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By Alexandra “Xandra” Fileccia
Sarah Fard sits on a piano bench; the light highlighting her face and guitar. As she starts to strum a slow, jazzy tune, Adlai Grayson lifts his head. He sits on the floor facing Fard and begins to dance along with soft, smooth movements; his pink, hooded poncho slowly becoming a prop. Grayson stands up, his arms creating shapes as he carefully curates his next move. He reaches out to the audience, some of which are sitting on the floor just steps away, and plays with an audience member’s hair. Fard stands up and the two of them sway back and forth mimicking toe-taps.
All Together Now, a collaborative multimedia performance, came to a close with its third installment on September 27. As its final show at The Lilypad in Cambridge, MA, the event did not disappoint. Show curator and pop-rock singer/bassist Anna Rae put together a truly unique performance that created space for performers of color and LGBT performers. Each installment of All Together Now showcased multiple artists using a variety of different mediums. At the last performance, there were four acts: Sarah Fard, Adlai Grayson, Johnny Blazes & 3rian King, and Hemway with acts ranging from stand up to drag to rock and jazz guitar.
Sarah Fard, singer and guitarist of Savior Faire, kicks off the third night of the show by transporting us back in time with her jazzy, sometimes Spanish-influenced, guitar and vertical scats. Her fluttering vibrato and moody, deep vocals hit your soul. “They don’t make them like they used to,” she sings. Her lyrics are loaded with gloomy angst. In her song titled “Someday,” she sings, “Isn’t it nice with your head up in the clouds?” During her set, she pauses between songs sharing tidbits about herself with the audience. “Music has to come naturally,” she says talking about how she writes her songs. She originally started out performing jazz standards at Lizard Lounge open mics. For Fard’s final song, she collaborates with drag performer and Co-founder of PROject Nailz Adlai Grayson. Grayson acts out Fard’s song through modern dance
For Grayson’s main act, the audience helps clear away the rows of chairs and benches. A runway forms through the standing crowd, a glimpse of what is yet to come. Grayson sits on the floor next to a pair of heels and the music starts, “Ready or not / here comes mama!” He puts on his heels; his eyes, made up in dark, glittery wings, sparkle under the stage lights as the other dancers, some from PROject Nailz, pulse their chests behind him. Everyone in Grayson’s act had a chance to strut down the runway or lead a dance number showcasing a diverse and talented crew. Dancers jump and bump clad in 80s workout gear, sweatbands and all, while classics like, “I’m So Excited,” and, “Take On Me” play.
Johnny Blazes and 3rian King followed Grayson’s performance with an act they call, “What’s Ten Years Between Queers,” a preview of their upcoming performance, “Do you Queer What I Queer.” With a mix of standup and covers, they tell the story of their own experience growing up in Boston and navigating identities. They parallel their stories set in two different decades: King’s story in the 70s and Blazes’ story in the 80s. Their cover of “The Time Warp” pulls in the audience with a familiar tune. King recollects a high school bully who tormented him for being gay. Blazes kicks the back of King’s chair acting out a skit as if Blazes is the bully. The story comes to a twist as King reveals the bully’s true intentions. Blazes follows that with the “gayest story ever,” (you’ll have to ask Blazes about it sometime, it really can’t get any gayer than that). Blazes then breaks out in “Out Tonight” from RENT, tying into their extremely gay story. Though each of their stories are personal, the dialogue represents bigger conversations in the LGBT community; lack of representation and role models, homophobia, and tokenization of queer people. The full show will be performed on September 14 at the Afterglow Festival in Provincetown, MA.
The night is wrapped up with a performance by Hemway. This pop-rock trio pulls from classic rock vocabulary with its complex guitar solos, distortion, and rock beats, yet brings a modern twist. Anna Rae, on bass and lead vocals, moves from higher pitched melodies to talk-singing political messages. She introduces a song that she wrote as an effort for white people to end white supremacy. “If you don’t look at it close / it all seems fine,” she says. James Brooks’ guitar solos, filled with plenty of bends, hammer-ons, and wah-wah bar, added a layer of intricacy. Anna Rae will be taking a bit of a hiatus from show organizing, but catch her with Hemway performing in Somerville on September 23!
All Together Now enabled people of color and LGBT people to share their voice by performing in their selected medium. The third installment of the series showcased many different genres from jazz to pop, and even comedy. Honestly, the world could use more collaborative pieces like this; it’s important that they exist among the never-ending abyss of homogeneous performances out there.
THE GIST: All Together Now delivered a diverse group of talented performers; truly a refreshing show.