Electric City Craft Brew Fest: Spring Session

Electric City Craft Brew Fest: Spring Session

An annual beer tasting event will feel — and taste — a bit different this year.
Electric City Craft Brew Fest not only offers more than 100 types of craft beer, but, for the first time, guests also have the chance to grab a bite from local food trucks and peruse wares from locals vendors. Brew Fest takes place Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29, at Montage Mountain’s lodge, 100 Montage Mountain Road.
“We want to keep growing the event,” Jeff Slivinski, Montage Mountain director of marketing, said. “We know by now people are expecting a certain craft beer style and offering food and more things to do is only going to elevate that.”
Food vendors like Peculiar Culinary Company, Notis the Gyro King, Jerkey Hut, Sweet Lush Cupcakery plus about a dozen more will serve up their specialities for the crowd while it samples brews from all over the country. Guests can look around and shop items from local retail vendors like AOS Metals, On A Whim Jewelry, Jerky Hut, Keystone Cheese Farms and more.

VIP sessions
Electric City Brew Fest provides two types of tasting experiences. The VIP session, on Saturday, April 29, from 12:30 to 4 p.m., makes for more of an exclusive offering with food pairings, a $5 food truck voucher, swag bags and the opportunity for beer lovers to immerse themselves in malts, stouts, ales and more and chat with experts on all things hops and barley.
“There’s a lot of cool opportunities with VIP sessions,” Slivinski said, adding that the VIP sessions are capped at 300 tickets, so potential guests should secure them as soon as possible. “It’s a little bit of a more intimate opportunity for guests to talk with brewers, sample some food and beer choices, and just relax and have a good time.”

General admission
As for general admission sessions, Slivinski said they carry more of a “party atmosphere” where guests have the chance to taste more than 100 beers from 65 different local, state and national breweries. General admission sessions are Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Tickets to the 21-and-over event are $59 in advance and $70 at the door for the VIP session, or $29 in advance and $40 at the door for the general admission session.
Great beer is something guests expect each year, Slivinski said, but the presence of local breweries is something festival organizers strive to expand each year.
From Wilkes-Barre Twp.’s Breaker Brewing Company and Pittston’s Susquehanna Brewing Co. to North Slope Brewing Co. from Dallas and Irving Cliff Brewery from Honesdale, Slivinski said the local brewers rise to the occasion.
“The list is extensive at this point,” he said. “They’re the guys that everyone wants to see at Brew Fest.”
Weather permitting, crowds can enjoy parts of Brew Fest outside and around the property at Montage Mountain. With so many beer options, plus the addition of food and shopping, the festival aims to provide all guests with a great day out that keeps them coming back for more.
“We get the diehards each year but there’s always some new faces in the crowd,” he said. “The Brew Fest is definitely something we and the area have come to look forward to year after year.”
— gia mazur

If you go
What: Electric City Craft Brew Fest spring session
Where: Lodge at Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Road
When: Friday, April 28, general admission session, 5:30 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, April 29, VIP session, 12:30 to 4 p.m., general admission session, 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Details: Tickets to the 21-and-over event are $59 in advance and $70 at the door for the VIP session, and $29 advance and $40 at the door for the general admission sessions. They can be purchased online at ecbrewfest.com or by calling 855-754-7946.

photos by jesse faatz

“Pet Sounds”: One More Time

“Pet Sounds”: One More Time

Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson brings final ‘Pet Sounds’ tour to Kirby Center

Fifty years after the release of “Pet Sounds,” the album’s composer and primary vocalist treats fans to a tour full of good vibrations before muting the record.
Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson kicked off an international tour of the 1966 album at the beginning of last year, only to extend the tour for an additional 37 shows this year.
And Wilkes-Barre made the cut.
Wilson brings his “Pet Sounds: The Final Performances” tour to the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday, May 2, at 8 p.m. as a part of the venue’s PNC Celebrity Series.
“We do it on stage exactly like the record,” Wilson said in a recent phone interview. “We duplicate it.”
For longtime Beach Boys fans, this concert will be one for the ages, as Wilson said this is the last tour he will perform “Pet Sounds” in full. Joining him on the tour are former Beach Boys members Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin.
Although the tour marks the 50th anniversary of the album, Wilson said it feels like just yesterday when it was released.
“I think the harmonies and the melodies are what people like most,” he said.
According to the California native, the trio performs “Pet Sounds” in full during each show, while also highlighting a number of other Beach Boys favorites, including favorites such as “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “God Only Knows” and “Caroline, No.”
Due to his unique approach to song composition, Wilson is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential figures in popular music. He co-wrote, arranged, produced and performed more than two dozen Top 40 hits with the Beach Boys. “Pet Sounds” was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998, along with the singles “I Get Around” in 2017, “California Girls” in 2011, “In My Room” in 1999 and “Good Vibrations” in 1994.
“The day we recorded ‘Good Vibrations’ was the highlight of my life,” Wilson said. “The guys said, ‘Hey Brian, this is going to be a No. 1 record.’”
Wilson’s life was recently documented in the critically-acclaimed 2014 film, “Love & Mercy,” starring Paul Dano and John Cusack. The 74-year-old also released his second book in October, “I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir.”
He said he still pulls inspiration from people and music around him, including his wife, Paul McCartney and the late Chuck Berry. Even though this tour marks the final one for “Pet Sounds,” Wilson said he is nowhere near ready to retire from performing.
“Well I have to do something to look good,” he joked. “I might record a record later on this year. I haven’t written for a few years, but I’m going to be getting back into it soon.”

— charlotte l. jacobson

If you go
What: Pet Sounds: The Final Performances featuring Brian Wilson
When: Tuesday, May 2;
doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets are $59.50 to $125, available through the box office, 570-826-1100 or
kirbycenter.org. For more information,
visit brianwilson.com.

 

Ballet Theatre of Scranton’s ‘Dracula’

Ballet Theatre of Scranton’s ‘Dracula’

Ballet Theatre of Scranton sinks its teeth into a classic tale for its latest production.
The troupe’s senior company presents “Dracula” for one night only, Saturday, April 29, at 7:30, in the Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton.
But preparations for the ballet began in the midst of winter, as the show’s creators, Katya and Arkadiy Orohovsky, ventured to the city from their Mississippi home for nine days to set up the production with the cast.
“It’s been crazy,” Katya Orohovsky said during those rehearsals. “They pick up really quickly, very enthusiastically.”
The couple saw a few ballet versions of “Dracula” through the years, but never any they identified with. Then they heard music from 20th-century Ukrainian composers that incorporated that country’s folk songs, and they developed their own version of the story using that music.
“It’s so appropriate,” Ballet Theatre artistic director Joanne Arduino said. “Some of the melodies are just haunting. It’s really a perfect selection for this ballet. (In) one of the scenes, there’s Romanian folk dance, so it has some very rousing music. It has some beautiful, romantic music.”
The Orohovskys’ production combines elements from Bram Stoker’s classic novel “Dracula” with real history, resulting in what Arkadiy Orohovsky called a “more family-friendly” story — less horror and more heart. The dancers play up the love story between Dracula and young Mina.
“(We) wanted to tell a little bit of the history and a little more of the romanticism,” Katya Orohovsky said.
Arduino called “Dracula” a well-known, timeless story she believes audiences will enjoy because of how Ballet Theatre chose to portray it this time.
“We’re sort of billing it as it’s not the gory story of Dracula that everybody thinks,” she said. “It’s really a haunting love story. Granted, it’s still ‘Dracula.’ There’s still his story, but we are focusing on his love story.”
The tale became more believable and resonated with audiences as a result of those changes, according to Arkadiy Orohovsky. When the couple first staged the show with their studio in Ohio in 2007, they saw how the audience connected to the character.
“A lot of people cried at the end, which was surprising,” Katya Orohovsky said.
The Orohovskys revived the show in Mississippi a few years later with their company there, and this marks the first time the couple staged it for someone else. Katya Orohovsky said “it’s been really nice kind of brushing it off.”
“I’m really happy that our ballet is going to stay alive,” her husband said.
Taking on the lead is professional dancer and Ballet Theatre veteran Colin Bolthouse, while Jerica Tallo, another longtime Ballet Theatre dancer, portrays Mina.
“With the costumes and the lighting and the sets, it’s just going to be exceptional,” Arduino said. “And we’re all excited about it.”
Since the choreography “is not really set in stone,” Katya Orohovsky said, she and her husband could tailor the moves for Ballet Theatre’s dancers. Arduino believes it is good for her crew to work with different choreographers, noting how the Orohovskys brought “some interesting concepts.” The couple fit in well with the Ballet Theatre family, she added, calling Arkadiy Orohovsky “very easygoing.”
“He wants them to just express themselves and have a good time with their roles,” Arduino said.
Arkadiy Orohovsky said he and his wife enjoyed working with Arduino and her team and are happy with how Ballet Theatre took the show forward.
“I think it’s going to be a great ballet,” he said.
Arduino expects Ballet Theatre will bring “Dracula” back to the stage again one day.
“This is a new work; it’s classical yet contemporary,” she said. “There are a few of those that we have done throughout the years at Ballet Theatre that have been loved by the audience but also loved by the dancers, and this, I think, is one of them.”
— caitlin heaney west

IF YOU GO
What: “Dracula,” presented by
Ballet Theatre of Scranton’s senior company
When: Saturday, April 29, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Theater at North,
1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton
Details: Tickets are $25, available at tututix.com. For more information, call 570-347-2867 or visit balletscranton.org or the group’s
Facebook page.

Fashion Fundraiser

Fashion Fundraiser

Fashion fundraiser aims to help floral programs blossom

A good cause is always in vogue, and so fashionistas and philanthropists alike will gather for a common purpose at Fashion & Compassion, a fundraiser to benefit the Greenhouse Project’s community programs.
The event functions as a marketplace with a variety of local vendors, and Scranton native and celebrity stylist Marni Senofonte will be curate her must-have looks for the season and talk about her career working with the likes of Beyoncé, Ciara, Jay Z, Nicki Minaj and Lauryn Hill.
Tickets are $25 through eventbrite.com and include light fare and a cash bar. Proceeds from the event benefit Greenhouse Project program Petal Share PA, which aims to grow a healthy, sustainable community by repurposing donated flowers. The Greenhouse Project’s other efforts include horticulture therapy for elderly and vulnerable community members and creating a multi-generational space in Nay Aug Park.
Senofonte rose to prominence in her field after a stint as designer Norma Kamali’s assistant and working partnerships with brands such as Gucci, Roberto Cavalli and more. She maintains a large international audience on her popular Instagram account, @marnixmarni, where she models high-end fashions. Her mother, Kathee Sonofonte, spearheads Petal Share PA as its program director and brought her daughter into the fold to make the event a marquis happening.
Fashion & Compassion also is a NEPA Match Day event, with a guarantee from Scranton Area Community Foundation to match proceeds up to $1,000.
— patrice wilding

If you go
What: Fashion & Compassion fundraiser featuring guest speaker and celebrity stylist Marni Senofonte
When: Friday, April 28, 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: POSH at the Scranton Club, 404 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Tickets are $25, available at eventbrite.com, and include light fare, cash bar and a vendor marketplace. Proceeds benefit the Greenhouse Project’s program Petal Share PA and horticulture therapy for elderly and vulnerable community members.

Record Store Day 2017

Record Store Day 2017

Record Store Day enters its 10th year on Saturday, April 22, as music lovers throughout Northeast Pennsylvania engage in the worldwide celebration by gathering at participating local record stores to buy and listen to music.
Joe Nardone Jr., co-owner of Gallery of Sound — which has locations in the Fashion Mall in Dickson City, Laurel Mall Strip Center in Hazleton and at 186 Mundy St. in Wilkes-Barre — has participated in the event since its inception and witnessed it change and grow over the years.
“The first year we only had a few (special releases). … It’s blown up into a 300-release day for all different types of music,” Nardone said. “Some people find different things on the list and try to get a copy for themselves. It’s kind of evolved into a treasure hunt kind of day.”
Nardone believes there’s something for everybody. He noted that most of the day’s special releases are vinyls, but there also are a few CD and cassette releases. In addition to free items at stores, the day features merchandise releases, such as a “Star Wars”-themed turntable, while Record Store Day’s official beer, Dogfish Head, puts out a special compilation album.

Rare gems
“There’s a few things from the Cure, there’s a Grateful Dead release that’s never been out before, (and) there’s a Smiths special single that hasn’t been around in a long time,” Nardone said.
Additionally, from 2 to 7 p.m. at Gallery of Sound’s Mundy Street location, audiences can hear live music from Aaron Fink, Death Valley Dreams, Charles Havira, Rockology All Stars and Inner Temple. The morning and night feature vinyl DJs.
R.J. Harrington, owner of Embassy Vinyl, 352 Adams Ave., Scranton, also has participated in Record Store Day for the past decade. He said the event always creates a great atmosphere in the store. People go to record stores to see free live music and end up making purchases, or they go to buy something and listen to bands they might not have otherwise heard.
“It’s a door that opens both ways, in a good way,” Harrington said. “You go out to it with the right attitude, to support small business … and you also go out and support local musicians.”
Embassy Vinyl plans to pack the store with new vinyl releases and eclectic live music from Westpoint, Poison Thorn (a DJ set), Spur, Rest, University Drive, Gold Gauze, Old Charades and Worn.
“We’re going to be having live bands here pretty much all day, from noon till when we close,” Harrington said.
Jay Notartomaso, owner of Musical Energi, 24 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, said the store is excited about this year’s Record Store Day releases.
“There’s a lot of good stuff this year,” Notartomaso said. “It’s a lot better than the last two years.”
Musical Energi, which has existed for roughly 30 years and began celebrating Record Store Day years ago after transitioning from selling used to new and used items, opens early on Saturday and features live music later in the day. Notartomaso plans to raffle off gift certificates and merchandise, and customers also can expect to find giveaways and discounts on certain items.
Notartomaso urged music fans to “come out and hang out in the record store for a while.”
Nardone stressed the significance of the day, which has turned into a celebration of independent record stores and local music.
“When this started 10 years ago, the number of record stores was in huge decline, and since that time the decline sort of stopped and more shops opened,” Nardone said.
— peter shaver

 

Readers’ Picks

The Claypool Lennon Delirium, “Lime and Limpid Green”
“I like this title because the group featuring Sean Lennon and Les Claypool has already released some pretty interesting music so far. The release is special because these songs are cover songs put together specifically for Record Store Day on a green 10-inch vinyl record.”
— Joe Nardone Jr., owner of the Gallery of Sound

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, “Hammersmith Odeon London ‘75”
“It doesn’t get any better than Bruce and the band live. Following the release of the classic ‘Born To Run’ album, this was the band’s first concert appearance outside of the United States. Recorded Nov. 18, 1975, this album roars with ‘Thunder Road,’ ‘Backstreets,’ ‘Kitty’s Back,’ ‘Detroit Medley’ and more.”
— Jim Reeser, The Citizens’ Voice sports editor

TOTO, “Africa”
“I’m a sucker for picture discs, and this 12-inch includes two of the bands greatest hits — ‘Africa’ and ‘Rosanna.’ This limited edition, special release also marks the band’s 40th anniversary, and with their 40th anniversary tour coming to the F.M. Kirby Center on June 18, I suggest scooping this one up and trying to get it signed at the concert.”
— Will Beekman, executive director of the F.M. Kirby Center

Jason Isbell, “Welcome To 1979”
“As much as I love Jason Isbell’s original work, I’m very excited about this vinyl-only, live covers album he’s releasing for RSD. It features covers of John Prine, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones and others. It also features a live version of ‘Never Gonna Change,’ an Isbell original which he wrote when he was with the Drive-By Truckers. This is a must-have for any Jason Isbell fan. Hey, Joe Nardone, help a brother out!”
— Will Beekman

The Claypool Lennon Delirium, “Lime and Limpid Green”
“So many to choose from, but I’m really looking forward to the Claypool Lennon Delirium’s 10-inch EP, mostly because their release last year was one of my favorites and I can’t wait to hear more from them.”
— Jay Notartomaso, owner of Musical Energi

“Dr. Who and the Pescatons”
“This vinyl reissue of the soundtrack makes a great addition to any Whovian’s collection, and I hope to secure it on Record Store Day.”
— Kristen Gaydos, The Citizens’ Voice assistant city editor

Up Close: Kathryn Bondi

Up Close: Kathryn Bondi

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL
WITH ALAN K. STOUT

Kathryn Bondi is a digital graphic designer with Posture Interactive and an adjunct faculty member of Marywood University, where she teaches graphic design. Bondi is a native of Bethlehem but has lived in Scranton since attending Marywood, where she received a degree in graphic design. She is the vice president of the board of AAF Northeast Pennsylvania. She lives in Scranton.
Meet Kathryn Bondi …

When did you first realize you had an interest in graphic design?
I think it goes back to high school. I always loved art. My mom was an art history major, and I grew up really having a love and an appreciation of art. I was always drawing and doing crafts. But when I got to high school, reality kind of set in, and I realized I needed to combine that with a way to make money. I used to get requests to do people’s tattoo designs and T-shirt designs, and I realized I liked combining the drawing aspect with the actual logistics and layout, and sourcing materials, and trying to find the best way to deliver a creative product. I was like, “I think this is what I want to do. I want to do package designs, T-shirts, websites … I want to put artistic direction into a product and deliver it to someone.”

What do you enjoy about teaching?
It wasn’t that long ago that I was there, so I can relate to being in their shoes. I can relate to being in their seat and asking, “Is this really want I want to do for the rest of my life?” or “Do I even know what it’s like to do this in the real world?” When I started, I was probably thinking I’d be doing magazines and newspapers, but that is not what I’m doing. Maybe on a small scale, to some degree, but it’s mostly web. That’s the direction everything has gone. So I might say, “Hey, I know you’re shying away from web code, but you might want to tip-toe into that.” I like discussing their options. Saying, “You’re really strong with illustration. Maybe that really is your route, and maybe you might want to take that a step further and start licensing your illustrations on a website.” It’s giving ideas on venues that maybe they didn’t think existed and getting them to explore those venues.
Can you talk a little about your work with the American Advertising Federation?
It’s a national federation and we serve Lackawanna and Luzerne County. There are all kinds of great national events and benefits, so we try to educate people as to why they might want to become a member. There’s also a government relations component. We try to get involved on the Hill in terms of advertising, where things will affect you if you have an agency or are a freelancer. There’s also continuing education, so we have speaker events. And there’s also community service. You get out of it what you put into it. If you come to the events and you want to learn more about copywriting, or sales, or digital adverting – that’s something that you can grow and benefit from.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
There’s not much of it, but I draw when I can. And I always come back to cooking and gardening. I like being able to grow my own food and then find a way to turn that into something amazing. And whether it’s my boyfriend or my family, I’ve always been a firm believer that food brings people together. Maybe that’s because I’m Italian. (Laughs) I also do handmade jewelry. (www.etsy.com/shop/BrokenTwig)

You’re also involved with local theater, correct?
Yes. I first got involved in theater in high school, but it was more on the speech and debate side of things, with oral interpretation events. I would do dramatic pieces and poetry and prose. I also played music in high school, so I didn’t usually get to be in plays, because I was usually playing in the pit band for the plays. But for the past two or three years, I’ve gotten involved with the Diva Theater and I really like it. I’d forgotten how much I like to just get on the stage and let loose. It’s a good outlet. My first one was “The Lion In Winter.” Most recently, I was in “In the Dark.” I’ve also gotten into set design and did the stage design for “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

Favorite music?
My all-time favorite artist is Beck. I’m a fan of his whole catalog and I’ve followed him since I was a kid. I generally go towards the alternative genre and indie/folk. Lately though, I’ve been more into Washed Out and Boards of Canada – stuff that you can just have on in the background. It’s very relaxing.

All-time favorite movie?
I like indie focus films and indie films – stuff that makes you think. By the end of the film, I want to be surprised. I like Wes Anderson. I like the design of his films. He has really interesting color pallets and shots. It’s very symmetrical.

Favorite TV show?
I’m currently going through “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” I also like “Rick and Morty.”

Favorite food?
Pasta.

Favorite holiday?
Halloween.

Favorite city?
Portland, Maine.
Favorite vacation spot?
Ocean City, New Jersey. That’s always been our family vacation spot.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
I love a lot about Northeast Pennsylvania. A lot of people from where I’m from in the Lehigh Valley are transplants, which some might see as refreshing, but I like the idea that everyone here has a connection to the area. People know you. There’s a sense of community. I also like the entrepreneurial spirit. You can just do something and no one’s going to say, “No.”

Guilty pleasure?
Sitting on the couch playing video games and not doing anything. Sometimes you just need to shut down and hang out in your PJs on the couch.

Biggest pet peeve?
Negativity. Negative people.

Any pets?
A dog, Mars, and a cat, Ares.

Is there anything about you that might surprise even your friends?
As much as I talk to people and I enjoy talking to people, I’m kind of a homebody. Growing up, I always had one or two very good select friends, but I never had “the gang.” To me, a good Friday night was sitting in my room, drawing and listening to music. I wasn’t very social. So that may surprise people that I know now and that have seen me out and about. That’s not how I always used to be.

Most influential person in your life?
My mom. I definitely owe a lot to her. I even have a tattoo in honor of her. It’s based off of her wedding portrait, but I did in it in the style of Alphonse Mucha, because I also love art history. She was an art history major and I minored in art history. Growing up, she fostered that in me. We went to museums together, and I definitely feel that she created the creative part of me. She could see that I also had an interest, and she helped me recognize it and know what to do with it. She’s been instrumental in helping shape how I see myself.

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net.

photos by emma black

Foghat Headlines Annual Rock 107 Birthday Bash

Foghat Headlines Annual Rock 107 Birthday Bash

Roll all night

As revelers heading to the 37th annual Rock 107 Birthday Bash gear up for the concert blowout tonight at the Woodlands Inn & Resort, Plains Twp., perhaps no one is more excited than Foghat’s Roger Earl.
“I love a party,” the drummer and sole remaining founding band member said.
Foghat hits the stage at approximately 10:30 p.m., and doors open at 7. Entertainment before the main act includes sets by Flaxy Morgan, 7800° Fahrenheit — A Tribute To Bon Jovi and Facing the Giants. The traditional giant birthday cake, door prizes and a cash bar also will be back for the 21-or-older event.
Earl spoke recently by phone from outside his sunny Florida studio, where the English group — known for the classic blues-rock hits “Slow Ride,” “Fool for the City” and “Drivin’ Wheel” plus a standout cover of “I Just Want To Make Love To You” — practices and records. He promised Birthday Bash guests a mixed bag of all the recognizable singles as well as a taste of his band’s newest album, “Under the Influence,” which continues Foghat’s signature catalog of funk-, blues- and R&B-infused rock music.
Citing artists like the late Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, he explained that his music endures because its predecessors are rooted in rock history.
“It was always about the music with Foghat. Our biggest influence is blues music. … We altered it a bit to suit us. That music’s been here since the ’40s — if you count jazz and bebop in that heritage — and it’s still here,” Earl said. “Rock ‘n’ roll endured as part of an American tradition. I don’t think (it’s) a fad. (Late Foghat frontman) Lonesome Dave said it once: asked why he likes blues and rock, he said it has an honesty about it.
“It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but we like it,” he added, joking, “That wasn’t our song, was it?”
Earl splits his time between homes in Florida and Long Island, New York, and several family members will travel to Northeast Pennsylvania for tonight’s show. Audiences at Foghat concerts have grown more multi-generational over the years, he noted, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We have some fans with us for many years we’ve been doing this, but I’m really excited turning younger folks and new fans on. We have a lot of young people turned on by grandparents and siblings. That’s what’s enabled the band to keep playing on,” Earl explained. “I feel very fortunate at this time in life that I can earn a decent living doing 60 or 70 shows a year.”
The band will mix up the setlist to keep longtime listeners and show-goers happy, and though the musicians might dance a little less on stage these days, Earl quipped, guests can expect an energetic show full of music they love.
“The selfish part of being a musician is we do it because we love doing it,” he said. “(But) I’m very grateful being able to do this. Life is real good.”
— patrice wilding

 

If you go
What: 37th annual Rock 107 Birthday Bash featuring Foghat
When: Tonight; doors open at 7 p.m.
Where: Woodlands Inn & Resort, 1073 Route 315, Plains Twp.
Details: Tickets are free through the Rock 107 mobile app, text and email club plus online at rock107.com. Guests also can buy tickets at the door for $15.

Behind the Grey returns with new lineup

Behind the Grey returns with new lineup

Behind the Grey is coming back strong Friday at the Other Side, Wilkes-Barre, with a new lineup and fresh music down the pipe. The metal band consists of, from left: Grant Williams, bass; Mike Boniewicz, drums; Dom Vito, vocals; Will Perna, guitar; and Daniel McDonald, guitar.

Nothing can stop Behind the Grey from doing what it loves — making music and performing for its fans.
And after a year of ups and downs for the band, both personally and professionally, the group is coming back strong with a new lineup and fresh music down the pipe.
The lineup consists of original members Will Perna on guitar, Mike Boniewicz on drums and Daniel McDonald on guitar plus new vocalist Dom Vito and new bassist Grant Williams. The group also recently signed with the Inner Light Agency and manager Damon Moreno to help with its development and to rebrand the band after the recent changes. According to Perna, the management agency will help with the release of Behind the Grey’s next album by helping it get its music out to labels, booking agencies and other media.
Behind the Grey went On the Record to discuss the new lineup, upcoming music and more.

How did you each find your way to music?
Will Perna: I got into music later in my teens. I didn’t start playing guitar till I was 16 or 17 years old. A friend of mine introduced me to a band called Deftones, and I was hooked. Once I saw them, I said, “I want to do that for the rest of my life.”
Grant Williams: Dad was a guitar player, but I was never interested. When he died, I picked up music almost as a way to repay some kind of debt I owed him. Trying instruments led me to bass, and I knew it was where I belonged almost instantly. 
Dom Vito: My great-grandfather was a vocalist and a guitar player. He inspired me at a young age and was my motivation to initially become a musician.
Daniel McDonald: Seeing a cover band in the ’90s got me into wanting to play, and around that time my oldest brother started playing in a band. I was bit by the music bug. 
Mike Boniewicz: I was a drum tech/roadie for a cover band when I was 13. It pushed me to want to play.

How are you feeling about your first performance together as a full band?
WP: We’ve all played together for years, but this will be the first time we’ve been in a collective project together. We’re very excited to get out and play for everyone. We’re going to come out swinging!
DV: (Friday) will be our first time performing alongside of Grant on stage. It’s a very exciting feeling to have such a great and reputable musician in this group. Also very excited to showcase some of the new music we’ve been working on.

Is your next album going to be very similar musically to “Through the Grip of Tyrants,” or are you taking it in a new direction?
WP: The new material still has “our sound,” but it has grown. Personally, I really wanted to push the envelop with the new material. I wanted the heavy to be heavier and the big choruses to be bigger. We don’t have a title or release date yet. We’re very much in the beginning stages, so we’re just not there yet.
DV: The writing process has been going very smoothly with the new lineup. Our music isn’t changing; however, we have been experimenting with a slightly different feel for the new material as well as trying to progress and mature as musicians in the process. We’re trying to simply present a new flavor to our music while keeping our original sound as the foundation.

How have you changed as a musician over the years? 
WP: I’d like to think I’ve grown as a songwriter. Being able to “cut the fate” out of a song and make it as strong as it can be. I’ve been trying my best to look at our music and songs as a whole rather then just sections and take the listener into account more. 
GW: I’ve exposed myself to more genres of music. You’ve gotta get out of your comfort zone to do any kind of growing. Music is certainly no exception.
DV: I’ve progressed as a musician more then I ever have over the past few years. On my down time, I’ve been recording my own solo album while also writing/recording various songs and experimenting with different genres of music for the sake of becoming a better writer and a solid player of the instruments I do play. Music is my life. It’s all I ever do with myself.
DM: I started as a blues-style guitarist to a more hard rock/metal guy. Then I stopped for five years. When I started back up, I was trying to learn all the stuff I never learned. I am now where I want to be.
MB: I’m definitely open to more styles of music and trying anything to learn more about any of these to help grow.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a musician? 
WP: Money and time will always be against you as a musician, no matter where you’re from. It feels like you have your whole life to write your first album, then the pressure comes and feels like you have just a small window of time to write the follow-up and make it better then the first. Plus, recording and releasing albums is expensive.
DM: Meeting people that understand what that means and what it takes to be (a musician). … It usually means working a full-time job and practicing three time a week, plus shows. Everything else is family. I’m not a slacker like others like to think.
MB: Money, places to play and finding people worth playing with.
DV: Confidence was always my biggest issue. I went through stages of doubting myself, whether or not I was cut out for doing this. However, the more I beat myself up, the harder I worked.

What are your future goals for your music? Do you have anything else you’d like to add that is important for people to know about the band?
WP: We have plans to release new music in the near future, just to give a taste of what the new album will hold.
DV: I can only hope to someday make a living off of doing what I love to do most, which is indeed music. I want to tour and write/record as much as possible, and I’m hoping to do so alongside my brothers in this band.
DM: I  just want to be able to keep playing until I die. If I can make a living, that is a plus. My band is the greatest group of friends; we always have each other’s backs. 
MB: Make and release new music, get on the road and see where it goes from there.

— charlotte l. jacobson

 

Meet the band
Founded: 2013
Genre: Hard rock/Metal
Based out of: Scranton
Members: Dom Vito, vocals; Mike Boniewicz, drums; Daniel McDonald, guitar; Will Perna, guitar; and Grant Williams, bass
For fans of: Deftones, Sevendust and Killswitch Engage
Online: behindthegreymusic.com, Behind the Grey on Facebook
Up next: Friday, 7 p.m., the Other Side, Wilkes-Barre
April 22, 1 to 5 p.m., Misericordia Spring Jam,
Wells Fargo Amphitheater, Dallas; May 6, 9 p.m., The V-Spot, Scranton

Meet filmmakers, see variety at Dietrich Movie Festival

Meet filmmakers, see variety at Dietrich Movie Festival

Travel through Kolkata via Google Earth to figure out a young boy’s past, take a deeper look into a black family torn apart by generational divides and racial inequality in 1950s Pittsburgh, or learn more about the stray cats of Istanbul at this year’s Dietrich Theater Spring Film Festival.
The annual event kicks off Friday at the Tunkhannock theater and runs through April 27, screening 23 films ranging from Oscar nominees to foreign films to documentaries. Tickets are $8.50.
“The biggest challenge, personally, is picking the films,” said Ronnie Harvey, the theater’s assistant general manager. “It’s hard to get it down to those core films, while getting advice from patrons coming to the films and other people that work with me.”
Harvey noticed the festivals’ appeal to not only regulars who enjoy the films chosen each time but also new people looking for something different from the superhero flicks and children’s movies often on the marquee.

“Before the Flood”

“I think they like that they can see all of these really well put-together films in a package,” Harvey said. “They turn it into a kind of game for them, to see how many (films) they can see in the festival. They do really like to be able to see quality films that other places in the area aren’t showing or, if they do, it’s only for a very short period of time.”
An opening night gala kicks off the festival with screenings of “Lion” and “20th Century Women”; a buffet of hors d’oeuvres from Twigs Cafe, Epicurean Delight, the Fireplace Restaurant and Ma Greenley’s BBQ; wine and beer provided by Nimble Hill; and dessert by Epicurean Delight. Gala tickets are $40 and must be reserved in advance.
Among the films chosen for this edition of the festival, three — “Land of Mine,” “The Salesman” and “Toni Erdmann” — were nominated for best foreign language film at the Academy Awards. Also slated are two films with local ties: “All in Time,” directed by Wilkes-Barre native Chris Fetchko, who will host a question-and-answer session after each screening, and “Completely Normal,” co-written by Scranton native Heather Davis, who will answer questions at the April 20 showing.
In honor of Earth Day, a question-and-answer session with Dr. Susan Kenehan follows the April 22 screening of “Before the Flood,” which examines climate change around the world and features Leonardo DiCaprio.
Other films set to screen include “Elle,” “Fences,” “The Founder,” “I, Claude Monet,” “I Am Not Your Negro,” “Jackie,” “Julieta,” “Kedi: The Cats of Istanbul,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Neruda,” “Nocturnal Animals,” “Paterson,” “Things To Come,” “A United Kingdom” and “Year by the Sea.”
A post-festival film discussion takes place Friday, April 28, at 1 p.m., and gives people a chance to discuss the films with other enthusiasts. Harvey will facilitate the discussion.
“My favorite part is seeing the people who really enjoy what they are seeing and talking about it,” he said. “I love seeing people after a showing, seeing strangers who have become friends and having discussions. It just shows that movies are the great American art form. You can change a mind, you can impact someone’s life in the positive, just from a movie.”
— charlotte l. jacobson

If you go
What: Spring Film Festival Opening Night Gala
Where: Dietrich Theater,
60 E. Tioga St., Tunkhannock
When: Friday, doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Details: Tickets are $40, and reservations are required. Call 570-996-1500. For more information, visit dietrichtheater.com.

FESTIVAL SCHEDULE:

Saturday
Noon: “Land of Mine”
2:15 p.m: “Completely Normal”
4:15 p.m: “Jackie”
7 p.m.: “Fences”
9:45 p.m.: “Elle”

Sunday
Noon: “Before the Flood”
2 p.m.: “Lion”
4:30 p.m.: “20th Century Women”
7 p.m.: “Paterson”

Monday
Noon: “Kedi: The Cats of Istanbul”
Noon: “The Salesman”
2 p.m.: “Neruda”
2:30 p.m.: “Julieta”
4:30 p.m.: “Things To Come”
7 p.m.: “All in Time”

Tuesday
Noon: “The Founder”
Noon: “Manchester by the Sea”
2:30 p.m.: “Year by the Sea”
2:45 p.m.: “Elle”
5 p.m.: “A United Kingdom”
7:30 p.m.: “I Am Not Your Negro”

Wednesday
Noon: “I, Claude Monet”
2 p.m.: “Paterson”
4:30 p.m.: “Fences”
7:15 p.m.: “Land of Mine”

Thursday, April 13
Noon: “I Am Not Your Negro”
Noon: “Lion”
2 p.m.: “Jackie”
2:30 p.m.: “Toni Erdmann”
4:30 p.m.: “Kedi: The Cats
of Istanbul”
7 p.m.: “A United Kingdom”

Friday, April 14
Noon: “Fences”
Noon: “Neruda”
2:15 p.m.: “Year by the Sea”
2:45 p.m.: “Before the Flood”
4:45 p.m.: “Paterson”
7:15 p.m.: “The Salesman”
9:30 p.m.: “Nocturnal Animals”

Saturday, April 15
Noon: “20th Century Women”
2:30 p.m.: “Julieta”
4:45: “Lion”
7:15 p.m.: “All in Time”
9:30 p.m.: “The Founder”

Sunday, April 16
Noon: “Manchester by the Sea”
2:45 p.m.: “The Salesman”
5:15 p.m.: “I Am Not Your Negro”
7:15 p.m.: “Toni Erdmann”

Monday, April 17
Noon: “Land of Mine”
Noon: “Things To Come”
2:15 p.m.: “Elle”
2:30 p.m.: “A United Kingdom”
5 p.m.: “Julieta”
7:15 p.m.: “20th Century Women”

Tuesday, April 18
Noon: “Before the Flood”
Noon: “Neruda”
2:15 p.m.: “The Founder”
2:30 p.m.: “Kedi: The Cats
of Istanbul”
4:30 p.m.: “I, Claude Monet”
7 p.m.: “Lion”

Wednesday, April 19
Noon: “Land of Mine”
2:15 p.m.: “Nocturnal Animals”
5 p.m.: “I Am Not Your Negro”
7 p.m.: “Jackie”

Thursday, April 20
Noon: “Elle”
Noon: “Fences”
2:45 p.m.: “The Salesman”
2:45 p.m.: “Year by the Sea”
5 p.m.: “Julieta”
7:15 p.m.: “Completely Normal”

Friday, April 21
Noon: “20th Century Women”
Noon: “The Founder”
2:30 p.m.: “Jackie”
2:30 p.m.: “Lion”
4:45 p.m.: “Neruda”
7 p.m.: “Manchester by the Sea”
9:45 p.m.: “Paterson”

Saturday, April 22
Noon: “Before the Flood”
2:15 p.m.: “A United Kingdom”
4:30 p.m.: “Land of Mine”
7 p.m.: “Elle”
9:45 p.m.: “Nocturnal Animals”

Sunday, April 23
Noon: “Jackie”
2:15 p.m.: “Fences”
5 p.m.: “All in Time”
7 p.m.: “Lion”

Monday, April 24
Noon: “Neruda”
Noon: “Toni Erdmann”
2:15 p.m.: “Manchester by the Sea”
3:30 p.m.: “Jackie”
5 p.m.: “Completely Normal”
7 p.m.: “Things To Come”

Tuesday, April 25
Noon: “I Am Not Your Negro”
Noon: “A United Kingdom”
2:15 p.m.: “Year by the Sea”
2:30 p.m.: “Paterson”
5 p.m.: “I, Claude Monet”
7 p.m.: “The Salesman”

Wednesday, April 26
Noon: “Julieta”
2:15 p.m.: “Things To Come”
4:30 p.m.: “Kedi: The Cats
of Istanbul”
7 p.m.: “20th Century Women”

Thursday, April 27
Noon: “The Founder”
Noon: “Jackie”
2:15 p.m.: “Fences”
2:30 p.m.: “I Am Not Your Negro”
4:30 p.m.: “Toni Erdmann”
7:30 p.m.: “Lion”

Friday, April 28
1 p.m.: Post-festival discussion

Up Close: Zhach Kelsch

Up Close: Zhach Kelsch

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL
WITH ALAN K. STOUT

Zhach Kelsch is a professional drummer and drumming instructor who teaches at Northeast Music Center, Dickson City. He has performed and recorded with regional bands such as Fighting Zero and OurAfter and recently recorded with Aaron Fink. Kelsch plays with two bands from the Lehigh Valley area, Vicious and Doubting Thomas, and with Philadelphia-based band Modern Luxe. He is a Carbondale native and graduated from Carbondale Junior-Senior High School and Penn State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business. He has lived in Philadelphia for the past five years and recently relocated to Lake Harmony.
Meet Zhach Kelsch …

When did you first realize that you wanted to play drums?
I started when I was 6. My dad was a drummer, and he quit because he had me. (Laughs) And so he put the drums away. I was helping my grandmother clean the attic when I was 6 years old, and I found his road cases with his drums in them. They were these really cool 1976 drums. They’re called Vistalite, so they’re acrylic and you can see through them. And they were a bicentennial edition. I’ve since found out that they’re worth a lot of money, which is funny, because he bought them for like $500 and now they’re worth more than $10,000. They’re red, white and blue. … I’m 6 years old, and they look like jellybeans. (Laughs) I begged him to set them up, and though he was kind of rusty, he could still play, and I was just blown away just watching. Seeing each hand do something different, and the feet do different things, but it all comes together … I was like, “This is the only thing I want to do.”

Who are some of your all-time favorite drummers?
I’m a fan of guys that are almost the behind-the-scenes session guys. As a drummer, you’re not the “rock star” face, but I like the guys who have done it and made a living. They’re the guys that get hired by every artist, though a lot of people probably won’t know their names. Vinnie Colaiuta is one of my all-time favorites. Josh Freese. And a local guy, Kevin Soffera from Allentown, is a guy I completely look up to. And I’ve liked Danny Carey from Tool since I was 6, and I still like him now. He’s one of those guys with staying power.
Who are some of your favorite bands?
Tool, Metallica and nowadays I’ve really gotten into funk, and I’m into Lettuce. And I like the funk legends like Tower of Power and Earth, Wind & Fire.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like to stay active. I’m a gym rat. In the winter I snowboard. In the summer I wakeboard, and I like to ride my motorcycle. And I like to read about business and philosophy.

Favorite city?
I got to do a tour last year of the West Coast, which went from San Diego all the way to Seattle. Seattle is amazing. And I also liked Santa Monica.

Favorite vacation spot?
It depends on which mood I’m in. I love Vermont, and I also love anything Caribbean.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
I’ve travelled a lot from playing, but it always feels like home. The family is still here, and I’ve always liked it here.

Favorite food?
Anything healthy … sushi and vegetables.
And Italian.

All-time favorite movie?
“Johnny Dangerously,” “Blazing Saddles” and “Shawshank Redemption.”

Favorite TV show?
“Seinfeld” and “Family Guy.” And I like documentaries.

Favorite type of reading?
I like magazines. I like Forbes and The Economist.

Biggest pet peeve?
A negative attitude.

Guilty pleasure?
I like a drink, socially. I was at a wedding last weekend, and I thought, “Alright. I’m not working. Let’s have a drink.”

Is there anyone, or anything, in your life that has helped define you as a person?
My dad. He’s an unbelievable moral guide. He’s the North Star. He always does the right thing. Everybody that knows him respects him. I try to follow his lead as much as I can.

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net.

photos by emma black

‘Greatest Show’ says goodbye

‘Greatest Show’ says goodbye

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus brings farewell tour to arena

Ivan Vargas didn’t run away with the circus — he grew up in it.
The sixth-generation circus performer said that out of his 26 years of life, he spent less than three years outside Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.
But at the end of May, Vargas’ streak ends when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey disassembles the Big Top permanently. Locals will have a chance to say goodbye when Ringling’s world-renowned Circus XTREME tumbles into Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza from April 6 to 9 for its final round of performances.
Part of the circus’ Clown Alley, Vargas never thought Ringling Bros. would close entirely but rather that it would adapt and evolve into a different type of circus. But even he noticed the decline in attendance in recent years, far from the days when the circus would to turn away people from sold-out shows.
“It’s been my home,” Vargas said. “I want people to come experience this, even if it’s for a few hours. Coming to the circus is magical. It’s been around for 146 years, and I’m so happy to be a part of that; I want to share that with everyone. There are only a couple months left, and I want everyone to see this great institution before there’s no more. It’s like inviting people into my home one last time.”
Growing up in the circus didn’t seem strange for Vargas, but he knew it was something special.
“I’d go to school and walk past 12 elephants, and then get out of school and go practice,” Vargas said. “We’d play (to see) who can do the highest back flip or jump off the highest apparatus. My monkey bars were the trapeze.”
Vargas carries on family tradition as the sixth generation of circus performers on his father’s side and fifth generation on his mother’s. His family formerly performed with the Flying Vargas trapeze troupe, which toured with Ringling Bros. When the troupe disbanded, Vargas’ parents stayed with the massive show — his father working with the animals and his mother helping with costumes.
“Obviously I wanted to follow in my family’s footsteps because it’s such a fun lifestyle,” Vargas said. “It’s so different than what I would consider somebody else’s norm. … My passion was always to perform, ever since I was 3, 4 years old, dancing to Michael Jackson music videos for my family. I always wanted to entertain. I love to entertain.”
Families attending the last performances of “The Greatest Show on Earth” can expect to see acrobats fly high in the air, sit at the edge of their seats to view the exotic animals and laugh along with Vargas and the rest of Clown Alley.
Although the circus maintains the same structure for each performance, being a clown allows flexibility depending on audience interaction. Vargas explained that the clowns are both audience members and performers because of the way they react to the other circus performers.
“It is the last chance to see Ringling Bros., and it’s still a great show,” he said. “Even though it has changed from when parents or grandparents came to the show, we still have a ringmaster, animals and acrobats. There isn’t anything like Ringling. It’s such a unique experience that you don’t want to miss out on it.”
Between living on the circus train and traveling across the country to meeting new people each time performers join the show, the change in lifestyle coming later this spring likely will be a hard adjustment for Vargas at first. But no matter what, the performer said, he wants to continue to entertain people in some way after Ringling closes.
“I’ll definitely miss being a part of Clown Alley — even if somewhere else I’m a clown,” he said. “Waking up early in the morning and then going to the arena or the venue to put on your makeup — there’s 12 friends there. We’re all from different backgrounds, have different life lessons, but we’re all there because we all love being clowns. I’ll miss hanging out with those silly people. We’ll make each other laugh, and we’ll get into character as we’re putting on our costumes. We start our circus day way before the first audience member enters the arena.”
— charlotte l. jacobson

 

If you go
What: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
present Circus XTREME
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.; Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, 1 and 5 p.m.
Details: Tickets start at $15 and are available at the arena box office, ticketmaster.com and
800-745-3000. For more information, visit
ringling.com or mohegansunarenapa.com.

Sounds: Dancing in the Dark

Sounds: Dancing in the Dark

THIEVERY CORPORATION — “The Temple of I & I”
THE GOOD: Still held together by founders Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, Washington, D.C., DJ/producer/instrumentalist collective Thievery Corporation comes back with its ninth.
THE BAD: Like past releases, “Temple” is slick and addictive enough. However, is it wholly authentic? Dub, reggae, house, acid jazz, bossa nova — of course they’re all here. But is every individual genre the real deal or a semi-pale imitation? That determination is purely subjective.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Don’t strain yourself thinking about it too much, and “Temple” is still quite enjoyable. From Lou Lou Ghelichkhani’s charming warbling spread over the bouncy reggae punch of “Time and Space” to Elin Melgarejo’s more seductive delivery atop the spacey dub echoes of “Lose to Find,” bits of this record are downright dreamy.
And for those craving something more aggressive or politically charged, the thudding rhythms and cries for justice carrying “Ghetto Matrix” and “Fight To Survive” (both featuring vocals by long-time collaborator Mr. Lif) will suffice.
BUY IT?: Your call.

KID KOALA featuring EMILIANA TORRINI — “Music To Draw To: Satellite”
THE GOOD: Canadian DJ/producer/multi-instrumentalist Kid Koala (born Eric San) moves in a quieter direction.
THE BAD: Those hoping for another big dose of the guy’s mad turntable skills and banging beats won’t find it here.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Koala doesn’t even use his decks much, choosing instead to focus on cozy piano, warm synths, a dash of strings and only the sparsest beats. And then there’s Icelandic nymph Emeliana Torrini adding her soft melodic chirp to half the tracks; it’s the first time Koala worked extensively with any vocal collaborator. So if you were clamoring for HER next outing, “Satellite” should tide you over.
It’s a relaxing set eliciting a haunting yet pleasant atmosphere as opposed to something that demands your attention. Koala excels in these new surroundings, displaying yet another side to his (mostly) instrumental talents. Torrini’s voice also is the perfect, gentle complement to the man’s fragile underpinnings. It’s a musical match made in heaven … or deep space.
BUY IT?: Surely.

XIU XIU — “Forget”
THE GOOD: California indie experimental collective Xiu Xiu (still the brainchild of singer/songwriter Jamie Stewart) unleashes a dissonant 13th.
THE BAD: Xiu Xiu remains a polarizing act. You either embrace the insanity or you don’t. There’s no middle ground.
THE NITTY GRITTY: I tend to feel “unclean” after listening to a Xiu Xiu set. Stewart’s quivering vocals always sound like the man wants to stab you in the eye with a fork and he’s simply mustering up the courage to do so.
The backing tracks are either extremely loud and abrasive or very quiet and outright creepy. Electronic beats mix with live percussion, cold synths mesh with grinding strings, and bursts of noise break an uneasy tranquility. This is scary stuff.
However, some of “Forget” is also downright infectious. Tracks like “Wondering” and “Jenny GoGo” are some of the most melodic and danceable bits Stewart has produced in ages. A light at the end of the tunnel? Nah, he’s probably just drawing your attention away from that fork.
BUY IT?: Yep.

 

Alexis Sings the Blues

Alexis Sings the Blues

Kirby Center hosts performer to celebrate release of live album

Alexis P. Suter said she got her start in music in the womb.
“My mother was, and still is, a singer,” she said. “She sang all over the world. My mother sang; she taught me to sing. All of us just started from very young with recitals at church, and we blossomed from that.”
The blues singer brings her bass/baritone vocals to F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Friday at 8 p.m. to celebrate the release of the “Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound — Live from the Briggs Farm Blues Festival” album.
Citing musical influences ranging from Barry White to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Suter said she listened to everything she could when she was younger, including the music forbidden in her strict, religious childhood home.
“Music back then was very different than what it is today,” she said. “It was more based on love and care, and it was very easy to grasp, to let it hold onto you. Those were the types of songs that motivated me.”

The live album
Not only does Suter return to the Briggs Farm festival in Nescopeck year after year to perform but it also is among her top five favorite festivals, partly because the Briggs family always has treated her like family.
“There are so many things to love about that place,” she said. “If I was just a regular camper coming to see that festival, I would probably feel the same way. It’s so electrifying and nuturing. … The land itself is so beautiful. I would advise anyone to put it on their bucket list.”
And although Suter recorded live albums before, she said she had a different feeling when recording at the Briggs Farm Blues Festival.
“The audience participated in making what it is, the whole atmosphere of it,” Suter said. “The love that is shown when you’re there, you cannot fail. The energy in the CD reflects everything about that farm. Everything about that energy and the people that go there. It was just a beautiful experience.”
For the Kirby Center concert, the gospel and blues singer said she certainly will attempt to recreate the vibe of the Sunday morning gospel set at the festival, and maybe add in a couple bonus songs.
“People that come to see me know that my message is love, unity, understanding, confidence,” Suter said. “We have to love each other. We have to build with each other. There is so much going on in the world right now. This message is more important than anything ever. I’m not going to stray away from it.”
— charlotte l. jacobson

 

If you go
What: Alexis P. Suter Ministers of Sound
When: Friday, 8 p.m.; doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts,
71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Details: Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show, avialable at the box office, 570-826-1100 and kirbycenter.org.

Sex and the Stage

Sex and the Stage

Actress Kerry Ipema shares laughs during one-women parody

“Sex and the City” fans rejoice — a one-woman parody is coming to town.
Comedian and actress Kerry Ipema brings her show, “One Woman Sex and the City: A Parody of Love, Friendship and Shoes,” to F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts tonight at 8 as a part of the Live from the Chandelier Lobby series.
Under the creative direction of T.J. Dawe — known for his productions of “One Man Star Wars Trilogy,” “One Man Lord of the Rings” and “PostSecret: The Show” — Ipema takes audiences through a one-woman version of all six season of the smash HBO television show.

Kerry Ipema rehearses her performance of One Woman Sex in the City, her debut show at this year’s Fringe Festival. July 12, 2016 (GREG GALLINGER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

“I play about 24 characters in the show,” she said. “It sounds exhausting, but it’s quite fun. I play all of the women, their boyfriends and the secondary characters.”
The production, which Dawe and Ipema co-wrote, pulls from each of the series’ 94 episodes and crams the important bits into an hour-and-a-half live display.
Ipema not only jokes her way through the show but also fuels part of it with audience participation. Audience members can write down their “deal breakers” and crazy date stories to give to the comedian, who then reads them live.
“We create this brunch-like atmosphere,” Ipema said. “There is this intimacy of sharing these stories and deal breakers.”
Although Ipema shares the first name of the main character Sarah Jessica Parker portrayed in the TV series with a slightly different spelling, her favorite of the show’s four leading ladies to play is Samantha.
“She is all sorts of fabulous and candor,” Ipema said. “She always has these really incredible one-liners. Every line she gets a big laugh and applause. It’s full of shock value. … She’s pretty sexually progressive, and that comes across. And she uses a lot of puns in the show. … It wouldn’t be a ‘Sex and the City’ parody without a lot of good puns.”
One woman approached her after the show one night to thank her, claiming to feel more empowered after watching the display of strong women. Allowing audiences to revisit the four girls became an outlet for women to laugh along with their favorite characters once more, while also strengthening their friendships, Ipema said.
“One reason I love the show, which is coming clear through touring, is how important ‘Sex and the City’ is to female friendships,” she added. “You see their personal relationships on that show, and it brings to light the importance of female friendships. The show was a huge beacon for women. People saw themselves in those four women — Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.”

— charlotte l. jacobson

 

If you go
What: “One Woman Sex and the City: A Parody of Love, Friendship and Shoes”
When: March 23, 8 p.m.; doors at 6:30 p.m.
Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Tickets: $27.50 in advance; $30 day of show
Contact: 570-826-1100
Online: kirbycenter.org

Gender Roles

Gender Roles

Two Scranton playhouses present all-male and all-female shows over same run

The all-male “Glengarry Glen Ross” with its female director and the all-female “The Women” with its male director play out on separate Scranton stages starting this week in a theatrical battle of the sexes.
Diva Productions brings David Mamet’s examination of the 1980s cutthroat real-estate business to the Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W. Market St., while Actors Circle tackles female relationships amid a gossipy, catty society in comedic style at Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Road. “The Women” opens Thursday, and “Glengarry” follows Friday; both run on weekends through April 2.

Planning ahead
Paige Balitski, “Glengarry” director and Diva’s founder, scheduled the show after learning of Actors Circle’s plan to present “The Women.” She knew a play with more than 20 women in its cast meant actresses she might want for a Diva show likely would be unavailable. Balitski always wanted to tackle “Glengarry” and thought now seemed like “the perfect time” to do it.
“First of all, it’s Mamet, and he writes tough and gritty,” she said. “And for men, this is always a play that men want to do, so I knew that if I announced auditions, I would get excellent actors. And, boy, did I ever.”
Diva’s eight-man cast includes T.J. Zale and Casey Thomas as salesmen and Scott Colin as their office manager. Balitski described the characters — businessmen tasked with making deals or else risk losing their jobs — as “men who make or break their careers on closing (deals).”
“Roles like this or shows like this come along so rarely. … When you’re able to sink your teeth into a piece of drama like this, you jump at the chance as an actor,” Colin said.
The Tony-winning “Glengarry” debuted on Broadway in 1984, and an acclaimed film adaptation starring Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon and Alec Baldwin followed in 1992. Colin said the show has endured because “David Mamet is able to turn these characters in a short amount of time into very, very real, conversational people.” Zale called it “excellent modern playwriting.”
“Every character has something going on underneath these words,” he said.
Diva’s cast has impressed Balitski with its ability to learn a tough script with dialogue that often changes direction mid-sentence.
“Mamet writes tough,” she said. “He writes in what I like to call ‘fits and stops.’”
Zale called the frequent swearing in the script “part of the texture of (the characters’) language,” but it “doesn’t mean their human emotions are different than anybody else.”
“They are striving and working really hard to what they got,” Zale said. “It’s the human endeavor. It’s what it’s about to make a living and support your family and do the right thing.”

Focus on relationships
While known mainly for its all-female cast — a vision adaptations take so far as to feature only female children, animals and subjects in artwork — “The Women’s” greater focus falls on the relationships among its characters.
“Women have now — and back in the ’30s, when this is set — they do have a mind of their own,” said Brink Powell, who plays Mary Haines. “They are in charge of their own destinies. (And) particularly in the case of these women, they’re rich society women; they don’t go to work. Their husbands support them. But even in that situation, they’re not letting themselves be defined by men. Women and men and any person need to define themselves and not let themselves be defined by someone else.”
Clare Boothe Luce’s comedy hit Broadway in 1936, and a now-classic film adaptation starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell followed in 1939 (another came out in 2008). The story follows Mary, whose husband has divorced her and married Crystal Allen, a social climber he had an affair with, and their interactions with each other and their fellow society mavens.
“It’s a comedy for sure, and what is not more comedic than love?” said Jennifer Frey, who plays Crystal. “We see it being treated seriously, and not that love isn’t serious and marriage isn’t serious, but if you can’t laugh at the tragedy of life, what can you laugh at? And so falling in love, falling out of love having boyfriends … all of these storylines are taken on in ‘The Women.’”
Director Ted LoRusso told the cast to think of the play like a “Real Housewives” show.
“There’s a whole slew of really hilarious, funny characters who just go a mile a minute with all these wonderful one-liners,” he said. “And there’s a catty quality to it.”
Since Powell’s character deals “with some pretty heavy emotions,” she doesn’t get opportunities to be funny. But she said the play nevertheless is a lot fun, with the cast laughing its way through rehearsals.
“You don’t think a play about catty women backstabbing each other could be so hilarious,” she said.
Frey — president of the board of Cinderella’s Closet of NEPA, a nonprofit that takes donated prom and other types of dresses and sells them at affordable prices to girls in need — also helped behind the scenes. Cinderella’s Closet sometimes receives slightly broken or vintage donations, which it cannot use. Instead, the group donates them to different theaters, this time sending the pieces to “The Women,” which Frey said “called for some very dressy dresses.”
“That was one of the issues I did stress out about,” LoRusso said. “We have 22 actresses and 12 scene changes and about 60 costumes. And I thought, ‘How in the heck are we going to do this?”

Continued support
While the plays run the same weekends, in truth, this battle of the sexes ended before it began. Many cast members know those from the other play from previous productions, and each show plans to take one of its off nights to catch the other in action, even if it’s at a rehearsal. The playhouses sit a mile apart, Balitski said, so “there’s no reason not to help each other out.”
“The theater community is very small,” she said. “There’s a lot of them in the surrounding counties, but we all belong to an organization. We all see each others’ shows and help each other.”
And audiences can experience the “best of both worlds” with the two shows running concurrently, Powell said.
“I hope that people will come to both,” she said. “Have a night of women, and then have a night of men.”
— caitlin heaney west

 

If you go

“The Women,” presented by Actors Circle
When: Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m., and Sundays, 2 p.m., through April 2
Where: Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Road, Scranton
Details: Tickets for Thursday’s show are $8 for general admission and seniors and $6 for students. For remaining dates, tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for seniors and $8 for students. For reservations, call 570-342-9707 or email tickets@actorscircle.com.
“Glengarry Glen Ross,” presented by
Diva Productions
When: Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m., and Sundays, 2 p.m., through April 2
Where: Olde Brick Theatre, 126 W. Market St., Scranton
Details: Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. For reservations, call 570-209-7766. Seating is limited. The show contains adult situations and strong language.