Cheers to 125 years Swingin’ on vine fundraiser to celebrate library’s milestone anniversary

Cheers to 125 years Swingin’ on vine fundraiser to celebrate library’s milestone anniversary

Swing by the 500 block of Vine Street this weekend to celebrate Scranton Public Library’s 125th anniversary and help it prepare for the future.
The ninth annual Swingin’ on Vine fundraiser takes over the street outside Albright Memorial and Lackawanna County Children’s libraries on Friday, May 25, from 5 to 8 p.m. Admission to the 21-and-older event costs $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and benefits programs and operating costs at the city libraries, which include the Nancy Kay Holmes branch in Green Ridge at Library Express in the Marketplace at Steamtown.
“It’s community members serving other community members, and you just can’t go wrong there,” Albright spokeswoman Jessica Serrenti said. “I think we heave wonderful support for the library in our community — Scranton and Dunmore and Dickson City and beyond.”
As guests check out the numerous raffle baskets filled with prizes donated from local businesses, they can listen to the music of Picture Perfect, which takes over from longtime performer Paul LaBelle and the Exact Change Band as the entertainment for the night.
“They have a great mix of everything — your Top 40 pop tunes, everything from Bruno Mars, and then they’ve got some Latin, a little bit of country, some rock in there,” Serrenti said. “I have to say, their song list is just never-ending. They’ll definitely be doing more current tunes … but for our older audience, they have those classic tunes as well.”
Subway, Domino’s and Cooper’s Seafood House will provide much of the food, but guests also can munch on items from numerous other local restaurants. Serrenti said they should expect to find lots of pizza, wings, hoagies and such “traditional kinds of picnic foods.”
For dessert, partygoers can grab a slice of cake featuring the library’s 125th anniversary logo on it, courtesy of Minooka Pastry Shop.
Library director Jack Finnerty believes reaching that milestone makes the library one of the city’s “senior institutions.” He wonders “how many tens of thousands of students” learned research methods and worked on term papers within the Albright’s walls through the years, and where their lives took them from there.
“Everybody who’s been a resident of this city, I think, over those 125 years has, at one time or another, found their way through the doors and benefitted from the visit,” Finnerty said.
Library founder John J. Albright built his namesake library on his family’s former homestead as a gift to Scranton residents. The building opened in June 1893 and recently closed for a few months as it underwent a significant restoration.
“When we reopened back in March, it was wonderful to see everyone come back, and they were very appreciative of the changes that we did make,” Serrenti said.
Reaching 125 years shows that the library is “still here for a reason,” she said.
“We are here serving our community’s needs as far as their informational needs, educational needs and even recreational,” she said. “There’s this idea that with everything going digital … that libraries are not needed. And while Google has given more access to information for everyone, it can still be daunting to find out what information is correct (or) how do (you) even start to use Google, and that’s where libraries come in. We can take that daunting task of ‘How do I find information?’ and say, ‘This is how you start.’”

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If you go
What: Ninth annual Swingin’ on Vine fundraiser
When: Friday, May 25, 5 to 8 p.m.
Where: 500 block of Vine Street, Scranton
Details: Guests must be 21 or older. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door and are available at Albright Memorial Library, 500 Vine St.; Nancy Kay Holmes Branch Library, Green Ridge Street and Wyoming Avenue; and Library Express, the Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave. Proceeds benefit Scranton Public Library.

Hot spots- Iron pours, exhibits and more planned around gathering

Hot spots- Iron pours, exhibits and more planned around gathering

Strike while the iron’s hot over five days in Northeast Pennsylvania.
International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art, or ICCCIA, makes itself at home at various sites throughout the region for Fire at the Furnace Week from Monday, May 28, through Saturday, June 2. Dozens of activities, exhibitions, demonstrations and more will take place around the region that focus on the historical, cultural and technical influence of cast iron. Most events are free.
Weekend Times ironed out the details about the places and events of ICCCIA.
The conference
ICCCIA provides a chance for professionals, amateurs and enthusiasts to meet, learn and work with other iron artists and workers through panels, conferences, networking events and demonstrations. Keynote speaker Carolyn Ottmers, a nationally recognized artist and educator, will address the crowd Wednesday, May 30, at 8 p.m. at Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel, 700 Lackawanna Ave. For a full list of conference events or to register, visit icccia.com.

Art
Outdoor exhibits
 “Digital Iron,” features student and faculty works produced among Alfred University, National Casting Center and East Stroudsburg University; opening reception, Tuesday, May 29, 3 to 4 p.m., Dansbury Depot, 5 S. Kistler St., East Stroudsburg.
 “Confluence” outdoor sculpture exhibition, large iron sculptures installed at several sites along Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, Tuesday, May 29, through May 30, 2019; opening reception, Thursday, May 31, 12:30 to 2 p.m., Love Road at West Olive Street, Scranton
Participating art galleries
A gallery tour coinciding with the opening receptions will take place Thursday, May 31, beginning at Linder Gallery, Keystone College, La Plume, at 4 p.m.
 “Data Dreams and Improbable Objects,” exhibit transforms conceptual data forms into tangible sculptures; through July 6, Linder Gallery, Keystone College, 1 La Plume Road, La Plume; opening reception, Thursday, May 31, 4 to 5 p.m.
 “New Frontiers,” juried exhibition emphasizes the idea of time, travel, movement, place, space and connections; Monday, May 28, through Monday, Sept. 3, Everhart Museum, 1901 Mulberry St., Scranton; opening reception, Thursday, May 31, 5:15 to 6 p.m.
 “Intent: A Tool Show,” highlights tools and materials used to create sculptures such as jigs, patterns, ideas, software and tools; Monday, May 28, through Saturday, June 30, Suraci Gallery at Marywood University, Scranton; opening reception, Thursday, May 31, 6 to 7 p.m.
 “Transformed: Digital to Corporeal,” features works created with digital fabrication techniques such as 3-D scanning, 3-D printing, CNC Milling and robotics; Monday, May 28, through Saturday, June 30, Kresge Gallery at Marywood University, Scranton; opening reception, Thursday, May 31, 6 to 7 p.m.
 “Ferrous Wheel,” features works by ICCCIA steering committee; Monday, May 28, through Saturday, June 30, Mahady Gallery at Marywood University, Scranton; opening reception, Thursday, May 31, 6 to 7 p.m.
 “Partners in Process,” curated works from the Maslow Collection that reflect conference theme; Monday, May 28, through Saturday, June 30, Maslow Study Gallery for Contemporary Art at Marywood University, Scranton; opening reception, Thursday, May 31, 6 to 7 p.m.
 “Liquid Earth,” Hope Horn Gallery at Hyland Hall, University of Scranton; opening reception, Thursday, May 31, 7 to 8 p.m.
Luzerne County galleries
A morning gallery trip to Avoca and Wilkes-Barre exhibits begins Saturday, June 2, at 10 a.m.
 “Iron Maidens II: Made in Wales,” works by female iron sculptors, through June 3, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, 100 Terminal Road, Avoca
 “Solid Gone,” works by 42 international artists whose work addresses impermanence, through Aug. 4, Sordoni Art Gallery, Wilkes University, 141 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre; opening reception, Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m. to noon
Travel events
 Ferrous Flyer train tour, Tuesday, May 29; departs at noon from Scranton; stops in Gouldsboro, Cresco and East Stroudsburg before arriving back in Scranton at 7:30 p.m.; features cast iron performances, food and beverages.
 Bethlehem day trip, Friday, June 1; departs at 9 a.m. from Radission at Lackawanna Station hotel; arrives between 10:30 and 11 a.m. at National Museum of Industrial History and includes tours of industrial sites around city and lunch; returns to Radisson at 4 p.m.
For tickets or more information, visit icccia.com.
First Friday
These events will take place Friday, June 1, as part of Scranton’s First Friday Art Walk, which starts at 5 p.m.
 “Burst Mode: Photography and Iron,” second floor, AFA Galley, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
 “That’s What She Said,” first floor, AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave.
 “Traces of Beauty: Mark Making with Iron,” Marquis Art and Frame, 515 Center St.
 “The Days of Ore,” Camerawork Gallery, 515 Center St.
 “Size Matters,” conference headquarters, Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
 “Ef (Fe) ct,” conference headquarters, Marketplace at Steamtown, 300 Lackawanna Ave.
 “The Railroad Exhibition,” Steamtown National Historic Site, 350 Cliff St.
 “On Track,” Steamtown National Historic Site, 350 Cliff St.
 “Temple of the Heart & River of Iron” film screening, Steamtown National Historic Site, 350 Cliff St.
 “Behind the Conference,” exhibition of previous and current ICCCIA conference chairs, Bogart Court, 518 Lackawanna Ave.
Live iron pours
 Dansbury Depot, 5 E. Kistler St., East Stroudsburg, Tuesday, May 29, 3 p.m.
 Gouldsboro Train Station, 543 Main St., Tuesday, May 29, 5:30 p.m.
 Bogart Court, 518 Lackawanna Ave., Friday, June 1, 6 to 8 p.m.
 Scranton Iron Furnaces, 159 Cedar Ave., Tuesday, May 29, 8 p.m.; Wednesday, May 30, 9:30 p.m.; Friday, June 1, 6 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, June 2, 8 to 10 p.m.

A new day Scranton Tomorrow celebrating 25th anniversary with party

A new day Scranton Tomorrow celebrating 25th anniversary with party

If Scranton looks different than it did 25 years ago, Scranton Tomorrow has something to do with that.
The nonprofit group — which partners with organizations, businesses and volunteers throughout the city to work as a catalyst for change — celebrates its silver anniversary this year.
To mark the occasion, a cocktail party and celebration will take place tonight, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at POSH at the Scranton Club, 404 N. Washington Ave. Tickets are $50 and are for sale in advance online at scrantontomorrow.org and at the door.
“It’s a way to come out for everything that’s grown and changed in the city in the past 25 years,” said Laurie Cadden, who co-chairs the event with Randy Williams. “It’s going to be a fabulous night.”
The night will include a short program and honor past volunteers. Cocktail hour runs from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and then gourmet dinner stations will open from 7 to 9. Guests can enjoy an open bar and entertainment by Picture Perfect Singers and DJ Edwin.
The organization has a lot to celebrate, noted board member and past president Andrea Mulrine. Scranton Tomorrow started in 1992 to implement and develop initiatives to make the city a better place to live, work and enjoy, she said. For more than 20 years, the organization acted as a liaison between downtown businesses and the city.
The creation of public access channel ECTV continues to be a paramount moment in Scranton Tomorrow’s history, Mulrine said, as it made local government proceedings available to everyone. 
The group also is responsible for implementing dozens of initiatives, such as facade grants to local business Horizon Dental, the annual CityPride cleanup, maintenance of planters and street islands, and relighting the Electric City sign atop Electric Building (with the help of UNICO Scranton, which supplied the bulbs).
Scranton Tomorrow’s events include the Downtown Drive-In Movie Series on Lackawanna County Courthouse Square, the Holiday Window Showcase, Winter in the City cocktail parties, Small Business Saturday, Scranton’s 150th Birthday Celebration and the original First Night, a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration.
Incoming president and city business owner Joshua Mast said Scranton Tomorrow’s role in driving people downtown for events and activities makes up part of its mission.
“We want people to come into downtown and know there’s always something going on, that it’s safe and that they can have a great, fun night in Scranton,” said Mast, a longtime board member. “Downtown should be a destination for everyone, and Scranton Tomorrow, along with its partnerships, have continued to do that.”
While the night looks back on the past 25 years, it also celebrates the future, with Scranton Tomorrow taking on a new role as the city’s downtown economic development partner.
The first initiative in its goal of creating a Business Improvement District is transforming a vacant lot at Wyoming Avenue and Linden Street into a pocket park. Scranton Tomorrow will partner with local organizations and government on the project.
“This organization has evolved — and continues to evolve — due to this community’s support and our great partnerships with businesses and organizations,” executive director Leslie Collins said. “Now, as (Scranton Tomorrow) assumes our new role, we’re all working toward the same goal. … It’s like we have a new energy. This is an exciting time for us.”

Fab 5 – May 17, 2018

Fab 5 – May 17, 2018

1. Montrose Chocolate & Wine Festival
Get ready for a day of indulgence.
Montrose will host its 11th annual Chocolate & Wine Festival on Saturday, May 19, from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Chestnut Street. Numerous regional wineries, vendors and businesses will descend on the Susquehanna County community, where guests can sample and buy items, take part in arts and crafts, and check out home wine-making demonstrations. The Woodshed Prophets, American Pinup, Komodo Lemonade and Canary Circus will provide entertainment.
For more information, visit chocolatewinefestival.com.

2. ‘Cabaret’ and Montgomery Gentry
F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Wilkes-Barre, hosts two national tours this week.
The Broadway musical “Cabaret” — about life at the Kit Kat Klub in pre-WWII Germany — stops by Thursday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m., and tickets cost $45, $55 and $65, plus fees.
Then, on Friday, May 18, at 8 p.m., Montgomery Gentry visits, with Eddie Montgomery performing in the wake of co-star Troy Gentry’s death last September. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and tickets cost $38 and $43, plus fees.
Tickets for both shows are available at the box office, 570-826-1100 and kirbycenter.org.

3. Be Green in Clarks Green
A weekend event in the Abingtons will celebrate community recycling.
Be Green in Clarks Green will take place Saturday, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Abington Heights School District administration building, 200 E. Grove St., Clarks Summit.
The rain-or-shine event sponsored by the borough council will include vendors, exhibits, raffled baskets, recycling stations, kids’ crafts and magician Ben Knox. Waverly Lodge 301 will grill hot dogs and hamburgers, and Lackawanna Audubon Society will hand out bird pamphlets and souvenirs.
For more information, call 570-586-6896 or visit Clarksgreen.info.

4. Rockin’ for Rich
A musical benefit will raise money for a man battling brain cancer.
Rockin’ for Rich will take place Saturday, May 19, from 3 to 6 p.m. at Morgan’Z Pub & Eatery, 315 Green Ridge St., Scranton. The $20 ticket includes admission, draft beer, live music, and food such as wing bites, sandwiches and pizza. There also will be raffled baskets, a 50/50 raffle and a basket of cheer.
Proceeds benefit cancer patient Rich Buchinski. For more information, contact Melissa at 570-878-9295, Danielle at 570-878-9186, Bianca at 570-650-2524 or Heather at 352-512-8571.

5. ‘A Night of Magic and Mystery’
Creative and Performing Arts Academy of NEPA looks to raise money to make its theater wheelchair-friendly and help buy a motorized wheelchair for a man in need.
The venue inside the Ritz Theater building, 222 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, will host the fundraiser “A Night of Magic and Mystery” on Saturday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m.
Magician acts set to perform include Tony Baronio, Jarred and Fred Kraft, Dorothy Deitrich and Dick Brooks, Mood Magic and Damian the Magician. Paul Mellan will emcee the night. Guests can bring their own beverages.
Admission costs $15 for adults and $10 for children under 12 for limited reserved seating, and $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12 for general seating. Proceeds benefit the purchase of a motorized wheelchair for Joe Bonczek and to make the Ritz Theater wheelchair accessible.
For tickets, visit the box office or ShowTix4U.com. Call 570-252-4156 or email sheri@capaa.org for more information.

Righteous babe – Ani DiFranco brings politically charged music to Kirby Center

Righteous babe – Ani DiFranco brings politically charged music to Kirby Center

Apathy never suited musician and feminist icon Ani DiFranco.
From the moment she decided to enter the music industry as a teenager, she felt confident about what she didn’t want as an artist.
“I just had big ideas when I was a little person; one of them was that big business and the interests of big businesses contradicted the business of art and democracy,” DiFranco said in a recent phone interview from her New Orleans home. “I just didn’t want to participate in it, you know? When I started out on the road to having my own record company and doing my career independently, I didn’t have a big plan. I just knew what I didn’t want to do. I met people in the music industry — label people — and thought, ‘Yeah, this is the world I don’t feel right in.’”
At just 19, DiFranco created Righteous Babe Records, through which she has since produced 20 of her records, which follow in the footsteps of folk singers and activists Woodie Guthrie and Pete Seeger in their socially aware music with outspoken, political lyrics.
Now fans can catch DiFranco, with opening act Gracie and Rachel, in Wilkes-Barre on Friday, May 11, at F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the concert starts at 8. 
The audience can expect to hear a wide variety of DiFranco’s politically charged music, which offers a range of perspectives on topics old and new. Most recently, she released the album “Binary” in June 2017.
“It’s a pretty political record,” DiFranco said. “The title track is kind of a reflection on the way I’ve come to see my whole world, that existence itself is something that’s made up of relationships. Nothing exists except in relationship to something else. … That sort of theme, which is not disconnected from my feminism, weaves through a lot of the songs and kind of binds the record together. Like all of the records, it goes a lot places and says a lot of things.”
One of the singer-songwriter’s favorite tracks of the record is “Play God,” which touches on the issue of reproductive freedom being a civil right. This song came to fruition when DiFranco decided she was tired of waiting for someone else to write a song about how she felt on the topic.
“I want to hear more politically conscious songs in my world, things that help me to articulate myself — what I think and what I feel,” she added. “It ends up being me trying to write the songs I want to hear. Like, (expletive) somebody’s gotta write this one.”
After nearly 30 years in the music industry, DiFranco is a fairly decorated musician — garnering nine Grammy award nominations and one win — and activist, with awards including the National Organization for Women’s Woman of Courage Award and the Woodie Guthrie Award, given for being a voice of positive social change.
“There are definitely more people politically active (nowadays),” DiFranco said. “It’s so, so great. I’m sure there’s a way to look at this current political situation, like it had to happen to shake us awake. There were so many complacent, so many numb, so many lost in their disillusionment. This kind of political, social crisis has been extremely effective.”
Major protests, such as the Women’s International March, and the #MeToo campaign gave DiFranco hope that people still care and want to make connections with one another on a grander scale. Much of the root of activism, DiFranco said, is about “supporting and inspiring each other.”
“That’s part of what I love about my job, is being out there, engaging with people and talking to people,” she added. “It makes me feel more alive and definitely more hopeful. You can imagine my shows are gatherings of communities who sometimes find themselves on the outskirts of the status quo. I love my job more than ever.”
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Getting real with Ani DiFranco
Q: Do you think you could have been as vocal of an activist as you are without your music?
A: I think my music has been a great tool for me as an activist, if you can look at it that way — it all comes from the same place. I used to love painting, I used to love dancing, I used to do different things. But my job sort of shook down to music and activism. It’s really like all of the things I’ve done have come from the same place. I don’t even see them as being separate endeavors. It’s all my attempt to connect myself to other people to uplift myself, and maybe other people along the way if I’m lucky. It’s all the activism — the art — it’s all the same to me.

Q: Do you ever worry about being too outspoken? How do you think others conquer that fear?
A: I think that fear gets you nowhere in this world. Just when you were asking that question, my mind flashed to in the late ’90s in Buffalo, New York, where I grew up and lived. There was an abortion provider that was shot in his kitchen by a violent anti-choice person. I am very outspoken on reproductive freedom. I was playing to these big audiences, and that was around the time laser pointer pens just came out. I remember being on stage and seeing this red pinpoint light moving across my chest and my head. These moments of mortal fear, of what it can be to be “outspoken,” to stand up in your truth and say it. But mostly on the other side of the coin, I have felt it has made me freer, it has made me happier, it has made me stronger. People have reacted a lot negatively to my outspokenness, but what hit me harder every step of the way was people that came with gratitude and solidarity. All the anger that came my way, it didn’t matter compared to that.

Q: If you give one piece of advice to the young women in America, what would it be?
A: Don’t be afraid to really embody your own truth, your own reality. There’s a lot about women and the way we think and process the world that is an aberration to the status quo, with patriarchy being the defining factor to all of the world’s societies. Women have to be really intrepid with the way they think and act to see and recognize and embody their own ways of knowing. I think, the more that we can do this — strike a gender balance in society, politics, culture — that is going to be the beginning to the road to peace on earth. Feminism is the final frontier. We can’t start with the fundamental act of patriarchy and get peace. Balance is what peace is made out of. It will take the feminist efforts of all of us.

Lyrical Legend- ‘Beautiful — The Carole King Musical’ tells songstress’ story

Lyrical Legend- ‘Beautiful — The Carole King Musical’ tells songstress’ story

Carole King and Gerry Goffin impacted the musical landscape with their creative genius, a story that lives on in a Broadway show coming to Scranton next week.
“Beautiful — The Carole King Musical” takes over Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., from Tuesday, May 8, through Sunday, May 13, for eight shows thanks to Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The show traces King’s career as a songwriter and her relationship, both romantic and professional, with Goffin, as well as her coming into her own as a performer. The pair wrote numerous songs other performers made famous, and many, such as “The Locomotion,” appear in the musical. The first time King sits down at the piano and sings “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” tour star Andrew Brewer said, he can hear the audience trying to sing along.
“And the show is kind of full of those moments, especially (in) the first act, of ‘I didn’t know they wrote that’ and ‘I didn’t know they wrote that,’” he added. “It’s all these recognizable songs that we think of as (belonging to) these other groups, and then … it shows up that it’s (King).” 
King wrote “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” as a 17-year-old, and she and Goffin followed it with numerous hits for such acts as the Drifters, the Righteous Brothers and Herman’s Hermits. She began recording her own vocals, too, and her 1971 solo album, “Tapestry,” won her four Grammy awards, including best record, song and pop vocal performance (female) as well as album of the year. She has released numerous platinum and gold albums through the years and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987.
Brewer, who plays Goffin in the tour, has had a chance to see King in person a few times when she has come backstage, and he called her “very sweet.” Her story has been part of his life for several years, going back to his job as a swing — a cast member who can step into various roles when needed — on the Broadway production, which continues to run in New York City. Brewer then moved on to the national tour, where he worked his way up to the role of King’s ex-husband and songwriting partner.
The experience let him see multiple actors’ takes on the role and learn “what sort of worked with audiences or what didn’t work with audiences and kind of build my own version of that.”
It can be a tough role, too, “because he’s the catalyst for a lot of things happening in sort of a negative way,” Brewer said.
“I try to get you on his side as much as possible at the beginning and to understand and make clear that they were in love,” he said. “Despite the mistakes that he makes … through it all, he did care. And that’s the one thing I want to make sure is as clear as possible. He’s not just a bad guy doing bad stuff to be mean.”
The show has so much emotion and relatability, Brewer noted, with many moments people have all experienced, such as the fear of losing love that “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” emphasizes.
“That’s what makes the song so powerful, and the melodies play into that,” he said. “And (King and Goffin) were such a great team. … It really shows through the notes why they’ve remained so popular through the years.”
Brewer hopes that, at the bare minimum, audiences “just have a good evening” when they come to see “Beautiful.” They will hear King’s songs in context and see what the songwriters thought of as they penned them, he said. And the musical “ends on a very high note,” he added.
“It’s a very fun show,” Brewer said. “It has some heavier moments, and I think what’s surprising to a lot of people is, while it is whatever we call a ‘jukebox musical’ … there is a great story behind it that I don’t think a lot of people know.”

 

Illusionist Criss Angel has magic eye on NEPA

Illusionist Criss Angel has magic eye on NEPA

Criss Angel knew he wanted to pursue magic at 6, when his aunt Stella showed him a card trick.
“I was enamored with magic,” said the illusionist, whose real name is Christopher Sarantakos. “She was kind enough to share the secret, and then I drove everyone crazy performing it over and over again. I was very engaged by magic. I was just somebody that could not stop thinking about magic. … I started performing and getting paid at 12 years old.”
Angel — who soared to fame when his hit television series, “Mindfreak,” aired on A&E from 2005 to 2010 — brings his popular stage show, “RAW — The Mindfreak Unplugged” to F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, May 2.
Angel’s TV show is syndicated in more than 90 countries, and his Las Vegas stage shows, “Criss Angel BeLIEve” and “Criss Angel Mind-freak Live” — both in partnership with Cirque du Soleil — have been lauded by various critics as the “biggest name in Las Vegas magic.”
This touring show is unlike his residency in Las Vegas, however, Angel said, describing it as a stripped-down version that brings his street magic, mentalism and some of his most iconic illusions to life in an intimate, raw setting.
“This RAW tour has really given me an opportunity to do something I’ve never done in Vegas,” Angel said. “I get to do that close-up magic that I’ve done very successfully on television but never performed live. It’s an unplugged version of ‘Mindfreak.’ Basically, it’s a little bit of everything.”
Though he credits Harry Houdini, Doug Henning and Richiardi Jr. as influences to his style, much of Angel’s inspiration comes from popular culture, art and the people closest to him.
“My dad was the greatest influence to me,” Angel added. “He taught me the power of the mind and how, when it works together with the … soul, anything is possible.”
In Las Vegas, Angel has a 60,000-square-foot “laboratory” where he and his team work to develop new material and experiences. Some of these stunts and illusions take a few months to perfect; others take several years.
Angel has been recognized for his illusions through the years, receiving multiple Magician of the Year awards from the International Magician Society and, in July, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Although some might know Angel for his stunts, such as his water torture cell in Time Square or freeing himself from a straitjacket while hanging upside down, audiences can expect much more than just wild tricks from his Kirby Center show. Angel said a few moments frighten people, and others might bring them to tears.
“It’s really a piece of art that people really connect to,” Angel said. “I try to take people on an emotional rollercoaster ride and let them connect and engage and escape their daily lives and see that everything is possible. … The magic of emotions in (RAW) gives people the opportunity to escape reality and see things they’ve never seen before (and) will probably never see again.”

Evening of Fine Food and Wine unites culture, culinary arts

Evening of Fine Food and Wine unites culture, culinary arts

Take a tour of a historic Scranton landmark and the flavors of Northeast Pennsylvania all in one night.
The annual Evening of Fine Food and Wine returns for an 18th edition on Sunday, April 29, at 5:30 p.m. at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., in whose unique rooms guests will sample dishes from several local restaurants.
The $100 ticket gains each audience member of sampling of food from such spots as Fire and Ice on Toby Creek, Kingston Twp., and Hilton Scranton and Conference Center, Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel and Montage Mountain Resorts, all in Scranton. Proceeds benefit the cultural center.
“It’s so important, because this is the most beautiful building in Scranton, and we need to preserve it,” said Elizabeth Murray, event co-chairwoman.
Kenny McGraw will provide music during cocktail hour, and groups then will visit rooms across the cultural center where chefs will serve tasting portions and wine. will speak with the audience about the dishes as they prepare them, and members of local media — including Times-Tribune reporters Gia Mazur and Patrice Wilding and newspaper librarian Brian Fulton — will provide background on the facility’s history.
“It’s great for the community,” Hilton chef Donnie Schmidt said, adding that the event lets the chefs break out of their “everyday routine,” too. “It definitely gives us a different outlook to the day.” 
Schmidt and Radisson chef Chris Chludzinski still were deciding on what dinner entrees to serve as of last week, while Fire and Ice chef Gary Edwards looks to make an oxtail ragu with quail hash. Wines will accompany the dishes, but event co-chairman John Murray guests also can enjoy beer pairings and cocktails that night.
Electric City Roasting Co., meanwhile, will prepare batch brews of hot coffee in addition to having cold-brew coffee on tap as guests try desserts and listen to music from the Wanabees, said Kyle Mervau, the company’s director of products.
While Montage Mountain participated in the event previously, this marks chef Tony Mendicino’s first time cooking for it. He plans to prepare a Bailey’s panacotta with Jameson salted caramel for what he expects to be a large crowd.
“(It’s) definitely going to be a good time, a great benefit,” he said.
The chefs also enjoy the camaraderie with their peers the night provides, Chludzinski noted, and he enjoys seeing familiar faces coming back year after year. Edwards said he enjoys sharing his knowledge with the patrons and connecting the culinary arts with the other arts at the cultural center, “such a wonderful facility.”
“I think they go hand in hand,” he said.
Organizers recommend guests buy tickets in advance. John Murray said they are selling fast, and only a limited amount are available.
“It’s the best event anybody will ever attend,” he said.

 

Show of talent PSU displays range of musical groups, styles with free performance

Show of talent PSU displays range of musical groups, styles with free performance

A free concert will show off Penn State Worthington Scranton’s growing music program and its wide range of musical styles this weekend.
Worthington Scranton Chorale, the Roc[k]tet show choir and Campus Jazz Band all will perform in the college’s annual spring concert Saturday, April 21, at 4 p.m. at the Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton.
Sharon Ann Toman, director of music and assistant teaching professor in music, began holding the spring concerts a few years after she joined the staff in 2000. The groups performed on campus on many years, but as the years went on, the groups grew and so did the audiences for the shows. The campus auditorium can accommodate 200 people, and after the concert reached capacity two years ago, Toman knew they needed a new venue. They shifted to the Theater at North in 2017 and packed that, too, she said.

Toman

Toman has watched the groups grow since she arrived, with the chorus up to 40 members from just a dozen back then. The band, too, started small but has grown to about 20 to 25 members, she added. Some faculty and staff also sing in the chorus and play in band, which Toman called “nice because then faculty and students and staff can interact.”
“All of them have a love for music,” Toman said of her students. “They like to sing; they like to play. … I always say we work hard but we also laugh hard.
“The rehearsals are interesting. They’re light-hearted, and the students have a good time, and I think that’s important. And above everything else, while they’re having a good time, they’re learning.”
In Saturday’s four-part concert, audiences will hear the eight-member mixed show choir perform “How Far I’ll Go” from the Disney cartoon “Moana,” “Stand by Me” and “Forget You.” The chorale, a mixed chorus of about 40 voices, will perform a traditional spiritual, “Peace Like a River”; “Candle on the Water,” from “Pete’s Dragon”; Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” and Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”
“We do fun stuff. … And of course we always sing the Penn State alma mater,” Toman said.
The 25-piece campus jazz band, meanwhile, will play “everything and anything” from “Smoke on the Water” to the Blues Brothers, Toman said. 
“They play about seven songs, which is enough to show off their talents,” she added.
Under the direction of Deano Noto, Abington Heights Middle School’s eighth-grade chorus also will perform at the concert, continuing a tradition Worthington Scranton began three years ago when it invited a local school group to perform, too. The choir will perform two songs on its own and then join the college performers for a patriotic song.
People sometimes are surprised to hear Worthington Scranton has such a thriving music program, Toman said, “because when you think of music in higher-education places, you really think of Marywood (University) as well as the University of Scranton.” But her students can stand on level with those music students, she insisted.
“The unique spin on this is the fact that none of these students are music majors,” Toman said. “They could be science, they could be English, they could be business. They’re all from different majors. I don’t have music majors on campus. I’m a graduate (of) Marywood, (and my students) can keep up with the people from Marywood and the University of Scranton. I’m very blessed with a lot of talent here on campus.”

Children’s programs to gain from Kirby Fest

Children’s programs to gain from Kirby Fest

Over the past three years, more than 22,000 students visited F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts to attend free children’s programming.
Last year, after funds from an anonymous donor dwindled, the Kirby Center had to brainstorm about ways to keep the Young People’s Theater Series free for audiences. From that grew the venue’s first fundraiser, one that returns this Saturday, April 21.
The second F.M. Kirby Fest: A Night of Pints, Pinot and Performing Arts kicks off at 5 p.m. at the downtown Wilkes-Barre venue. Executive director Will Beekman said this year’s event includes “more of everything” at a lower rate. The all-inclusive tickets cost $25 for Kirby members and $30 for nonmembers in advance, and $35 the day of the event. 
To align with the night’s laid-back vibe, guests can wander among the tables of food and drink vendors at their own pace. Unlike traditional Kirby Center events, people do not receive assigned seats and can eat and sit wherever they choose — even on the stage.
“What I find I am most excited for was that at last year’s event, before it was even over, vendors were asking if we were doing it again,” Beekman said. “They got just as much out of it as vendors as our patrons did. Those vendors were excited to come back on board, and then other vendors heard about it. I don’t want to say it wasn’t difficult … but we found it relatively easier to get so many people involved this year.”
Lauren Pluskey McLain, director of development, and Joell Yarmel, manager of membership and corporate sponsorship, booked more than 30 food, wine and beer vendors to place around the theater’s chandelier lobby, mezzanine lobby and downstairs gallery.
Vendors involved in the event include Benny Brewing, Nimble Hill Winery & Brewery, and North Slope, Susquehanna and Wallenpaupack brewing companies; wine from Maiolatesi Wine Cellars, Pisano Family Wines, and Bartolai and Freas Farm wineries; and food from Soup Chic, Genetti’s, Rodano’s, Stegmaier Mansion, City Market & Cafe and Arena Bar & Grill, among others.
Live entertainment will come from K8, PaulSko, Jamie Anzalone from County Lines, Dymond Cutter and Rockology Academy students.
A silent auction of show memorabilia will take place throughout the night and includes signed posters from the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Frankie Valli, Theresa Caputo, Johnny Mathis, the Beach Boys and Alice Cooper.  
“In addition to having a larger event in terms of vendors, we have a larger number of autographed items available for auction,” Beekman noted. “Most of the performers who have been at the Kirby Center since last year signed something for us to auction.”
To further support the local arts scene, a handful of artists will display their artwork during the event, including Brittany Boote, Naomi Martin and Tom Martin, with others to be announced.
“I think it’s a win-win-win,” Beekman said. “We get to showcase all of the great local talent, great local restaurants and great local wineries and breweries while also helping to underwrite our children’s educational programs, especially in a time when all of these art and music classes are being cut from our schools.”

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If you go
What: Kirby Fest — A Night of Pints, Pinot and Performing Arts
When: Saturday, April 21, 5 to 8 p.m.
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets cost $30 for nonmembers and $25 for members in advance, and $35 at the door.
Online: kirbycenter.org

Old-school sound Record Store Day celebrates vinyl with specials, live music

Old-school sound Record Store Day celebrates vinyl with specials, live music

Eleven years ago, Joe Nardone Jr. participated along with fellow independent record store owners across the country in celebrating a special day for music lovers.
Today, hundreds of stores across the globe celebrate the annual Record Store Day, which takes place this Saturday, April 21. This record fanatic’s holiday always features special vinyl and CD releases, exclusive promotional products and in-store concerts in area stores.
Much like prior years, Nardone’s Gallery of Sound, 186 Mundy St., Wilkes-Barre, features several bands performing in-store starting at noon that day. For the first time, Dickson City’s Gallery of Sound also will host solo acoustic artists, beginning at 1 p.m.
Each year at Embassy Vinyl, 352 Adams Ave., Scranton, the store raffles off a turntable for customers who buy an item on Record Store Day. It also does T-shirt and bag giveaways.
“It’s a good day to come down to a store like mine, or any independent record store where you can come down, experience new live music you’ve never heard and find something you’ve never heard of, or something you’ve always been looking for,” Embassy Vinyl owner R.J. Harrington said. “It’s a good day to actually get from behind the curtain of digital media and just actually get down there and, especially in a store like mine, you get your hands dirty. You gotta dig through stuff to find what you’re looking for.” 
Jay Notartomaso, owner of Musical Energi, 24 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, decided to stretch his store’s celebration beyond the day, dubbing it “Record Store Weekend.” He will keep the sales and giveaways to Saturday and then host musicians Sunday, April 22.
“It’s just kind of hard to manage both, because once the music starts, it’s hard for people to move around the store,” Notartomaso said. “So I thought maybe we just have the live entertainment part (Sunday). A lot of people would come just for that … and not really for the releases.”
Depending on how sales go on Record Store Day, Musical Energi may have specials on merchandise Sunday as well, he said.
Both Gallery of Sound locations and Musical Energi give away items such as the Record Store Day-branded bags, posters, pins and compilation CDs. Notartomaso said his store also raffles off gift cards each year to customers making purchases.
Nardone said that between traffic and sales, Record Store Day is “the biggest day of the year for any record store. It’s fueled the whole growth of vinyl.”
A 2017 end-year report the Recording Industry Association of America published revealed that, for the first time since 2011, music sales in physical formats — vinyl and CDs — exceeded digital ones. That’s thanks in part to streaming services, which account for 65 percent of music industry revenue, but also because of the resurgence of vinyl usage among the younger generation.
“Vinyl sales are still strong. The fad is over, and it’s a thing,” Nardone said. “People are buying records. Anyone can consume music on the internet. But the people who are collectors and into music long-term want to have a collection of records.”
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If you go
What: Record Store Day
When: Saturday, April 21
Online: Visit recordstoreday.com for a full list of releases.

Local events
Embassy Vinyl, 352 Adams Ave., Scranton
Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Live performers to be announced at the event’s Facebook page and embassyvinyl.com.

Gallery of Sound, Fashion Mall, Dickson City
Saturday, April 21, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
1 p.m. — Daniel Rolser (Esta Coda/A Fire with Friends)
1:35 p.m. — Jordan Ramirez (Half Dollar)
2:10 p.m. — George Yurchak (Eibes)
2:45 p.m. — Sean Flynn (American Buffalo Ghost)
3:30 p.m. — Doug Griffiths (Purcell)
4:15 p.m. — Charles Davis (Dog House Charlie)
5 p.m. — David Hagel (Coal Miner Canary)
galleryofsound.com

Gallery of Sound, 186 Mundy St., Wilkes-Barre
Saturday, April 21, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Noon — Bret Alexander
1 p.m. — Indigo Moon Brass Band
2 p.m. — Rockology Music Academy student bands
3 p.m. — Jackknife Stiletto
4 p.m. — Aaron Fink & the Fury
5 p.m. — Trippy Switch
6 p.m. — Rockology Music Academy staff jam

Musical Energi, 24 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
Saturday, April 21, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Record store day deals
Sunday, April 22, 2 to 6 p.m.
Live music from Brendan Brisk, Tori V and DJ Matt Rat
musicalenergi.com

Razzle dazzle ‘Chicago’ returns to Scranton with ‘All That Jazz’ and more

Razzle dazzle ‘Chicago’ returns to Scranton with ‘All That Jazz’ and more

Walter Bobbie knows just a bit about Scranton, Broadway and all that jazz.
Well, maybe more.
Since making his way to New York City decades ago after graduating from University of Scranton, the Tony Award-winning city native built a resume full of starring roles and star-making directorial efforts, including 1996’s Broadway revival of “Chicago,” which continues to run there.
Legendary choreographer and actor Bob Fosse staged the original “Chicago” on Broadway in 1975. It ran for two years, but the revival has completed nearly 9,000 performances, won six Tonys — including one for Bobbie’s directing — and is the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. This weekend, Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania brings the national tour back to Scranton for five shows from Friday, April 13, through Sunday, April 15, at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Bobbie, 72, had hoped to visit to his hometown “to be able to share the moment” with the “Chicago” audience, but his return to the Broadway spotlight — portraying Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, in “Saint Joan” — prevents that. The play about St. Joan of Arc — whose cast also includes Condola Rashad and Jack Davenport — opens Wednesday, April 25, at Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St., New York City.
The grandson of Polish coal miners, Bobbie described his beginnings in Scranton as modest. He and his family moved out of the city when he was about 11, but Bobbie returned to study at University of Scranton. During a trip to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, he saw “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” on Broadway and thought, “I’m coming back here. This is what I want to do.”
“Saint Joan” marks Bobbie’s first Broadway acting gig since he played Nicely-Nicely Johnson in the early ’90s’ “Guys and Dolls” revival. His career there began with 1971’s musical “Frank Merriwell” and picked up speed when he originated the role of Roger in “Grease” in 1972.
Bobbie acted in several other productions in the ensuing years but also developed a desire to direct. He helmed little projects here and there, he said, and conceived and directed the Tony-nominated musical revue “A Grand Night for Singing.”
“Nothing’s overnight,” Bobbie said. “It’s just that sometimes you have the opportunity to really leap forward in a way you couldn’t have planned or imagined or dreamed.”
He started directing for the “City Center’s Encores!” concert series and became its artistic director. After he directed “Chicago” for the series, he said, it “took off like a rocket”and moved to Broadway within a year.
At the time, the O.J. Simpson murder trial had recently transfixed the nation, which Bobbie felt made “Chicago’s” story of the interplay of crime and fame timely. And that “topic has never gone away,” he added, enabling “Chicago’s” record-breaking run. While the 1970s version came across as more of a satire and indictment of America’s judicial system, Bobbie said, today the story seems like “more of a documentary.”
“Basically, it’s about getting away with murder,” he said. “It’s about the use and abuse of celebrity. … As much as it is a lot of razzle-dazzle and a lot of toe-tapping, it also leaves your mind engaged.”
Bobbie and Ann Reinking — who starred as Roxie Hart in the original show and the revival, which she also choreographed — wanted to honor Fosse’s “theatrical imagination” but not replicate his ’70s version, Bobbie said. The pair started by reworking three major numbers, such as by making “Cell Block Tango” look “like one of those great Fosse chair numbers,” Bobbie explained.
“I think that one of the nicest things that’s ever been said to me (was) by the great agent of Sam Cohn. … He said, ‘If Fosse was alive today, this is how he would do it,” Bobbie said.
Eager to direct, Bobbie did not think about the show’s potential success at the time but rather his commitment to things and how they stimulate the imagination.
“(Scenic designer John Lee Beatty) and I decided early on … that we wanted to put the band in a jury box on stage,” he said. “We compressed them. Everybody should be trapped in this show. We continued to use visual metaphors that kept informing our process. And then we had all this joyous music with this singular dance vocabulary.”
Paulette Merchel — Marywood University’s former theater program director, chair of Broadway Theater’s education committee and a relative of Bobbie’s by marriage — said tears filled her eyes the first time she saw “Chicago” on Broadway, in part because it put into perspective all Bobbie had achieved. Bobbie presented “Chicago” in a more abstract, minimalist way that “makes you stop and think,” Merchel said.
“To see something that from the first moment was exciting and fresh and different and compelling and contemporary,” she said. “I appreciated it immediately as a new era. He was part of a new era of getting the message through musical comedy out in such a different way.”
The public tells whether a show succeeds, Bobbie said, and they certainly did that with “Chicago.” Besides running for decades in New York, it spawned several tours and an Oscar-winning film adaptation.
Since earning his Tony, Bobbie has gone on to direct such Broadway shows as “Sweet Charity,” “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” “Footloose” and Steve Martin’s “Bright Star.”
“I feel blessedly part of the theater community, and I have since I got here,” Bobbie said. “I don’t know how that happened. I got off the bus and started working. If they wanted to get rid of me, they missed their shot 40 years ago.” 

Bobbie has returned to Scranton through the years and said he feels honored to know the community has supported him during his career.
“All I can say is that if you’re in Scranton and you’re interested in the arts, stay there, make a difference in the arts, or do what I did and follow your dream. … I’ve been all over the planet because of ‘Chicago’ alone, (not) including my other work,” he said. “It’s important when you’re in Scranton to dream big, and if not, stay in Scranton and make a difference, because it’s a remarkable community.”
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If you go
What: “Chicago,” presented by Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania
When: Friday, April 13, 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 14, 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 15, 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Where: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Tickets cost $42 to $77 and are available at the box office, ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000. For more information, visit broadwayinscranton.com.

What: “Saint Joan,” starring Scranton native Walter Bobbie
When: Now in previews; show officially opens Wednesday, April 25
Where: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St., New York City
Details: Tickets cost $65 to $145 and are available at telecharge.com/Broadway/Saint-Joan/Ticket. For more information, visit manhattantheatreclub.com.

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Dance workshop and talkback
Broadway Theater League of Northeastern Pennsylvania will offer a jazz dance workshop with members of “Chicago’s” touring company Saturday, April 14, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Ballet Theatre of Scranton’s studio, 310 Penn Ave. The program is open to intermediate and advance student dancers and dance teachers. Admission is $25 and includes a ticket to that day’s 2 p.m. “Chicago” performance. Reservations are required by today and can be made by calling Broadway Theatre League’s office at 570-342-7784.
Following that 2 p.m. show, Toyota of Scranton will present a talk-back with “Chicago” representatives in the Scranton Cultural Center theater. The free talk-back is open to workshop students and anyone from the public who wants to stay after the performance.

Flirtin’ With Yesterday’s covers bring back memories

Flirtin’ With Yesterday’s covers bring back memories

By: Samantha Stanich

Flirtin’ With Yesterday band takes its audiences back in time when it performs ’70s era classic rock covers. Cousins Richard Bruce and Mary Beth West perform mainly as a duo, covering a wide variety of bands and solo artists, but also can be seen with percussionist Ronny Blight and bassist Leland Smith in full band form. Blight and Smith also perform with Bruce and West in their Neil Young cover band, Young at Heart.

Q: How did you get involved in music?
Richard Bruce: I used to pick up my father’s and brother’s guitar when I was around 10 or 12 years old, and then at 14, I bought my own, and from then on, I played probably more than I did anything else.
Mary Beth West: My mom and dad were great vocalists. I realized when I was very young that I could sing, and I’ve been doing it all of my life.

Q: What do you remember about the first time you performed in public?
RB: I can’t really recall the first place I played in public, but I’m sure it was in a local bar that I was too young to be allowed in anyway.
MBW: I was nervous. I sang in front of the whole student body in high school.

Q: How did you guys come up with your name?
RB: We came up with the name after trying to think of something to pertain to the classic, or what is now considered oldies, songs that we do.
MBW: Just sharing ideas back and forth and some creative thinking.

Q: How did you guys meet?
RB:
I was in my first band while still in high school, and Ronny Blight, who has been with us now for only a few months, was the percussionist in that first band, let’s just say a long time ago. And here four decades later, we’re playing together again. I actually met Leland online and talked for years before we actually met and became involved musically.

Q: How do you choose the songs you cover?
RB: We try to choose songs that are very popular but are almost forgotten about because they’re not usually covered by other bands.
MBW: We choose songs we like and know that the audience likes or hasn’t heard in a while. We like to choose songs that bring back memories.

Q: How have you changed as a musician over the years?
RB: How I have changed as a musician is all attributed to experience. I’ve learned to let the moment happen while performing. I’m not sure where I heard this, but I find it true that you have to learn a piece of music inside and out so you can play it in your sleep, and then you have to kind of forget it while performing, and that is when the art or what we sometimes call “the magic” can take over.
MBW: I have become more confident and learned how to control my vocals better.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories as a musician?
RB: My favorite part is when we are performing and everything just clicks. Meaning everything from the band being exceptionally tight to the audience being exceptionally receptive.
MBW: Playing private parties and people singing along with us as well as playing benefits. I love our harmonies.

Q: How has the NEPA music scene changed over the years?
RB: I think the local music scene has changed dramatically over the years by loss of larger venues that were around in the ’80s and ’90s. That’s why, I think, you see so many single acts and duos, because there is no room for large bands anymore.

Q: Who has influenced you over the years?
RB: Neil Young (and) Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are probably my biggest influences while learning.
MBW: Carole King, Stevie Nicks, Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, Elton John and my mom and dad.

Q: What is the biggest challenge?
RB: The biggest challenge now is finding the time to work on multiple shows and acts as your own agent and management.
MBW: Trying to hit notes beyond my natural range, especially during the latter part of a show.

Q: What are your future goals for the band?
RB: To play as often as possible for Mary Beth and I. And I think the Neil Young show has the potential for larger venues and widespread touring.
MBW: To add more songs to our playlist, songs that you don’t hear other bands play, so we can see more people singing along at our shows and to hear them say, “I haven’t heard that song in years.”

 

Pop goes Sordoni – Gallery turns to comic art, illustration for new exhibit

Pop goes Sordoni – Gallery turns to comic art, illustration for new exhibit

Comic art and illustrations surround consumers on a daily basis, from Sunday comic strips to advertisements.
The newest exhibit at Wilkes University’s Sordoni Art Gallery, 141 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, opens Saturday, April 7, and shines a light on this genre with “Selections from the Sordoni Collection of American Illustration & Comic Art.”
The exhibit formed from the personal collection of Andrew J. Sordoni III, who began gathering illustrations and comic art in high school after buying his first Maxfield Parrish drawing. Although he traded that piece many years ago, Sordoni still has the first piece of comic art he bought, a “Prince Valiant” Sunday page.
“It’s actually in the exhibition,” he said. “It ran in the Sunday Independent in Wilkes-Barre. … It’s drawn by Hal Foster. I remember it very well.”
Sordoni’s interest in the genre stemmed from his love for fictional characters, ranging from cowboys and detectives to classic literary characters such as King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. He assembled the collection over 50 years.
Stanley I. Grand, former Sordoni gallery director, curated the exhibit, which includes 135 works from more than 100 artists. The display includes notable illustrations from Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish and Frank Schoonover as well as comic strip artist from George Herriman, Milton Caniff and Charles M. Schulz, among many others.
“It’s lowbrow art,” Sordoni said of the genre. “It is not cerebral; it’s visceral. It reflects American popular culture. It’s the stuff that entertained us and that we lived with every day. On the illustration side of it, they are included in more than just magazine art or newspapers. It includes advertising art, calendar art, pinup art, glamor art and art that was commercialized, designed to sell products.”The gallery will host three Wednesday lectures during the exhibit’s run so illustration and comic lovers can delve deeper into the genre and the works on display. A curator’s tour with Grand takes place April 11, “What Makes a Pulp Different Than a Slick” with illustration historian David Saunders follows April 25, and “A Solitary Figure in American Illustration” with Sordoni rounds out the series May 2. All lectures take place at 4:30 p.m. in Room 135 of Karambelas Media Center. All Sordoni exhibits and events are free and open to the public.
“(The gallery) presents all kinds of art hoping to educate and inform and entertain the audience,” Sordoni said. “Some people will not like it, and some people will adore it. That’s true of all genres of art and various categories of art. This is just one more offering that gives some breadth to the university.”

If you go
What: “Selections from the Sordoni Collection of American Illustration & Comic Art”
When: Saturday, April 7, through Sunday, May 20; Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.
Where: Sordoni Art Glalery, Karambelas Media Center at Wilkes University, 141 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
Details: Visit wilkes.edu/arts/sordoni-art-gallery.

Special events
Opening reception: Saturday, April 7, 4:30 to 6 p.m., Sordoni Art Glalery, Karambelas Media Center at Wilkes University, 141 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
Lecture series: Curator’s tour with Stanley I. Grand, Ph.D. Wednesday, April 11; “What Makes a Pulp Different than a Slick” with illustration historian David Saunders, Wednesday, April 25; and “A Solitary Figure in American Illustration” with Andrew Sordoni, Wednesday, May 2; all 4:30 p.m., Room 135, Karambelas Media Center, Wilkes University

Party Animals – Hayley Jane and the Primates evolve into eclectic band coming to NEPA

Party Animals – Hayley Jane and the Primates evolve into eclectic band coming to NEPA

When Hayley Jane lived in Monterey, California, she desperately tried to get people to refer to her by those first and middle names only.
It came from her love for British primatologist Jane Goodall, and the name finally stuck when she moved to Boston. So when she needed to create a moniker for her barely formed band, giving a nod to Goodall seemed appropriate, and she settled on Hayley Jane and the Primates.
“It seemed pretty obvious … especially with primates’ relationship to humans,” the singer said. “I knew I was never going to be a biologist since I had such a hard time with science, so I thought it was a great way to pay homage to her. And it just so happens that the guys (in the group) are big, hairy dudes. Humans are primates. The second we forget we are animals, we think we are better. It’s just a reminder of where we come from.”
Hayley Jane and the Primates brings its electric live show back to River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 S. River St., Plains Twp., on Friday, March 30, at 9 p.m. The group performs an eclectic range of music — from Americana and soul to rock, folk and jam band sounds — but since its creation in 2007, the Boston quintet has constantly evolved.
While the band explored its sound, the unexpected death of its first bassist, Devin “Dabbo” Caucci in 2011 shook the members to their cores. It halted progress for a while, as they “weren’t equipped to handle it,” Jane said. But Caucci’s death also brought her closer to guitarist Justin “Juice” Hancock, and the two began writing together.
From that moment, the band found its groove.
“In the last two years, I’ve had a clear view of bridging folk music, jam music, and the theatrics and visual aspects of the show,” Jane explained. “Just allowing us to kind of play what we want to play and making up our own parts. Everyone is responsible for their own parts, so the songs are a piece of each of us. I never wrote like that before, but now that we have this new lineup, we trust each other to put together our own parts. It feels much more like a group effort.”
The band released its sophomore record, “We’re Here Now,” in September, and Jane said it continues to take shape as they perform on tour. While she called the album “all over the place,” she also noted that it represents the band well.
“We’ve got that slow, soulful feel of ‘Lose You,’ and then total bluegrass with ‘Mama,’” Jane added. “There’s the folkyness of ‘To the Moon,’ and we get super funky in ‘Make It Alright,’ and then we get more heartfelt and lyrical in ‘Madeline.’ That’s what I love about the scene we’re in — no one is telling us to pick a genre.”
While the band’s lineup rotated many times since it came together around the Berklee College of Music scene, Jane remained constant. She boasts a hefty musical theater background, including a role in the original production of “Sleep No More” in Boston, and decided she wanted to create a truly expressive performance while the Primates played — something to compliment the music but not take away from it. Pulling influences from her theatrical background and using lights like the jam band scene, Jane creates choreography for the songs to demonstrate the emotions in each one.
“I always liked to make up dances with my girlfriends when I was little, and I wanted to bring a level of that to my show. And also, to have other females on stage is super empowering,” Jane said. “There’s a lot of animal movement, where we’re lionesses to gain that power behind it, the strength behind it. Lionesses hunt together; the women hunt together. I always loved that idea. I really wanted to represent that — the vulnerability, the oppression mixed with strength and all the emotion.”
Jane said the dancers’ bodies elevate the music in the same way the lights do and act “as another instrument.”
“I try to let go and give up some of my control to the music, let it kind of shoot through me,” she said. “That’s my favorite part. It’s hard watching videos of it. It feels so good when I’m doing it. But then I watch it, and I’m like ‘I look crazy.’ But I’m not going to stop; I think it’s important.”
A snapshot one of her photographers took at a concert — of seven young girls staring up at the Primates’ stage — struck a chord with her.
“It was that moment I realized I can’t stop being genuine,” Jane said. “I have to fight through insecurity to be myself and not let all the outside (expletive) stifle who we want to be, and who we really are. That’s what the movement is about — that’s what the live show is about.”
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If You Go
What: Hayley Jane and the Primates
When: Friday, March 30, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Where: River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 S. River St., Plains Twp.
Details: Tickets cost $12 and can be purchased online at riverstreetjazzcafe.com. The show is open to ages 21 and older.

Can’t Make it to this Show?
Catch Hayley Jane and the Primates this summer at the Peach Music Festival on Montage Mountain, Scranton, running from Thursday, July 19, to Sunday, July 22.