While in primary school, Foxtel’s Turner Classic Movies and Fox Classics TV channels introduced me to wonderful cinematic classics starring musical stars like Doris Day, Fred Astaire, and Judy Garland. My grandfather’s CD collection and local RTRFM radio show Nostalgia introduced me to classics by Tommy Dorsey’s Orchestra, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra. It is to this musical and cinematic history that Memory Lane pays tribute.
Memory Lane is a nostalgic cabaret show for audiences young and old who appreciate and love the film, music, and radio stars of the 1910s-1950s. Featuring songs by Doris Day, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and many more, Memory Lane at Ellington Jazz Club invites you to wander back through time on a sentimental journey as Jake Dennis and the Mint Jazz Band perform familiar and forgotten standards you love from cinematic and music icons of the first half of the 20th Century.
The perfect show for those who love to reminisce and sing-a-long, Memory Lane is scheduled for 6pm Sunday 22nd May. Tickets to Memory Lane make the perfect gift for yourself, your parents, or your friends who love jazz, swing, and blues classics and who love the intimate and classy atmosphere of The Ellington.
Jake Dennis and the Mint Jazz Band’s highly successful cabaret shows Classic Crooners, Come Fly With Me, Gatsby’s Cabaret, and Like Blown Smoke were performed to full houses at Perth’s best venues, including Downstairs at His Majesty’s Theatre, Ellington Jazz Club, Laneway Lounge, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, Kalamunda Performing Arts Centre, and the Don Russell Performing Arts Centre. Book your tickets through Ellington Jazz Club today to secure your place for you and your family at Memory Lane.
Last year I ventured to Soundbaker studios with Chris Marquand (drums), Mark Cunniffe (piano), Kate Pass (double bass), and Alana Macpherson (saxophone) to record two songs: Harry Connick Jr.’s “Whipser Your Name” and Ray Charles’s “Drown In My Own Tears.” These recordings will contribute to my first studio album which I will complete one day when I have the money. You can check out the recordings on my SoundCloud account or you check out the TV performance versions in the clips above and below. Thank you to Fred for having us on his show The Couch to showcase these new recordings on TV.
Both songs feature in my upcoming cabaret show “Like Blown Smoke” which I am bringing back for one night only at Rigby’s Bar and Bistro on Friday 29th April. The show, which premiered Downstairs at His Majesty’s Theatre in 2014, features my first ever original song as well as my hip-hop track “Funk Express” with rapper Boycizm who will make a special guest appearance on the night. The line-up for the night includes Murray Wilkins (double bass) and Tim Voutas (piano) as well as a surprise appearance from Soul Corporation band member Clive Dennis (guitar). I may even have a beautiful lady on stage with me. 😉
So join us at “Like Blown Smoke” for a fun and romantic night of music made famous by Bruno Mars, Adele, Ray Charles, Maroon 5, Nina Simone, John Legend, Ella Fitzgerald, and more. Book your tickets here. Rigby’s offers a special show and 3-course dinner package for $60 or, if you would rather select from the bar and a la carte menu on the night, the ticket to just see the show is only $30. Hope to see you there!
Perth’s FRINGE WORLD Festival has begun! Jake Dennis and the Mint Jazz Band are proud to present you with three shows: Classic Crooners, Come Fly With Me, and Gatsby’s Cabaret. Whether you love a romantic story featuring songs by Sinatra to Buble (Classic Crooners), travelling from Paris to New York through the magic of classic and contemporary songs (Come Fly With Me), or getting dressed up for a night out with The Great Gatsby (Gatsby’s Cabaret), we have the FRINGE WORLD show for you!
Nat King Cole, The Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin), Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Harry Connick Jr., Michael Buble, and Jamie Cullum have set the gentlemanly standard for classic swing standards like “Lady Is A Tramp,” “Have You Met Miss Jones?,” and “Mack The Knife.” Following in the footsteps of these leading men, Jake Dennis and the Mint Jazz Band are excited to bring to the Ellington Jazz Club a cabaret show featuring classic crooner hits as well as the comedic talents of local actress Natasha Dawson who plays the love interest in this romantic story of love. This show was a hit with audiences last year at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, Fremantle’s Fibonacci Centre, and the Town of Cottesloe’s Music for Pleasure series. Don’t miss out!
Book your tickets for Classic Crooners today!
Come Fly With Me
Whether you love jazz, swing, and blues legends like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Doris Day, and Natalie Cole, or reggae, soul, and pop classics by Stevie Wonder, Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson, and Maroon 5, you will have a great time aboard Mint Jazz Airlines. Flying to destinations in Europe (France, Ireland, London, etc) and America (Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York etc) through song, this cabaret show takes off at the luxurious Laneway Lounge and you all have first class seats! This show has sold out ahead of Opening Night every time it has been presented (FRINGE WORLD 2015 and at The Ellington Jazz Club 2014).
Tickets for Come Fly With Me on sale!
Private Jay Gatsby, a coloured musician from the poor side of town, competes with elitist Tom Buchanan, a wealthy womaniser, for the love of the beautiful Daisy in this dramatic reimagining of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Featuring songs from the 1910s to 2010s, this theatrical show features talented local actors Sjaan Lucas (Daisy Faye), Fleur Pereira (Hattie Berry), Samuel Barbas (Tom Buchanan), as well as Jake Dennis (Jay Gatsby) and the Mint Jazz Band. Every ticket you purchase for this show puts you in the draw to win the nightly prize for Best Dressed Lady & Best Dressed Gentleman.
Book your place at Gatsby’s Cabaret today!
Relive the magic of Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and other great men of the stage and cinema (Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin) and enjoy songs made famous by Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Buble.
Whether you enjoy romantic ballads or swinging tunes, you will enjoy CLASSIC CROONERS – a cabaret about manliness, love, and enjoying life.
Presented by the Town of Cottesloe as part of their 2015 Music for Pleasure concert series.
Tickets: $15 (Adults), $12 (Concession)
Call Clive (0407 372 563) to book your tickets before this cabaret show sells out!
THE CREATION OF “GATSBY’S CABARET”
“There was music from Gatsby’s house through the summer nights.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby).
What can I bring to The Great Gatsby that has not already been done in Perth before? Since the 2013 film release, there have already been many Gatsby themed events and cabarets. I decided that mine will be different not only from these but from the novel and films as well because I will tell the story from the perspective of Gatsby himself. Gatsby’s story has always been told from the outsider’s point-of-view, usually the novel’s narrator Nick. In addition, I will emphasise an often glossed-over aspect of the novel: the overt racism prevalent at that time and the fear that African Americans would unbalance the “rightful” place of those who preferred white supremacy. Fitzgerald merely hints at this in his novel through Tom’s character. I will bring this racial tension to the forefront in my production. My production also features songs from the 1910s to the 2010s – songs made famous by artists as diverse as Drake and Billie Holiday, Leonard Cohan and George Michael, Rihanna and Dean Martin. So treat yourself and your lover or friends to the one night only show Gatsby’s Cabaret!
TAKING CENTRE STAGE
“In his blue gardens, men and girls came and went like moths among the whispers and the champagne and the stars.” – F Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby).
Proud to be on stage with the founding members of Mint Jazz Band (Chris Marquand, Mark Cunniffe, and Malcolm Mah), this cabaret will also feature the incredible talents of actors Fleur Pereira, Andrew Philips, and Claire Thomas. Fleur is a Mumbai born actress who recently starred n New City Theatre’s production of The Criminal Went That Way. I met Fleur on the set of a music video for local band Surroundings and then worked with her again in a TAB print and television ad for the TAB. Andrew is a stand up comic and actor currently working with both the Jome Performing Arts Club and the WA Youth Theatre Company and currently in a production with Claire. We met on the set of a Landgate commercial. Claire is in fact the same actress/dancer who played “MJ’s girl” in my Fringe World production of Come Fly With Me this year. She is a trained ballet dancer currently working on Limelight Theatre’s production of Snoopy the Musical. On stage, I like to give everyone a chance to take centre stage and draw the audience’s attention so in the show you will see these actors shine. I want everyone to shine. The script I have written for the show will allow you to see how excellent these actors are in their roles. Similarly, you will be able to enjoy the tremendous talent of Mint Jazz Band members Mark, Chris, and Malcolm during the show through their musical prowess and solos. Don’t miss out on this one night only opportunity to see these talented people take centre stage.
“Each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again.” – F. Scott Fiztgerald (The Great Gatsby).
Thank you to Maneera de Mel (aka Beauty by Maneera) who created the photographic images for the show.
Thank you to poet and journalist Mandy Mo Tu for the smashing interview she wrote about the show for Rotunda Media.
Thank you to actor and radio presenter Brendan Ellis for his hilarious interview on his Thurs night show Sitcom on Twin Cities Radio. Soon to be available.
Thank you to actress and presenter Rebecca Caldwell for her solid interview on Herding Cats Production’s online TV series Popcorn.
Thank you to poet and friend Karen Murphy for once again offering to create a stunning show programme.
Thank you to radio presenter Matthew Cappeluti for his radio interview with me on his Radio Fremantle Friday night show The Mixed Bag. Show his page some love by giving it a Facebook like 😉
Thank you to radio presenter Sue Myc for the interview on Twin Cities Radio’s Sue Myc Morning Show (interview below).
Thank you to any newspapers, social media outlets, and all friends, family, colleagues, and kind-hearted people that help promote this show. Your kindness helps to make shows like this possible.
Thank you in advance to any reviewers and people attending the show. Contact me should you require any photos or have any questions about tickets. Please like my Facebook page if you haven’t already and make sure you book your tickets before there are no more left.
Thank you to Rigby’s Bar & Bistro for allowing us to present “Gatsby’s Cabaret.” Here’s to a terrific entertainment partnership!
$30 show tickets available as well as $60 show + 3 course meal tickets available online from: Rigby’s Bar & Bistro.
One week after resigning from work at UWA, I was already in two newspapers for my work as an entertainer – The West Australian (for a Cancer Council Relay for Life fundraiser show) and The Manjimup-Bridgetown Times (for a feature at Jazz in the Jarrah, supporting the Royal Flying Doctors Service and Lions Club charities).
I also secured a booking for my first show at Rigby’s Bar and Bistro in St George’s Terrace to perform my third original cabaret show: “Gatsby’s Cabaret” which is inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel and the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. A few weeks later, I was in the local papers again (Western Suburbs Weekly, twice, and once in The Post) and my first Fringe World show (a reprisal of my first cabaret show Come Fly With Me) sold out at the Ellington Jazz Club. To say I have no regrets for giving up well-paid fulltime employment at a highly respected institution is an understatement. I feel happier, stress-free, and more fulfilled than I have been in a long time.
I left work to pursue my singing career and my achievements so far include a wonderful run at the Naked Fig Cafe with Mint Jazz Band, performing with a corporate band at the Laneway Lounge, taking Portuguese lessons to learn two verses of “The Girl from Ipanema,” being taught piano by my highly talented English teacher and friend Dr Mary Ellen MacDonald, entertaining in Manjimup, appearing at the Twilight Hawkers Market, being interviewed and performing on Radio Fremantle’s The Mixed Bag, singing at three cancer charity fundraisers in one week, and enjoying a completely sold out season at Fringe World!
Many singers I admire are also brilliant actors (Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Barbara Streisand, etc.) or have acted in various capacities (Jennifer Hudson, Whitney Houston, Nat King Cole, etc.). As an entertainer, I incorporate acting into a lot of my performances. It therefore seems natural that I have turned to acting to extend myself as a performing artist.
Over the last month I have been in one promotional lifestyle advertisement for a property company, one music video for a local band, featured once in Irish comedian Mary Bourke’s show “Muffragette” and acted as one of the sexy Curtin Library hosts in the Fringe World Pleasure Gardens.
I used to fear auditions but now I enjoy them. In this past week alone, I had four auditions – all parts I would love to play. Like waiting for the call from X Factor producers after successfully completing the first local rounds of auditions, I just have to wait for the call.
In the one month since resigning from work, I have had a blast! Spending time with my beautiful girlfriend Maneera (who started her own YouTube channel and Facebook page called Beauty by Maneera), completing a barista course at Dome Cafe, working as a show promoter at Fringe World, trying out a swing dancing class, and going to the gym, are some of the activities I have enjoyed. I also joined Weekend Notes as a contributor and put my English skills to use in two reviews: a comedy show review about Neel Kolhatkar’s latest comedy show and a theatre review of “Moving On Inc.”
Keep your eyes and ears ready for more great news to come!
P.S. Tickets to “Gatsby’s Cabaret,” a live cabaret show and three course dinner at Rigby’s Bar and Bistro, are selling fast. Book your tickets today! Jake Dennis and the Mint Jazz Band’s previous cabaret shows (Come Fly With Me and Like Blown Smoke) both sold out in advance of their opening nights! 😉
Everyone has a passion; a talent, a knack, a love for something in life. You do it with all your heart and your soul. Whether it is fitness, business enterprise, social work, teaching, welding, theatrical design, being a great father, etc., it is your gift, your skill, your powerful strength. It is your contribution to the world. Encourage people who do not believe in their talent, cannot recognise it, or think it is unimportant to discover it, foster it, and realise its importance.
I feel deeply sad for the people whose passions and talents are kept from the world. The starving the first world refuses to feed. The sick the advanced world leaves unable to breathe. Their dreams and life goals may not be fulfilled. If you are reading this, your dreams and the dreams of those you encourage just may be. Share this post with a friend you believe in and want to help today.
Few have the privilege of reaching their full potential. They may not have access to education or the benefit of wealth. They may lack powerful connections. They may not have time. Unfortunate and unfair as this is, I believe we must use what privilege and strength we are blessed with to achieve what you can achieve during your brief life.
For the last two and a half years I have been resigned to full-time administrative work. When I applied I had no idea that my singing and poetry careers would take off or that my work as a freelance journalist would have to subside. 2014 began with the dream of publishing my first poetry manuscript. That dream ended when both my laptop and my backup hard-drive died. Nevertheless, poetry that I had sent out prior to that, was published; in WA’s premier literary journal Westerly, in two QLD journals (Social Alternatives, The Mozzie), online (Eureka Street), in Singapore (Galavant), and in three literary anthologies (The Stars Like Sand, Short and Twisted 2014, & Poetic Justice: Contemporary Australian Voices On Equality and Human Rights).
However, In the first week of December 2014 as I was writing a new poem after reading reams of Emily Dickinson, I realised that I was writing my first new poem in 8 months. This was both an achievement and a wake-up call. My dreams of having a poetry collection published were slipping away. I will never forget the words of a co-worker who expressed so damningly the truth about working in a situation that advances everyone else’s career but your own. “We work to make others’ dreams come true,” she said. I hope this situation is not familiar to you.
Addressing you, Dear Friend, I address myself in advising you not to resign your life to endure situations that become incompatible with your dreams. Regret is a deep chasm that cannot be filled. Of course, it is very difficult (even for those in the first world) to not spend their lives doing so; the artist’s paints cost money, the dancer must pay for tuition, and almost all professions require formal certification. Living expenses can themselves be impediments to living your passionate life. Then of course there are the unforeseeable tragedies of life. But if you are not currently living a passionate life, challenge yourself to consider what options are available to you. If you are like me, you may have to resign yourself to sacrifice but in the end you will smile. Consider this my post-NYE wake up call.
“There’s two kinds of blues: happy blues and then sad blues… blues is sort of a mixed-up thing. You just have to feel it. Everything I do sing is part of my life.” – Billie Holiday (1957)
Anybody who knows me or who has followed me as a singer knows that I love to sing ballads: love songs and sad songs. I am drawn to these songs because I love to sing what I feel. For me the most important part of a song is the lyric. I cannot sing well a song with lyrics that have no resonance for me. The blues have a resonance for me and when I perform blues, I hope people who have felt down or depressed, downtrodden or angry, betrayed or hurt, remember those times that have passed or which still linger and feel a bit better. After all, there’s no fun being blue alone and, as my friend entertainer Ross Vegas once reminded me, “When you have the blues, there’s nothing better than the blues!”
It took nearly two years, but my dream of performing at the Perth Blues Club became a reality on Tuesday October 7th 2014. The desire to perform there came to me late one night as I sat admiring the club’s glowing neon blue logo through their website. Most of my career as a singer I had never delved into blues music per se but I had sung many emotionally heavy bluesy songs. Diving into the blues genre is thrilling.
Two singers who really speak to me through their work in blues are Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, and Nina Simone. Since hearing the haunting, fragile, life-worn and fry-heavy vocals of Lady Day on Lady In Satin (1958) as a teenager, I have been mesmerised by her work. As a racially-aware political adult, the hard-edged, spunky, anger-fuelled blues of Nina Simone began to appeal to me. Through hearing Norah Jones perform “Drown In My Own Tears” and “You Don’t Know Me,” I became a fan of Ray Charles. However, putting together a blues band for a show turned out harder than I expected.
In the end, my cabaret Like Blown Smoke turned out to be the catalyst for adding blues songs to Mint Jazz Band’s repertoire. In it, I finally had the opportunity to sing a lot of blues. Artists, musicians, creative of the world, if you want to succeed in your craft and in your work, create work that you can be proud of, work that excites you. Our lives end in a second so use your life to create and be a part of moments that make you happy. If you are a struggling expressionist try turning face-painting jobs into works of expressionist art. If you are a fantasy fiction writer working in data entry, find a way to only enter data part-time. If you are a rock god guitarist stuck playing military marches, find a way to leave! You will be happier performing and creating work you truly feel.
Don’t get me wrong, I still perform and feel jazz and pop music. But for a few great nights DownStairs at the Maj, and one night I’ll never forget at what is recognised by many national and international acts as “the best Blues Club in Australia,” I was my own brand of the jazzy blues man. I am proud to write that on my inaugural night at the Perth Blues Club, my band and I received three encores!
As the Disney song promises you, “When you wish upon a star your dreams come true.” What the song omits is that, even if you are lucky enough to have your dreams come true, you often face years of struggle and heartache. “If you hold on to your hopes and dreams,” my mum has always reminded me, “you will one day succeed.” Love, support, faith, and a determination to never give up can make all of your dreams realities.
Since childhood I’ve wanted to perform to appreciative audiences at a top concert venue like my idols (Judy Garland, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, etc.). This year it finally happened when I performed two SOLD OUT nights of my self-devised cabaret show Like Blown Smoke as part of the 2014 Cabaret Soiree season DownStairs at His Majesty’s Theatre! Dedicated to my girlfriend Maneera de Mel and directed by the super talented Rhoda Lopez and Ross Vegas, the show featured Mint Jazz Band with a supporting cast of contributors on and off-stage. To the Cabaret Soiree team, publicity and media supporters, technical and audio crew, helpers on & off-stage, my band, directors, and cast, and to each and every audience member, I thank you. The show strengthened me as an artist and, has been the highlight of my singing career so far.
Thank you to Ridzwan Mahdi for these incredible photos.
Thank you also to local artist Karen Murphy for this beautifully designed theatre show programme – my first ever!
The show received some terrific publicity, including interviews on Fremantle Radio, RTR FM, and Twin Cities Radio. You will be able to hear these later through my SoundCloud account. Until then, check out this interview uploaded by Twin Cities radio programmer Malti Elliott as well as this awesome interview from Out in Perth. Thanks to Australian Stage, I also received my very first show review which wonderfully said I have “a fine voice and an impressive vocal range… charm to spare… the voice and the moves!” I was proud of the glowing review of my band Mint Jazz Band. Perth Concert Hall publicist Claire Condry wrote that they performed “excellent solos,” displayed “marvellous” musicianship, and described us as “a young, vibrant ensemble [who] recreate the classic night club vibe of the 50’s/60’s, where a singer introduces a song and each member goes on to cleverly embroider the theme instrumentally.” Such a blessing to receive such a review.
If you would like to know more about future shows, stay in touch, or provide any feedback, please feel free to contact Jake Dennis through Facebook or the Contact Jake page.
Like Blown Smoke invites you on a journey with one suave Casanova who has been unlucky in love but never gives up. Expect soulful blues, swinging jazz, and funky pop tunes, complemented by storytelling and gutsy erotic poetry from this mysterious and romantic gentleman who is ready to tell-all in love, relationships, and loss. Narrated by WA Equity Guild Best Actress winner Rhoda Lopez and starring Jake Dennis and the Mint Jazz Band who have headlined shows at The Ellington, Jazz Fremantle, and the Subiaco Arts Centre, Like Blown Smoke is an emotional rollercoaster of romance, comedy, and swagger.
Start the clocks, wipe the sky of words.
Fill the bed and wake in verse
your opened eyes. After my first kiss,
felt you heart begin. Remember this!
– from “Like Blown Smoke”
Written by internationally published poet and entertainer Jake Dennis (www.facebook.com/poetofjazz), Like Blown Smoke is a moody cabaret with songs made famous by Ray Charles, John Legend, Billie Holiday, and Bruno Mars, that encourages audiences to reflect on their own romantic histories as the story rises like smoke blown into passionate fire. Warning: Sexual themes and coarse language.
“Though the embers of your heart may be reduced to a slow pulsing glow, love’s breath can bring you back to life!”
Book your tickets through Ticketek today! Tickets for Like Blown Smoke on sale now.
Tip: Sign up to His Majesty’s VIP for free here and you can get a VIP card in the mail with a discount code so you can buy tickets for only $33!