Brian Calhoon, a percussionist and Jamaica Plain local, has never been one to rest on his laurels. A successful arts administrator as Director of Admissions with the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Executive Director of the Boston Percussion Group, and core percussionist with Equilibrium Ensemble, Calhoon is preparing to launch the third year of his latest musical adventure, Marimba Cabaret.
Taking place on October 29 and November 25 at Club Café in the South End, Marimba Cabaret features Calhoon playing the marimba and on voice, music director Greg Jukes on drums, and special guest artists at each performance. The unexpectedly refreshing performances feature covers of movie, pop, and musical theatre songs, as well as candid storytelling throughout the evening.
“Developing Marimba Cabaret allows me to explore music in a way I was always passionate about, but never knew if it would be accepted in the music community,” Calhoon explains. "Marimba is my first love, but I also love to sing Broadway and karaoke. There never seemed to be a way to incorporate all of my interests until I developed Marimba Cabaret.”
Living in JP has allowed Brian a chance to be inspired by its surroundings and to explore his musical creativity. Starting out with practice space at the 128 Brookside Ave artist studios, Calhoon was able to kick start his musical passion.
“I have always felt 'home' in JP as an artist, and feel an especially close bond with the Forest Hills Cemetery,” he explains. “It features work by the woodworking artist, Mitch Ryerson, and I fell in love with his 'marimba benches' prominently displayed at the main entrance. I was inspired by these benches and featured them in a music video featuring a contemporary piece for marimba and my voice, 'The Uncertainty of The Poet'."
The October 29 performance’s theme is “Dress-Up,” and Calhoon and his guest, another JP local, singer Anna Ward, will showcase songs and characters from iconic musicals such as The Sound of Music, Grey Gardens, and Wicked. They’ll also escape into the magical world of Disney with songs like A Whole New World from “Aladdin,” and premiere a “princess mashup” designed to delight the most hard core fans. They’ll also include songs from the “Princesses of Pop,” Beyoncé, Adele, and Whitney Houston, with all-new arrangements of Beyoncé’s emotional ballad Sandcastles, a mash-up of Adele’s smash hits Hello & Someone Like You with a surprise special guest, and Wilson Phillips’ ballad Hold On.
The November 25 show at 8 pm, titled Marimba Cabaret: Throwback, sees Calhoon and Jukes collaborating with West Roxbury-based singer-songwriter Carrie Cheron for an evening of hits from the 80s and 90s. Known for her warm and velvety vocals, Cheron will sing and play guitar alongside Brian on the marimba and Greg on drums.
If you’re curious about Marimba Cabaret, Brian encourages you to check out one of this fall’s shows. “I think people will be surprised and delighted at how relatable and fun the shows are,” he says.