— This is Modern Cabaret —
Sad, sexy, theatrical music, featuring accordion, gin and lipstick. You are beautiful. You are Alacartoona.
Alacartoona's stage show is a visual extension of their all-original songbook. Utilizing a stripped down ensemble of accordion, bass, and drums, with the occasional guitar or brass, they bring to life vivid tales of love and loss, of bedrooms and back alleys, of the solitude and the camaraderie of sex, drugs and cabaret.
An Alacartoona show is an experience: poignant lyrics, powerful vocals, surprising compositions, all supporting a cast of characters fully entangled in their triumphs and tragedies. No one leaves an Alacartoona show unmoved, be it to tears or libidinous conquest. Or both.
However, words pale in the light of experience. Come to the cabaret and see for yourself...
When Ruby Falls came into this world, her first breath of air should have been laced with the flavors of fine perfume and privilege. Instead, born in the backroom of a Paris ghetto cabaret, she inhaled the harsh fumes of greasepaint and misery, a taste she has never been able to wash completely from her mouth.
Ruby's mother, Kitty Cartwright, was just a well-built girl from a midwest town until she took her numerous talents to the people of Paris, France. Young, beautiful, brash and in possession of two glorious and oft revealed legs, she quickly became the darling of the cabaret scene, where adoring fans packed her performances and the press dubbed her the "Iowa Eyeful". She made calculated use of her legendary legs both on and off the stage in her meteoric rise to the top of the Paris scene. Those legs presumably brought about her equally spectacular downfall as an unexpected pregnancy brought her stage career to a standstill.
However, it was her insistence on naming the young english heartthrob Charles Bixby Falls as the father that withered the media's good will and, with it, her chances for a comeback. Scorned by her one-time friends and admirers, and bitter at the lack of effect the affair seemed to have on Charles' career, Kitty fled with young Ruby back to the United States. Ruby's earliest memories were of the weekly parade of "momma's special friends" and the monthly midnight ritual of sneaking down the back stairs of their apartment building, clutching their suitcases and wondering where they were going to sleep.
Her childhood was not without its happy moments. Her mother never gave up the stage and Ruby grew to young womanhood in the company of singers, dancers, clowns and actors, many of whom treated her as a niece or kid sister. All the while, Ruby was watching and learning from some of the best, if unknown, talent America had to offer. By the age of six, Ruby was singing bit parts in shows and within three years was a featured performer in her mother's troupe.
In a manner that became a theme in her life, Ruby's childhood and whatever happiness it entailed was ended abruptly just before her thirteenth birthday. What started as a brief coughing fit for Kitty after a sunday matinee, ended nine days later in an unmarked grave, leaving Ruby to fend for herself. Very little is know of the next four years of Ruby's life and those wishing to remain in her good graces today know not to ask. What is beyond all doubt is that on the night of 13 November, on the stage of the Belle Étoile in Paris, France, an unknown singer from America brought the house down and young Ruby Falls became forever more "le Bijou de Paris".
Leveraging her new-found fame and ever cognizant of her mother's tragic fall from grace, Ruby climbed the ladder of Parisian society with a seemingly effortless flair that disguised her often brutal determination. Each human rung she used and abandoned in her climb to the top was left not with pangs from her stiletto heals in his or her back but rather fond memories of pleasure, passion and excitement. In fact, many of her greatest fans and supporters were the men and women she so openly used in her ascension.
Not content to claim merely one city as her own, Ruby traveled about Europe, seducing the public and the press and laying beautiful waste to the hearts and wallets of the continent's most famous denizens. However, despite her multi-country success, Ruby felt truly at home in two very different cities. Said the Parisian weekly La Bonne Vie, "Europe claims Ruby Falls as her daughter but Ruby claims Paris as her mother." In direct response, the famous berlin art rag Die Trommel trumpeted, "Paris is her mother but Berlin is her lover!"
Ruby is still drawn between the spirits of these two cities, where she explores different themes in her art and her personal life. She was once quoted as saying, "When you look at me, you see the bright fair lights of Paris but in my veins beats the dark pulse of Berlin." Her mannerisms, clothes, tastes and, above all, her music reflect this dichotomy to this day.
Providence Forge was born in Kansas City, MO, the only child of famed female river barge captain Merciwinkle Tetherball Forge. He spent most of his childhood steaming up and down the Missouri river, learning the arts of navigation and cursing from his mother and hand-to-hand combat from the nefarious river pirates that counted Merciwinkle's barge as a safe house. It has been suggested that one of these pirates was his father but all involved will respectfully deny this contention—with blade in hand for emphasis.
On his 15th birthday, his mother encouraged him to make his own way in the world by getting him drunk and depositing his comatose figure upon the stern of a passing paddle steamer. When he finally awoke, the boat had already entered the Mississippi and was well on its way to New Orleans. Once there, Providence used most of his money to buy steerage passage on a ship bound for Belgium. Not much is known about the three months he spent at sea, though upon arrival in Europe, he exhibited the newfound skill of performing all of Schubert's sonatas on the harmonica.
Although Schubert was not Belgian, it turned out that the citizenry of Brussels was absolutely crazy for his music and the child prodigy from Kansas City soon became the toast of the town. Count Jean du Jeaneaux, the famous Belgian fencing champion, and his blind, 17 year old wife, Patty, took a special interest in young Providence, introducing him to the upper echelons of Brussels society, as well as the wonders of absinthe and 32 distinct positions from the Kama Sutra. Later that year, he, the Count and Patty embarked on a seven month tour of Europe that ended abruptly in Berlin with the mortal wounding of the Count in a duel with a Spanish real estate mogul. Patty fled back to Brussels where she assuaged her grief with lavish parties and multi-day shopping sprees, leaving Providence to fend for himself in the City of Sin.
The rest, of course, is history, with Providence abandoning the harmonica for the bass guitar and the wall-shaking power of his heavenly-endowed voice. To this day, mention his name in one of Berlin's cafes and you will be inundated with stories of smokey venues, broken hearts, wild orgies and, always, the voice, with each teller claiming some connection to the man, be it through a handshake in the street, a glance on the trolley, or an anonymous tryst beneath the chestnuts in the Tiergarten. For it was here that Providence Forge, the kid from Kansas City, became "The Berlin Bomber" and claimed his rightful place on that city's long list of godlike denizens.
We know that Billings was born to Lawton and Enid Marland, but the particulars of how he entered the world are as murky as the path his life has taken since. There is no certainty as to when exactly he was born due to the fact that the courier transporting the shipment of new calendars to the Marland's remote, rural town never showed up. Nothing was ever discovered about the driver's whereabouts. Lawton and Enid figured it was either late January or early February, and that was good enough. That's the kind of household his was, good enough was always good enough.
As a young boy, he was very fond of the Church and the Good Book. He would stay up late, reading and rereading the prophets. Amos was his favorite, and that's the name he gave his cat. To the people he left behind, Billings was a devout young man of God who was pursuing the call to the ministry in the buckle of the Bible belt. That was good enough for them.
But then Billings arrived in the big city and soon enough realized that the call had reached the wrong number. The young Billings found himself preferring the company of women who drank whisky, smoked cigarettes and cussed, to that of his books and classmates at the Bible school.
A love for music was instilled in Billings at a very young age as he learned the hymns his mother played. She wasn't the best pianist in town, but she was good enough to play at church. But singing those tunes could never have prepared Billings for the alluring sounds he was drawn to every weekend as he made his way into the big city's boozy, bluesy underworld. He was particularly attracted to the pulsing, primal rhythms of the drums. His first trap set was unknowingly financed by the missionary committee of his church back home, who thought they were sending money for books, room and board. At best, Billings' drumming was haphazardly passionate. But it was good enough to make rent and repay the poor old ladies of the missionary committee. And that was the last time he was honest. At least that's according to the musicians and ne'er-do-wells who knew him back then.
Having burned one bridge too many, the now not-so-young Billings decided it was time to move. The Paris of the Plains promised an opportunity to reinvent himself once again. And so he packed up his bags, bought a bus ticket and ventured northbound. Nobody really knows how long he has been in Kansas City, and nobody knows who Billings Marland really is. And that's good enough for him.
Overton Wooldridge sprouted from a small burg spliced between rows of wheat in the middle of the Kansas prairie. Denizens of that village remember him as a happy but quiet child who preferred the companionship of the ever-blowing wind to that of his peers.
Little is known of Overton's mother, other than she suddenly and somewhat suspiciously departed—whether merely from the Kansas soil or from this mortal coil is unclear—within days of his birth. Her disapearance coincided both with the departure of a transient tent revival preacher (whose ten-month tenure was certainly suspect) and with a freshly turned patch of soil behind the family's barn. When asked the whereabouts of his wife, his father invariably replied, "The godless go with God." Eventually, people stopped asking.
His father soon wed a homely but well-situated widow recently arrived from France. Upon her enlightenment regarding little Overton's less-than-definite paternity, she promptly shipped him off to a boarding school in Lyon for refining. After a mishap in smoking etiquette class, he slipped away from the charred ruins (and the town constable), most likely in the company of a gypsy circus troupe. Here, his trail turns cold.
He resurfaced years later in Berlin with a host of new talents, including adept musicianship, a deep and intimate understanding of feline behavior, and the ability to juggle. He continued to travel about Europe, surviving by wit and by will, until he made the aquaintance of the wife of a wealthy Munich merchant. In return for his intimate attentions, she gave him a life of ease and comfort.
Unfortunately, it was all rather shortlived, as her husband soon turned up dead, hanging by his neck from an accordion strap. Overton fled the suspicious eyes of the Munich citizenry and the eager bayonettes of local militia. Eventually, his flight took him back across the Atlantic to the nameless security of the Midwest plains. He remains wary of undue attention, but from time to time his desire to perform overwhelms him. Lucky us.