Adam Goldstein talks Artistes Nouveaux and the emergence of the Aurora Cultural Arts District
Adam Goldstein is the curator and a performer in this weekend's Artistes Nouveaux.After spending time living and studying abroad, singer and musician Adam Goldstein returned to America with a newly acquired passion -- performing Irish pub ballads. Unsure he would be able to find a venue in Denver for his catalog of unique drinking songs, he eventually discovered Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret -- which has been his performance home for the last six years.
This Saturday, June 28 at the Aurora Fox Arts Center, Goldstein presents Artistes Nouveaux, a one-night-only Vaudeville-inspired show featuring a cadre of performers he's brought from his entertainment family at Lannie's. Entertainers include Naughty Pierre, magician and mentalist Professor Phelyx and world-renowned burlesque queen Orchid Mei and more.
In advance of the old-time show, we spoke with Goldstein (who is also a Westword music writer) about his desire to bring Vaudeville to life and the importance of showing off Aurora's Cultural Arts District.
Westword: The cast of Artistes Nouveau includes a wide variety of performers. How did this show come together?
Adam Goldstein: About six years ago, I started performing at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret. I was doing Irish drinking songs -- the situation was really unlikely, because I had learned all of these songs playing pubs in Europe and they are traditional folk songs. When I came back from living abroad, I thought I would never find a place to do these songs in Denver, [but] somehow I did. (Laughs)
Somehow I got an opportunity at the club -- the staff was very welcoming and they kind of let me blossom and that includes Lannie and Jefferson Arca who is the co-owner. For the past six years, Lannie's has become my home base. Through the club, I have privilege of meeting a whole wealth of performers -- from burlesque performers to mentalists to magicians to jugglers. I tell people that I have a carnie family; I feel lucky to have that.
Fast-forward to now -- we have been through so much and the productions there have grown so much. With that kind of in context, at the same time I have been working for the Aurora Sentinel doing theater reviews for the past six years. Over that time, I have been able to get to know the staff from the Aurora Fox Arts Center. This show is kind of an intersection of those two worlds. For the Aurora Arts Festival this year, I was asked to bring a sample of the kind of variety and entertainment that we do down at Lannie's and package it in a way that was friendly to community theater.
That's when the prospect of Vaudeville came up. From the history I looked to in order to create the kind of dynamic that would work, Vaudeville was the root for all of the great elements of entertainment. From comedians like Burns and Allen to the Marx Brothers to Jack Benny, to music to dancing to anything under the sun. That's kind of the spirit we are looking to create with this show.
With that in mind, we assembled the top regulars from down at Lannie's and also the greater variety scene in Denver. That includes myself and mentalist professor Phelyx a mentalist, Tatiyana Tata, an aerialist who has performed all over the state and Smirk, a group that includes Reid Belstock who is a world champion juggler and his partner Warren Hammond, who has been on Stupid Human Tricks on David Letterman.
We have the house piano player Larry Wegner who has been playing music for over sixty years. He will be doing some Gershwin and Cole Porter and tunes that harken back to the era. Then we have Naughty Pierre who is the regular MC at Lannie's, who will come in and give a taste of what he does, as well as offer some context about the history of Vaudeville.
So is this show the replication of a show you might see at Lannie's? Or is it its own event?
One of the things about the Aurora Cultural Arts District is that it has been developing -- it has roots in city efforts from more than a decade ago. They put up a lot of specific funding tailored to creating this vibrant arts district. It has come along in leaps and bounds and they've got several theaters, art galleries and restaurants. The mission was to show an audience who might not know what Vaudeville is or a variety show is or even burlesque, and kind of let them know what is going on the other side of town at Lannie's.
We wanted to offer kind of a sampling of this entertainment but also wanted to craft a unique show so we aren't just offering a carbon copy. We're putting this together in the spirit of a showcase with kind of a bent more toward the Vaudeville than a straight-up burlesque show. Focus on the variety aspect and the comedy with a turn-of-the-century feel, just to give it a unique flavor and distinct structure. It's a one-night only thing so we really wanted to craft something that was unique to that evening and special for the night.