Who Am I?

Aliens Coming: The Musical
Written by Joe Kelly
Directed by Griffin Osborne
Presented by Ashcat Productions at The People's Improv Theater, NYC
August 17-September 18, 2017

To open Aliens Coming: The Musical, the disembodied head of an alien computer (Misha Brooks) provides one interpretive lens for the interspecies comedy to follow: high school students represent a microcosm of human beings' grievous overestimation of their own individual importance in the universe. Even before the titular extraterrestrials in Joe Kelly's play arrive, the particular place in the universe occupied by Clementine Tweedy (Alice Kors) is in a state of transition, placing her relationship with lifelong BFF Brandi Boudoir (Maia Scalia) into conflict with her recent integration into a crew of art kids (Rebecca Lampiasi, Ashley Hutchinson, and Tessa Stokes) led by Brooklyn (Ariana Raygoza), who signal their cool by pairing dresses with sneakers and cigarettes. Read more »

Dusty Wright - "Weather This Storm"

Here's a new video collaboration with visual artist Ashley G. Garner. It was co-directed by Ms. Garner & Dusty Wright and produced by Dusty Wright for PetRock, Inc. The song was produced by d. Bindi, mixed by David Lee, and mastered by Alan Douches for West West Side Music. Recorded by Gio Loria at Black Volt Studio, LA & Straus Park Studio, NYC. Co-vocals by Jay Stolar.  Read more »

Rally Round The War Film, Lads

Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan's first act -- at 20 minutes -- depicts some of the most realistic and harrowing war footage in all of movie making. Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk takes that feat and turns it into two hours of equally harrowing, white-knuckle horror. Read more »

Quote of the Week: Henry David Thoureau

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"Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business."

Henry David Thoureau (12 July 1817 - 6 May 1862), American author and philosopher.

Video of the Week: Liam Gallagher - "For What It's Worth"

Some music acts deserve our full attention because of the legacy that spawned them. And so it goes that former Oasis lead vocalist Liam Gallagher delivers his much anticipated solo long player As You Were (Warner Brothers) on October 6th followed by short tour in selecti cities in North America in November. The songs -- "For What It's Worth," "Chinatown," and "Wall of Glass" (12 million streams!) -- are deservedly getting fantastic press from journalists and public alike. When the Manchaster-based anthem rock band disbanded, the Brothers Gallagher seemed destined for the scrap heap. Could the parts equal the power of the collective? Well, yes and no. Neither brother has released a solo album to rival either Definitely Maybe or (What's The Story) Morning Glory?. I certainly prefer Liam's sneering vocals over Noel's comfortable vocals and Noel's songwriting chops over his younger brother's tunes. Yes, together they were a force of nature. Apart...? I liked Beady Eye songs, but didn't love either of their albums. And to be fair, I've not given Noel's solo albums my full attention. Read more »

Single of the Week: Glen Campbell - "I'm Not Gonna Miss You"

"I'm Not Gonna Miss You" is one of the last songs Glen recorded in the studio before being forced to retire from the music business due to his well-documented slide into alzheimer's. The lyrics reflect all of the pain and suffering so many feel when dealing with this brutal disease. Written specifically for his documentary I'll Be Me -- see it; you will not easily forget it or Glen's much-deserved legacy as one of the giants of the music industry, country or otherwise. This video features some of the moments from the film which captures his unforgettable farewell tour with his family and friends in tow -- both on stage and off. RIP, Glen! You were one talented man.

Band of the Week: Darlingside

Some acts are neglected only because the sheer crush of music that overwhelms us every single day makes it virtually impossible to hear/see/experience transcendent music. That some acts languish in obscurity remains a cruel twist of fate. Or that they're never praised by hipsters on every culture blog in our ever-expanding universe is sometimes just luck of the draw. Or rather, the lack of drawing such a lucky card. This will not happen to the extraordinarily talented Darlingside, a band that I caught live a few short years ago at Rockwood Music Hall in New York. Not sure if I would have "discovered" them had I not been there that night to see some other act. Happy accident or destiny? Regardless, this four-person indie folk band hails from Cambridge, MA. The band consists of Don Mitchell, Auyon Mukharji, Harris Paseltiner, and David Senft. They make and perform beautiful noise. And they deserve your full attention. Read more »

Quote of the Week: Sam Shepard

"To sing a song is quite different than to write a poem. I'm not and never will be a novelist, but to write a novel is not the same thing as writing a play. There is a difference in form, but essentially what you're after is the same thing."

Sam Shepard (5 November 1943 - 27 July 2017), American actor, writer, playwright, director, winner of three Pulitzer Prices in theater. I shall always remember your brilliant play/musical The Tooth of Crime at La Mama Theatre starring Ray Wise. Or the Quaid Brothers in True West at the Cherry Lane Theater. I'd forgotten that you and Bob Dylan wrote the epic "Brownsville Girl" from Dylan's Knocked Out Loaded. You were a guy's guy; a dude well before The Big Lebowski. RIP, Sam.

I, Android!

Jessica
Written by Patrick Vermillion
Directed by Emily Jackson
Presented by Sanguine Theatre Company at IRT Theater, NYC
July 22-August 6, 2017

Recently, promoting his new movie The Big Sick on The Daily Show, Kumail Nanjiani talked about working with his wife, Emily V. Gordon, as a co-writer on a film based on the first year of their own relationship. He related an anecdote about composing a date scene to account for the fact that he remembered having a great time, and she remembered having a terrible time, if you imagine that same disjunction, but instead of a rom-com scenario, it is that of a conscious person being created, you will arrive at one of the central conflicts in Patrick Vermillion's Jessica. Jessica, crisply directed by Emily Jackson, is the 2017 winner of Sanguine Theatre's annual Project Playwright, an open-submission contest in which scenes from finalist plays are performed and the audience selects which work receives a full production. Vermillion's winning work joins a rich tradition of speculative fiction in exploring what artificial minds can tell us about our own. Read more »

Album of the Week: Desertshore - Arc of an Arrow Blind

From the family tree of Red House Painters/Mark Kozelek -- one of my favorite artists -- comes the fifth Desertshore album, Arc of an Arrow Blind (Darkan Records). This is a wonderfully engaging instrumental album of sublime depth and beauty. Think of a more textured Red House Painters or Sun Kil Moon with arpeggiated guitars and piano/keyboard riffs with the bass and drums anchoring the proceedings in various rhythmic rock, jazz and even hypnotic world beat patterns. (Check out "Descend Like The Sun.") Read more »

Poetry Time!

CC staff writer and critically lauded poet Steve Dalachinsky will be part of two essential poetry slams this weekend. If you're not hip to him, or any of the other poets name-checked below, please mark your calendar and witness their glorious words and inspired readings in person.

The poetry event Dial-A-Poem Marathon, will take place at Red Bull Arts New York -- 220 West 18th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues) -- on July 29th as part of the Ugo Rondinone: I ♥ John Giorno project. Readers include Penny Arcade, Janani Balasubramanian, Anselm Kerrigan, Alexis Bhagat, Billy Cancel, Todd Colby, Steve Dalachinsky, Helga Davis, Chris Funkhouser, Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves, David Henderson, Shelley Hirsch, Bob Holman, Christopher Knowles, Julie Martin, E.J. McAdams, Jonas Mekas, Tracie Morris, David Boscovich, Tommy Pico, Nicole Sealey, and Edwin Torres. Read more »

Unless You're Planning a Trip to China...

Terracotta Warrior Exhibit of the First Emperor
Pacific Science Center, Seattle
Thru September 4, 2017

Upon entering we were informed that this was a world class exhibit. Not certain what exactly that was meant to imply, the term stuck in my head as I began my journey... by the end of my time there I had my answer.

Presently on display at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, "Terracotta Warrior Exhibit of the First Emperor" offers a rare opportunity to view a large collection of the famed Terracotta Warriors of the the Qin Dynasty. Along with the legendary statues themselves, interactive displays help bridge the gap between a professionally curated instillation and a hands-on approach utilized elsewhere at the Pacific Science Center to engage school children. This touring showcase succeeds in being child friendly without being childish, inviting people of all ages to approach the exploration of these artifacts with the kind of beaming excitement often reserved for children.

Beginning with a dramatic and somewhat cinematic introduction, projected images and a looming voice-over prepare audiences for the ancient wonders just on the other side of a pair of closed doors. This presentation induces a fitting amount of anticipation for this momentous opportunity as the Terracotta Warriors aren't often on displayed outside of their home in the province of Shaanxi. Unless you're planning a trip to China some time in the future this may be your only opportunity to witness in person such an extensive collection of these haunting figures. Read more »

Steady As She Goes

Navigator in Love
Written by Lasha Bugadze
Directed by Adam Knight
Presented by Red Lab Productions and Otar Margania
at Teatro Circulo, NYC
July 13-August 6, 2017

Playwright Lasha Bugadze makes the idea of needing some direction in life very literal in Navigator in Love, part of the Georgian-American Theatrical Feast taking place now through early August in Manhattan. The world premiere of Navigator, which won the 2012 BCC World Drama Award for Best International Play, in a translation by Maya Kiasashvili is one of an array of events that make up the festival, the aim of which is to introduce American audiences to nine playwrights from Georgia, a country of four million that is described in the program as lying "at the crossroads of Europe and Asia." This celebration of Georgia and its venerable cultural history and vibrant contemporary theatrical community includes two full productions, free readings, and special events with wine and music. (See www.redlabproductions.org for a full schedule.) Read more »

C'mon and Hear Steve Ross

Steve Ross
C'mon and Hear: An Irving Berlin
July 4th Celebration
Birdland Jazz Club, NYC
June 26, 2016

In a letter to Alexander Woollcott, Jerome Kern wrote that "Irving Berlin has no place in American Music… He is American Music." What better person to present the art of Irving Berlin than venerable singer and pianist Steve Ross, who presented this great American composer's work in a sterling evening entitled C'mon and Hear: An Irving Berlin July 4th Celebration, at the historical Birdland Jazz Club on Manhattan’s West 44th Street, where he shared the stage with seasoned bassist Jered Egan.

Steve deeply understands the art behind Berlin's voluminous body of work, in a manner unique to himself. His renderings of both well-known, lesser known, and even obscure Berlin songs are historically astute and performed in an exceedingly skillful manner which is at once serious and at the same time carefree. The word "skillful" may sound academic and dry, but Steve's show was anything but. Read more »

The Big Sick

Some romantic comedies transcend the mundane and crawl into your heart and stay lodged in there forever. The Big Sick is one such movie. Hard to imagine how a "coma comedy" could work, but in the able hands of veteran comedy filmmakers Judd Apatow (Trainwreck, This Is 40) and Barry Mendel (Trainwreck, The Royal Tenebaums), director Michael Showalter (Hello My Name Is Doris), and actor/writer Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), the outcome is unforgettable, especially given that it's based on Nanjiani and his wife's near-fatal relationship. Read more »

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