John Alcorn

Cole Porter 2.0

I guess I should file this under “guilty pleasures”. I’d planned to revisit some of our first Songbook Series offerings maybe in the spring of 2013. However, I’ve had so many requests from folks who missed the first few (and some crazy fools who love reruns) that I’ve decided to bring back several of my personal favourites over the next few weeks as we head into Holiday Season. First up – the man himself, Cole Porter! In fact, we didn’t have time to do a few Cole faves during our original September 5 performance. I’ll add some of those and bring back many of the “big hits” too :)

My #1 guys will be there – Reg Schwager (guitar) and Steve Wallace (bass). I hope that you’ll be there too!

ABOUT COLE PORTER:

Cole Porter (1891-1964) was an American songwriter noted for his elegant, often suggestive lyrics, clever rhymes and complex forms.

Cole Porter 1954

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Porter wrote both lyrics and music for his songs.

Even a brief listing of his songs reads like a Jazz or Cabaret artist’s dream set: What Is This Thing Called Love?, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, All Of You, I Concentrate On You, Too Darn Hot, Night And Day, Just One Of Those Things, Get Out Of Town, Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye, Love For Sale, etc.

It kinda makes my head spin – in a good way!

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$10.00 adv/$15.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

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The Halloween Songbook


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Should we be afraid?!? Likely, not – this October 31 show will weigh in on the “treats” side, and not too many evil “tricks” :)

Please note that this evening will be the last of our “themed” Songbooks for a little while. Beginning on November 7, we’re switching to a new format that we think you’ll love. We’ll tell you more about that soon!

In the meantime, please visit the John Alcorn Facebook Music Page, and “Like” us:

John Alcorn Music

You can also join the Halloween Songbook Facebook Event Page here:

Halloween Songbook

ABOUT the HALLOWEEN SONGBOOK

The devilish Steve Wallace came up with this notion a few weeks ago, when he realized that one of our Flying Beaver Pubaret Wednesdays would fall on Halloween.

Within a few days, he’d compiled a list of great tunes related to such concepts as witches, magic, devils, the moon, evil, the colour orange et al – not to mention the general notion of autumn itself. A few fans have also added their suggestions and requests (thank you, Judy!). This theme has us kinda foolishly pumped, and we hope that you’ll join Steve Wallace (the King of Bass), Reg Schwager (Jazz Guitar Maestro) and me (costumes optional!).

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$15.00 adv/$20.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

The Chet Baker Songbook


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We think that all of our Songbook evenings are special, of course – each with its own unique charms and challenges. However, we believe that this one will be a particular standout. First, there’s the repertoire – exclusively songs that the charismatic Chet Baker loved and lived. Second, there’s the ongoing supreme artistry of guitarist Reg Schwager and bassist Steve Wallace – pure magic. Third, there’s our very special guest artist – New York cornet virtuoso Warren Vaché.

ABOUT CHET BAKER

Chet Baker (1929-1988) was a jazz trumpeter and singer most often associated with the West Coast, “cool jazz” style.

His repertoire included many songs that we now consider classic standards, like Alone Together, Everything Happens To Me, Time After Time and My Funny Valentine.

Here is Bruce Weber‘s 1988 documentary, Let’s Get Lost. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth checking out…

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$15.00 adv/$20.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

The Billie Holiday Songbook


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Next Wednesday, October 17, we’re beginning a little detour into the songbooks of iconic interpreters of song. First up is one of my personal heroes and everlasting inspiration, Billie Holiday aka Lady Day. We hope that you’ll join us at The Flying Beaver Pubaret as Reg Schwager (guitar), Steve Wallace (bass) and I explore the songs that Ms. Holiday “owned”, either through her unforgettable – and often definitive – interpretations or through actual creation (yes, she was a gifted songwriter too).

ABOUT BILLIE HOLIDAY

Billie Holiday (1915-1959) had a formative influence on jazz and pop singing.

Her vocal style, strongly influenced by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo in such songs as Crazy He Calls Me, Solitude, Strange Fruit, Them There Eyes and God Bless The Child.

Here’s Billie singing Autumn In New York, with Oscar Peterson at the piano (1952):

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$15.00 adv/$20.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

The Rodgers and Hart Songbook


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On Wednesday, October 10 we’re exploring the treasure trove of songs created by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz (Larry) Hart. We hope that you’ll join us at the Flying Beaver Pubaret in the heart of Toronto’s Cabbagetown – an intimate “listening room” with stellar sound and great food (and drinks!).

Canadian jazz greats Reg Schwager (guitar) and Steve Wallace (bass) will join John once again for the sixth evening in this ongoing series.

ABOUT RODGERS and HART

Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) and Larry Hart (1895-1943) wrote an astonishing array of musical comedies for Broadway and London’s West End.

At their pinnacle, the team was writing an average of four new shows a year. In 1930, the team relocated to Hollywood, where they contributed songs and wrote the scores for several movie musicals, including the landmark Love Me Tonight starring Maurice Chevalier.

Legendary Broadway producer Billy Rose lured them back to New York in 1935 to write the songs for his circus musical spectacular, Jumbo. Their score introduced The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, My Romance and Little Girl Blue. From 1936 to 1943, Rodgers and Hart wrote a series of Broadway musical comedies, each of which seemed to top the one before in terms of innovation and box office success. These productions collectively offered such classic songs as There’s A Small Hotel, I Wish I Were In Love Again, My Funny Valentine, Where Or When, The Lady Is A Tramp, Spring Is Here, Falling In Love With Love, This Can’t Be Love, I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, It Never Entered My Mind, Bewitched, I Could Write A Book, and Wait Till You See Her.

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$15.00 adv/$20.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

The Harold Arlen Songbook


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This coming Wednesday, October 3, we’re bringing our favorite Harold Arlen songs to the Flying Beaver Pubaret in Toronto’s Cabbagetown. Arlen is one of my personal heroes within the pantheon of great 20th century songwriters. He had an enviable range as a composer, and he worked with some of the most gifted lyricists. Brilliant stuff.

Guitar virtuoso Reg Schwager will be on board again, along with our special guest, the impeccable Pat Collins (bass).

ABOUT HAROLD ARLEN

Harold Arlen (1905 – 1986) – his music is everywhere. You may have heard – or hummed – a Harold Arlen song today and didn’t even realize it.

Though he was most noted for composing the songs for the film The Wizard of Oz, particularly Over the Rainbow (which was recently named the Number One Song of the Century) he wrote over 400 songs including classics like: Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Blues in the Night, Come Rain or Come Shine, I’ve Got the World on a String, It’s Only a Paper Moon, Let’s Fall in Love, My Shining Hour, One for My Baby (and One More for the Road), Stormy Weather, That Old Black Magic, and The Man That Got Away.

Yup. One guy wrote all those tunes. Crazy.

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$10.00 adv/$15.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

The George Gershwin Songbook


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Ok. This is one that many of you have been waiting for :)

Next Wednesday, September 26 we’re bringing the George Gershwin Songbook to the Flying Beaver Pubaret. This will be the fourth installment of our ever-evolving Songbook Series.

Brilliant jazz masters Reg Schwager (guitar) and Michael Herring (bass) will be on board for this very special evening.

ABOUT GEORGE GERSHWIN:

George Gershwin (1898 – 1937) was an American composer and pianist. His compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known.

George’s first big success was a song delivered by Al Jolson in the Broadway musical Sinbad. “Swanee” became an instant hit and propelled George’s music before the Broadway audience regularly.

In 1924, George collaborated with his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin, on a musical comedy “Lady Be Good”. It included such standards as “Fascinating Rhythm” and “The Man I Love.” The writing partnership would continue for the rest of the composer’s life. Together they wrote many successful musicals, including “Oh Kay!” and “Funny Face”, starring Fred Astaire and his sister Adele.

While continuing to compose popular music for the stage, Gershwin began to lead a double life, trying to make his mark as a serious composer.  Among his best-known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, as well as the opera Porgy and Bess.

In 1937, after many successes on Broadway, the brothers decided go to Hollywood. Again, they teamed up with Fred Astaire, now paired with Ginger Rogers. They made the musical film, “Shall We Dance”, which included such hits as “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” Soon after came “A Damsel in Distress”, in which Astaire appeared with Joan Fontaine.

After becoming ill while working on a film, he decided to return to New York to work on composing serious music. He planned a string quartet, a ballet and another opera, but he wasn’t able to complete these pieces. At the age of 38, he died of a brain tumor. Today he remains one of America’s most beloved popular musicians.

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$10.00 adv/$15.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

The Irving Berlin Songbook


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The enthusiastic response to our first two Songbook nights has thrilled and humbled us. We’re sending out a big “Thank You!” to the amazing audience members who’ve been filling the room with their positive energy.

Now, we’re preparing for the third performance of the Songbook Series on Wednesday, September 19, at the Flying Beaver Pubaret with a celebration and exploration of the words and music of another 20th century music legend – Irving Berlin.

My pals, Canadian jazz masters Reg Schwager (guitar) and Steve Wallace (bass) will share the stage with me again for this very special evening.

ABOUT IRVING BERLIN:

Irving Berlin (1888 – 1989) was an American composer and lyricist, widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history.

He published his first song, “Marie from Sunny Italy”, in 1907 and had his first major international hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, in 1911.

He wrote an estimated 1,500 songs during his 60-year career, many becoming major hits, which made him “a legend” before he turned thirty.

He also composed scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood films, with his songs nominated eight times for Academy Awards.

Composer George Gershwin called him “the greatest songwriter that has ever lived” and composer Jerome Kern concluded, “Irving Berlin has no place in American music – he is American music.”

His extensive song list includes such classics as Cheek To Cheek, Heat Wave, How deep Is The Ocean, I Got The Sun In The Morning, I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm, Let’s Face The Music And Dance, Puttin’ On The Ritz, Anything You Can Do, Blue Skies, Change Partners, There’s No Business Like Show Business, They Say It’s Wonderful, Top Hat White Tie And Tails, White Christmas – and literally hundreds more.

Details:
6:30PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – Performance Begins

TICKETS:
$10.00 adv/$15.00 door
*Dinner reservations get priority seating*

Dinner available, before, during, and after the show.
647.347.6567
http://www.pubaret.com/

Review of the Cole Porter Songbook

Renowned critic Robert Cushman of the National Post wrote a glowing review of our Songbook Series opening performance. Thank you, Mr. Cushman.

National Post Review

photo by Max B. Telzerow

 

The View From Steve Wallace…

Beloved bassist and intrepid essayist Steve Wallace wrote this beautiful piece following our recent Cole Porter Songbook performance at the Flying Beaver Pubaret. I’m re-posting it here with his kind permission. Thank you, Steve.

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Flying High At the Beaver

The stylish singer John Alcorn launched a series of Wednesday night musical offerings this week at the Flying Beaver Pubaret (488 Parliament St.), accompanied by Reg Schwager on guitar and yours truly on bass.  John is calling this the Songbook Series; each week he will be presenting two sets of songs by a different major contributor to the GAS (Great American Songbook), kicking things off with fifteen of Cole Porter’s best.  I promise this will be the last of such puerile jokes, but I ask you, when was the last time you heard Cole Porter and “beaver” mentioned in the same paragraph?  Anyway, if the first of these nights was any indication, this could turn into something very special and lasting, my fingers are crossed.  Lord knows the city needs more outlets for quality music, and the combination of this setting and Alcorn’s musical vision mesh very nicely indeed.

As to the venue, I hadn’t been to the Flying Beaver before, it had been described to me as a “lesbian bar on Parliament.”  Though somewhat true as far as it goes, this is also misleading.  Yes, the place is owned and operated by Maggie Cassella and Heather MacKenzie who both happen to be lesbians and certainly both gay women and men frequent it.  But, it’s not a “gay bar” in the stereotypical sense of that term, people of all persuasions (except anti-gay morons and other assorted boors) are welcome and comfortable here.  I found it to be a smart, fun, friendly place, unpretentious yet brainy, much like the women who run it.

It’s divided into two parallel rooms, the larger being a pub-style one with a big, comfortable bar (o lovely, welcoming sight!) and tables.  A variety of good food and drink are offered at reasonable prices, the service is casual and friendly.  The other room is a long, narrow cabaret-style space – minimalist, with a small stage at the front, two long rows of small tables and a sound board at the back.  The rooms are separated so that the drinkers/talkers and music fans/listeners can each have their way, as I said, it’s a smart place.  The cabaret room is an ideal space for the type of intimate presentation Alcorn and Cassella envision – cozy, with good natural sound needing very little reinforcement – I was encouraged to not bring an amplifier and my bass was put through the house sound system in a way that resulted in an essentially acoustic sound, manna to my ears.

John had told Reg and me that he and Maggie wanted a structured, show-like presentation to an attentive audience, but my busy schedule and low-life, jaded jazz instincts prevented me from fully digesting this; I wasn’t prepared for the amount of care and thought that had gone into this.  I was expecting something a little more zoo-like, that the three of us would be playing to a bar-room full of people – some drinking, talking and having a good time, others listening – you know, the usual.  I was okay with this because I love playing with these two in any circumstances, I figured we’d play a couple of loose sets, have some drinks and laughs, get paid and go home.