Monthly Archives: August 2008

Bumber Jitters !! A Day Two Report

A strange, short day at the ’Shoot.

Had to leave early to get back to Bremertron and see Ron Thompson at the Blackberry Festival; hopped off the boat and he already was playing, and it took me about two minutes to decide it was worth it to come back and see him.

Not that things were dull at the ’Shoot. Things never are dull at the ’Shoot. Musically, it was really a mixed bag of a day, though. The Fisher Green Stage went from the downright weird pop stylings of Lushy (who I didn’t much like) to the Indian-informed riff-rock of Manooghi Hi (who I did, after initially thinking they were going to be a continuation of the weirdness).

The Mural Stage gave us the alt-country twang of Star Anna , the angsty folk-pop of Spokane’s Tyrone Wells and the sweet, earthy folk of BumberFavorite Kathleen Edwards . That was going to end up being the most interesting stage of the day, with Jakob Dylan and Ingrid Michaelson still to follow.

On Broad Street, things opened with a three-piece called Sage who came off as a Primus knock-off, without the sense of humor. They were followed by hard-working alt-rockers The Shackletons . I thought they started lame, but heard that they picked up steam later in their set. Tapes ‘n Tapes were going to close that stage out late Sunday night, but I was back in B-town by then, slaving over a hot keyboard here in the Sungeon.

Still plenty of energy, and I know why: Two of the major sponsors at the ’Shoot this year are Starbucks and Rock Star Energy Drinks, and they’re both giving away free samples. Well, even though I don’t drink coffee or use energy drinks, under normal circumstances, I’ve never been one to turn down a free sample. It’s why I love Costco.

I had a couple shots of Starbucks iced coffee, and a couple of generous samples of the Rock Star products (they have a latte that ain’t half bad, but the other drinks’ll put you in the mind of Jolt — they don’t really even have flavors, just colors: "You want red or purple," the girls ask you.

Oh, the girls. This is a concern. Rock Star is giving the stuff away free, but they’re somehow convinced they need girls — exotic dancer, bikini-barista types — to get you to come over to the table and pick one up (the drinks, not the girls).

Does this all sound confused? Blame the caffeine, don’t blame me. It’s only in the last hour or so that I stopped thinking my heart was going to burst …

Anyway, Monday’s going to be the best day of all. Among the things on my to-do list are Paramore , Blitzen Trapper , Bedouin Sounclash , Cheb i Sabbah , the Old 97s and — if I can find enough free samples to keep me going — Superchunk and Death Cab in the stadium or Sondre Lerche and Minus the Bear elsewhere on the grounds.

Say hi if you get a chance. I’ll be the wild-eyed guy alternately swilling Starbucks and Rock Star with one hand, and his other hand clutching his heart.

More later … — MM

Blackberry Stage Can’t Hold Ron Thompson

Ron Thompson spent about an hour on stage Sunday as the headline act for Day Two of the Bremerton Blackberry Festival.

He spent another hour in front of it.

That’s how big a talent the bluesman from San Francisco is — the little stage couldn’t hold him. For much of his involving, high-intensity set Sunday, he was down on the concrete with the dancers.

If you missed him, Thompson will be back in action Monday, putting a cap on the festival’s Mainstage schedule. He and his band, the Resistors, will play from 4 to 6 p.m, preceded by pianist Scott Cossu (at 11 a.m.) and Clave Con Jazz (1:30 p.m.).

And if you like great playing, dirty boogie, bottleneck slide and good ol’ Chicago-style blues, Thompson’s your guy. His set Sunday was a marvel of hard work, musicianship … and multi-tasking. Thompson sings and plays guitar; he sings and plays electric piano; he plays guitar and harmonica. What’ll really wow you is when he plays guitar and piano at the same time.

He covers slow blues like "I’ve Been Loving You Too Long" to boogie standbys like "Boom Boom" with equal aplomb and commitment. When the tempo slows a bit, he might sit on the front of the stage with his guitar on his knees, dashing off lovely, mournful bits of slide

But the signature Thompson is off the stage completely, resplendent in baggy suit, fedora and spats, alternating chunky riffs with slide rave-ups. To me, he sounded a little better — clearer, anyway — in the second half of the show, when he switched to a hollowbody that served him well whether he was playing the pensive, self-penned "Prayer for the 21st Century" or shredding old three-chord blues like "Can’t Hold Out."

Vocally, he calls to mind both John Lee Hooker, one of his mentors, and original Fleetwood Mac slide ace Jeremy Spencer, and his playing is more than a little reminiscent of Spencer’s old bandmate, Peter Green — especially during the show’s more hard-edged boogie excursions.

But it’s all good. And the best thing is that if you missed him Sunday, you get another chance Monday.

Bumber Madness !! A Day One Report

Day one of Bumbershoot is in the books; there were big crowds, and they didn’t get rained on.

Yers truly tried to cover as much ground as possible, so there were lots of highlights … and a few lowlights. Most of the lowlights, however, had to do with goofballs from One Reel, who make the BumberWaters just a little more difficult for Joe Customer to navigate each year. Just try to get into a Mainstage event without feeling like you should be wearing a bell around your neck and giving milk twice a day. Just try.

But on the plus side:

I don’t normally review stuff I see at the ‘Shoot, because it’s all one-time stuff. Luckily, though, there’s a second chance for those of you who missed RK Productions’ screamingly funny production of “Reefer Madness: The Musical” in the Center House Theatre (downstairs).

It plays again Sunday (8/31) at 6 p.m. The line started forming in earnest about 5 p.m., so make sure you get there early — they did allow some folks to sit on the floor in front of the seats once things filled up. Once in, though, there isn’t a bad seat.

I went because the cast included a couple of actors — Tim Davidson and Luke Walker — I’ve seen quite a bit at Bainbridge Performing Arts. Past getting to see them, I wasn’t really expecting much. The show is a cut-down “reduction” of a staging in Seattle earlier this year, and it goes uses only a few pieces of furniture, one backdrop and some props.

Doesn’t matter. The show (by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney, based on the camp-classic movie from the Thirties) is riotously funny and the cast is uniformly wonderful. I’ve got to single out Robert Scherzer (also the show’s executive producer) as the Lecturer and a variety of other smaller parts, and David Rollison as Ralph, the Reefer wastoid. Davidson, just off a good-guy role (the Baker) in Ovation! Musical Theatre Bainbridge‘s fine “Into the Woods,” gets to play a villain in “RM,” and he brings a wicked rattiness to it. Walker gets some of the show’s funniest moments, and lyrics, as Jesus. Kudos also to Ryan McCabe and Heather Gautschi as the idyllic young couple whose lives are hy-lariously ruined by the Demon Weed.

Warning, warning. Don’t take the kids. While there’s no bad language and only played-for-laughs violence, there’s lots of comically simulated sex, and just about everybody cavorts in their underwear (or just strategically placed cannabis leaves.

Nice job by director Kate Jaeger on two counts — first, putting together a fast-paced, consistently funny show with just the right note (lots) of camp, and second, translating the whole thing into the Center House for this two-off “re-production.” That also goes for stage manager Laura Lindle, music director Micah Ellison and choreographer Hailey Hays.

So go see it Sunday, already. And, if you hurry out, you won’t miss any of The Black Keys over at the Mainstage.

Places you’re liable to see MM Sunday:

The Mural and Broad Street stages were my favorite places Saturday, as usual, so I try to check out just about everthing they’ve got, besides that, the aforementioned Black Keys, and the 1-Reel Film Festival’s 3:30 p.m. offering, “Wazzu Films.”

Hopefully, the WSU filmmakers will fare better against a Bumbershoot audience than the football team did Saturday against Okie State.

More later. — MM

See you at the ’Shoot !!

If you’re over at Bumbershoot today, look me up, or if you can’t be there, check us out at kitsapsun.com.

Here’s where I’m (tentatively) planning to be today:

11:45 a.m., Nick Vigarino on the Mural Stage, followed by Vicci Martinez; might wander away for a while to check out Throw Me The Statue (12:30, Broad St.) or see what Neko‘s up to (1 p.m., Mainstage)

Most of the afternoon will be wanderin’ around time. If you see me, say hi. I’ll be the guy who’s probably fumbling with a cell phone (my first one; the best phone $10 can buy).

4:45 p.m., back at the Mural for Joe Bonamassa, who I’ve heard lots about; he might have to pull me away from Thao with the Get Down Stay Down (4 p.m., Broad St.), though.

5:45 p.m., The Walkmen at Broad St.

(Noticing a trend, here? Mural and Broad Street are the alternative-to-the-Mainstage places to be today).

6 p.m. (If The Walkmen bite), “Reefer Madness: The Musical” in the Center House Theatre. This’ll be especially high-priority if (shudder) it’s raining, since it’s inside.

7:30 p.m., torn between Band of Horses (Mainstage, the opener for Beck) and Man Man (where else? Broad St.)

8:30 p.m., to the Bagley Wright for a little Burlesque a la “Apocalypse in Coney Island,” which sounds just goony enough to be fun, though. If it’s a nice evening, though, might be good to stay outside for Tim Finn (Northwest Court).

However …

This could be a leave-early night, in order to make it back to Port Orchard in time to see Goldy McJohn & Friendz at Moondogs, Too. Goldy’s the keyboardist from the seminal hippie-biker band Steppenwolf, and has one of the most unique, gritty, groovy organ styles ever. He’s on at 9 p.m. or thereabout, with a band that sounds kickass.

See you one place or the other, I hope.

More later. — MM

LOCAL THEATER: Shakespeare, Under the (Hopefully) Sun

Changing Scene Theatre Northwest’s "Shakespeare in the Park" production of "The Tempest" will be Aug. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Evergreen Park, in the amphitheatre at Park Avenue and Sheldon Boulevard. The free production is a revival of the hugely enjoyable in-the-house production CSTN put on during the spring. It marks the end of CSTN’s season, as they just wrapped up their three-week "Summerplay" festival of one-act plays Aug. 23.

Hopefully, it’ll be a little more of a summer’s eve than we’ve been having. Fingers crossed.

More later. — MM

LOCAL THEATER: Enough Shakespeare, Too Much Park

I won’t make a habit of posting full theater reviews here in the Blogoshpere, but since Key City Public Theatre’s highly watchable "Shakespeare in the Park" production of "As You Like It’ had the affrontery to open while I was away on vacation and has only two more performances remaining (Aug. 16 and 17), I give it to you here now, in its entirety:
PORT TOWNSEND
Don’t misunderstand what I’m about to tell you about Key City Public Theatre’s annual “Shakespeare in the Park” outing to Chetzemoka Park.
In two trips north for KCPT’s late-summer tradition, I’ve gotten the same impression: There’s just enough Shakespeare, way too much park.
This year — in a production of “As You Like It” directed by KCPT artistic director Denise Winter, which concludes with 6 p.m. performances Aug. 16 and 17 — the play itself is Shakespeare at its most delightful. The playwright builds his usual slapstick goings-on — love requited and otherwise, identities disguised and mistaken, intentions misunderstood and all eventually, improbably resolved — around the most formidable of his comic heroines, Rosalind … and then dresses her up as a man.
And oh, what a Rosalind Winter has to work with. Jennifer Ewing, home from her first year at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, clearly has been in Rosalind’s head for a long time, and imbues the character with both an understanding and an energy that you don’t often see at the community-theater level (at least not in combination. Way more often, it’s one or the other, which is the case with much of the rest of Winter’s cast). Ewing is as beautific, self-possessed, smitten (with the handsome Orlando, played by Jesse Olson) and damned funny as you could hope a Rosiland to be.
There are other strong performances, including Sophie Pipia, who does a better job than I’ve seen in several other productions of elevating her Celia above being just “the other girl; Doug Taylor, whose Jacues brought a welcome freshness to the “all the world’s a stage” speech; and Rosaletta Curry, a fine, comic Mme. LeBeau, replete with bicycle and perhaps the finest of Erin McNamara’s lush and lovely costumes.
The staging itself is minimalist, which is entirely appropos. After all, “As You Like It” is set in the forest. So, Winter and scenic designer Albert Mendez frame the show between two huge evergreens, with only a couple stumps and a few ingeniously reversible arbors (one side serving as a floral courtyard backdrop, the other blending in to the forest).
The park is both a help and a hindrance. The pastoral surroundings do, of course, help tranport you to the Forest of Arden. At the Aug. 15 performance I attended, there were deer grazing (actual deer, not the cute, costumed, ill-fated kind portrayed by Tanner Matthew) on the other side of a stand of trees just a few yards from the stage.
But Chetzemoka is a park, after all, and on a summery evening the distractions can be many.
The numerous children in the audience (and many of the adults) move in and out of the gallery at will, and other children simply visiting the park run and play noisily, much too nearby. Bikini’d babes and their boys wander up from the beach, grinning cluelessly at the Shakepearean dialogue. Waves from passing ships splash, and even the limbs of the stageside trees are audibly lashed by the evening zephyrs. In the audience itself, picnics are consumed, conversations advanced and romances pursued. I suspect there might’ve been a child conceived during the “seven ages of man” speech (and if not then, almost certainly during the intermission following the Couple in Question’s urgent stroll to another part of the park).
In other words, it’s not your typical playhouse setting … which is both its charm and its curse.
A few suggestions for future “Shakespeare in the Park” offerings at Chetzemoka:
w Rope off a significant perimeter behind the gallery, better separating the event from the rest of the park’s goings-on.
w Allow entry at only one point along that roped perimeter, eliminating the mad-dash of volunteers soliciting ticket “donations” and the random wanderings-in and -out of too many patrons and casual onlookers.
w During the intermission, make an announcement around the grounds five minutes prior to the play’s resumption. Give a few more minutes’ grace period, and then start Act 2, and oblige late returners to watch from outside the roped perimeter until a scene change or other appropriate time to sneak back to their spot.
I don’t mean to sound grouchy. I liked much of what KCPT did with this most joyous and accessible of Shakespeare comedies, and I generally enjoy the whole concept of “Shakespeare in the Park” — the chance to see classic “theatah” in an informal, al fresco setting.
Just not too informal. There is a point at which the informality becomes rude to the actors.
And Winter’s production — particularly the tour de force that is Ewing’s Rosiland — deserved better.

More info and directions to Chetzemoka are available at keycitypublictheatre.org.

More later. — MM

1-2 Punch: ‘Summerfest’ One-Acts and Chinese Food

We don’t have a regular review of Changing Scene Theatre Northwest’s "Summerplay 2008: A Festival of New Works." But we did solicit some audience reaction to the four original one-act plays, which are being presented through Aug. 23 as dinner or luncheon theater at the Panda on the Bay on Kitsap Way in Bremerton.

Here’s what a few of them had to say (and, if you see the show and would like to put your two cents’ worth in, simple comment on this blog and/or e-mail me at mmoore@kitsapsun.com, and we’ll let the world know what you thought):

* “Summerplay 2008” didn’t disappoint me. The Changing Scene selected four plays, all very different but equally well-acted and prepared. My favorite was “A Walk in the Ocean.” The play was built on a very simple metaphor and coupled with a minimalist set, bare except for the actors with rolled cuffs and bare feet. It was beautifully written — effortlessly so.
My least favorite was “Anchorwoman.” Some very funny lines. While I did laugh a lot, I felt it seemed to lack the originality of the other three plays. Too much like “Saturday Night Live,” maybe?
Money for entertainment is getting tight these days. I can’t think of a better way to spend $25. You get a wonderful meal in a lovely room overlooking Oyster Bay and four original plays produced by one of the region’s best theater groups. What a great Kitsap tradition!
— Joan Steinmetz

* Having seen "Summerplay" presentations in past years, I anticipated an interesting mix of short plays for the show I saw Aug. 8, and I wasn’t disappointed!
“What’s Left of the World” had some thought-provoking methods of solving some of the world’s problems. Pretty serious stuff with a little humor thrown in for good measure. The cast did a good job keeping this piece in balance without one character being more powerful than another.
“The Breadwinners” had me puzzled until it was almost over. I thought Wendy Daniels and Louis Dennard were terrific as the children.
“A Walk in the Ocean” was the play I most enjoyed. Pavlina Morris and Darren Hembd gave their characters the very human qualities that everyday, ordinary people have. The ending had a sweetness about it that was very touching.
“Anchorwoman,” with Wendy Daniels and Natika Shewry, had subtle comedy that could easily have gotten out of hand. These ladies kept it in check with remarkable timing.
— Mary Hembd

* The evening started with a wonderful filling meal which I topped with a coffee. Then on to the show.
Act 1, how to thin the herd of humans in a politicly correct manner. The premise alone won me over. Funny dialog well delivered.
Act 2, “The Breadwinners,” thought-provoking in these economically challenging times.
Act 3, “A Walk in the Ocean,” my favorite! Loved the symbolism. Beautifully executed by Pavlina Morris and Darren Hembd.
Act 4, “Anchorwoman,” as silly as the string coming out of the cannisters. A good catfight will always get a laugh.
All in all, this dinner theatre was a very pleasant experience well worth doing again. Thank you to all.
— Robin Toye

Collective Visions ’08-’09 Concerts Announced

The Virginia Klemens Blues Band will lead off the popular concert series at Collective Visions Art Gallery. The evening of Chicago-style soul music will be Sept. 19.

CV concerts begin at 7 p.m. and usually run about two hours. The intimate setting only allows an audience of about 75, and tickets are nearly always priced less than $20.

The series also includes David Friesen and Uwe Kropinski (jazz improv on guitar and bass) Oct. 17; Jamie Sieber (cellist-vocalist-composer (Nov. 21); Carolyn Caruso (vocalist-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist) Dec. 19); Pearl Django (Gypsy jazz icons) Jan. 16; Patrick and Sophia Stoyanovich (piano-violin recital) Feb. 20; Mezzo-Soprano Judith Alexandra "Alex" Miller (German Lieder) March 20; Mark Lewis and Mark Levine (jazz) April 18; Island Jazz Quintet (songs by Maggie Laird) May 8; and Akemi Uchida (violin recital) June 19.

Tickets (when they go on sale) and more information can be had at (360) 373-8327 or collectivevisions.com.

More later. — MM

Endfest is Here … or, Rather, at Marymoor Park

KNDD just announced the line-up for this year’s Endfest. Here’s the poop:

Date: September 13, 2008 doors at 12:30pm/Show at 1pm

Where: Marymoor Park, 6046 West Lake Sammamish Parkway Northeast, Redmond, WA

107.7 The End’s Endfest ‘08 Line-Up:

Bad Religion
The Presidents Of The United States Of America
Atreyu
The Faint
Everlast
The Ting Tings
The Airborne Toxic Event
Siren’s Sister

Tickets on sale Saturday August 16th at 10am for $39.50 through Ticketmaster, or charge by phone
(206) 628-0888

More later. — MM

I’m ba-a-a-ck. Tanned, but Not Rested or Ready

Why is it you always need a vacation after your vacation?

Anyway, I’m back. Did you miss me?

Saw two plays Sunday (double feature, one at 2 p.m. in Seabeck, the second at 5 p.m. in Port Orchard) that you should try to catch: Mountaineers Players’ “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” set to 50s rock ‘n’ roll music, is a charmer, and Western Washington Center for the Arts’ “Little Shop of Horrors” features a boffo cast — really a strong group of singers — I’ve ever seen … well, at least here in KitsapLand.

Reviews of both, plus Shana Lugo’s review of “Urinetown the Musical” at Paradise Theatre in Gig Harbor, are up and viewable at kitsapsun.com.

More later; I’m off to finish getting the sand out from betwixt me toes.

— MM