subject: RE: Lounge/Gal songwriters/Open stage/Divas
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 14 Jun 03 - 04:07 PM

I sort of follow your train of thought on this one Rick. I've thought for a long time that the 2 things I lack are a nice pair of tits, and/or a short skirt. Now it's a bit late to think of taking my kilt up at my age....Giok

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Subject: RE: Lounge/Gal songwriters/Open stage/Divas
From: GUEST,Diva past sell-by date
Date: 14 Jun 03 - 05:30 PM

I think it's important to note that the prettiest girls are not neccessarily the ones who emerge from the open stages (although it's certainly true about the 'piano girls') is usually the most 'waif-like' since that's what really sells today. Vulnerable looking kids writing about their failed relationships are way hip in that market at the moment. Alanis Morrisette really comes to mind. I know she's finito now, but boy, did she make a lot of money. Most of these ones were speaking about are Canadian, is there a connection?

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Subject: RE: Lounge/Gal songwriters/Open stage/Divas
From: michaelr
Date: 14 Jun 03 - 07:47 PM

On the subject of piano bars: I just re-watched the film "The Fabulous Baker Boys" starring Beau and Jeff Bridges as aging piano wonders and Michelle Pfeiffer as the young talent they hire to shore up their sagging appeal. For sure, they make her sing "Feelings"! (yecch)

The audiences in these bars (at least in the film) were geriatric, to be polite, and obviously more thrilled by the slinky young thing than by the 88-key prowess of the musicians. I'm sure this was a realistic portrayal of the times (80s) but I wonder (because those audients surely must be dead by now)(and if these piano bars still exist) what sort of repertoire has replaced the "standards" you speak of, Rick. It's hard to imagine a slew of Tori Amos wannabes playing their original songs in lounges to septuagenarians.


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