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And the Brassy Award Goes To …

Brassy Burlesque Exposition

It’s my esteemed honor to announce the winner of the inaugural Brassy Award: Mistress Kali. The $500 cash grant and mentorship will be applied to her winning show Storyville Rising, premiering in New Orleans May 16 and 17, 2015. Thunderous applause from the glitter tribe erupted as I gave her the award at The Great Burlesque Exposition 9’s Main Event.

Brown Paper Tickets is all about supporting communities. That is the driving force behind the Brassy Award. We’re thrilled to give the first one to such an innovative concept and talented event producer.

How the Brassy Came to Be

The Great Burlesque Exposition in Boston has long time supported Brown Paper Tickets. I attended in 2013. I was touched and humbled by producers who relayed how impressed they’d been with our customer service and all that we do for burlesque. We owe much of our East Coast burlesque success to key figures like Scratch and Miss Mina singing our praises and using our services for their shows, classes and festivals. Scratch and the Expo were top of mind one afternoon in January 2014, when I sat with our CEO Steve Butcher to brainstorm how we could further support burlesque. A cash sponsorship didn’t feel right. We wanted to develop something that could grow, benefit the community and act as an ongoing gift from us to burlesque.

I’ve seen awards given to burlesque performers, but never to event producers and organizers, the unsung heroes of showbusiness. They crunch numbers, deal with sound and lighting technicians, create rehearsal schedules, negotiate with venues, set up ticketing and promote the show. They’re an essential part and rarely recognized publicly.

So we thought, why not reward event producers? A cash prize to help cover expenses and guidance from experienced organizers might elevate burlesque production standards and give nascent producers new role models. We pitched the idea to Scratch and he loved it. Just like that the Brassy was born.

The name is a play on brassiere, since the award “supports” burlesque arts. Scratch assembled a rock star Brassy committee: Lili VonSchtupp from Los Angeles, Red Hot Annie out of Chicago, Sailor St. Claire from Seattle and of course, himself.

After sifting through dozens of applications from around the country, the committee selected the winner—a producer I was already familiar with from her excellent work in New Orleans.


About Storyville Rising

Burlesque-Award-Winning-ConceptStoryville Rising is an immersive cabaret aimed at recreating the feeling and multi-layered experience of Crescent City’s (in)famous red light district. Audience members are invited into an evocation of one of The District’s sporting houses and treated to a spectacle of burlesque, sideshow, cirque and song. Throughout the evening, they will interact with the area’s various denizens: prostitutes, johns, doctors and midwives, and, of course, madams. Through the acts performed by some of the most lauded names in the burlesque and vaudeville revival, Storyville Rising explores issues of race, gender, power, sex and more. It is a truly unique experience, meant to remain with you long after you’ve left its embrace.

Early bird tickets are on sale now so if you’re from the Big Easy or are headed down there in May, be sure to check out the show. Also, be sure to follow our blog for updates on how the show is coming along.

Keep your eye on Kali because we predict great things from her in the future. 

Apply to the Next Brassy

If you organize, perform in or produce burlesque events and think you have a great idea for a show, apply for the 2016 Brassy Award. There’s a $20.00 application fee that goes toward the cash grant. Applicants will submit detailed information about the show they wish to produce, including a pro-forma budget, production schedule, marketing plan and other relevant materials and will be judged on originality and professionalism. Hopefully, I’ll have the honor of handing you next year’s Brassy Award. Go for it.

Photo of dancer Angie Z  by Jon Gunnar Gylfasson

Arts >

Mid- Week Beat: New Orleans & the Birth of Jazz

2368151299_10901a5dae_zThis week is a big one for New Orleans and the authentic American art form it spawned: jazz. As we all know, next Tuesday is Fat Tuesday and the streets of the Crescent City are currently loaded with brass bands filling the air with the sweet music that only a city with such a diverse and turbulent history could create. But Mardi Gras isn’t the only reason this is a notable week in New Orleans music.

On this day, in 1917, the first jazz record was recorded for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York. The group was The Original Dixieland Jass Band and the song was “Livery Stable Blues” with the B-side of the 78 rpm record being “Dixie Jass Band One Step.” The record is steeped in controversy as it was recorded by a group of white musicians who billed themselves as “The Creators of Jazz” and claimed authorship over jazz standards that had been played by African-American musicians for some time prior to the first recordings. In fact, musicians like Jelly Roll Morton, Buddy Bolden, King Oliver, Sidney Bechet and Kid Ory had already popularized jazz as a musical form in New Orleans long before The Original Dixieland Jass Band took their versions up north.

Most of America, however, was unaware of the musical developments happening in New Orleans and for many, “Livery Stable Blues” was their first exposure to this wild new sound. The record was a surprise hit and its release ushered in what would become known as “The Jazz Age.” So, while the record is indicative of the racism of the times, it did bring the wild and wondrous sounds of New Orleans into the homes of more Americans than ever before and, in its way, helped white audiences to appreciate this African-American music as the sophisticated art form that it was. Without the success of this record we never would have heard the wonderful strains of Louis Armstrong’s cornet in King Oliver’s first recordings for Okeh and Gennett just a few years later, when the jazz boom was in full swing.

So, this week, in honor of New Orleans, Mardi Gras and the birth of recorded jazz music, we’re going to feature some upcoming jazz concerts that pay tribute to the Crescent City and the early years of jazz.
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Music >

Innocence Project New Orleans

Many of the events that we ticket are, often, supportive of a controversial cause. These are events that aim at providing more than just a good night out and a perfect example is the 10th Anniversary Gala for the Innocence Project New Orleans happening on Thursday, May 19.

Every day, people are unjustly convicted of crimes through attorney’s errors, incorrect witness identification, false testimony and a host of other problems. Some of these cases end up making headlines. Others, like the infamous West Memphis Three case, end up becoming full-fledged documentaries. But for the most part, we don’t hear much about the hundreds of people who are put in prison for life who don’t belong there. Some estimates put the error rate as high as 14% of convictions.

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Good Causes >