Women Who Rock Flyer

This past Thursday I organized and played in Women Who Rock, a show to benefit Empire State Pride Agenda through Drinking for a Change, my friend Peter Dunn’s organization which raises money for LGBT causes through hosting bar nights in NYC. Man, do I hate organizing shows, but luckily this one turned out great.

After a flurry of emails and months of stressing about it, Peter and I put together an evening of music hosted by my friend, soon-to-be theatrical/burlesque star Lady Killer, DJ’ed by DJ Ahomii, and featuring performances by Jené, Charlene Kaye, Anna Haas and me. As is the case with all show biz endeavors, everything seemed to be in a shambles one hour before the show was scheduled to start, but by 9:20 or so we had opened the doors, and our fantastic crowd was pouring in as the dance pop tunes blared over the sound system. Jené started things off with a bang with a short set that included a bit of a strip tease and some fierce belting, then Charlene Kaye kept it rockin’ with her fabulous band, then Anna Haas brought it home with her soulful belt and a wonderful cover of “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson at the end of her set, during which Charlene and I picked up our mics and spontaneously joined in on the background vocals while getting the whole crowd dancing and singing along. That was a great moment!

Finally, it was my turn to take the stage. I was initially a bit sad that my backup dancers weren’t able to do this gig with me, but once I got there and was reminded of how teeny-tiny the stage is, I realized it was all for the best since there would have been no space for them to dance. Everything happens for a reason!

This show went so well. The crowd was perfect, they loved my stuff, and I had plenty of funny things to say in between songs. I remember at one point saying, because it was an LGBT charity fund raiser and most of the crowd was gay, “Listen. I LOVE gay people. One time I was at a gay guy’s birthday party and it was just me and a bunch of gay guys, and I kid you not, we ACTUALLY ended the party by spontaneously singing “Seasons of Love” from RENT, complete with all the proper harmonies, riffing and backup vocals. You know that would never happen at a straight party, and it was amazing. So, if you guys ever get tired of being gay, just, you know, take a breath and keep going, because you’re doing the right thing. Don’t stop being gay!” Everyone laughed a lot at that. At another point, after singing a few songs, I was so out of breath and sweaty and exhausted from the last few days of running myself into the ground, that I just sat down and was sort of laughing uncontrollably at the whole situation, and said, through laughs, “I feel like an old, overweight drag queen who’s trying to prove she’s still got it. I am so exhausted, hahahahha,” and I did that thing where performers feel out a moment with the audience and get them to the point where they have to spontaneously erupt into applause, which was just what happened. It was SO funny and awesome and I don’t know if anyone caught it on tape, but if they did, you can bet it will be on this blog pretty soon.

About halfway into the set, people started to really get up and dance to all my songs and it was so fun to get down on the dance floor and jump around and sing with them. They really got into “Everybody’s Crazy in New York” as always, and at the end of the set, people were clamoring to sign my email list, and I sold some CDs, so it was quite a fantastic evening.

If someone else will do all the legwork next time, we should do it again! 🙂

JC Cassis at Sugarland 5/8/10 Photo Credit: Donavon Lowe
JC Cassis at Sugarland 5/8/10 Photo Credit: Donavon Lowe

The show at Sugarland’s SHOPAHOLIC event on 5/8/10 was quite fun and interesting. First of all, it was at 6pm so it was in broad daylight, since Sugarland has a skylight right over the stage. I am not used to performing in an indoor, sunlit setting. That was funny. The other thing that was funny was that there were like 10 people there, but they were all really attentive and into my show. The best thing about it was that bacKspace was there, and Krystal Something-Something and Charmin Ulltra danced impromptu backup for me. I loooooooooooooooooooooove those boys!! And even though everything’s a total blur in terms of what has happened in May thus far, I think that’s what caused me to ask them to dance backup for me for the Dance Parade show, which they did, and which was incredible. So. Everything happens for a reason and you gots to get out there and do them shows no matter what time they’re at and how much light is shining on you!

So the show at the Dance Parade After Party in Tompkins Square Park really kicked ass. It was my first one with just me, backing tracks, and backup dancers and was so much fun. Also it was the first show in a long time that I didn’t have to bring the damn crowd, which was so great. There were about 200 people crowded right around the stage watching and more standing around the park listening, so that was awesome. The sound system was great and the dancing went great and I really held it down. Through it, I met a few DJ’s who all said they’d like to work/perform with me and/or spin my stuff in clubs, so that is totally awesome. I’ll finally get the club play I’ve been dreaming of!!

Couple tips:
1. It definitely helps to have an identifiable genre/sound that you belong to. Though I’m specifically going for dance-pop since I want mainstream success, my music is similar to some House music, and people kept coming up to me after the Dance Parade show saying “So you’re a house artist, right? I love house music. I’m a house DJ, you should come play at this club…” etc etc. When I was doing other types of music and trying to figure out what direction to go, no one ever said, “So you’re a country/pop/comedy/dance artist? You should come play at my country/pop/comedy/dance show…” because no one has multi-genre shows and opportunities for the most part. Each genre has its own world and its own path to success. Singer-songwriters have the coffeehouses, college circuit, songwriter groups, rock clubs, etc, dance artists have djs, producers, club performances, etc, rap artists have battles, mixtapes, etc etc. So picking your genre will make it much easier to see the path you have to travel. Now that I know I’m doing dance-pop/house, I know I need to pursue DJs and producers who will play and improve upon my tracks and spread them around, and I need to perform in straight and gay dance clubs, not coffeehouses etc. Makes things a lot clearer and when you know what you have to do, it’s a lot easier to get it done.

2. At an AIMP song pitching event, one of the record label A&R guys explained that a hit song is really just a series of hooks. A great hook for the verse, a great hook for the prechorus, and then a series of a great hook, an even better hook, and the biggest and best hook comprising the chorus. Then, the bridge should be even better than the rest of the song. This is so true. Think of a hit song on top 40 radio right now, and it’s likely it will fit into that mold. Now that I know that, I think it will help me make sure my songs are hit material.

P.S. I’m getting a wee bit sick of doing all this self promotion, which is a hazard of this job that I never thought of before. It gets sort of boring and annoying to have your life be about you you you all the time. That makes me laugh though. And the simple fact is, if I don’t do it, no one else will, and it’s required for getting anywhere in music, and I am determined to be successful at this, so that’s life I guess. And now, back to twitter/myspace/facebook/thesixtyone/gmail. Barf.