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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Madcap Rush Of Interviews


That old gag about being busier than a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest (apologies to one-legged men, but congrats if you have won your own butt-kicking contest) seems appropriate as I check off my to-do list before I head off on a solo trip to Winnipeg.

I'm conducting and/or editing FIVE interviews, attending a reading, and penning a review before I leave Sunday morning, and as well I'm waiting for my latest Stage West Calgary review to go live.

Looking at what I'm trying to do, and spending time every day since Monday writing notes to Calgary arts organizations I will no longer be able to cover as I set my laser beam on the future has been an exercise in franticness. 

On the plus side, I am improving my math and time management skills by 1000%...

Onward and upward, at least until I collapse!!


Monday, April 27, 2015

Chicken Scratch - The Final Post...

(posted by weekend/weekday/whenever guest blogger Charles D. Chicken...)

Well folks - that's a wrap.

As Banjo Boy prepares tah reinvent hisself online, this berd is set tah fly tha coop, an settle inta retirement. Ah'm just tryin' ta decide between LilyDale Farms Active Living Centres, or anuther place that sent brochures - Foster Farms Home For Robust Poultry. They both seem like very nice places...


Well, it's been a heckuva ride, I can say fur sure! 

Seein' as how I wuz often THA HIGHEST RANKED POSTS, I have no idea wut that hairless baboon is gonna do after ah'm gone, but that's hiz problem, not mine...


Yup, ah'm gonna find me a sweet young chick, and mebbe travul a bit, see that wurld. 

Ah hear Bavaria is nice in Ocktober.....


If yews is kurious as tew wit ah been up tew over tha years, just type in "Chicken Scratch in that little box up on tha left.

Otherwise, here are a few highlights, in mah farewell video clip, which is apparently too long ta imbed in this here blog post, so ah had ta save it in the smallest format possable. Way ta save a few bucks, dude...

Watch it with yer magnifrieing glasses.... 

"Adios, Farewell, Bite Me..."

Cluck fer good, hoomans!!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Liffey Players Drama Society Presents: Gardner McKay's "Sea Marks"

Liffey Players Drama Society
Gardner McKay's "Sea Marks"

I had a chance to catch up by phone with director Bill Torrie, who is at the helm of this latest presentation from Liffey Players Drama Society.

Read the feature in The Calgary Herald, which has a link to the audio interview!



Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Early Bird (Blog) Review: Stage West Calgary's Production of "Monty Python's Spamalot"

Stage West Calgary presents:
"Monty Python's Spamalot"

The "Early Bird, Before My Official Calgary Herald Review Runs" Reflections On Stage West Calgary's "Spamalot"

(5 out of 5 stars, because it would just be over the top to give it 7...)

"Non-stop Killer Bunny"

"Such a hilarious show!"

"Laughed till I cried"

"Hilarious and great performances"

"Completely on point!"  

"When word gets out about @StageWestCgy's #Spamalot you'll need to buy your tickets from scalpers!"

Those are just a few of the Tweets after the media night showing of the latest production over at Stage West Calgary, "Monty Python's Spamalot". Having done official and unofficial reviews for this facility since about 2009, I can't ever recall a show generating so much enthusiasm after a performance. And this from primarily grizzled, jaded media people!!

Well, that last comment in quotation marks probably says it best, and not just because that was my own Tweet. This is about as perfect a performance you will see, with a cast that glimmers brighter than King Arthur's chainmail leggings. 

I understand that the director is typically tasked to cast, and in this case, J. Sean Elliott has outdone himself. This production is every bit as good (I think even better) as the version I caught in the Grail Theatre, which you can read about in the preview feature and interview that ran yesterday, with Elliott and choreographer Phil Nero. 

Nero as well has outdone himself with this effort, which speaks volumes given his past work at Stage West (Fiddler On The Roof, and the award-winning Chicago). Musical Director Konrad Pluta even gets some stage time here in this, when he isn't ensuring the exemplary sonic efforts of his house band.  

Katie Beetham, Kieran Martin Murphy
Photos courtesy Stage West Calgary, John Watson

I had better start leaving descriptions and kudos and keen reviewer-ly observations out so that I have something left for my official Calgary Herald review.

Let's just say that the cast is perhaps the best yet, which I know, I say for just about every show here, but this one really is! This time Stage West has set the bar so high that it's like Excalibur has been placed on a rooftop tower above the facility, if you can understand that what I wanted to do there was make a witty comparison between the legendary sword, and a raised bar. 

Perhaps I need to work a bit more on that for the next review...

As reluctant as I am to single out individual actors, the leads (Kieran Martin Murphy as King Arthur, and Katie Beetham as The Lady Of The Lake) are at the top of their games in this outing. But everyone else has brought their own best game as well.

I'll have a link here when the Herald review runs, but for now, it is YOU that had better run, gallop or  sprint over to Stage West Calgary, for this exceptional production of "Monty Python's Spamalot"!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Stage West Calgary Presents Monty Python's "Spamalot"

If you're in the Calgary area, you can look forward to..well, you can always look on the bright side of life, for one thing...

"Spamalot" is here until June, and I chatted with the director and choreographer ahead of Media Night.

Read the feature in my Calgary Herald space online, and there is a link therein to the YouTube channel podcast interview with those fine gentlemen... 

Phil Nero & J. Sean Elliott



Thursday, April 23, 2015

Three Interviews Coming Up!

Busy for the next few days coordinating at least three interviews with either cast, creatives or musicians, plus I just had another request arrive that I'll be working on next week.

That means more theatre and show reviews, at least until my theatre portion winds down with the next few shows - I'm going to be focusing primarily on music, with a bit of an occasional diversion into comedy.

Still have to get the word out on that...

As the world turns....


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Vancouver's Spoon River discusses album, tour

Had a chance to talk by phone with Tavis Triance about his psychedelic rock band Spoon River, and their upcoming swing through Alberta.

Read that feature in my online spot in The Calgary Herald. There's a link to my audio podcast, and a direct embed of their trip music video.



Saturday, April 18, 2015

Gordie Tentrees, an interview and companion podcast

His new album is almost out in Canada, and will be worldwide in May.

I had a chance to chat with the very genial Gordie Tentrees about some of the surreal life circumstances that informed his latest release, which includes a reflection on the Boston Marathon bombing.

Click here to read that from my Calgary Herald spot online, there are links to his beautiful video for "Somebody's Child", as well as a link to our full podcast feature.



Friday, April 17, 2015

GSN's Ben Gleib - Actor, Comic, Host, Writer

Host Ben Gleib

Great fun getting the responses I did for this email interview with comic Ben Gleib, a veteran of over 100 appearances on Chelsea Lately, as well as turns on The Late Late Show, Last Call With Carson Daly, plus numerous other TV and film roles.

In addition to stand-up appearances, Gleib is the host of "Idiotest", on GSN.



Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Email Interview With GSN's Ben Gleib

Had a chance to run some questions past GSN game show host Ben Gleib (Idiotest) ahead of his shows here in Calgary.

He is absolutely hilarious!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cowtown Opera Creates Unique Playoff Rallying Call!

If you listen to just one team cheer during this year's playoff's, at least make it classy - listen to this one :-)


14 April 2015
#Neverquit Flames Anthem By Cowtown Opera
Calgary, AB
"The red mile is getting ready for a Cup Run!" Cowtown Opera has done it again and mashed up pop culture with opera! 
Written for the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we sing a one minute tribute to our favourite team!
Attached is our photo and audio recording. Sing along with us as "the C of red fills the dome, it's time to bring the cup home!"


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Artists' Collective Theatre
"In The Other Room" (or The Vibrator Play)

You've only got until April 18 to catch Artists' Collective Theatre's presentation of Sarah Ruhl's Tony-nominated play "In The Other Room" (or The Vibrator Play).

Click this link to read my review, which also has links within to read my preview feature, and watch a video interview with some cast and creatives!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Canadian Blues/Soul Great Charlie A'Court

Bragg CreekPerforming Arts
Charlie A'Court
(Winner, East Coast Music Awards 2015, Blues Recording Of The Year)

He may have had a few problems with his gear, but Charlie A'Court didn't let that get in the way of presenting a killer set of his distinctive blues and soul Saturday night, right on the heels of winning the 2015 East Coast Music Award for Blues Recording Of The Year for his terrific new album, Come On Over.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Brother Sun, Cassie & Maggie MacDonald

Calgary Folk Club
April 10, 2015
Brother Sun
Cassie & Maggie MacDonald

You'll never go wrong seeing Brother Sun perform live, and after Friday night, I'll add in sisters Cassie & Maggie MacDonald.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Change Is In The Air

Well, as I mentioned yesterday, I've got some tough decisions to make, and today started that without my even having to try.

More to come, but for now, all I can say is that I am suspending my daily tweets for the time being, and will be determining which entertainment features I will be focusing on as I move that forward.

Hoping to have my head back above water soon....


(PS - if a feature I'm working on gets posted, I'll come back with a bonus post here later...)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Coming To A Crossroads

I know - you're thinking to yourself, this guy has more epiphanies than a TV evangelist campaigning for donations to fund a new Mercedes to drive to heaven in...

Well, I seem to be getting curve balls thrown at me left, right and centre these days, and I am awaiting word to see which direction I should be steering my own various writing vehicles toward. Yes, I'm aware that none of those are Mercedes :-)

I know, now I'm just babbling! You're looking for something funny or informative, and I'm anguishing over something I'm not even really sharing here.

Well, here's the deal. From one epiphany after another, and thinking that I know now what I should be doing here there and everywhere I write, I'm getting swamped with requests for entertainment writing, and I've got to make some decisions that not everyone is going to be happy with. That's life.

But if I want my writing to continue to flourish, I need focus, I'm getting far too busy to use the scattergun approach anymore.

I may even be making some changes to other daily writing habits.

Need to ponder, think and make some tough decisions.

Cryptic enough for you???

Apologies for the rant - thinking out loud is all....


Thursday, April 09, 2015

Brother Sun, Cassie & Maggie MacDonald Friday Night, Calgary Folk Club

Brother Sun
Cassie & Maggie MacDonald
Calgary Folk Club
Friday, April 10

If you love your stories told in stunning three-part harmonies, you won't want to miss the trio of singer/songwriters that make up Brother Sun.

Pat Wictor, Joe Jencks and Greg Greenway return to Calgary after picking up the #1 Folk CD, and #1 song (Lady Of The Harbor) in 2013. These three are stellar together, so make sure you don't miss this return trip to the Calgary Folk Club!

Opening the show will be Cassie & Maggie MacDonald, Halifax sisters currently garnering notice and awards for their own traditional songs, on their latest release Sterling Road. 


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

I've Got The Muzak In Me...

I spend so much of my youth riding up and down in department store elevators, the only soundtrack to my life is when I hear instrumental versions of How Much Is That Doggie In The Window, on the pan flute...


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Improv Troupe Set To Take On Quentin Tarantino

I had a chat with Owen Chan, Artistic Director and founder of Calgary's The Kinkonauts - a troupe of comedy improvers. 

They are set to take on the catalogue of works of Quentin Tarantino, and we discussed that show, a bit of improv history, and the frequency of sex references when the members ask for help from their audiences.



Sunday, April 05, 2015

Charlie A'Court On His Way To Calgary Area

Had a great time chatting with East Coast blues and soul man Charlie A'Court, and looking forward to catching him in Bragg Creek!



Happy Easter!!!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Long Weekends Challenge My Calendar Skills....

I thought yesterday was Saturday.

That's why Charlie wasn't writing a new post, he knew better than I what day of the week it was.

Go figure, I'm challenged and defeated by a rubber chicken on calendar skills. Oh, the embarrassment!

Well, the bonus is I have an extra day or two to work with, so let the festivities begin!


Friday, April 03, 2015

Chicken Scratch

(posted by the regular contributor, in the absence of the weekend guest blogging chicken...)

I see that Charlie is working on his income tax return, so I imagine he has forgotten to post today. 

He may also still be pissy about getting bumped last weekend - such a diva!

Well, in the absence of his own writing, I will provide a link here to some of his classic Easter posts from years gone by.



Uhh, sorry - cluck fer now?

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Did Aquarius Dawn Already??

I may have missed the memo - did Aquarius dawn already?

I really had hoped to see Jupiter align with Mars - too late??

Man, I really need to make better use of my daytimer...


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

An Interesting Miscalculation

Funny how far off you can be...

I thought a column about one of the two remaining Beatles would get more traction, but looking at my site stats, my Ringo Starr feature from a day or two ago is already fading off into obscurity, barely garnering a couple of hundred views.

Meanwhile, my review of a community theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar continues to track views, inching ever closer to a couple of thousand views! Go figure.

Well, good news for the local theatre companies and artists that I do feature regularly in my writing, not so good for me trying to piggyback on a big star's popularity :-)

Learning curves!