Watch WFMT’s Live Cabaret of Music, Comedy, and More

By Stephen Raskauskas |

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The WFMT Cabaret is a new series that brings together diverse artists for performance and broadcast before a live audience.

The first WFMT Cabaret, in fall 2016, was at the Uptown Underground, a burlesque longue in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Composer, musician, and WFMT announcer Robbie Ellis hosted from the piano, and was joined by KAIA String Quartet, singer Bethany Thomas, and storyteller Jack Zimmerma.

In January 2017, actress and singer Hollis Resnik hosted an evening of music and spoken word around the theme “If on a winter’s night a traveler…” at Pregnant Buffalo Lounge, a subterranean space at the Chopin Theatre. The evening featuring performances by pianist Vassily Primakov, actress McKenzie Chinn, folk ensemble Foiled Again, and music director Doug Peck.

In April 2017, the event brought together two Chicago-based ensembles, the band Big Sadie and the Kontras Quartet. Robbie Ellis returned to share some comedic compositions of his own.

Enjoy highlights from WFMT Cabaret events below.

Hear Big Sadie Blend American Folk Traditions in New Tunes, Live at the Pregnant Buffalo Lounge

Chicago-based band Big Sadie performed at the third WFMT Cabaret hosted in the Pregnant Buffalo Lounge at the Chopin Theatre. Big Sadie is influenced by music from across America, with its core members Elise Bergman and Collin Moore hailing from the Midwest and Appalachia respectively. Rounding out the band’s current lineup are banjo player Andy Malloy and fiddler Matt Brown. Big Sadie ...

Composer, Comedian Robbie Ellis Sings Original Tunes That’ll Have You in Stitches

WFMT announcer Robbie Ellis has shared his talents as a comedian and composer as the host of WFMT’s Cabaret series. During the most recent WFMT Cabaret, Ellis revealed his favorite (albeit unconventional) place to pick up a date: the book club. His song, “Book Club,” suggests a few strategies for attracting and impressing a companion who is literarily inclined. Watch ...

Kontras Quartet Brings Together Classical and Folk Traditions Live at the Pregnant Buffalo Lounge

Continuing its Cabaret series, WFMT brought together diverse artists in the Pregnant Buffalo Lounge, a subterranean space at the Chopin Theatre, on Monday, April 17, 2017. WFMT announcer Robbie Ellis hosted the performance and broadcast before a live audience that featured two Chicago-based ensembles, the band Big Sadie and the Kontras Quartet. The string quartet gets its name from the ...

KAIA Quartet Plays Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 20, No. 4 in D

KAIA String Quartet joined comedian Robbie Ellis, singer Bethany Thomas, and storyteller Jack Zimmerman for the inaugural WFMT Cabaret at Uptown Underground. KAIA, WFMT’s first ensemble-in-residence, is dedicated to sharing Latin American culture through the medium of the string quartet. During the cabaret, the quartet played pieces from several centuries, including works by Astor Piazzolla and Joaquín Turina, that share ...

Pianist Vassily Primakov Plays Chopin and Rachmaninoff

The Pregnant Buffalo Lounge, a subterranean space at the Chopin Theatre, was home to the second WFMT Cabaret on Monday, January 23, 2017. A variety of performers gathered to warm audience members up with a live performance and broadcast on a chilly evening including folk group Foiled Again, actress McKenzie Chinn, vocalists Christine Mild and Alexis J. Roston, and pianist Vassily Primakov, a ...

VIDEO | Bethany Thomas brings down the house with her soulful vocal stylings

On Monday, October 24, 2016 at Uptown Underground, WFMT presented its inaugural Cabaret before a live audience. A wide range of acts took the stage that night. WFMT announcer Robbie Ellis, who happens to be both a composer and a comedian, shared some of his original silly songs. KAIA String Quartet’s shared classical works that have folk roots. Singer Bethany ...