The inimitable Tav Falco has lead the unapproachable Panther Burns since the 1970s. The ditch-diggers of American music, idiosyncratic and effervescent, purveyors of arcane wisdom, Panther Burns have howled their way from Memphis out around the globe through those six decades bewitching, beguiling and sometimes bemusing fans of the blues, old soul and good old rock’n’roll. We’ve checked in with Tav often along the way. We even had a previous Christmas sojourn back in 2016. So of course we were going to ask Tav to join in with our December wide “Bunch of Five” project. Mr Falco went above and beyond and provided us with a mighty missive detailing his recent move out East and laying out his five great things… We’ve split it into 12 parts and we’re sharing it one day at a time to see everybody through into the New Year. It’s the twelve days of Tav-mas! This is part seven… If you’re just joining us you can go right back to the start here ⇒ And now, Tav...
Cabaret is now so much a part of my world that it is a driving wheel of my existence. Upon seeing the film, Variety Lights (Luci del varietà) by Alberto Lattuada & Federico Fellini, as a student, I knew that someday I would be headed for the Variety stage. Sooner or later Fate has its way. I prepared myself as a student engaging in spontaneous Happenings and theatrical tableaux e.g. the Shipwreck Scene from Burroughs's Nova Express. Later in Memphis we formed Big Dixie Brick Co. – an art-action stage group forged out of an Arkansas poet, Randall Lyon, two Go-Go dancers from the Tiffany Club, and myself.
In the summer before last I made my cabaret debut on the Satyrus stage in the Villa Borghese vis-à-vis Rome's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna. I appeared with the troop of La Conventicola Degli Ultramoderni and followed them to their own cabaret in San Lorenzo. Twice since I have returned to their cabaret more sure-footed with my two initial songs, “C’est Moi Gigolo” as performed by Damia in Paris during the 1930s, which we present in French, Italian, and in English. The other is today a somewhat racially controversial Irving Berlin tune from 1936, “Puttin’ On The Ritz”. Both of these are straw matelot hat and cane song & dance numbers. Sandwiched in among these appearances was one at Cirque Rouge in Vienna.
After the two-month Panther Burns tour wrapped up in October with the finale birthday party in Memphis for our guitarist, Mario Monterosso, I joined our bassist Giuseppe Sangirardi and drummer Walter Brunetti on their flight back to Rome. In a matter of hours I was once again onstage at La Conventicola with three more numbers in my repertoire: “St. Louis Blues”, “Sway”, and “Brazil”. The core cast of players features diva divina Mdm. Maria de Freitas, pianist Mirkaccio Dettori, chantose Damiana Rose Sélavy Ardito and Adèl Tirant, singers Frisco Audino and Simone Calomino, saxophonist Giuseppe Ricciardo, batterista Alberto Botta, and magician Novas. Various guests and strippers also appear nightly including Candy Rose and the enigmatic Napolitana, Fanny Damour. This innovative, vibrant cabaret is among the most exciting in Europe evoking that ineffable gioia di vivere that Italians know well.
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