The audience had a beef with Oakland vaudevillian Jamie DeWolf last time he was in town.
To be specific, it was beef liver, and it came from a game DeWolf calls “What’s Down My Pants?” at the C Media party at Santa Rosa’s Arlene Francis Center in April. It ended with cow’s liver being thrown into the audience, then thrown back in disgust. “I got a couple of calls after that,” says Jake Ward, who produced that event. Still, Ward is bringing the magnetic, controversial and talented poet and emcee DeWolf back to headline the first North Bay Cabaret at Santa Rosa’s Whiskey Tip Thursday night.
“‘Tourette’s Without Regrets’ was the inspiration,” says Ward, referring to DeWolf’s racy monthly Oakland variety show. “We’re kind of seeing if our scene is ready for something like that.”
This event probably won’t be as controversial or profane as the Oakland show, but it will feature burlesque by Eva D’Luscious, music by Josh Windmiller (of the Crux) and others, standup comedy by deadpan goth Oliver Graves, dance, spoken word, DJs and emcees. In short, it’s all over the place—and that’s just how it’s supposed to be.
“It’s such a buffet of a cabaret,” says Windmiller, who also books events in the North Bay. The style morphed out of the Arlene Francis Center, which has been hosting unclassifiable events like this for years. “To see this as a spreading out of that patchwork cabaret is really cool,” Windmiller adds.
The event is really two shows packed into one night, says Shey Roth, who is responsible for the hip-hop and dancing portion of the event. “There’s the frenetic, unpredictable thing outside, and inside is the shelter, the structured format.”
Three emcee duos (headlined by Spends Quality and Elle Araminta) will be spitting rhymes while DJs spin vinyl during and between sets all night long. Dance performances by Reprezent Break Dance crew and others get the party moving, while spoken word by Brianna Sage and others inspires a poetic verse or two.
“It’s like a yin and a yang all in one,” says Roth.
Like Ward and Windmiller, Roth, the producer of Good Hip-Hop Monthly, also started his booking career at the Arlene Francis Center and is glad to see the vibe spreading throughout the city. “Connecting the two sides of Santa Rosa is a really important part of this,” he says.
“We want to show other venues, other audiences what kind of talent we have showcased here,” says Ward, referring to his work at the Arlene Francis Center.
The diversity is “something really special that people are catching on to,” says Windmiller. It’s important for the overall strength of an arts community to showcase under-the-radar acts, he says. “You can’t really build a community of music and a scene based just on headliners.”