Song of the Day: Joseph Arthur - "Robin"

Singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur shares his poignant and heartfelt tribute to Robin Williams. Please listen and share. As Robin once said, "No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world."

Clamour of Cabaret

A Clamour of Cabaret: A Volume of Vaudeville Varietals
Dysfunctional Theatre Company
UNDER St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place
Through August 16

The Dysfunctional Theatre Company's mission statement explains that the group considers the underperformed plays and twisted classics, which they present to be dysfunctional to show that "dysfunction isn’t a product of 21st or even 20th century life [but] a product of the human condition." A Clamour of Cabaret, hosted by bottle-wielding and genially bickering hosts F. Scott Fitzgerald (Rob Brown) and Edna St. Vincent Millay (Jennifer Gill), demonstrates the dysfunction within the narratives and other characteristic bits that leap to the nostalgic mind at the mention of "vaudeville" and "cabaret" performances, but it does so delightfully.

As characters struggle for control over the production -- the late arrival of Fitzgerald and Millay leads La Diva Chiara Tarabotti (Nicole Lee Aiossa, a dominant comic presence whenever she is on stage) to think that she will be hosting, the lighting and sound director (Justin Plowman) steps onto the stage to fill in as straight man for a rapidly collapsing take on "Who’s on First?" -- the show runs the gamut through song, dance, and light comedy, but each episode subverts the expectations built around the genre. Read more »

Dusty Wright - "29 Palms"

This is an unreleased bonus track for my solo album If We Never... It's a cover from former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant's 1993 Fate of Nations album. Cellist Matt Goeke lends his melodic playing throughout. Buy it today!

George Romero: The Master of Socially Conscious Horror

Few filmmakers can be said to be as prolific and influential as George Romero. An icon of the zombie film genre, Romero’s love of horror traces back to his youth, and watching classic monster films such as Frankenstein and Dracula. Romero’s love of these films set him on a path to not only create horror films himself, but to change and redefine the genre for decades to come. Read more »

Frans Brüggen R.I.P. October 30, 1934 – August 13, 2014

Frans Brüggen, who died today at age 79, co-founded the Dutch period-performance collective ensemble The Orchestra of the 18th Century in 1981 and continued to lead it even after he had to do so while seated. He was quoted in 2008 as saying that he planned to conduct until he dropped dead, and he did. And before his conducting career, he arguably did more to return the recorder (AKA flûte à bec, flauto dolce, Blockflöte) to prominence than anybody else in the 20th century. Brüggen's talents and intellectual devotion to period performance were recognized early; at age 21, he was appointed professor at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. He was one of the pioneers of "early music"/"period performance," a giant in his field, and his prolific recording career enriched the world immeasurably. Here are a few samples of his virtuosity. Read more »

Quote of the Week: Lady Gaga

"When you make music or write or create, it's really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you're writing about at the time."

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta AKA Lady Gaga (born March 28, 1986), American singer and fashion icon

Bring Me The Puppet Head of...!

Puppet Titus Andronicus
The Puppet Shakespeare Players, directed by Ryan Rinkel

If you like your Elizabethan revenge tragedy filtered through a mixture of Avenue Q and a Robot Chicken episode, then you can probably stop reading right here and go buy tickets to Puppet Titus Andronicus. This raucous reimagining of William Shakespeare's already over-the-top blood-soaked drama renders Muppet-on-Muppet mutilation and familial cannibalism more fun (and funny) than it probably has any right to be. The cast takes the Bard's early commercial hit, a play that begins with a religious sacrifice, runs through several deaths and a rape, and ends with a series of rapid-fire onstage murders that ostensibly tie up all of the loose ends--and which later, for reasons not understood by this reviewer, fell into critical disfavor for a couple of hundred years--and cloaks it in felt and silly string, combining the original text, scripted jokes, and improvisation. Read more »

Farmers by Nature: Love and Ghosts

Farmers by Nature: Love and Ghosts (AUM Fidelity)

Farmers by Nature is an all-star trio: pianist Craig Taborn, bassist William Parker, and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Though it is sonically inevitable that the piano tends to dominate such a group's sound, these guys are truly equals. All the tracks on this two-CD set (containing a pair of French concerts) were spontaneously generated by all three individuals listening acutely to each other. The 18-minute title track that kicks off the set does find Taborn most prominent, by a narrow margin, but then the quiet rhythmic etude "Without a Name" tilts the balance toward Cleaver and Parker. Read more »

Song of the Week: I Am Giant - "Transmission"

Okay, so this is cool. A little proggy, a little metalish, and a pinch of 4-on-floor rock. The London-based via New Zealand quartet I Am Giant performing "Transmission" from their sophomore album Science & Survival, co-produced by Forrester Saville (Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus, Helmut), bassist Paul Matthews and drummer Shelton Woolright, is a righteous way to start your weekend. Rawk on, dudes!

A Gallery Ramble under Darkening Clouds

Elizabeth: Trawling around today's Chelsea galleries recently made David and I mindful of the days when we would wander the streets of SOHO looking at art in some pretty great galleries. After the sun set, there were no Comme des Garçons or Cookshop to light the way home, but thin bedraggled men filling dumpsters with compacted shredded rags from the remaining sweatshops that dotted the area south of Houston Street. Frankly most of what was below Houston in the late 1970s and 80s was pretty creepy, outside of a few old standbys. Still, if you were there for the art, music or dancing, its edginess was exciting and romantic. It was also affordable to take a cab out of there -- if you could find one. Read more »

Lilting: A Four-Hanky Work of Art

Lilting is about loss times two. Mother and partner divided when their love object was alive. Battling still after his unexpected death. But although you will get teary eyed, the film is not depressive by any measure. Read more »

LP One-Take - "Night Like This"

Singer-songwriter LP performs a riveting solo acoustic version of her hit "Night Like This" recorded in NYC at the studio formerly known as The Hit Factory. One-Takes are live performances by artists you know, should know, or will know soon enough. Thanks to Warner Brothers and LP for the rights of usage.

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Madcap Fare

Strictly Dishonorable
by Preston Sturges
Directed by Laura Braza
The Attic Theater Company at The Flea Theater
41 White Street, Tribeca
July 22 - August 10, 2014

If one says the words "Preston Sturges' 1929 comedy," one already has a good sense of how Strictly Dishonorable will work out: Southern transplant Isabelle’s decision to have a few drinks at a New York City speakeasy with her New Jersey fiancé spirals into a series of life-altering realizations and choices, and true love prevails. The characters are written as types -- the gesticulating Italian waiter, the drunk but paternal judge, the genially corrupt Irish cop, the smooth-talking Lothario with an apartment designed for seduction, the provincial bourgeois (would-be) husband -- but you know what you’re getting, and the actors here do an excellent job making the characters more than types, creating of them well-rounded people about whom the audience genuinely cares. This performance is well-executed, fast-moving, and funny, and several affecting and nuanced performances bring out shades of meaning latent in the lines. For Strictly Dishonorable (or perhaps any screwball romantic comedy from the period) to work, the audience has to believe that Isabelle and Gus have fallen in something like love after a night of Old Fashioneds and champagne, and Keilly McQuail and Michael Labbadia create a chemistry that accomplishes this.  Read more »

The Masters of Musing

Touched By Grace: My Time with Jeff Buckley by Gary Lucas (Jawbone Press)

Über rock guitarist Gary Lucas's loving homage to his pupil Jeff Buckley is chock full of fascinating details and minutia that apparently doomed their creative coupling from the get-go. There is no question that they are two tremendously gifted individuals, and that by joining forces they added magic to the world. And it is also quite apparent, especially when you listen to the music they created together, that theirs was a partnership that should have afforded them both so much more. Had Mr. Buckley not taken his solo flight, leaving Mr. Lucas and their Gods & Monsters to soldier on without him, who knows what magic might have been created from their continued collaboration.  Read more »

Playlistmania

Tim Sommer, rock raconteur extraordinaire, recently wrote a playlist for Tim Broun's blog Stupefaction. (#1 choice shown above.) Mr. Sommer has lately been writing a daily column in The Brooklyn Bugle (motto: "On the Web because paper is expensive") that immediately became the one thing that I read every day, just so I can enjoy his combination of cultural erudition and lunatic whimsy. In one of his Bugle columns he wrote about making the list. And in that article he posited other approaches/lists that I found myself wishing he had made as well. But he's undoubtedly got better things to do with his time. I apparently do not, however (okay, I do, I just have poor impulse control), and made my own lists based on his criteria. Read more »

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