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Leon and much more at Pig Out

Craig Heimbigner, who books acts for Spokane's Pig Out in the Park festival at Riverfront Park on Labor Day weekend, has just confirmed Leon Russell and a whole list of other Pig Out acts.

Here's what he just sent us:

Charlie Musselwhite Sept. 1
Too Slim & The Taildraggers will open for Charlie.
 
Leon Russell Sept. 2.
 Leon Russell in Moses Lake's Centennial Amphitheater, also Free, Sept. 3rd
 
Marcy Playground Sept. 3.
A band called Carbon Leaf will open for Marcy Playground.
 
MarchFourth Sept. 4. (This is a big world beat band with circus, really, like vaudeville, like unicylces and juggling and dancing girls, 24 people in all).
 
Jr Cadillac will be back. There will be a reunion performance by Spokane's once very popular band Ten Minutes Down
Another reunion show by The Exploding Fifis
Men In The Making are also back at Pig Out

Remember, Pig Out shows are all free.
  

Two chances to see George Winston

George Winston, the patriarch of  what used to be called New Age music, will make two appearances in the region in September.

He'll play the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane n Sept, 21, 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale May 6 through Ticketswest outlets.

Then he'll be at Sandpoint's Panida Theater on Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale through TicketsWest on May 13.

Winston's eclectic style includes jazz and stride piano. And now, he also plays guitar (slack-key) and harmonica. 

Outdoor concerts: Leon Russell, Weird Al

News is slowly trickling in about the summer outdoor concert season in Spokane.

Pollstar lists Leon Russell, fresh from his Elton John duets, headlining Pig Out in the Park at Riverfront Park on Sept. 3.

Pollstar also shows Weird Al Yankovich booked into the Spokane County Interstate Fair on Sept. 13.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is listed at Liberty Lake's Pavilion Park on Aug. 6.

Also, Jr. Cadillac will come back for another “Sea Cruise” aboard the Mish-an-Nock on Lake Coeur d;Alene on Aug. 20.

Keep an eye out for details. 

A Currington/Uncle Kracker show at the Arena

Country acts Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker have been booked into the Spokane Arena on July 21, 8 p.m.

Tickets will be $19.50 and $29.50, on sale Friday, 10 a.m., through TicketsWest outlets. This concert will apparently be in the Arena's smaller Star Theatre configuration.

‘Michael Jackson Immortal’ tribute adds second show

A second show has been added to “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” at the Spokane Arena on Nov. 13, 4 p.m.

The original show was scheduled on Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. and it has evidently sold well enough to justify another date. This is a Jackson tribute and celebration, presented by Cirque du Soleil.

Tickets to the second show range from $50 to $250, on sale Monday at noon through TicketsWest.

‘Spamalot’ comes to Spokanalot

I  taunt you not — “Monty Python's Spamalot” is returning to the INB Performing Arts Center for a one-night-only performance on Nov. 11.

This will be an add-on show to the Best of Broadway series, announced earlier. Subscribers can now add it on to their ticket package. Individual tickets will go on sale at a later date, to be announced.

This show, based on the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” did a week long run in Spokane in 2009. It was, without a doubt, the funniest musical I'd ever seen.

‘Thunderballs’ issues a mullet-casting call

The Spike TV sitcom pilot, “Thunderballs,” will start filming in Spokane next week and the casting call speaks volumes about the show.

For one thing, they are seeking someone to play the “Olympia Beer Bikini Girl.”

The show is about a group of 30-something guys on a bowling team and, like every show on Spike, it is aimed at the male market.

Or should we say, the dude market.

Here are a few of the fictional bowling teams being cast locally through Big Fish NW Talent:

The Mullets (plus a Mullet Mom and Mullet Baby).

The Super Vixens.

Ballbarians.

The Blue Ballers (a team of cops).

The Sunset Towers Assisted Living Slingers (an elderly team).

The Gutter Gals.

North by Northwest will be filming the pilot into the middle of May. If the pilot gets picked up, expect to see plenty more of the Super Vixens and the Gutter Gals.

Oh, one more thing. The child cast as the Mullet Baby must have a real mullet. No wigs.

Win the $25 ‘Wicked’ ticket lottery

If you can’t afford to pay full price for tickets to “Wicked,” May 18-29 at the INB Performing Arts Center, here’s a way to get your witch fix.

On every performance day, a $25 “Wicked” ticket lottery will he held.

Here’s how it will work. Show up two-and-a-half hours prior to each performance at the INB Performing Arts Center box office. Your name will be placed in a lottery drum. A half-hour later, a limited number of names will be drawn from the drum.

If your name is chosen, you can purchase up to two tickets at $25 apiece. You must be there in person and you must pay cash.

These tickets will be a bargain, since tickets normally sell for $42.50 to $142.50. And these tickets are in the orchestra section, i.e., the main floor.

Spokane Arena gets a big, wet KISS

KISS has been booked into the Spokane Arena for a June 24 show.

Tickets will be $47.50, $67.50 and $97.50, on sale Friday at 10 a.m. through TicketsWest outlets. They played a sold-out show at the Arena in 1996.

The Arena called this “the most BADASS rock show that we've had in over a decade.”

I thought I'd point out a few other acts that have played the Arena in the past decade: Kid Rock, Motley Crue, Linkin Park, Nickelback, the Eagles, Mudvayne, Stone Temple Pilots, Godsmack, Journey, Heart, Cheap Trick Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tool.

So ,,, does that claim hold up?

‘Poppins’ and ‘Frankenstein’ booked for Best of Broadway

The 2011-2012 Best of Broadway season will feature the Chairman of the Board, an English nanny and a guy with a bolt in his neck.

Here’s the lineup of touring shows for next season, announced Thursday by WestCoast Entertainment.

“Come Fly With Me,” Nov. 17-20 – The Frank Sinatra musical revue, with choreography by Twyla Tharp.

“Young Frankenstein,” Dec. 15-18 – The musical version of the great Mel Brooks movie comedy.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” Jan. 26-29 – One of the most popular and successful stage adaptations of a Disney animated film.”

“In the Heights,” April 12-15 – The 2008 Tony-winner for Best Musical, filled with the music and dance of New York’s Dominican community.

“Mary Poppins,” June 12-17, 2012 – The popular stage version of the classic Disney musical film about a magical governess and her charges.

WestCoast Entertainment also announced a few “specials” – shows that are not part of the regular subscription package, but can be added on: “Defending the Caveman,” Oct. 8; “The Official Blues Brothers Revue,” Nov. 13; The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Jan. 14; and the “New Shanghai Circus,” Feb. 18.

Season tickets are now on sale through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com). Individual on-sale dates will be announced later.  All shows will be at the INB Performing Arts Center.

Steve Earle booked into the Fox

The alt-country legend Steve Earle has been booked into the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox for a June 11 concert.

Earle, a gruff singer-songwriter in the Dylan-meets-Waylon Jennings tradition, will perform with the Dukes (and Duchesses) Featuring Allison Moorer.

Tickets go on sale Friday,  $29.50 and $39.50, now on sale through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)  

A Best of Broadway teaser

WestCoast Entertainment will announce its 2011-2012 season at an event on April 21, 4 p.m. at the INB Performing Arts Center.

No, I have no inside information about the season. However, the WestCoast people say that they are “flying in a lead actress to perform a selection from one of the productions.”

The last time they flew in a performer for a season announcement was in 2008 — and that was to announce the return of “Phantom of the Opera.”

So I suspect the season might include a show of that magnitude..

Anybody have any guesses about what's coming?

Toad the Wet Sprocket to play Sandpoint

The '90s alternative rockers Toad the Wet Sprocket have been booked into the Panida Theatre in Sandpoint on July 15.

They're known for the hits “All I Want” and “Fall Down” and a series of well-received albums.

Tickets will be $28, on sale April 21 at Eichardt's Pub in Sandpoint, the Long Ear in Coeur d'Alene, 4,000 Holes in Spokane and through Ticketswest outlets. 

Their name, by the way, comes from an Eric Idle (Monty Python) monologue.

Toby Keith will play Northern Quest’s new outdoor venue

Toby Keith is the first artist announced for a new venue in Spokane, the Northern Quest Resort & Casino's 5,000-seat outdoor venue.

Keith will bring his “Locked and Loaded Tour” to this outdoor space on Aug. 18. Eric Church will be the opening act.

The Northern Quest plans seven more headliners this summer in their new venue. They haven't yet announced the rest of the lineup. Nor have they announced the details of this new outdoor space. We should be learning more soon, but this sounds like it will be a significant new spot on the region's summer concert scene.

Tickets for Toby Keith will start at $80 and will go on sale April 18, 10 a.m. through Ticketswest outlets (800) 325-SEAT or online, or through Northern Quest's box office, (509) 481-6700.

The full Elton John concert review

 

In addition to my late-night thoughts in the previous post, I thought I'd cut-and-paste the full unedited Elton John review, which will appear in print Sunday morning in what should be something close to this form:

Elton John and His Band, Friday night, Spokane Arena:

Elton John gave a sold-out crowd of 10,000-plus exactly what it craved Friday night: An unbroken string of hit after hit after hit, performed with professional polish and high energy.

It was a joyous and celebratory two hours and fifty minutes for Elton’s fans. If anyone was on the fence about Sir Elton – although I saw little evidence of that – this concert probably won them over for one simple reason. Elton has more quality hits in his enormous repertoire than almost any other contemporary artist you can name, with the exception of another sir (Sir Paul).

One early stretch of the show included the following songs performed in a row: “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” “Levon,” “Madman Across the Water,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Daniel” and “Rocket Man.”

They were performed expertly by his band, which included several key members who have been with him since the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone. It was a rock band, not a show band: One guitarist, one bassist, one keyboard player, one drummer, one percussionist and four backup singers.

“The last time I was here I played a solo show,” said Elton, in one of his few moments of stage banter. “But this time, we’re going to rock out!”

And yes, they did. He might be known for ballads like “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” (both of which he performed) but he and the band also blazed away on “The Bitch is Back” and the aforementioned “Saturday Night.”

He abandoned the giant hats and sunglasses many decades ago. He was dressed in striped black pants and a black tailcoat, which was embroidered with musical notes and a “Music is Magic” inscription. The effect was Nashville meets Hyde Park.

There was no flashy showmanship. His moves were restricted almost entirely to standing up between songs and pointing at various parts of the crowd (even behind the stage, which was also sold out). As for his general stage movement, I would sum it up as the opposite of spry.

But his fingers are as nimble as ever. The musical highlights of the show were his extended and exhilarating piano solos, performed as intros and interludes on several big mini-symphonic pieces, including the outstanding opening number, “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” and an expanded “Rocket Man.”

He mixed classical-sounding themes with boogie-woogie, barrelhouse and jazz. In his intros, he dropped in tantalizing hints of familiar melody, which, in one memorable number, turned into “Take Me to the Pilot.”

The other happy surprise for the evening came after Elton asked the crowd’s indulgence while he played new material from his newest CD, “The Union,” collaboration with Leon Russell.

“If we didn’t have new songs to play, I’d be bored out of my life,” said Elton.

Leon didn’t show up (he has guested at other stops on this tour) but these new songs showed plenty of Russell’s influence, especially the bluesy “Hey Ahab” and wild rocker, “Monkey Suit.” He also played a bittersweet and haunting Civil War ballad, with touching lyrics by Bernie Taupin, “Gone to Shiloh.”

And then it was back to the hits. Just when I was convinced that he must have finally run out of familiar tunes, he unwrapped “Candle in the Wind,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Crocodile Rock” and, for an emotional encore, “Your Song.”

It was a vivid reminder that Elton John was, in fact, the No. 1 Billboard chart artist of the entire 1970s (beating out Sir Paul).

At age 64, his voice may be a step or two lower and he doesn’t leap onto his piano the way he once did. Yet those songs have aged exceedingly well.

A raucous Elton John party at the Arena

Just got in from a happy and celebratory Elton John concert at the Spokane Arena and I thought I'd share a few quick impressions (I'll be writing a full review for Sunday print).

Opening Elton stage banter: “Last time I was here I played a solo show. This time we're going to rock out!”

Hits left out of this 2 hour 45 minute show: Hardly any, unless you consider “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” to be an Elton John hit (see set list below).

Best costume: A couple of guys in the front row wearing pink feather boas. Runnerup, Elton's outfit. which consisted of a black formal tailcoat with embroidered musical notes and a “Music Magic” insignia on the back. Call it Nashville meets Hyde Park.

Most ambitious numbers: The opening song, “Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding,” and “Rocket Man,” both of which were turned into mini-symphonies.

Biggest ovation when the audience recognized the opening chords: Tie between “Tiny Dancer” and “Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me.”

Biggest surprise: The high quality of the new songs from his new album “The Union.”

Old song I forgot was so good: Tie between “Madman Across the Water,” “Burn Down the Mission” and “Take Me to the Pilot.”

Read on to see the (partial) set list:

Tim O’Brien, Ani DiFranco headline Spokane’s busiest literary week

Get ready for the busiest week of the year on Spokane’s literary scene.

Get Lit! begins on April 13 (Wednesday). The calendar holds so many events – 55 workshops, panels and readings – that the best way to find them all is to go to the Get Lit! web site at this link.

Click “continue reading” to see the main ticketed events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and some other noteworthy events:

Spokane Jewish Film Festival opens Saturday

The Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival has become an annual tradition in the area.

Larry Weiser, a Gonzaga University law school prof, has been organizing this for several years. This year he assembled three films for screening at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), 2316 W. First.

Here's the lineup:

 “Saviors in the Night” — Saturday, 7:30 p.m.. The story of courageous Catholic farmers who hid Marga Spiegel and her family from the Nazis.:

“Black Over White” and “These Are My Names”– Sunday, 2 p.m. The first is a documentary about the popular Israeli music group, the Idan Raichel Project, and their tour of Ethiopia. Music takes the center stage, but there are also revealing scenes about identity and heritage amongst the musicians. The second is a short film about Ethiopian Jews.

“Seven Minutes in Eden” – Monday, 7:30 p.m. The story of a young couple on a bus, bombed by terrorists. The young woman attempts to stitch her life back together.

Tickets are $8, available at the door or at this site.

What’s the best Elton John song?

I just finished writing an advance story on Elton John's visit Friday to the Spokane Arena, and I was reminded of how many of his songs have become instantly recognizable standards. It's hard to think of a contemporary performer with more.

So I thought I'd throw out the question: What's the best Elton John song?

I'll kick it off by sayihg it is undeniably, unassailably, “Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting.”  

Michele Glazer to read her poetry at Whitworth

Here's another notable poetry reading to go along with the previous post, below.

Nationally known poet Michele Glazer will read her work as part of the Third Annual Nadine Chapman Endowed Reading at Whitworth University on Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Glazer is the winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize and the director of creative writing at Portland State University. She has published several poetry volumes.

The reading will be in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at the university. It's free.

Maya Jewell Zeller launches ‘Rust Fish’ poetry volume

I was unable to put together a Book Notes column last Sunday, but I wanted to make sure that everyone knew about the book launch of “Rust Fish” (Lost Horse Press), a volume of poetry by Spokane poet Maya Jewell Zeller.

Zeller is a lecturer in Gonzaga University's English department who grew up on the Oregon coast. This volume has already garnered praise from critics for its evocation of the Northwest and its stories of “human ruin and hard-won grace.”

Zeller will launch the book with a reading and party on Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at the Spokane Community College's Hagan Foundation Center for the Humanities, in the library (building 16).

The reading is free.

Mamet’s ‘Race’ hits hot buttons

I was out of town last week, and got back in time to catch David Mamet's “Race” at Interplayers on Saturday. Here's an advance look at the review, which will run Tuesday or Wednesday in print:

This riveting Interplayers production of David Mamet’s “Race” jams both index fingers down hard on two of the hottest of hot-button issues – racial relations and sex — and doesn’t let up for 90 minutes.

Make that both middle fingers. This being a Mamet play, “Race’s” tone is one of incessant, startling, foul-mouthed cynicism. Ideals of justice, fairness and equality will be brusquely shot down, scorned and dismissed as naïve.

“The whites will screw you,” says the white lawyer Jack to the black lawyer Susan. “Any chance we get. We cannot help ourselves.”

That’s just one of several signature Mamet lines, others of which we can’t print, which all amount to the characteristic Mamet messages: People are out solely for themselves. Money and power always win. The truth belongs to whoever crafts the most cynical lie.

Clicke on “continue reading” to see the rest of the review:

Steve Martin, k.d. lang booked at Fox

Two new shows have just been announced  at the Martin Woldson Theatre at The Fox: Steve Martin and his banjo act, July 22 and k.d. lang on July 25.

This will be Martin's second banjo-centric appearance at the Fox. I attended his sold out show in 2009 and it was a riot. Once again, he'll be backed by the Steep Canyon Rangers. Expect plenty of comedy amidst the bluegrass. Tickets will be $68 and $52, on sale March 31 through Ticketswest or the Fox box office, (509) 624-1200.

Canadian singer k.d. lang will be accompanied by her new band, the Siss Boom Bang. Tickets will be $69 and $49, also on sale March 31 through the above outlets,

Greg Mortenson on the military

I just finished interviewing Greg Mortenson, the co-author of “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools.” I have tremendous admiration for him and his work building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and I have written an extensive story for Saturday's paper.

But I didn't have enough space to include all of the topics we discussed, including this fascinating one: His changing perception of America's military.

 Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

“In 'Three Cups of Tea,' I was fairly critical of the military. I said they were all laptop warriors. … But my opinion of the military has really changed. The military really gets it. …

“Because many of our troops have been on the ground three or four times, of all of our government entities, the military understands and has an awareness of respecting the elders and building relationships and listening to the people. There has been a huge learning curve.”

In fact, the military sought him out as an adviser on how to effectively build relationships with the Afghan people. 

He'll be speaking at Gonzaga University on Monday at 7 p.m. Tickets available through TicketsWest.

‘9 to 5’ rolls in

Diana DeGarmo, former “American Idol” finalist, and the rest of the “9 to 5” cast and crew will soon be pulling in to the INB Performing Arts Center for a Thursday-through-Sunday run.

This is the Broadway musical version of the fine 1980 comedy of the same name. This is an Actor's Equity (union) tour, which generally translates into high production values and an experienced cast. That's certainly true of this cast, which also includes Dee Hoty and Joseph Mahowald.

Watch for a full preview story in Thursday's edition of The Spokesman-Review. Tickets are available through TicketsWest.

Modest Mouse booked for May 28

Modest Mouse, the indie rock trio, is headed to the Knitting Factory Concert House in Spokane on May 28.

Special guests will be Talkdemonic.

Tickets are $32, on sale Friday at 10 a.m. through TicketFly online or the Knitting Factory site or by calling (877) 435-9849.

Pre-sale ticket code for Menzel

The Spokane Symphony has announced the pre-sale ticket code for the Idina Menzel show on May 15 at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox,

The code is GLEE. Enter it into the “promotion code” box on the Ticketswest site. 

This will give you a head start on Menzel tickets, since the offical on-sale date isn't until Thursday. Ticket prices range from $42 to $62.

Idina Menzel of ‘Glee’ booked at Fox

Idina Menzel – well known to “Glee” viewers and Broadway aficionados – will join the Spokane Symphony for a concert at the Martin Woldson Theatre at The Fox on May 15, 7:30 p.m.

Menzel made her name in 1996 originating the role of Maureen in “Rent.” Then she originated the role of Elphaba in “Wicked” on Broadway in 2003 and in London in 2006.

Her career has been on a roll in the last year because of her recurring appearances on the hit show, “Glee,” as Shelby Corcoran.

Tickets will go on sale Thursday, 10 a.m. through TicketsWest outlets.

Spokane Civic on the way to nationals

Once again, the Spokane Civic Theatre has advanced to the national community theater competition finals.

The Civic’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” won first place in the state festival, held here last weekend. Idaho, Oregon and Alaska did not have state festivals due to lack of participants – times are tough for community theater – which means that Washington’s state festival was, de facto, the regional competition.

So the next event will be the American Association of Community Theater Festival in Rochester, N.Y., June 20-26.

Going to nationals is nothing new for the Civic. In fact, the Spokane Civic Theatre has won the national competition twice and finished second once.

The Civic also won a slew of other awards last weekend. Here’s the list:

WSCTA Magic Moment Award: Lacey Bohnet singing “The I Love You Song.”

Oustanding Performance: Mark Pleasant.

Outstanding Costume Design: Jan Wanless.

Outstanding Ensemble Performance.

Oustanding Choreography: Kathie Doyle-Lipe.

Outstanding Design and Production Team.

The Big Read is on a roll

Spokane’s Big Read is already getting rave reviews in its first week.

Verne Windham of KPBX-FM wrote to tell me that he was amazed by the theater adaptation of “Tim O'Brien's “The Things They Carried.” He praised it for its “deep, thorough characterizations” and “consistent attention to detail.”

Tim O'Brien's novel was adapted by Jeffrey Sanders and directed by Sara Goff in this Eastern Washington University theater department production. It has three more performances at EWU's Campus 210 Theatre, Thursday at 5 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 or free with EWU student ID. Then it wil be reprised on March 18, 7:30 p.m., at the Bing Crosby Theater in a free presentation.

.Want more details on the many Big Read events, and lots of them? Go here.