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Spotlight

Archive for February 2011

Free books at Big Read kickoff

The kick-off event for Spokane's Big Read will take place at the Spokane City Hall Chambers on Friday (March 4) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. — and organizers will be handing out free copies of “The Things They Carried” by Tim O'Brien.

This won't be the only place to get a free copy of this book. Book Crossing is doing a “read and release” program in ensuing weeks, in which copies of the book will be left around town for people to pick up and read. 

The idea is to get as many people as possible to read this epic novel about the Vietnam War and its consequences. More than a month of events will culminate in O'Brien's appearance at Get Lit! on April 16.

Friday's kickoff event will also include readings by a number of veterans: Gary Duvall, David Baird, Suzanne Williams and others.

At the same time, you should check out the opening reception of the related art exhibit at the Chase Gallery, titled  “Telling the American Story: History, Memory, Place, Story, Picture, Space.” The gallery is also at City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Both the Big Read kickoff and the gallery opening are free.

(Photo courtesy of Get Lit!)

A tribute to Arnie Carruthers

One of our true regional jazz giants – pianist Arnie Carruthers – will get the recognition he deserves later this month at the Spokane Falls Community College Jazz Festival.

The festival will be a tribute to Carruthers, who was an institution at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, the Olympic Hotel in Seattle and the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles for many years. Then, when a stroke robbed him of the use of his left hand in 1974, he turned himself into a one-handed piano institution.

The Spokane Jazz Orchestra and SFCC Jazz Festival All-Stars will perform.

The festival will be March 19, 7 p.m. at the SFCC Music/Performing Arts Building No. 15, 3410 Ft. George Wright Drive. Tickets are $15, general admission, $10 for SFCC students and staff, available hrough TicketsWest.

‘Biggest Loser’ appearance at Spokane Club

Ali Vincent, who won “The Biggest Loser,” will be delivering her inspirational story at the Spokane Club on March 10, 6 p.m.

She lost 122 pounds to become the first female winner of “The Biggest Loser.” She'll talk about the power of setting goals — and maybe a little bit about  healthy, balanced eating.

Tickets to this event are $25, available by calling the Spokane Club at (509) 838-8511. Seating is limited.

Keillor reads a local poet

Local poet Jonathan Potter had a national airing today. Garrison Keillor read Potter's poem “You and I” on “The Writer's Almanac” on NPR this morning.

A few weeks ago, Potter sent Keillor his poetry volume, “House of Words,” published by Korrektiv Press, expecting … well, not much. What he got instead was a call asking permission to read a poem on the air,

Potter pronounced himself “giddy with gratitude, grateful with gidditude, and feeling slightly above average.” You can read what else Potter says about it here.

The Old 97s coming to the Bing

The Old 97s, one of my favorite alt-country bands, have been been booked into the Bing Crosby Theater on May 31.

They’re known for their hit “Murder (or a Heart Attack)” in 1999. They have just released a new album, “The Grand Theater, Volume One.”

They’ll be fresh off an appearance at the Sasquatch Festival the weekend before.

Tickets are $23 in advance, $25 the day of the show, on sale Monday at 10 a.m. through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)  

From the White House to The Fox

Acclaimed pianist Awadagin Pratt will appear as guest soloist with the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra in a concert Monday (Feb. 28) at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox.

Pratt has performed on such television programs as the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and “Sesame Street,” and performed at the White House for President Obama in 2009. He also twice appeared at the White House for President Clinton.

Pratt, an associate professor of piano and Artist in Residence at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, will be featured in Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor.

He won the Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1992, and two years later was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. In 1995, he was named one of Ebony magazine’s “50 Leaders of Tomorrow.”

Monday’s program also includes Glinka’s Overture to “Russlan and Ludmilla,” Wagner’s Prelude to “Die Meistersinger” and Smetana’s Three Dances from “The Bartered Bride.”

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at The Fox, 1001 W. Sprague Ave. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, through the Fox box office (509-624-1200) or TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)

Bad news for Good Charlotte fans

The Good Charlotte concert on March 23 at the Knitting Factory Concert House in Spokane has been cancelled.

The official reason: “an unforeseen scheduling conflict.”

OK, fine — even though, their Seattle show on March 22 has not been cancelled, nor has their March 25 show in San Francisco.

Tickets bought through Ticketfly online or by phone will be refunded automatically.

Julia Sweeney Day, by proclamation

Mayor Mary Verner has declared March 11  as Julia Sweeney Day in Spokane.

Why? Because that’s the day that she’ll be at the Bing Crosby Theater performing her “Jill & Julia Show” with Jill Sobule.

The mayor’s proclamation mentions Sweeney’s “poignant, comedic and entertaining takes on everyday life” and her support of local causes, including the Inland Northwest Cancer Society, The Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, Spokane Public Radio and KSPS-7. Sweeney is a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member from Spokane.

Tickets to the show are $27, available through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)

Spokane’s new 50 Hour Slam film contest

A new instant-film competition has been announced in Spokane: The 50 Hour Slam.

It’s a bit like the popular 48 Hour Film Festival, except … well, you’ll have two extra hours to complete your three-to-six minute film.

Actually, there are plenty of other differences. This contest will have a TV component – the entries will air on CMTV (Community Minded TV, channel 14) for a month. It will also have a considerable web component, with entries available for viewing in a four-month long “viral” contest, with online voting.

Also, CMTV will host a workshop a few weeks prior to the events, covering the technical aspects of filmmaking.

The organizers include: FAVES (Film and Video Enthusiasts of Spokane), Purple Crayon Pictures, CMTV, The Magic Lantern, CORPX and Isabella’s Restaurant. Juan A. Mas, known for his extensive work on many North by Northwest productions, is one of the event’s guiding forces.

Here are the key dates:

Tuesday, 7 p.m. at the Magic Lantern, 25 W. Main – A general meeting outlining the rules. Not mandatory, but highly recommended.

April 1, 7 p.m. at the Magic Lantern – Kick-off event in which the festival criteria are announced and the competition begins.

April 3, 9 p.m., at the Magic Lantern lobby – End of the 50 hours.

May 1, various times, Magic Lantern – Movie screenings and awards party.

Continue reading to see the complete news release: 

Rick Moody on the way to Gonzaga

Gonzaga University’s Visiting Writers Series hosts its biggest name of the year on Wednesday (March 2): Rick Moody.

Moody is the author of the novels “Garden State,” “Purple America,” “The Diviners” and most recently, “The Four Fingers of Death.”

He is perhaps best known for his 1994 novel, “The Ice Storm,” which was made into an acclaimed 1997 film with Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Tobey Maguire, directed by Ang Lee. It’s about a tumultuous family gathering in Connecticut.

The Village Voice has described him as the “self-styled avenging angel of highbrow literary cool.” NPR described “The Four Fingers of Death” as “dense, provocative and often hilarious.”

His readings are events in themselves. He’ll be doing a question-answer session at 1:10 p.m. at GU’s Wolff Auditorium and the reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Cataldo Globe Room, both on Wednesday. Both events are free.

“Nunsense” already sold out

The news came out even before the first wimple-wearing nun hit the stage: The entire run of “Nunsense” at the Spokane Civic was sold out.

Theater head Yvonne A.K. Johnson delivered the announcement before the opening curtain of the opening performance. This continues a remarkable run for the Civic, which also sold out “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at its Studio Theatre this month. The Civic has already sold out many other runs this season, including “Buddy” and “White Christmas.”

But what about the show itself? Did “Nunsense” live up to expectations? 

Is the Reverend Mother Catholic?

Look for my full review in Sunday's Spokesman-Review.

An “Idol” name in “9 to 5” cast

The cast of the touring show “9 to 5: The Musical,” which hits Spokane on March 24-27, won’t feature the same household names as the 1980 movie – but it will have a few significant Broadway names and an “American Idol”:

Diana DeGarmo – A runner-up on the third season of “American Idol” and a veteran of Broadway’s “Hair” and “Hairspray.” She’ll play Doralee (the Dolly Parton movie role).

DeeHoty – A three-time Tony nominee and star of Broadway shows “Mamma Mia!” and “Footloose,” among others. She plays Violet (the Lily Tomlin role).

Mamie Parris – A veteran of Broadway’s “Ragtime” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” She plays Judy (the Jane Fonda role).

Joseph Mahowald – He played the title role in Broadway’s “Jekyll & Hyde” and Javert in “Les Miserables.” Mahowald has appeared frequently on many TV soap operas including “Another World,” “Guiding Light” and “All My Children.” He plays Franklin, the Dabney Coleman role.

Tickets for the INB Performing Arts Center performances are available through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com).

The Golden SpIFFY Awards

Congratulations to the winners of the 2011 Spokane International Film Festival (SpIFF) top awards, which they call the Golden SpIFFys:

Best Feature Film: “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil,” director Eli Craig.

Best Documentary: “An Ecology of Mind,” director Nora Bateson.

Best Short Film: “The Fall Line,” director Tyler Stableford.

Best Animation: “The Lost Thing,” director Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruhemann.

Best of the Northwest: “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil,” director Eli Craig.

Audience Award, Feature: “The Waste Land,” directors Lucy Walker, Karen Harley, Joao Jardim.

Audience Award, Short: “The Big Sayonara,” Don Hamilton.

Most Promising Filmmaker: Adam Harum, “Disintegration” and Sara McIntyre, “Two Indians Talking.”

A Conor Oberst-Bright Eyes date

Bright Eyes, the band fronted by Conor Oberst, has been booked into the Knitting Factory Concert House in Spokane on May 31.

Special guests will be Jenny & Johnny, featuring Jenny Lewis, the former Rilo Kiley vocalist.

We probably have the Sasquatch Music Festival to thank for this booking. Both of these acts are appearing at Sasquatch at The Gorge on May 28, so they'll already be traveling through the region.

Tickets are $25, now on sale through Ticketfly or through the Knitting Factory's website.

A ‘Wicked’ ticket warning

The tickets to the Spokane engagement of “Wicked” goes on sale March 5, and the people at WestCoast Entertainment want to warn people about the perils of third-party tickets.

Ticket agencies and brokers will probably snap up a number of tickets right away. So then, when people search for tickets online, they will often be shunted to those third-party sites. The problem: These brokers often sell the tickets way above face value.

A number of people were burned by this problem during the run of the Spokane Symphony's “Nutcracker” in December. Some people bought tickets that were twice as expensive as they should have been — for not very good seats. Other people bought tickets that were completely bogus.The Symphony was able to get those people into the ballet anyway, but only because the show wasn't sold out.

So the WestCoast Entertainment people want to remind people that the only legitimate source for tickets are: TicketsWest outlets, and the WestCoast Entertainment Best of Broadway website.

Also, tickets go on sale first, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on March 5, in person at the INB Performing Arts Center box office. At 10 a.m., on the same day tickets go onsale online and by phone through TicketsWest.

At that point, beware of any other site, even one that has made itself to look like a site for the INB or the show itself. Stick with TicketsWest.

Hal Holbrook on media corruption

Actor Hal Holbrook is one of my favorite people to interview, because he — like the man he portrays on stage, Mark Twain — loves to fulminate about the mostly sorry state of humanity and the world.

Yesterday, during a phone interview, he said that the reason people still revere Twain is that he dealt in a rare commodity these days: the truth.

Here's a particularly provocative  excerpt from my Holbrook interview:

One of the most serious and very dangerous points of corruption in our life right now is the media. The television media and, of course, talk radio. Because they are misrepresenting so much. Almost lying.

… Anybody who has any thoughtfulness in their brain knows that this is true. Even though we get fooled by believing that the side we favor …  is telling the truth.

Put on MSNBC, they are so far to the left, you know they are twisting and misrepresenting the reality and the truth. And Fox network, of course, is almost famous for that. It’s terrible. And talk radio, it’s almost unbelievable what you hear.

Now the reason this is dangerous – people say, “Oh well, we have the right to do that, and this is America, and this is a free country, and a man has the right to voice his opinions, this is what makes America great!”

Well, it’s not making American great now! Because lying to America, no matter who you are … is not helping us out, What we need is truth and facts, to face the horrible situation that we are in.  

Holbrook will be performing his “Mark Twain Tonight” show at the INB Performing Arts Center on March 12, tickets available through TicketsWest.

What do you think? Is Holbrook speaking the truth?

Elton John sold out

Tickets to the Elton John concert at the Spokane Arena on April 8 are sold out.

It took only three days for all 11,000 tickets to vanish, according to Becca Watters at the Spokane Arena. Tickets went on sale Saturday and only a few single tickets were left by Sunday evening. Those sold out by Monday night. Even the tickets behind the stage sold out.

Will another show be added? That's what happened in 2008 when Elton's Pullman show sold out quickly.

No word on that, yet, but don't get your hopes up. His tour schedule is tight. He's playing a date on April 9 in Boise. But the tour  does have an open date on April 7, following an April 6 date in Bismarck. So there's at least a theoretical window of opportunity.

A WWII radioman’s ‘tower’ of power

Here’s a local development that illustrates the power of a book: On Dec. 22, the tower at Spokane International Airport was officially named the Ray Daves Air Traffic Control Tower.

And it all came about because of the 2008 book “Radioman: An Eyewitness Account of Pearl Harbor and World War II in the Pacific” (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press) by Carol Hipperson, a Spokane author.

“Radioman” is about Ray Daves, a local Pearl Harbor survivor. His story resonated with the air traffic controllers at the airport, who started a drive to name the tower after their fellow radioman.

It wasn’t easy. In fact, it took an act of Congress. But they persevered, and the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate came on board. On Dec. 22, President Obama signed a bill officially naming the tower after Daves.

And on Feb. 25, Daves and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who sponsored the legislation, will be at the tower for a dedication ceremony.

“It’s about the power of a book,” said Hipperson. “You could even refer to it as a ‘concrete example.’”

A CDA Oscar nominee

Michael Owens, who now lives in Coeur d'Alene, is an Oscar nominee for Best Achievement in Visual Effects for his work on the movie “Hereafter.”

Owens is the real deal: He was a longtime visual effects supervisor for George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic. He got his start as a camera assistant on “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial” and as a visual effects cameraman on films such as “Star Wars VI, Return of the Jedi” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”

Then he went on to be visual effects supervisor on dozens of big movies, including “The Witches of Eastwick,” “The Doors,” “Van Helsing,” “Meet Joe Black,” “Gangs of New York,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Gran Torino,” and “Invictus.”

“Hereafter” is the Matt Damon movie directed Clint Eastwood, a director Owens evidently has a certain affinity with, since he has worked with Eastwood so many times.

Owens shares the nomination with others on the “Hereafter” special effects team, Bryan Gill, Stephen Trojansky and Joe Farrell.

Owens likes to keep a low profile in CDA. He declined our request for an interview, which I find, in a way, refreshing. He's apparently a Hollywood type who is not an attention-hog.

But I wanted to let people in CDA, Spokane and vicinity know that we can root for a local name on Oscar night, Feb. 27.

NPR’s Carl Kasell on the way

Carl KasellCarl Kasell, the veteran NPR newscaster and “Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me” announcer and judge, is on the way to the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane on May 9, 7:30 p.m.

Kasell will regale the audience with stories about broadcasting — and even perform a few magic tricks. Yeah, he's also an amateur magician.

“An Evening with Carl Kasell” is sponsored by Spokane Public Radio. Tickets will be $27, on sale Feb. 25 through all TicketsWest outlets or by calling (800) 325-SEAT.

A Foo-Cab-Wilco-Lips Sasquatch

Here's who's on the way to the Sasquatch! Music Festival, May 27-30 at the Gorge Amphitheatre:

Foo Fighters, Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse , Wilco, The Flaming Lips (performing The Soft Bulletin & more), The Decemberists, Bright Eyes, Iron & Wine, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Bassnectar, Robyn, Flogging Molly, Death From Above 1979, Pink Martini, Cold War Kids, Old 97’s, Ratatat, Wolf Parade, Chromeo and  Guided By Voices.

There are plenty more acts, which you can see by clicking “contininue reading” below.

Meanwhile, you can buy festival passes here.  

Elton John at Arena April 8

Word has finally arrived: Elton John will play the Spokane Arena on April 8, along with his band, in a show called “Greatest Hits Live.”

Tickets go on sale Feb. 12, 10 a.m. through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com). Prices are $27, $77 and $137.

Elton John has appeared in the region three times: the Spokane Arena in 1999, Pullman (two shows) in 2008 and Yakima last April.

When he played Pullman, the show created at ticket frenzy at TicketsWest. The system crashed briefly a couple of times, but it didn't prevent all 10,000 seats at Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum from being snapped up within two hours. Another performance was subsequently added.

Is Sir Elton Spokane’s mystery concert?

Looks like Spokane's mystery concert (see earlier post) may be Elton John.

The official announcement won't be until Friday morning. But I have been hearing credible reports that Sir Elton is on the way back to the Spokane Arena.

Check in tomorrow morning to see if this turns out to be correct.

“Spelling Bee” sold out

This just in: The entire run of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at the Spokane Civic Theatre is already sold out.

That includes the two extra Saturday matinees that had already been added on to the regular run, which ends Feb. 20.

This is no big surprise, since (1) The show is in the small Studio Theatre space that seats less than 100 and (2) It's a hoot of a show that is getting great word of mouth.

The Civic may be wondering if it should have run upstairs on the much-larger-capacity Main Stage, yet the intimate setting is one of the reasons the show works so well.

You may be able to catch a cut-down version of the show in March. The Civic plans on making this show its competition show for the 2011 Kaleidoscope Festival — which will be hosted by Civic March 11-13.

‘Grizzly Adams’ creator dies

Charles E. Sellier Jr., 67, the producer and creator of “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” and dozens of other TV shows and films, died Monday at his home in North Idaho.

“Chuck” Sellier had a lengthy  TV-film resume including such popular films as “In Search of Noah's Ark,” “Chariots of the Gods,” “In Search of the Historic Jesus” and “The Bermuda Triangle.” All of those are listed among the top 50-grossing independent films. Recently, he and his  locally based production company, Grizzly Adams Productions, had produced dozens of religious-oriented films and TV shows, including “Ancient Secrets of the Bible” for CBS and “Miraculous Messages” and “The Case for Christ's Resurrection.”

He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the children's show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in 1980. He was also the author of a number of books based on his films and TV specials.

The family requests that Sellier be remembered through donations to his passion, the ABC Foodbank, which serves Athol, Bayview and Careywood, Idaho.

Mystery concert announcement

A major Spokane Arena concert will be announced first thing Friday morning.

Nope, I don't know what it is. Everyone is keeping mum.

The only hint: It will apparently be a Live Nation show, which implies it will be a concert and not a monster truck rally or dinosaur extravaganza.

The only other hint? I am told it'll be worth the wait.

Does anybody out there have any guesses? Or even better, any actual information?

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