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Santa Maria Sun / Music
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 45
Tin Pan Alley meets the old log cabinTemple Beth El holds a fundraiser double bill of cabaret and bluegrass music
BY JOE PAYNE
What do cabaret and bluegrass music have in common? Not much! But the unlikely pairing of genres makes up the show “Bluegrass All-Stars and American Cabaret” to be performed for a fundraiser for Temple Beth El in Santa Maria.
The show, a continuation of “From Broadway to Bluegrass,” which has been enjoyed at the temple twice now, is the result of the concerted efforts of local husband-and-wife duo Bill Mirken and Diane Borad-Mirken. Though the pair doesn’t typically play music together—each acknowledging the expanse between their respective styles—they’ve come together once again to provide a performance packed with quality tunes.
“I happen to be ways and means vice president for the temple,” Borad-Mirken said, “and this is an absolutely dual purpose show. We’re trying to raise money for the synagogue and invite our friends and people who don’t know us yet to enjoy an interesting concert.
“And why I say interesting,” she continued, “is because it’s two genres that would never be placed together, but we found from our first two concerts that people who had come for one or the other had enjoyed both by the end.”
Borad-Mirken will be opening the show with her solo cabaret singing. She performs with the help of an accompaniment track, recorded by local pianists, including Dave Alm and the late Sandy Severson.
“This time I will emphasize the cabaret style of singing, with more standards, and a few Broadway show tunes and novelty songs to go in the mix,” she said.
Borad-Mirken studied acting and musical acting at UCLA. Her acting, she explained, helps her deliver each song in an emotional and interesting way. A cabaret song is usually a small story in and of itself, so being able to portray the song helps the authenticity of the performance.
“I studied musical acting for a number of years,” she explained, “and musical acting could be putting across a song in a certain way. Like Rex Harrison, who couldn’t even sing, but in My Fair Lady he put across his songs beautifully even though he couldn’t sing because he acted them.”
The second half of the fundraiser show will feature the talents of Mirken and several of his musical friends. Mirken, who goes by the stage name Julio Boysenberry, is a five-string banjo player and former president of the Central Coast Bluegrass Music Society.
“We’re going to try to present a potpourri,” he said. “We’re going to do some older, more traditional Carter-family sounds. We will try to do some more modern compositions, maybe some instrumentals—it should be nice.”
Mirken is resurrecting his old bluegrass band the Wild River Ramblers. The Ramblers usually consist of whichever of Mirken’s cohorts are available, but this show is special. He’s called on mandolinist Roger Siminoff, guitarist and singer Alan Aleksander, and bassist Ken Roddick. The quartet has been collaborating for years, something that allows them to get together and perform without the inconvenience of hours of rehearsal.
“We will be creating music right before your eyes,” Mirken said. “We are not robots or player pianos; it makes you think and listen to the other people. When you do something that highly rehearsed, you tend to concentrate only on your aspect, and there isn’t any interaction between the participants. This is going to be different.”
Bluegrass is a style that lends itself to this kind of performance, Mirken explained. Most bluegrass music, he said, is played during jam sessions at bluegrass music festivals all over the country. Most experienced pickers come with a library of bluegrass music in their heads, creating the music in the spontaneity of the moment.
“It’s not only common, but it’s what keeps people involved in the genre,” he said. “We’ve been playing this stuff for 37 years, so we’re reasonably accomplished at it.”
While Mirken and Borad-Mirken are candid with the fact that their musical tastes differ widely, they’ve each developed an appreciation for the other’s music over the years.
“It’s taken me 32 years—that’s how long I’ve been married to Bill—to appreciate bluegrass,” Borad-Mirken said. “They are truly wonderful musicians, and it’s the musicianship, and they also do harmonies. That makes them very fine musicians.”
“There are some who think of bluegrass as hillbilly music, degrading and simple, and if you play a song with three chords you are showing off!” Mirken said. “But we are going to be doing some things that are sophisticated, and I think we are going to open some eyes.”
Young and talented
The Santa Maria Philharmonic Society presents its second annual “Youth Showcase” event featuring student musicians performing classical solo and chamber works on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. at St. Luis de Montfort Church on Clark Avenue in Orcutt. More info: 925-0412, email@example.com, or santamariphilharmonic.org.
The Lions Peak Vineyards Tasting Room presents Jon Stephen Tropical Brazilian Guitar live on Jan. 19, 20, and 26 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Lions Peak Vineyards Tasting Room, 1659 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang. More info: 693-5466 or lionspeakwine.com/html/tasting_room.html.
A chance for everyone
Lucia’s Wine Co. offers an open mic event on Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. at the tasting room, 126 East Clark Ave., Orcutt. More info: 332-3080.
The Maverick Saloon offers live entertainment, including the country music of Teddy Spanke and the Tex Pistols on Jan. 18 and 19 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with DJ Totem” at 11:30 p.m. “Concert on the Deck” featuring John Lyle is Jan. 12 at 3 p.m. at the saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. More info: 686-4785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Arts Editor Joe Payne at email@example.com.