Just over two years ago, husband and wife duo Libby Parker and Matt Trainor formed the cabaret act Fashionably Late. With sold out performances and strong reviews at successive Fringes and the Cabaret Fringe, they are returning this festival season with their biggest show yet. And in addition to their usual adult cabaret fare, the duo have added a children’s rock’n’roll show to their 2016 Fringe roster.
“Every time we have done a show, we’ve expanded a little bit,” explains Libby. “We started out as just a duo, then last year we added a belly-dancer, who came out from Malaysia to perform with us; this year, with Something Borrowed, Something Blues, we have expanded even further with drag queen, Malt Biscuit joining us, plus a full rock band. And then there’s the children’s show, For Kids About to Rock; it’s completely new territory for us, so we are really looking forward to that. Who knows where we’ll end up in the future!”
Matt is looking forward to performing with the band, which includes stalwart of the Adelaide music scene, Sean Kemp from Surviving Sharks on drums, and long time friend Paul Doherty-Dawson on guitar.
“I’m really excited about playing with a band for this show,” he says “When Libby and I started doing this it was just the two of us. And while we love working with each other, there’s a fantastic energy about having a group on stage.
“Sean is a great drummer and one of the hardest working guys gigging around town; he’s even backing up our two night stint with a solo gig in the Garden of Unearthly Delights the next day!
“And Paul’s someone I first played in bands with when I was a teenager: I think I was fifteen and we did an impromptu New Year’s Eve gig. I’m not sure if we sounded any good but we had a lot of fun,” Matt laughs. “It’s been quite a few years now since we last played, so it’s been great putting together this show, plus Paul’s guitar style really suits the kind of music we are doing.”
Taking inspiration from the blues tradition of sharing and ‘borrowing’ music, Something Borrowed, Something Blues blends comedy, dance, music and a whole lot of audience participation in an unashamed celebration of plagiarism in all its forms: from borrowing music to other aspects of life.
“If we’re completely honest, there’s no such thing as a completely new idea,” says Matt. “We’re always building on material that’s come before us: we borrow ideas, jokes, even aspects of our identity. And that’s not always such a bad thing.
“Blues music developed from a practice of sharing ideas, and without it, rock’n’roll would never have happened. Of course Led Zeppelin went on to become the biggest band in the world building on that source material, and we have a lot of fun with that in our performance.”
The show takes some of those well known Led Zeppelin numbers, returning them to their original blues form, while also incorporating similar material from The Doors, Creedence Crearwater Revival and Jack White.
“There’s some great comic tension in the show because, while the band are supposed to be just playing in little dive bar, they think of themselves as the next Led Zeppelin,” Libby laughs. “But Malt Biscuit and I put them in their place.”
Meanwhile, Malt has her own thoughts on being in the show.
Alongside blues standards, the show promises a varied setlist, including some parody, a few originals and the unexpected appearance of a certain pop princess in blues guise.
“I’ve always been a fan of the blues, particularly in live performance,” says Matt. “But it works so well here in a cabaret context because of the warmth and energy of the music: it’s all about that shared experience between performer and audience. And there’s a spontaneity about the music that works really well with the comedy in the show.”
And they have found the perfect venue.
“The Blubee Room really suits us what we’re doing,” Matt explains. “We recreate the feeling of an old time juke joint, the kind of place you’d visit late at night to let your hair down at the end of a night out. An underground space that just drips with atmosphere is just perfect for harking back to that by-gone era of the blues clubs. It’s also a venue that gives great support to the local music and arts scene.”
Something Borrowed, Something Blues promises to be a great night out, and most of all Libby and Matt just want to get people together for a good time.
“Last year’s show ended with people on their feet singing along, there was such a great energy,” says Matt, “so this year we are trying to build more of that into the performance. And if the audiences up and into it at the end, the band will just keep on playing to keep that party going.”
With Friday and Saturday night performances, Matt and Libby will also be there during the day on Saturday for two performances of their children’s show, For Kids About To Rock.
“It’s a very interactive rock music show,” Libby explains, “the kids will learn some great songs, do some dancing and just generally have a great time. And there’ll be plenty of music that’s familiar for the adults in the room as well.”
Something Borrowed, Something Blues is on Fri 4th and Saturday 5th March at 8pm.
For Kids About To Rock will be performed on Sat 5th March at 12pm and 2pm. All performances are at the Bluebee Room, Basement 131 Pirie St.
Tickets for both shows are available through FringeTIX.
By Sally Bennett