Archive: April, 2011
As America grapples with childhood bullying — particularly against LGBT youths — the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus is putting a spotlight on the importance of raising children. In tomorrow’s performance at Temple, titled Cherish the Child, the chorus will present songs about the difficulties of growing up, as well as the challenges of parenting. Tunes will include the Stephen Sondheim classic “Children Will Listen,” from Into the Woods, as well as work by Morten Lauridsen, one of America’s premiere contemporary choral composers. The second half of the concert will feature lighter fare like “Miss Twinkleton's School for Sensitive Boys,” which tells the story of a school free from the threat of bullying — not to mention the pressures of sports. “Any man who felt somehow out of place in school will identify with this song,” says PGMC’s Sandy Smith.
Much of the concert’s first half will be devoted to the Philadelphia premiere of “Prayers for Bobby,” a narrative song cycle penned by Jay Kawarsky, an almost-Philadelphian (he’s from Princeton) and Ken Killpack. Video screens will help tell the tale of Mary Griffith, a mother who attempted to use prayer to “cure” her son’s homosexuality. Instead, the process led her to become a vocal supporter of LGBT kids. Griffith — whose story has been turned into a book, as well as a TV movie starring Sigourney Weaver — will be played by Philadelphia’s Pat Ciarrochi.
For the show, PGMC will perform in partnership with the Trevor Project, a leading organization helping LGBTQ young people through difficult times. Donations at the concert will aid the group in its battle against teen suicide. “Anyone who remembers what it was like coming out as a kid, or knows a kid exploring his or her own sexuality, would really appreciate this concert,” Smith says. “Given that there are more of us than people think, that might be just about everyone.”
Sat., April 16, 2 and 8 p.m., $25-$30, Temple Performing Arts Center, 1837 N. Broad Street, 877-462-7464, pgmc.org.
I will not get that song stuck in your head. I will not get that song stuck in your head. But let's just say it's been a long week and you deserve a treat. Luckily, CP's here to help you decide where to take your cutie — in case you haven't picked up a paper copy, here's a quick roundup of who to see, what to do and where to go tonight. Now all you've gotta do is decide which seat you can take on the way there. (Sorry.)
MOVIES >> Weird array of openings this weekend, ranging from fake-scary to Tea Party-scary. Unlike every critic on earth, Sam Adams really dug Super, calling it a "genuine movie of ideas, more genuinely provocative than any of its glossy big-studio cousins." Meanwhile Scre4m is, according to Shaun Brady, samey-samey, but way more meta than its predecessors: It's "self-aware about its self-awareness, with characters calling attention not only to their equivalents in horror films, but in the Scream franchise itself." Also out this week: Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 (D- due to its Fox News-y bent), The Human Resources Manager (C), In a Better World (B-) and Potiche (B+).
MUSIC >> First and foremost: The Mountain Goats play the TLA tonight; go there and let John Darnielle make you feel better about the end of the world. For something louder and more luscious, visit Johnny Brenda's for Wye Oak. Or you could jam with Girls Rock Philly and Ghost/Light at PhilaMOCA's Sonic Textures gallery night.
CULTURE >> Get yr perf-arts on at the Pennsylvania Ballet, whose Building on Balanchine program features the one, the only Natalie-Portman-baby-daddy-dancemaker, Benjamin Millepied. If you prefer farts to arts, A Passing Wind is tooting away right down the street at the Kimmel Center. For a religious experience, head to West Philly's Calvary Center for Curio Theatre Co.'s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Having someone read David Foster Wallace to you is better than trying to do it yourself, which is why the Free Library's hosting Ken Kalfus on DFW's The Pale King. Finally, support a good cause at the Women in War Zones fundraiser party, where you're encouraged to dress loudly. (Holly Otterbein suggests hot pants.)
If you’ve been waiting to dive into the massive happening that is the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), then perhaps The Philly/Paris Lockdown will be your gateway. Curated by Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson (who, between the Roots Picnic and the Welcome America festivities is cementing his status as everyone’s favorite person), the project fuses some seemingly disparate musical styles into one eclectic, majestic interpretation. Appropriately fitting in with PIFA’s Francophile theme, Thompson and arrangers/producers Larry Gold and Daniel Felsenfeld have taken several French impressionist compositions from around the turn of the century and melded them with contemporary jazz and, as Thompson calls it, “beat music.” The musical concoction is only part of this project; the assemblage of top-notch musicians is the second. Joining Thompson (he’s on drums, of course) is a who’s-who of jazz and classical virtuosos, not to mention a vocal quartet featuring Keren Ann and members of the Dirty Projectors.
Yesterday afternoon, Thompson and the band invited some members of the press to Larry Gold’s studio (aka The Studio), which they had turned into a rehearsal space. Though they were separated for the sake of recording, the classical and jazz musicians sat on opposite sides of the studio, leaving plenty of space in between for their styles to collide. Despite their differing musical backgrounds, the group came together fluidly; a testament to the months of electronically-facilitated collaborations leading up to these rehearsals. After running through a few movements, Thompson hosted a question-and-answer session in which he discussed how these arrangements came to be, and how he manages to juggle all his commitments without combusting. Thompson makes it look easy, and you can see the fruits of all this labor Sunday night.
The Philly/Paris Lockdown, Sun., April 17, 8 p.m., $35-$65, Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St., pifa.org.
Neighborhood Watch looks for Philly’s most fashionable. This week, Kala skipped the streets in search of a few pieces (and places) to check out as the weather gets more and more style-friendly.
Spring is here, but it’s still rainy and cloudy enough that we can officially call her a tease. In any case, you’ll need to know about a few things to pick up once it’s officially gorgeous all day every day. For instance…
Bombshell Pleated Bustier
Let your décolletage say hello to the sun (and hoist up the girls) in this flirty, summery top. The sweetheart neckline and pleating make it super flattering, and it would go perfectly with denim cutoffs and wedge sandals. Smak Parlour, $60, 219 Market St., smakparlour.com.
Inside Delta 6 Graphic Tee
For the gents, you can’t go wrong with a cool graphic tee, and Art in the Age has tons. This one’s an original artist print by Jungil Hong for the AITA artist habitat series, Just be wary of farmer’s tan. Art in the Age, $20, 116 N. Third St., artintheage.com.
World Links Necklace
You can’t forget about accessories, and now that your neck won’t be bundled up in scarves, it’s time to make a statement. This super unique chainlink piece just screams well-travelled (minus the plane fare). The Little Apple, $70, 4353 Main St., Manayunk, thelittleapplestore.com.
For the guy who’s understandably wary of the man purse (but still has a lot of crap to carry), R.E.Load has a great line of cool messenger bags. Whether it’s your livelihood or you just need a bag with lots of room, now’s your chance to slide on a satchel without trying to fit it over a huge winter coat. R.E.Load Baggage, $112, 310 N. 11th St., reloadbags.com.
Gray Tulip Spring Blouse
I couldn’t resist including one of Nicole Carey’s super cute homemade pieces. For now, you’ll have to shop for her stuff on Etsy, but she’ll be in town for the Art Star Craft Bazaar on May 14th and 15th, where you’ll have a chance to pick up her girly, funky designs in person. Nicole's Threads, etsy.com/shop/nicolecarey.
Drawstring Pleats Dress
This 100 percent silk sheath feels absolutely heavenly to wear (trust me, I tried it on), and Feral Child hand draws and pleats each dress. Perfect for when it’s hot as blazes and you’re feeling a bit like a feral child yourself. Rawr! Feral Childe at Arcadia Boutique, $298, 265 S. 20th St., arcadiaboutique.com.
Hymn For Her's Lucy Tight and Wayne Waxing demonstrate an interesting phenomenon on the hipster-redneck continuum. It is possible to get so profoundly trailer-park that you start to come around the other horizon, embodying a unique variety of sophistication. It's sorta like how true right-wing libertarians and far-left liberals meet around the back on most non-money issues. As an entertainment writer, I find Hymn For Her is frustrating because they cross too many genres. In fact, it would be easier for me to name the few genres that aren't related to them: thrash-metal and period piece. And I'm not sure about that last one.
Picture Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks" sped up to post-bluegrass folk-punk. With acoustic guitar, harmonica, mandolin, assorted pedals and a single kick drum, these trailer-goers make the noise of about four or five. Lucy's cigar box slide guitar — heftier in tone than your common southern lap-stee — -gives the chords a driving sleekness reminiscent of Mark Sandman's homemade two-string slide bass. The couple even tribute the late singer with a cover of Morphine's "Thursday". These aren't three-minute pop songs, but they're really not dealing in bluegrass solos, either. It's weird scaffolds of backyard arrangements, loose in presentation but tight in structure.
They will be performing at the Grape Room in Manayunk this Saturday night.
Devoted poet/avid concert-goer/nerd-grrrl extraordinaire Jane Cassady's weekly horoscopes run in this space every Friday morning.
Aries (March 21-April 18): I tried cutting up the lyrics to T.I’s "Whatever You Like" in order to rearrange them into a poem, but with little success. The song must’ve already been perfect, like you.
Taurus (April 19-May 18): Enjoy another fine day of being a prodigy. Compose a symphony before dawn and bring down the house. Install environmental art to rival Christo and Jeanne-Claude. After lunch, save lives.
The girls went to the Hall of Portfolios, where Tyra taught them how to put one together. Finally, some practical advice other than smizing. A good portfolio according to Tyra has a few strong pictures showing range and ending with the best one.
The mystery country the girls are going to is brought to you by the letter “C,” and the models had to put the other letters together. Is it China? Chile? Colombia? Chechnya? It’s...Morocco! But Fierce Airlines only has room for 5, and one woman won’t make it to Marrakesh.
Go-sees! Four in four hours, deadline at 3 p.m., and the top three get an extra go-see. The girls’ drivers spoke English unlike previous cycles, but were forbidden to give directions. Molly got lost, and stopped right on the street she was looking for in confusion. The first go-see was frankie b. jeans. Molly got there last, and went off to the second meeting with House Casting rather than wait. Patience, girl. A bird in the hand, etc.
Small town Jaclyn never uses maps (not even Google?), and neither does Brittani, so both were lost most of the day. Smashbox Studios was third, and the models had to improvise gym clothes for the athletic shoot. Molly stripped down to her skivvies, and Alex ran back in a bikini and shorts. Jaclyn, Hannah, and Brittani gave up on going to all four places to make it to the office on time, and Alex made it back with 30 seconds to spare. Alex, Molly, and Kasia made top three for a meeting with designer Lana Marks. Alex made the best impression with her poses and chipper demeanor, winning an ad campaign and oodles of designer clothes and handbags. One was a $2000 clutch, a replica of one Angelina Jolie took to the Oscars in 2009.
The models headed to a landfill with nasty defecating seagulls to shoot an eco-friendly couture line. Some stood on ladders with 10-foot gowns, a look that creeps me out due to an unfortunate horror movie experience. (Can’t watch Britney Spears’ Hold It Against Me vid.) Nigel gave Brittani a pep talk, and Mr. Jay was shat on twice. Molly bitched about the birds, which Nigel frowned upon. Brittani got down on the garbage-laden ground for better shots impressing everyone.
I love Tyra’s form-fitting suits at panel. The contrast of the billowing gowns and the landfill was striking in the photos, and special effects made them look like nighttime shots. Jaclyn was chastised for missing two go-sees even though she booked the ones she went to. Molly’s pooky attitude turned everyone off at her go-sees, and she only booked two out of four. Andre Leon Talley told her she lost the Lana Marks ad because she looked “dejected” in her office.
Alex was called first wearing a No. 1 shirt. Subliminal messaging? Hannah was second for her fierce photo, and Molly and Jaclyn were bottom two. Molly stayed because the judges thought she could get over her sulkiness. Jaclyn went back to Belton, Texas for a little more maturing. Next week: footage of all the girls we didn’t see before. And there’s a schedule change, FYI.
The artists at the Grape Room open mic this Monday were, as a whole, unquestionably the best I’ve seen as an open-miker. Several offered performances richer than many of the professional shows I’ve seen; indeed, a number of the performers were professional recording artists.
The Grape Room, just off Main Street in Manayunk, is a local music mecca, its walls plastered with posters of upcoming local performances. With Yards and Victory beers on tap, there’s also a wide selection of bottled beers, as well as pub grub, including a range of hot dog options. Despite the caliber of the performers, the bar staff is warm and utterly unpretentious.
The open mic is hosted by Steph Meyer of Stargazer Lily fame. This week had a little treat in store: Comcast was filming the event to be played on local-access TV. That meant a fair amount of paperwork in the clipboard Meyer carried. “There’s a lot more paperwork in this whole music thing than I had anticipated,” she told the crowd. In fact, being a musician involves “a lot more landscaping and painting of houses than I’d expected.” Perhaps because of the taping, the best of the best performers turned out to play. To keep things moving, each was allowed only one song. But that was enough to impress me: for an open-miker, the whole night was a kick in the pants to improve your act. The bar was packed, and unlike at many open mics, people were there primarily to hear the music; they listened closely.
The cream of the cream of the crop included Nick Everett, an immediately captivating performer who sang in a voice reminiscent of the seventies band America, but grittier—and his lyrics were better. Later came Reverend TJ and Lou, a guitar-and-bass combo who offered an effervescent tune reminiscent of Johnny Cash, but bouncier. Heads were bobbing across the bar. Danny Newport played what can only be termed acoustic hip-hop, rapping over his acoustic guitar, piano accompaniment, and a contagious electronic beat. “My girl only listens to Lil’ Wayne/ Shit drives me insane,” he rapped. “Hey girl, what happened to what we had?/ Since that album dropped you’ve had it bad.”
Then there was Sharon Little, who blew the roof off with a powerful, throaty voice and laid back confidence at the mic. This was clearly pro-quality stuff, and I later discovered she’s toured with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Next were John and Brittany. John hosts the open mic at the Legendary Dobbs on South Street. They tore through a rocker, with John’s blazing tenor soaring over two pounding guitars and commanding the audience’s attention. Later, Adam Gregory played a heartfelt and heartbreaking tune with chords that walked a line between harmony and dissonance—perhaps my favorite song in a night of incredible performances.
The nitty-gritty for performers: Mondays, sign-up 7:30, show around 8, the Grape Room, 105 Grape Street, Manayunk. Bring your a-game.
It was so nice they decided to have it twice. Feastival — lasts year’s supposed one-off event thrown by Audrey Taichman, Stephen Starr and Michael Solomonov for the benefit of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe — has become an annual thing. Mark September 14 in your foodie calendar and write Pier 9, 121 N. Columbus Blvd. on the page.
We haven’t heard from Philly’s comic giants The Minor Prophets and that’s a damn shame. They’ve long been on the multi-media sketch comedy tip. Thankfully the Troc will get a dose of Prophet-eering on April 15 with all new live material. Plus The Minor Prophets will screen their latest collaboration with director Derek Frey, The Ballad of Sandeep, a short film starring Deep Roy. You might know Deep from his role as all of the Oompa-loompas in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He also played Danny McBride’s foul-mouthed sidekick during last season’s Eastbound and Down on HBO. “In our film, though he plays a computer programmer,” says Prophet David Amadio who notes that Deep is flying in for the screening.
The Roots and Wawa Welcome America! have a thing going on. They’ll appear at the holiday festival on the Parkway July 4 as they have in the past with no Goo Goo Dolls or Sheryl Crow in sight. Thank God, right? But at a press conference with Mayor Nutter at City Hall Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter revealed that Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael McDonald, Estelle, Sara Bareilles and DJ Jazzy Jeff will join them on stage. Oy. That sounds like a headache. Plus, Jeff bagged on Ahmir’s soul food contest soiree at Time Café two Sundays ago so who knows if Jazzy will show. Then again if McDonald gets all “Peg” on the Roots, the whole affair will be great.
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