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Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views

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September 2013

September 20, 2013

This Verse Business: Lost Nation Theater Brings Robert Frost to the Stage

Freelance theater critic Alex Brown contributed this review of Lost Nation Theater's production of This Verse Business. 'Robert Frost- This Verse Business' _ Courtesy of Lost Nation Theater

Television and stage actor Gordon Clapp is now appearing at Montpelier City Hall Auditorium as Robert Frost in a one-man show by A. M. Dolan.

In a brisk, funny hour and a quarter, Clapp performs the very neat trick of making you forget there’s a script and making you believe you’re spending an evening with the sharp, fiercely independent poet.

The play is an intimate construction, allowing us to feel we’re truly getting to know Frost and what makes him tick. While the deeper and darker sides of his personal life aren’t on view, we get to see his humor, self-deprecation and keen ability to observe.

Thanks to a fine performance by Clapp, a strong script, and smart direction by Gus Kaikkonen, this production solves the primary problem of one-man shows. Many monologues are plagued by unrelenting artifice when a subject recounts a life story sans any of its other characters, but this show feels natural and alive.

This Verse Business begins with Frost, onstage to give a poetry reading, apparently ad-libbing about the brightness of a stage light. Clapp gives us a character with a little problem to solve and a relationship to the audience, his only ally against the tech crew. Frost’s wit and bluntness shine through immediately. He has a reason to be onstage, and a way to connect with us.

Continue reading "This Verse Business: Lost Nation Theater Brings Robert Frost to the Stage " »

September 19, 2013

Califone's "Stitches" Is the Coolest Not-Really-a-Music-Video Ever

 

Califone01_credJohnAdams
Califone (Credit: John Adams)

It's somewhat necessarily flown under the radar, but Chicago-based experimental rockers Califone are playing a small "living room" show this Saturday, September 21, at Angioplasty Studios in Burlington. (We've been asked not to divulge the precise location of the studio, since seating is limited. But if you're interested you can email the Angio folks for details.)

Anyway, Califone has a new record out on Dead Oceans called Stitches. In tandem with the release of that record, the band has unveiled a nifty audio-visual experiment that melds their music with the collective consciousness of the entire internet — or at least a whole bunch of Tumblr blogs. The result is a pseudo- music video that culls images from the Tumblr blogs of fans, set to the album's title song, "Stitches."

The cascading sequence of pics is never the same twice, meaning the video is unique every time you see it — which for us has been nonstop for about the last 45 minutes or so.

Check it out here, with the understanding that you'll likely disapppear down a rabbit hole for a bit — and also that, since it's Tumblr, you may see some naked lady bits. And for a more conventional example of the band's music, watch the video below.

  

 

 

September 17, 2013

Burlington Artist Kate Donnelly Dreams Up a Mystery as BCA Artist-in-Residence

KateDIt's not easy to understand what Kate Donnelly is up to on the fourth floor of the BCA Center, but it sure does look intriguing.

When I met her there for a chat the other day, the Burlington artist — and 2013 winner of the Barbara Smail Award, which includes a residency in the space — was wearing a white corset and floor-length white skirt with a crinoline. I believe she was barefoot, though her feet were not visible. And from the ceiling hung half a dozen sheet-size rectangles of blue plastic. The white-and-blue effect was mesmerizing, ethereal.

There wasn't much tangible evidence of what Donnelly has been working on, because most of it is still confined to video and audio recordings. And confinement, in fact, is one of the ideas she's exploring.

"You can choose to be 'confined,' or use it," she said, meaning, I think, that you might be physically, emotionally, politically or pick-your-adverb contained, but still keep yourself productively occupied.

And Donnelly has done just that with her residency. She told me she has audio-recorded 100 individuals, each responding to a few questions she asked them, such as "What are you afraid of?" and "What did you do yesterday?" and "What does home mean to you?"

"It's been astonishing how honest people are," Donnelly said. "It's like doing an audio portrait of a person."

Continue reading "Burlington Artist Kate Donnelly Dreams Up a Mystery as BCA Artist-in-Residence" »

'Captain Phillips' to Screen Early at Majestic 10

Captain-phillipsVermonters have reason to be excited about Captain Phillips, the upcoming film in which Tom Hanks re-enacts Underhill resident Richard Phillips’ 2009 ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates. (Catherine Keener plays his wife, Andrea.)

Now locals have a chance to see director Paul Greengrass’ drama early, between its September 27 New York Film Festival premiere and its October 11 wide release.

On Tuesday, October 1, at 7:30 p.m., the Majestic 10 in Williston will host the Vermont premiere of Captain Phillips as a benefit, with all proceeds going to the Sarah Ramsey Strong Scholarship Fund at Champlain College. The fund honors “a close friend of the Phillips family who died tragically earlier this year,” explains Majestic 10 owner Merrill Jarvis III.

Jarvis says Phillips will speak at the screening, which he expects to sell out. The captain and his family will also attend a preceding VIP reception to which Jarvis has invited Gov. Peter Shumlin, Vermont’s two U.S. senators, and former governor Jim Douglas.

 Tickets are $20; buy them at the theater or majestic10.com.

September 16, 2013

Prince of Plein Air: Mark Boedges Wins Again!

P516Vermont landscape painter Mark Boedges seems to be the winningest painter around. His latest coup is taking both the Grand Prize and Artists' Choice Award at the Plein Air Vermont 2013 competition this past weekend in Bennington.

At a reception on Sunday, September 15, Boedges — who lives in Shelburne and has a gallery on Battery Street in Burlington — was presented the awards for his painting "On the Farm," the 14-by-20-inch oil on canvas pictured here.

Just last July, we noted Boedges' wins, for Best of Show and Artists' Choice, at the national-level Door County Plein Air Festival in Wisconsin. Clearly, this painting outdoors thing is a well-chosen métier.

And by the way, this luscious painting is still for sale, according to Boedges' website.

The painter is also featured in the October/November issue of Plein Air Magazine, due out later this month. In Burlington, Boedges' next exhibit at his gallery, titled "Scenes From Shelburne," opens October 19.

Congratulations!

September 13, 2013

Movies You Missed & More: High Tech, Low Life

Tiger_mist1This week in movies you missed: a visit to China, where two citizen journalists sneak over the "Great Firewall" to offer alternatives to government-sanctioned news.

What You Missed

When 27-year-old blogger "Zola" (real name: Zhou Shuguang) hears about a government cover-up, he's on the case. To mock the official story about a young girl's death — rumor is, she was murdered — he makes a viral video of himself on the bridge from which she supposedly leapt. Some call it insensitive, but Zola gets hits.

Far away in Beijing, 57-year-old "Tiger Temple" (real name: Zhang Shihe) is on his own crusade. He's helped the city's homeless find housing and biked more than 1000 kilometers to shoot footage of farmland flooded with sewage.

Zhang started his dangerous career as a critic of the government with videos of his kitten — because who would censor a talking cat? But now his blogging is starting to attract real attention.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed & More: High Tech, Low Life" »

Read About Vermont's 'Queen Dad' in the HuffPo — and Watch His Sitcom Pilot

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 11.54.04 AMA homophobic young man meets his father for the first time ... and Dad is in drag. That's the premise of "Queen Dad," a web-series pilot shot in the Burlington area with a local cast and crew. It stars Sëan Moran (pictured left) as the dad — a regular-dude plumber and bisexual drag performer. Matt Parisi (right), a familiar face from local theater productions like The Moreau Horrors, is his incredulous offspring.

"Queen Dad" is the brainchild of business and writing partners Moran, who lives in Shelburne, and Kansas-based Don Bledsoe. Both come to the project from careers in the entertainment industry: Moran danced in the movie Grease and seems to have appeared on every '90s TV show, from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to "Nash Bridges" to "ER." (Check out his IMDB page.) More recently, he was in Flags of Our Fathers and The Devil's Rejects.

Moran and Bledsoe are running an $8000 Indiegogo campaign for partial funding of their first season (they say they've already negotiated a deal for half the required funds) and hope to sell "Queen Dad" to a network. Bledsoe says the remaining five episodes of the season will also be shot in the Queen City area, and they're paying the cast and crew.

Continue reading "Read About Vermont's 'Queen Dad' in the HuffPo — and Watch His Sitcom Pilot" »

New Tunes: "Return to Me," Bandleader

 

Bandleader album cover
Bandleader: Coal, Pressure, Time 

For the past several months, Burlington-based rockers Bandleader have been hard at work on their debut LP, a crowd-funded effort recorded — as all indie records are now legally required to be in a post-Bon Iver world — at a cabin in the woods. That album, dubbed Coal, Pressure, Time, won't reach our ears until October 1, reportedly with a Monkey House gig on or around that date.

In the meantime, the band recently released a single, "Return to Me," to tide fans over for the next few weeks. Not to be confused with the Dean Martin classic of the same name, it's a sneakily catchy, fat-bottomed little charmer seemingly informed by mid-1990s alt-rock and laced with just a touch of pop-punk precociousness — the latter especially in lead vocalist Patrick McCormack's playfully casual delivery.  

  

September 12, 2013

Visiting Art Critic Studio Visits Available Through BCA

Heather_McGill(1)Attention, local artists: Would you like professional feedback on your work in the privacy of your own studio? 

Burlington City Arts is offering a Visiting Critic Program, designed to "connect Vermont artists with influential arts writers, institutional curators and commercial gallerists." If you're interested in meeting with Heather McGill, artist-in-residence and head of the sculpture department at Cranbrook Academy of Art, the deadline for signing up for a studio visit from her is Friday, September 13.

(BCA's Eric Ford confides they "could take some a bit later," but it takes time to schedule the visits, so better not to dilly-dally.)

Later this month, September 26-28, McGill will be in Burlington for her exhibit at the BCA Center, and to make some studio visits as a critic. You can find out more about her, BCA's program and how to sign up here.

Go ahead, everyone could use a little constructive criticism, right?

Photo of Heather McGill courtesy of BCA.

September 11, 2013

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion Move Show to Skinny Pancake

0806_guthrie-irion

Here's an unusual programming note: Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion's performance, originally scheduled for Thursday, September 12, at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge, has been moved to the recently expanded digs at the Skinny Pancake. And it's now a free show.

Guthrie — yup, she's Arlo's youngest daughter — and Irion are currently touring in support of their new record, Wassaic Way, which was released in August. The album was produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Patrick Sansone, which makes sense given Tweedy's familiarity with the Guthrie clan.

On the Mermaid Avenue sessions, Tweedy, along with the rest of Wilco and Billy Bragg, worked with Nora Guthrie to revive and reimagine some of her father — and Sarah Lee's grandfather — Woody Guthrie's "lost" songs. So in a way, that means Tweedy has now collaborated with three generations of Guthries — albeit posthumously in Woody's case.   

Anyway, check out the lead single from that album, the decidedly irreverent pop charmer "Chairman Meow." 

 

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