Sequins and Shpiel with Rachael Sage

This article is from 2009.

Rachael Sage l

Former ballerina Rachael Sage leads Camilla Pia a merry dance while discussing her Fringe gig debut, Sequins & Shpiel. But more crucially, will the New York singer songwriter hook up with a Scottish sweetheart from her dim and distant past?

Will Rachael Sage ever relax? The multi award-winning self-taught musician, singer and songwriter is currently working on her ninth record Delancey Street, amidst completing a steady stream of tour dates, overseeing charity projects, working on a remix album, scribbling a book of poetry and knocking out music for a kiddies compilation all about caring for the environment. Yet, this super-prolific New Yorker – who has been compared stylistically to Laura Nyro, Tori Amos and Patti Smith – can still find time to chat about her forthcoming Fringe appearance.

‘I’m bouncing off the walls already, I can’t wait!’ she exclaims. ‘It’s pretty rare that I have the opportunity to do my show within a context as unabashedly “theatrical” as the Fringe. I’m usually the oddball folk-pop gal who’s wearing glitter and sequins and performing monologues in various accents, between my songs. I’ve been wanting to play the Fringe since I first heard about it when I was in college. So yes, I’m psyched.’

Aside from promoting her hugely diverse musical wares, Sage is also hoping to encounter a special someone this year. Do tell. ‘When I was little, about seven I think, I stayed with a family at their farm in Scotland on a family vacation. I recall being very impressed by the father’s kilt, and the warmth and hospitality of this family in general and I also had a crush on their nine-year-old son. Their name was “McLain”. I wish I could track them down and go visit, or at least invite them to the shows but I have no idea where they lived exactly! Maybe they’ll read this article and we’ll have a reunion somehow.’

Now while The List is all for getting folk together, let’s get back to the issue in hand. Her rather eccentric-sounding show is entitled Sequins & Shpiel: An Evening with New York’s Rachael Sage, and promises to be a wacky blend of pop and performance, with Sage herself describing her live forays generally as ‘eclectic, adventurous, poignant, communal, idealistic, sarcastic, colourful, irreverent and meticulous’. But what does she have planned for this one in particular? ‘Basically, it’s a smorgasbord of songs from all my various albums, including my current and my forthcoming, loosely strung together by stories and anecdotes about my adventures on the road, my former life as a ballerina, and my wacky Jewish family.’

Plus, there’ll be a lot of improvisation, humour, vibrant attire and some deeper reflection upon the drive of being an artist. ‘Dynamics are really important to me,’ she goes on to explain, ‘so I try to stay very much in the moment and permit plenty of spontaneity, even for my own band. Ultimately, it’s about taking the audience on a journey, so a lot of it depends on their energy, and I never do the same show twice. I have ADD, so I get bored only doing songs from a current project so I like to really draw from a long potential list of tunes. Often the songs I write out in advance on a “set list” never even get played and I usually go with what jumps into my head at the moment, and thankfully I have a band who are phenomenal at following me, whatever I launch into.

Rachael Sage, City, Market Street, 0131 226 0000, 7–11 Aug, 8pm, £8 (£5).

Sequins & Shpiel: An Evening With New York's Rachael Sage

'One part Elton John, one part Kate Bush' (Uncut), American art-pop songstress Rachael Sage debuts at the Fringe with a healthy mix of vaudevillian shtick, 'Yiddishkeit' and her signature pianistic flair.

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