"Salam, Iran!"

Dear Iran,

I’m sorry that no one in my country seems able to pronounce your name correctly. Despite it only consisting of four letters and two syllables when written in English, nobody from either political party — no pundits, no media outlets, no public figure at all — seems able to enunciate your name correctly. It seems that everyone in the United States suddenly develops a twangy Southern accent when talking about you, butchering your name by saying it the same way one might answer the question, "What did you do at the track this morning?"

"I ran."

Contrary to this odd dialect choice, Americans do not all sound like Jodi Foster’s character from Silence of the Lambs. There is actually a wide variety of accents scattered throughout our vast nation — as I would assume is also the case with the many peoples and regions of your country. Read more »

Fearing The Aliens!

Alien: Covenant (20th Century Fox)

I really loved Prometheus, not as a cinematic masterpiece, but as movie-worthy prequel to Sir Ridley Scott's genre-defining 40 year-old masterpiece Alien. And having rewatched it again, Prometheus's smart narrative and deliberate storyline still resonate with me. Perhaps it is my age, and probably his, that that prequel raised major existential questions --  "why are we here?" and "who created us?" -- that resonate with In that film, why did the Engineers seed life in the ever-expanding universe and our own planet, if they did at all. He certainly knows how to direct action sequences that have grit, energy, and beauty as his films Gladiator and Blade Runner Scott next chapter Alien: Covenant answers many of the questions left dangling at the end of the aforementioned movie, but still leaves some questions unanswered -- a great device to hook newbies and fans alike. And certainly raises new questions, some of which parallel our current society. Genetic engineering? Is it a good thing for our food and for life? Corporatization of our politics, Some fan blogs have not taken to some of the plot points that I admire. And some may have missed Scott's bigger themes. Sure, it's still man vs. monster, but it's also man vs. machine, man vs. man, and mankind's insatiable search for universal truths. Read more »

Staying Upright

Mary Hrbacek: The Painted Veil That Those Who Live Call Life 
Paris Koh Fine Arts, NY        
May 3, 2017 - May 13, 2017

Ms. Hrbacek has put together an important array of acrylic paintings for her show “The Painted Veil that those who live call life,” at Paris Koh Fine Arts. These works advance the traditional representation of the natural world into an aesthetic statement about the unity of human beings and the environment, while testifying to the artist’s growing assurance in the rendition of her trademark human-tree amalgams. Two related trends stand out: the emphasis on subtle yet discernible anatomy and the emergence of ambiguous images with echoes of human bits.

In her hybrid tree creations Hrbacek fuses male and female traits, which stretch the boundaries of conventional thought about nature, to forge images imbued with a mysterious aura of optimism that encourages viewer engagement and conjecture on the fantasy realm that extends beyond ordinary experience. There are no images of explosions or shootings on view; here the drama unfolds in dynamic juxtapositions of sophisticated shades of warm and cool tones and colors combined with an array of various intricate shapes and forms. 

Many of the paintings blend a high level of abstraction with a vestige of realism and reality, fusing the human and tree to disclose mere glimpses of a figure. Read more »

Wicked Wilson!

In the Midnight Hour: The Life & Soul of Wilson Pickett
By Tony Fletcher (Oxford University Press)

The art of writing bios is no easy feat, but for British-born/NY-based scribe Tony Fletcher, well, he makes it seem all so easy even though he's research is exhaustive. His bios on R.E.M (Remarks Remade - The Story of R.E.M.), Keith Moon (Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon), The Smiths (A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths, to name but a few, are must-reads. His latest on the turbulent life of R&B legend Wilson Pickett -- In the Midnight Hour: The Life & Soul of Wilson Pickett -- may be his best yet.  Read more »

Indecent!

Indecent
Cort Theatre, NYC

Indecent is a strange play. It's like getting a gorgeously wrapped package and finding something insubstantial and vaguely disturbing inside the box.

The packaging of Indecent includes fantastic direction from Rebecca Taichman, engaging writing from Paula Vogel and a near-perfect ensemble of performers. But once you get past the seduction of the production, you have to wonder why so much talent was lavished on what is no more than a historical theatrical footnote. Read more »

Caterwauling Towards The Light - Dusty Wright

Album is still getting amazing press. New reviews on Paste.com and Sound&Track.com.

Dusty Wright's new album Caterwauling Towards the Light is available for digital purchase from Bandcamp (below) or from AmazonCDbabyiTunes, plus other digital sites. It is also number one Americana album on Billboard charts.

You can order an autographed CD from him direct; Paypal $12 to: puffdusty@gmail.com

And check his website -- DustyWright.com -- for upcoming shows and performances. Click on this FACEBOOK link to access more info and press.

peace, CC

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And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little

And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little
Written by Paul Zindel Directed by Shay Gines
Presented by Retro Productions at Gene Frankel Theatre, NYC
May 5-20, 2017

New York's Retro Productions has been pursuing its mission statement of telling "good theatrical stories which have an historical perspective" for over a decade now. With an emphasis on 20th-century plays, Retro, under artistic director Heather E. Cunningham, operates according to the belief that giving expression to these voices from our past helps us to better contextualize and understand our present. Indeed, it is not difficult to envision the connections between the late-1960s setting of Retro's newest revival, the darkly comic And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, and 2017's own tensions around race, gender, military conflict, and political upheaval. Truthfully -- and significantly -- it wouldn't take much adjustment at all to reimagine the play, which has reached its half-century anniversary, as taking place in our contemporary milieu. Read more »

Watching With My Ears: The Improvised Paintings of Jorgo Schaefer

For the past 17 years, painter and graphic artist Jorgo Schaefer from Wuppertal, Germany has been an artist-in-residence at the New York Vision Festival, one of the world’s premier festival’s of avant-garde jazz, dance, poetry, film and visual art. 

Steve Dalachinsky Can you explain a bit about your process and becoming an artist?

Jorgo Schaefer: My career as a professional artist started in 1970 at the Werkkunstschule (WKS, School of Applied Arts) in Wuppertal. At this time, the WKS was a highly regarded institution with a long tradition. It was not an art academy but arts were a key element. Artistic skills were taught as well as philosophy. Our freshman class consisted of 15 students and we were hanging out together day and night, influenced and inspired by the political and artistic movements of about 4 good years. Plus: Amsterdam was just around the corner... Read more »

Single of the Week: Scout Durwood - "Take One Thing Off"

If you dig Peaches, then you'll love "Take One Thing Off" and the above video. I wasn't familiar with comedian Scout Durwood's work, but she's clearly got chops, can sing, and can take the piss -- as they say in ol' Blighty. Millienials know her from the Snoop Dogg produced Mary + Jane MTV comedy series about two Hollywood gals whacky weed biz, as well as her well-documented standup comedy schtick. So she's got a new album of comedy and music breaking on May 19th on Blue Élan Records. Had I produced this single, I might have added Fred Schneider of The B-52s in a campy cameo vocal and video appeareance. Regardless, this is one seriously infectious tune. Crank it, then "dance this mess around."

A Mexican Affair

A Mexican Affair
Created and performed by Rafa Reyes
Produced and directed by Jeremy Williams
The Metropolitan Room, NYC
Saturday, April 8, 2017

What keeps A Mexican Affair -- cabaret show headlined by Rafa Reyes and backed by a fine Latin group -- going? It is the immense personable charm and contagious self-delight of Rafa himself, coupled with the powerful support he receives from the quintet behind him. This young singer from Mexico, who came to the United States to attend New York’s American Musical and Dramatic Academy, certainly has “that something” and it bespeaks of the kind of presence that compels an audience to stay with him and see what will unfold. That’s no mean feat in the world of solo cabaret performing (or in solo performing of any kind). The seasoned New York cabaret audience knows immediately if the performer in front of them is up to something, something that deserves more than casual attention and polite applause. A Mexican Affair delivers. Read more »

Free From Conformity

On the occasion of their new mega-release on Leo Records, The Art of Perelman-Shipp Vols. 1-7 and their ensuing CD release party at Le Poisson Rouge on May 7th at 9:30 P.M. with Italian Surf Academy, I asked Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp the following questions.

Steve Dalanchinsky: How long have you been associated both as collaborators and friends? Read more »

Who To Believe...?

The Conspiracists
Written and directed by Max Baker
Presented by Stable Cable Lab Co. at IRT Theater, NYC
April 22-May 7, 2017

Max Baker's new play, The Conspiracists, happens to be making its debut alongside widespread media coverage of the custody trial of toxic conspiracy monger Alex Jones, during which a lawyer for Jones argued that his on-air persona is merely performance art (a claim later disputed by his on-air persona). Many took this defense as a clear admission that he knowingly spreads lies for profit, but at least one writer has claimed that performing a character does not necessarily mean that the performer does not believe what the character delivers. That observation could apply equally well to the array of avowed believers who assemble as a support group in Baker's latest effort. In fact, one character, Hilda (Lisa Jill Anderson), posits, to the displeasure of the others, that belief in conspiracy theories is a self-protective measure masking feelings of powerlessness. That she may be objectively correct is not meant to demean these characters or to diminish the complexity of their lived experience, a point that is underscored by the fact that Hilda herself behaves not a sage dispenser of wisdom so much as a cheerfully, obliviously condescending outsider to the group, as absorbed in her own faintly silly interests as the conspiracists are in theirs. Read more »

Blues for Gérard (mon frère Gérard)

I first met Gérard in 2001. Alexander Pierrepont brought my wife Yuko and me to his radio show to be interviewed sometime in the middle of summer in the middle of the night. We immediately hit it off, both of us loving jazz and justice just equally. I always made him laugh… we always understood each other despite my non-existent French and his almost non-existent English. We would see each other every time I went to Paris, and I'd always go to a concert he'd booked at Sunside/Sunset or La Java. He was very generous to me and would always give me CDs from his incredible label. I had already had some LPs on Marge/Futura but knew nothing about the man behind the label; as I said, we became fast friends. Sometime in autumn around 2013 Gerard offered me a gig at La Java. He said there would be little if any money but that I could have all the drinks I wanted and that I could bring merchandise to sell and any musicians I wanted. He had only one request. Since I was opening for French band that played Chicago blues, he asked if I had any blues poems and if not could I write/read at least one to help please the audience. I’m laughing. "But Gerard, mon frère, of course I'll write you a blues poem." And I did. The musicians were Sabir Mateen, Sylvain Kassab and Cathy Hayden -- three avant-garde reed players. Read more »

Wide Awake in America

C. Michael Norton: When Paintings Awake
David&Schweitzer Contemporary, Brooklyn
April 14, 2017 - May 7, 2017

There was a time, over a century ago, when the idea of a purely abstract painting, one which referenced only the means of its creation, was a far-off goal, a seemingly unattainable dream. In the following decades this idea was tested, tried, worked, and re-worked until the project engendered many and various permutations. Post-modern, appropriational, deconstructed -- the list of approaches to this idea is legion; yet there endures some compulsion, some drive that seems hardwired, to create paintings of pure visuality. Just when we think we have come to the end of this story we find new characters waiting in the wings, new gladiators wanting into the arena. In C. Michael Norton’s current exhibit at David&Schweitzer Contemporary we see that this project still has viability. Indeed, Norton seems to open new fields of exploration. Read more »

Transubstantial

Dona Nelson: Models Stand Close to the Paintings
Thomas Erben Gallery, NYC
Through May 6th, 2017

Dona Nelson is showing new paintings at Thomas Erben Gallery. There is no other artist in America that is a "modern painter" in so many different ways without losing her centre.

Trying to subvert its meaning seems to be part of the definition of what modern art is. There doesn't seem to be an accurate way to define an activity that is made up of a system or interelating systems that has occasional contradictions built into it, But art doesn't seem the worse for it. Modern painting in particular is like a series of interconnected temples where people are constantly entering and trying to knock down a load bearing pillar to see if it still stands or if it's now something else. It's quite often a sign that that particular approach is thriving. Read more »

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