Archive for June 2011
Josh Ritter is a first-time novelist with a well-known name.
Ritter is the singer-songwriter, originally from
So now Ritter the wordsmith has turned his hand to a new craft with his debut novel, “Bright’s Passage” (Dial Press, $22). It’s the story of a young man returning home after World War I. The story includes an angels and a talking horse. Actually, horse and angel are one and the same.
The novel was just released on Tuesday and is already getting praise from some well-known literary names. Dennis Lehane calls it “heartbreaking and luminous.”
Critic Carolyn Kellogg of the L.A. Times calls it “intensensly beautiful, tragic and also funny.”
She writes that Ritter said the idea first started out as a song, but it “wanted to be more.”
“He knows how to build a rich, beautiful story with shape,” writes Kellogg.
Here's a link to the LA Times review.
And here's a link to a short interview he did for the Washington Post. Looks like our region might have a new homegrown literary star.
John Travolta talks to all of the Munchkins in the cast of “Wizard of Oz” during intermission, in this photo sent in by Laura Little of the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre.
Travolta was in town to attend “The Wizard of Oz” because two of his sisters, Ellen and Margaret, played the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch, respectively.
He apparently gave the children an inspiring talk about following their dreams.
“A special day indeed for the 27 local children,” noted Little.
The B-52s, of “Love Shack” fame, have been booked into the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox on Sept. 12, 8 p.m.
Tickets are $75, $49.50 and $39.50, on sale July 8, 10 a.m., through TicketsWest outlets.
The '80s would not have been the same without “Rock Lobster” and “Private Idaho.” They last visited Spokane in 2008, at the Northern Quest.
I'd love to hear from anyone who attended the KISS concert at the Arena or the Judds at the Northern Quest outdoor venue.
What did you think about the shows? I'd also like to hear opinions about the new Northern Quest venue. I hear there were some problems with the seats.
Use the comment feature here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Spokane Civic Theatre brought home two awards from last weekend's AACT/FEST 2011 national community theater awards in Rochester, NY:
The Civic's entry, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” also earned three nominations:
By the way, the overall winner at this competition was “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” — Ohlook Performing Arts Center, Grapevine, TX
Just got back from Auntie's Bookstore where I purchased my summer reading project: The unabridged “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo.
Since the musical adaptation is my favorite musical of all time, I figured it's about time for me to immerse myself in the genuine source material.
Fun facts: The paperback I bought is 1,463 pages long. The electronic version on my iPhone is over 6,727 “pages”.
Here's hoping I can make it to “page” 6,727.
Eilen Jewell has been booked into Arbor Crest Wine Cellars for an outdoor show on Aug. 4.
A few of my more music-savvy friends are pumped about this announcement. This singer-songwriter (the first name is pronounced EE-len) has a great voice and has some haunting, memorable songs. Don't take my word for it. Check out this video of a radio-station performance.
Tickets are only $10 and go on sale July 1 at Arbor Crest tasting rooms and TicketsWest outlets.
She's originally from Idaho, born in Boise and apparently has some Panhandle connections. The name of her second album is “Boundary County” — which has a certain Bonners Ferry ring to it.
But she's definitely a national act. She'll be featured on NPR on Tuesday. She burst onto the folk scene in Boston and has developed a wide following.
Spokane's Sophia Caruso, 9, pictured here in rehearsals for “The Miracle Worker” at Interplayers Professional Theatre, was in the pages of the NY Times on Monday. She was one of thousands of little girls auditioning for a new production of “Annie” in New York. Here's the link to the story.
She made it through the first call-back, and has been asked to return for a second call-back, which is already a victory. She still has a lot of competition, as you can see from the interactive feature the NY Times did on 43 other girls (not Sophia) who were auditioning.
Sophia played Helen Keller in the “The Miracle Worker” this spring. She's loaded with talent and moxie.
Go get 'em, kid.
The Spokane Arena has just announced a special deal for tomorrow: $30 KISS tickets, Thursday only.
Here's the full announcement:
WHAT: $30 Tickets To See KISS In Concert!
WHERE: Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
WHEN: Thursday, June 23 – 12:01AM-11:59PM
EVENT: KISS with Bad City
Friday, June 24 – 7:45PM
CALLING ALL KISS FANS!
KISS is raising the stakes and challenging Spokane to sell out their show this Friday night! Hoopfest weekend is here and KISS wants to make sure we kick off the weekend right at the Spokane Arena. Every seat needs a butt…but there aren’t that many tickets left!
Every last available ticket in the house is ONLY $30.00 this Thursday ONLY – it doesn’t get any hotter than that. $30.00 tickets will ONLY be available for purchase on Thursday, June 23 and will ONLY be available online at TicketsWest.com. Make sure not to miss out on this incredible show and at even more incredible price.
KISS is challenging us; now let’s show them why Detroit Rock City has nothing on the Lilac City.
KISS will perform at the Spokane Arena on Friday, June 24 with special guest Bad City. On Thursday, June 23 all reserved seat tickets are $30.00 and will only be available for purchase on TicketsWest.com.
I wrote an update for Wednesday's paper about the MAC's layoffs, which you can read here.
I would like to expand on Ben Mitchell's legacy as art curator at the MAC. I do not consider myself an authority on visual art, but I am nevertheless convinced that Mitchell did an outstanding job of honoring our region's cultural life. He is responsible for giving Harold Balazs the serious, comprehensive retrospective he so richly deserved. He worked hard on this for years, because — well, because our important artists must be given their due.
He did the same for another local artist, Ruben Trejo, who was less well-known, but incredibly influential not just in the region but in the country.
And most recently, he introduced many of us to a Colfax artist, Timothy Ely, who was legendary among the cognoscenti, but had been relatively under-the-radar here.
And when Mitchell did exhibits like these, he went all the way. In the case of Balazs and Trejo, he even helped produce handsome coffee-table-sized art books which will enable their influence to continue to spread.
I do not blame the MAC for making the decision to lay him off. The MAC is stuck in an impossible financial position. The MAC was forced to make a decision it would never have made except under severe budget duress.
Yet I suspect that someday, and soon, we will look back on Mitchell's tenure as a remarkable age of art at the MAC, in which local artists got the shows, and the scholarly, intellectual respect, that they had earned.
Let me start this off by stipulating that I would rather be in Dante's 14th circle of Hell than be a contestant on “Survivor” (and Dante only had nine).
But here's an opportunity for the rest of you: A “Survivor” audition call, July 8 at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino.
They Might Be Giants, the band beloved of alt-rock fans with a sense of humor, have just been booked into the Knitting Factory Concert House in Spokane for a Nov. 6 show.
Tickets will be $22, on sale June 24, 10 a.m. through www.ticketfly.com.
Ben Mitchell, the senior curator of art at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), was laid off this week.
The museum had to make a five percent budget cut, after it barely escaped closure when the state budget was finalized.
One other position, was also cut, in the collections department, but I could not get confirmation of a name.
With staffing already cut to the bone — the museum's staffing was already down 40 percent over the last two years — finding any positions to cut was agonizing, according to Rebecca Bishop, the museum's marketing and communications director.
It came down to the fact that the museum felt it had “backup” in the area of art — other staffers who can step in to do art exhibits. But don't expect to see as many art exhibits in the future.
Will the MAC be able to do exhibits of the caliber and scope of the Timothy Ely exhibit, the Ruben Trejo exhibit and the Harold Balazs exhibit, just to name three examples of Mitchell's exceptional work?
I'd say it's doubtful. Right now, we don't even know if the museum will even have the position of art curator.
I'll try to find more information next week. If anybody has any insight, please weigh in.
Comedian and celebrity gadfly Kathy Griffin has been booked into the INB Performing Arts Center, 334 W.
Tickets in advance will be $75, $50 and $35, on sale June 24, 10 a.m., through TicketsWest outlets.
Thursday is the real Bloomsday (of the James Joyce variety), which means it's also the day of Spokane's annual Limerick Literary Pub Crawl and Traditional Irish Dinner.
For $50, you can accompany a bagpiper, a bard or two and a band of like-minded revelers through downtown Spokane's Irish and/or literary minded pubs, including Cyrus O'Learys, ODoherty's, the Blue Spark, the Satellite and the Onion.
You'll have discounted libations at every stop, along with music and literary readings. At The Onion, you'll also have a full Irish dinner — salmon crusted with oatmeal, etc.
Registration should have been made in advance, but maybe if you're lucky there will still be a few spots left. Call Kerry Lynch at (509) 990-7513 for info. This is sponsored by the Spokane-Limerick Sister City Society,
Judy Collins, owner of one of my all-time favorite voices, has just been booked into the Bing Crosby Theater on Nov. 10.
Tickets are $37, available through TicketsWest outlets on Friday.
Retro-pop swinger April Smith & The Great Picture Show are making a return trip to Spokane for a show Oct. 7 at the Bing Crosby Theater.
Smith and the band attracted a big crowd when they were here in November. The music is jazzy, old-timey and ragtime-y — and how many bands can say that? Tickets go on sale Friday at TicketsWest.com.
A bunch of bands that rocked Gatsby's nightclub in the 1970s and 1980s are reuniting for two benefit shows this weekend.
The bands will be ValHalla, RumbleBoy, Innersanctum, Flash, Wiser Sin, Lorpan, The Edge and Black Rose. If those names sound familiar, you probably frequented the local music scene 30 years ago.
They'll play Gatsby's Reunion, Saturday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Players & Spectators, 12828 E. Sprague (cover $10) and Sunday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Bigfoot Pub and Eatery, 9115 N. Division (no cover, donations accepted).
It's all to raise money for former Gatsby's owner Larry Spratt, who now owns the Bigfoot. Spratt was severely injured in a recent accident.
Curran Dempsey of Black Rose said the musicians are converging from all over the U.S. and Canada. He said they're all excited to get back on stage for a good cause, even if “we won't be wearing the Spandex and leather like we used to.”
Jerad Finck of Spokane scored in the NBA finals.
His song “Runaway” was the song played as the musical theme in ESPN's video about Dirk Nowitzki's journey to the NBA title.
Here's a link to the video: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=6653799.
It aired during the sixth game of the finals.
This is exceptionally good national exposure for Finck, a singer-songwriter who has had considerable success over the past few years.
I took this photo Saturday night at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino's tuneup concert for its new outdoor venue, this one featuring local acts Soul Proprietor and the Ryan Larsen Band.
As you can see, it's a flat expanse of lawn between the parking garage and the hotel. Folding chairs are set up and numbered (seating is reserved). There are booths and tents selling food, drink and merchandise.
The acoustics? OK, although we were distracted by the Monster Trucks roaring at the speedway next door.
As you can see, the crowd was not huge for this test-run concert. The first big test will come June 25 with the Judds, followed by the Steve Miller Band on July 14, Willie Nelson on July 31, the Beach Boys on Aug. 6, Toby Keith on Aug. 18 and Santana on Aug. 26,
It's hard to convey how much respect Guy Clark has in the world of folk, country, alt-country and Americana.
He has been a major influence on artists like Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris and Nanci Griffith. This Texas singer-songwriter is held in the same esteem as fellow songwriters John Prine and Jerry Jeff Walker.
And now Clark is coming to the Bing Crosby Theater, Aug. 3, 8 p.m. He'll be accompanied by longtime sideman Verlon Thompson and a guest act to be announced.
Tickets wil be $27 and $37, reserved, and $52, Golden Circle, on sale June 13 at 10 a.m. through TicketsWest.
Michael Bublé has been booked into the Spokane Arena on Aug. 10, at 8 p.m.
This popular crooner will be appearing with guest artist Naturally7.
Tickets will be $49.50, $65 and $85, on sale June 17 at 10 a.m. through all TicketsWest outlets.
Can’t afford the trip to
Catch it right here on the big screen, at the Northtown 12 Cinemas, 4750 N. Division St.
The same company that has been bringing the Metropolitan Opera to local theaters has announced a new series, filmed last year at the Globe and broadcast digitally to 260 movie theaters around the country.
Here’s the lineup:
All shows are at 7 p.m., and each showing includes a 20-minute historical feature on the Globe, the modern replica of Shakespeare’s original theater. Tickets will be $15, available at the theater box office, or here.
The Spokane Interstate Fair concert lineup has just been announced:
In addition, the Fair will have its traditional lineup of non-musical entertainment:
Tickets will go on sale July 11 through TicketsWest.
George Duke, the funky keyboard master associated with Frank Zappa, Michael Jackson and Miles Davis, has been booked into the Bing Crosby Theater for a show on Aug. 11.
Duke toured with the Mothers of Invention in the 1960s, played on Jackson's “Off the Wall” album, and produced Miles Davis' “Tutu” album.
Duke will be accompanied by a couple of other big names: David Sanborn and Marcus Miller.
Tickets are $41.50, on sale Thursday here.
John Carpenter's horror flick, “The Ward,” which was filmed in Medical Lake and Spokane, became available through various cable on-demand services today. It stars Amber Heard as a woman in a mental institution. And guess what? This mental institution is not what it seems.
This movie has not exactly received stellar reviews, but so far it has been treated more kindly than many other locally filmed movies. It has a 48 percent positive score among reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes. The Guardian, a British paper, called it a “well-made film, with some finely crafted shocks and a steady pace that almost seems stately in these days of fast-cut horror.”
Many of the reviews are from the UK, where it has apparently been released in theaters. Most agreed that it was not Carpenter's best work, but it still had flashes of the legendary Carpenter style.
Here the link to the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film is scheduled for a limited theatrical release on July 8 and will go to DVD and Blu-Ray sometime after that.
North by Northwest has just finished filming the Spike TV pilot “Thunderballs” in Spokane, and yes, it featured a few faces you might know.
George Wendt (Norm of “Cheers”) played the dad of one of the guys on the bowling team. The show is a comedy about some 30-something friends in a bowling league.
Isaiah Mustafa, best known as the hunk in the Old Spice commercials (above), also played a bowler, and a particularly athletic one. He's a former pro football player.
David Koechner, who played Champ Kind in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and Todd Packer in “The Office” played a former pro bowler.
Rich Cowan of North by Northwest said it was a 30 minute pilot. If the pilot gets picked up by Spike, it will mean regular work for a lot of local film crew people and actors. Cowan said they should know by the end of July if “Thunderballs” will become a regular industry here in Spokane.
Eddie Vedder's ukulele is proving to be a windfall for the Ferry County Trail Partners.
The Pearl Jam front man has donated his ukulele to an auction to benefit this rail-to-trail program in Ferry County. Rich Landers gives details in his Outdoors blog, which you can find here.
Here's the lineup for the Dave Matthews Band Caravan at The Gorge Amphitheatre, Sept. 2-4.
This is a bit different from the traditional Matthews Labor Day weekend shows at The Gorge, because there will be an entire — caravan? — of acts on three stages during the day. Yet the DMB will still do a full set each night. These will be the band's only West Coast performances in 2011
Here's the announcement that came down today:
Friday, September 2
Dave Matthews Band, John Butler Trio, Gogol Bordello, De La Soul, Blind Pilot, Soja, The Belle Brigade, Jenny O.
Saturday, September 3
Dave Matthews Band, The Roots, Warren Haynes Band, Devotchka, Fruit Bats, The Silent Comedy, Lindsay Fuller
Sunday, September 4
Dave Matthews Band, Dispatch, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band, Antibalas, The Low Anthem, The Moondoggies, Infantree,
Tickets can be purchased for each individual day beginning Friday, June 10, at 10:00 AM PT at www.DMBCaravan.com. They will also be available online at LiveNation.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Three-day passes and VIP packages are available now at www.DMBCaravan.com.
The opening acts for KISS at the Spokane Arena on June 24 have now been announced: Bad City and Envy.
Bad City is a Chicago rock band whose 2010 debut was called “Welcome to the Wasteland.”
The Envy is a Gene Simmons discovery, signed to his own label. They're from Toronto.
Neither act wears paint or breathes fire, evidently.
Just completed a circuit of ArtFest at Coeur d'Alene Park in Browne's Addition.
I say “circuit” because this year, the 140 art booths are arranged in a giant circle, which makes it easier to stroll through this juried art festival without missing anything.
The Brent Edstrom Trio was playing some tasty jazz and people were beginning to gather in the wine-beer garden.
If you can make it this weekend (it runs through Sunday), I would highly recommend it. Be sure to check out ElkFest, too, outside The Elk, just a few blocks away. The Camaros. a great local band, were about to take the stage when we walked by.
By the way, Coeur d'Alene Park is in Spokane, not Coeur d'Alene. Not that that's confusing or anything.
Two local bands, Soul Proprietor and The Ryan Larsen Band, will play a show there on June 11, 7 p.m. Tickets are only $5, available at the Northern Quest box office, (509) 481-6700 or TicketsWest outlets.
Soul Proprietor plays funk and R&B and The Ryan Larsen Band plays country.
The opening show at the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, “The Wizard of Oz,” which runs June 9-19, has had a robust pre-sale – just 300 tickets behind the theater’s all-time biggest seller, last year’s “Cinderella,” at a comparable date.
That’s a good harbinger going into the season. Executive director Laura Little said “The Sound of Music” (Aug. 11-21) is also selling well, because – well, because it’s “The Sound of Music.”
The other two shows – Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” (June 30-July 10) and “Once Upon This Island” (July 21-31) – may not be quite as well-known but are just as promising – at least, from a theater critic’s viewpoint.
Be warned: The CDA Summer Theatre has reduced the run of each show this year from nine performances to eight, which increases the risk that procrastinators will have trouble finding good tickets.
Call (208) 769-7780 for tickets.
Here are two new books about a crucial and controversial issue in our region:
Here we go again: Another Spokane-made movie, direct to DVD, complete with atrocious reviews.
“The Big Bang,” the Antonio Banderas movie shot here in fall 2009, came out on DVD last week and the critics have been merrily brutalizing it.
Andrew Barker of Variety called it “unintelligible,” scattershot” and “a Lynchian neo-noir that takes intellectual and aesthetic risks it has no reasonable attempt at pulling off.”
Stephen Holden of the New York Times called it “a low point for Mr. Banderas, who is painfully miscast as a tough guy and whose Spanish accent has never been more of an impediment.”
Other top critics called it “trash,” “budget-bin” and “bleary.”
Leave it to Rex Reed of the New York Observer to muster the most vituperation, calling it “brain-damaged, inept, unsupervised and moronic.”
Check out a collection of reviews here, on Rotten Tomatoes.
What? You say you don't trust those snooty film reviewers? The general public hasn't been kind either, with a 2.5 star audience rating (out of five) on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 5.5 rating out of 10 on IMDB.
I would see this movie for myself , except I still haven't recovered from the trauma of watching three other Spokane filmed movies, “Give 'em Hell, Malone” with Thomas Jane , “Wrong Turn at Tahoe,” with Cuba Gooding Jr., and “Lies & Illusions” with Christian Slater.
And that was more than a year ago.
The Spokane Arena is staging a contest for free KISS tickets — and these are excellent tickets, in the first five rows.
But you'll have to work for them. The rules are complicated, so I'm just going to paste the Arena's instructions in here:
Here’s how it works: We’ve devised a series of 10 “challenges” that must be completed by participants in order for them to be entered to win these amazing tickets. Beginning Monday, June 6 these challenges and the Pucker Up For KISS Tickets contest will be available to everyone on the SCVNGR app.
Want to play? Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. Download the SCVNGR app from iPhone App Store or Android Market.
2. Start the SCVNGR app and create an account.
3. Once completed, click the ‘Treks’ icon and select the Full Frame Trek.
4. Click on a location, then complete the listed ‘Challenges in Treks.’ After completing, return to the Full Frame Trek screen to select your next location! Only Challenges within the Trek will count toward your total score.
Don’t have an iPhone or Android Phone? Not to worry, you can still play with your camera phone! On Monday, June 6 text KISSTICKETS to 728647 and the contest instructions and challenges will be sent directly to you via text message. Regular text message rates apply.
Once you have finished all of the challenges, you’re automatically entered to win 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd or FIRST ROW tickets to see KISS on Friday, June 24 at the Spokane Arena.
The contest ends on Friday, June 10 – so you better get those lips movin’! For more information on the contest and on SCVNGR please visit http://spokanearena.com/scvngr.
KISS will be play the Spokane Arena on Friday, June 24 at 7:45pm. Reserved Seat tickets are $47.50, $67.50 and $97.50 and are on sale now at the Spokane Arena Box Office, all TicketsWest Outlets, TicketsWest.com or by calling 800-325-SEAT!