Maurice Chevalier said, "Thank Heaven for little girls," & Veronique Chevalier says, "Thank Hell for La Moi!"
She's a twisted Edith Piaf from an alternate reality; Parodist; Creatrix of Gothic Polka,
& Inventrix of Steampunk Haiku, aka "Steamku."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

* Polka Haunt Us Featured in SCARS Magazine!

Two words: Gothic. Polka.

Gothic, spooky-old, polka. You might not have known it even existed. Today, I am ashamed I didn’t know. Polka occasionally makes its way to our consciences around this time of year, mostly diluted by distractions at Oktoberfests, but Veronique Chevalier…aka the “Weird Val” of Dark Cabaret…is changing how we think of the accordion with her compilation, “Polka Haunt Us: A Spook-tacular Compilation.”

POLKA HAUNT US!!! The name alone is enough to kill me, and from the moment I listened to the first track – “The Beer Hall In Hell” – I couldn’t stop smiling. Honestly. Polka Haunt Us. Weird Val may have been gonged off the first season of America’s Got Talent, but all I know is, this is the stuff for me. And I’m not alone. “Polka Haunt Us” was an official selection for Best Polka in the 51st Grammy’s Ballot.

Veronique acted as Executive Producer and lyricist on the compilation, bringing together talent from the polka (and greater) sphere to perform on each track. Really, “Polka Haunt Us” is a concept album, filled with stories from mythology and folklore from across the globe. While it’s definitely the season for gothic polka, these creepy narratives transcend Halloween. There’s an obvious labor of mad love behind Veronique’s research, lyrics, and song titles.

There’s no way to argue this isn’t without its hokiness. (Polka-hokey-ness.) But it’s rooted in cabaret! If we can’t be campy here, where can we? Plus, there’s talent behind the strange. Check out the video for my personal favorite, “Fisher Bird Girl,” based on a Norwegian folktale.

And if that was more seriously surreal than you expected, check out more light-hearted polka fare with “Vampire Surprise,” which tells the tale of an enterprising cook “turning the tables” on bothersome vamps.

Like any concept album, “Polka Haunt Us: A Spook-tacular Compilation” is best heard in full. Experienced is probably the better word than “heard,” because even after a total listen, my brain still can’t quite process the awesome oddity of this album. Stream it at Reverbnation or buy it at PolkaHaunt.Us.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

* LA Weekly Article: An Evening of Steampunkery

Journalist Liz Ohanesian wrote a lovely follow-up article in the LA Weekly Blog, about our Evening of Steampunkery on Sunday, September 20th @ Echo Curio:
Scenes from An Evening of Steampunkery
By Liz Ohanesian in Last Night, Synthful

Photo by Liz Ohanesian
Veronique Chevalier and Seth Bedford

Several years ago, LA-based performer Veronique Chevalier launched Red Velvet Vaudeville Variety Show. During its existence, the performances won acclaim for bringing together an eclectic cross-section of performers linked together through the singer's witty MC stylings. Last night's event A Red Velvet & Sepiachord Evening of Steampunkery, held at Echo Curio, relied primarily on music, but still conveyed traces of vaudevillian presentation.

The evening was divided into halves, with each artist playing two short sets. Mixing together sentimental pop (Eli August), performance art (April Hava Shenkman), accordion-based comedy (Seth Bedford) and Victorian synthpop (Unextraordinary Gentlemen) is tricky, but the night moved quickly and cohesively. Chevalier performed one number with accordionist Seth Bedford in between each set.

Chevalier's character is the rumored "long lost granddaughter" of Maurice Chevalier, a French ballerina whose career was cut short when a crazed cowboy shot out the lights in a theater, causing her to fall into the orchestra pit. She has turned to cabaret as a creative outlet and, like all good cabaret artists, mixes randy tunes with dramatic cover songs sung in a very thick accent. The clip below is a cover of "People Are Strange" that has become a staple of her sets.

Veronique Chevalier "People Are Strange"

Photo by Liz Ohanesian
Malcom Schreek of UXG

Unextraordinary Gentlemen were one of the evening's guests. Their sets reminded us alternately of Nick Cave, Virgin Prunes and Monty Python, the latter of which the band discussed in our interview from last Friday. Below is a clip of the trio performing "Black Iron Road."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

* An Evening Of Steampunkery @ Echo Curio, 9/20/09

* Time: September 20, 2009 from 8pm to 11pm
* Location- Echo Curio
* Street- 1519 Sunset Blvd.
* City/Town- Echo Park, Ca 90026
* Website-
* Cost- 8 Bux ($8)
* Event Type: all ages, public entertainment & music
* Organized By: Veronique Chevalier & Veronique's Red Velvet Present!

Join MADcap Mistress of Ceremonies MADemoiselle Veronique as she presents another evening of guerrilla vaudeville at Echo Curio.

Guests artists include:

* Seth Bedford (of New York City) - Composer/Accordionist/Vocalist & Veronique's Official Accompanist

* Unextraordinary Gentlement (UXG) - Los Angeles-based Purveyors of Otherworldly Sonic Excellence-

* Eli August (of Madison, WI) - Droll Outsider Folk Trio featuring Uke, Standup Bass & Percussion

* April Hava Shenkan - Presenting the World Premiere of her new performance piece set to "Blank Face Goblins" (a track from Veronique's Polka Haunt Us: A Spook-tacular Compilation CD)-