As soon as I saw it advertised, I booked tickets straight away. It was an evening at one of my favourite cabaret bars in Sydney – Bar Me – featuring one of my favourite cabaret singers – Tim Draxl – doing the works of one of my favourite jazz musicians – Chet Baker – so how could I go wrong?
Colin, Grant and I had seen Tim Draxl perform and talk about the works of Chet Baker in August last year. As he noted when he performed, it was the night of the Bledisloe Cup. Amusingly, it was another footy night in Sydney, with the NRL Grand Final action many kilometres away at Homebush.
As the crowd was packed into the stadium there, so too, were we packed in to Bar Me. I don’t know how many people were in the small, cellar-style venue in Kings Cross, but I’m reasonably pleased there wasn’t a fire or an evacuation. We had great seats, but it sure was tight. And it was warm.
But at the same time, it was a great venue for the show, dealing as it did with the story of 1950s jazz musician who was described as “The James Dean Of Jazz”.
Whether or not that was hype remains open to discussion, but he was certainly an interesting character, with his rather curious family upbringing, his heavy use of a wide range of drugs, and speculation about his sexuality.
Throughout the show Tim Draxl talks a bit about Baker’s sexuality, ranging from teenage poofter-bashing at school, to early twenties “partying hard” (was that a euphemism?), and to a later emphatic denial of homosexuality when he plays Baker in character.
Early in the piece, though, Tim sang the song “My Buddy” with such an urgent sexuality, that you couldn’t help but be down the path of speculation…
As a performer, Tim Draxl continues to grow. Every time I see him, he gets better. He gets more honest. He gets more real. He still holds something of himself back, though. And in tonight’s show he spoke about how that’s why he likes Baker – that he was somewhat of an introvert too. One day I’d like to see Tim really drop his guard, really open up. I’m sure that will happen one day.
Whenever I see him perform, though, I’m reminded of the young man I interviewed when he was 18 or 19 on ABC Radio. He seemed to have a lot of self-control/reserve even then.