Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Weekly: Something to Look Forward To.

Do you live in one of the areas in and around NYC that actually suffered some significant damage from Irene? Do you have the Hurricane Irene blues? Well, here's something to look forward to:

Thursday, September 1, was to be the start of one of the largest festivals that the popular summer island and NYC suburb, Long Beach, has experienced. Quicksilver Pro New York, an international surfing competition with a $1 million prize, commences this week. In addition to some of the most competitive surfing the East Coast has seen, the competition's backdrop was intended to be a large music and arts festival, drawing unprecedented crowds to the small barrier island for free acts from bands such as The Flaming Lips, Interpol and Girl Talk. Unfortunately, Long Beach was hit hard by Irene, and city officials, working closely with Quicksilver, had to make the very difficult decision to cancel the non-surfing festivities, including these highly anticipated musical acts. However, don't despair if surf and skate events are your favored activities, as THE SURFING COMPETITION WILL PROCEED, according to the latest update from Quicksilver. Take the Long Island Railroad to Long Beach to hang ten with world-famous surfers from September 1 through 15. The official kickoff event for Quicksilver Pro N.Y. will be "The Tony Hawk Vert Jam," at 2pm on Friday, September 2, at Hudson River Park's Pier 54 in Manhattan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Weekly: Something to Look Forward To.

Feel like this week is dragging on? Well, here's something to look forward to.

  • This weekend, get ready to get funky, I mean... punky, with the 2011 FREE Afro-Punk Festival taking place at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn on August 27 and 28. Rarely will the likes of fresh stars, Toro y Moi, Santigold, Janelle Monae, Cee Lo Green and others come together for such a celebration of multi-culturalism and diversity. The musical acts begin each day at 11am and continue on through the early evening. The Festival will also host the largest street skate and BMX competition in NYC, the "Nike Battle for the Streets, " and will feature a bike show displaying dozens of exotic custom-made Harley-Davidson motorcylces, international food trucks, and unique artwork, such as "The Skate ArtWall," an oversized mural that will depict over 140 skateboards. Start counting down the days until the weekend!

  • Looking for something a bit more low key? Grab your blanket and picnic basket and head to the ninth annual Central Park Conservancy Film Festival. As the summer season of outdoor movies winds down, catch five straight nights of movies at the landscape just north of sheep meadow in the park, at sundown. This year's film festival, which began last night and runs through Saturday evening, August 27, puts the theme of music on centerstage, and all films will highlight a musical genre or performer(s). 

UPDATE: Afro-Punk 2011 has been cancelled due to Hurricane Irene. Stay safe New York!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Special Discount to Baby It's You! For WGINY Readers!

Baby It's You!, the Broadway musical about suburban housewife, Florence Greenberg, who discovered the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame girl group, The Shirelles, is offering a very special discount to WGINY readers.

Readers can save 40% by using the code BBFNF28 at now through September 4!! WOW!

Want more info about the show? Check out this review from WGINY guest author, Gina Brill.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Something to Look Forward To, a New Weekly Wednesday Column.

If you're like me, you make it through most of the work week by waiting for Friday. Wednesday tends to be the worst because it's not the beginning of the week but it's also not yet the end. Once we get over that Wednesday hump though, we can really begin to make our plans for the upcoming weekend and new week. So, in honor of this weekly "hump day," I will begin posting "Something to Look Forward To," every Wednesday morning. This new column will highlight some event(s) around town that you should be looking forward to, so you can stop feeling that mid-week slump and starting feeling excitement and anticipation for things to come.

Sure, you can get this information from, or the events section of any NYC newspaper, so why is my column different? Because I'm going to pick my favorites and suggest only what I believe are some of the very best ideas.

This week's suggestions:

The 6th Bi-Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party at Governor's Island, August 20 and 21
Dress to the nines in your best 1920s garb and party like Gatsby at this bi-annual event that will feature music from Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra, dance lessons and performances, pie bake-offs and more! Take a free ferry from Manhattan or Brooklyn to Governor's Island. The event runs Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

The Art of Brooklyn Festival: A Festival of Film, Music and Art, August 20 through 27, at St. Francis College Theater
In its inaugural year, this festival will feature NYC indie filmmakers, musicians, and visual artists whose works celebrate the "creative energy" of Brooklyn. While the focus definitely appears to be on the festival's plethora of films (mostly shorts, I count approximately 30 in total...), the musical performances and art exhibitions will surely round out this new Brooklyn event. Saturday night, August 20, is the official opening night for the festival, and each following day focuses on a different film theme or genre, such as a Brooklyn filmmaker night, comedy night, horror night, films all about women in NYC or various definitions of the "American experience[ ]." The Art of Brooklyn will feature some great, budding talent and runs through Saturday, August 27.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Silence! The Musical is a Biting Good Time.

Landing on St. Marks' Theatre 80 in June, and recently extended, "by popular demand," through September 24,  Silence! The Musical has fluttered into the New York City theater scene and refuses to be, well, silenced.

Silence! touts itself as the "unauthorized parody" of the 1991 Academy Award winning crime thriller, Silence of the Lambs. The brainchild of Jon and Al Kaplan, Silence!, like any good parody, works well because it essentially follows the plot as developed in the movie, but wildly exaggerates the characters and their storylines. Raunchier than the film could ever hope to be, Silence! is a creative adaptation with a talented cast. Silence! was adapted from a screenplay of the same name by Jon and Al Kaplan, who also composed the music and lyrics. The book for the musical is by Hunter Bell.

To introduce the show, singing and dancing lambs explain that Silence! is the story of budding FBI trainee, Clarice Starling (played by Jenn Harris), and her investigation into the minds of two men, "one who likes to cook and eat his patients, and one who likes to wear them like a suit...."

Much like the movie, Silence! begins with a scene in the woods near the FBI's training academy at Quantico, Virginia, with Starling jogging stoically before being called into the office of Agent Jack Crawford (played by Howard Kaye), where she is given the opportunity of her trainee-career, to interview the notorious serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (played by Brent Barrett), aka, Hannibal the Cannibal. Verbatim lines from the movie are recited and then played upon with zeal, and, at any moment, any character may break out into song and/or dance.

Brent Barrett does a remarkable job of portraying the character of Hannibal as the maniacal psychopath who toys with Starling and feeds (not literally...) on her naiveté as a trainee. He captures quite well the macabre persona originated by Anthony Hopkins (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Hannibal) in the film.

Jenn Harris also finely mimics the mannerisms of Jodie Foster as Starling, and although her embellished West Virginia accent begins to wear thin as a joke, her ability to imitate even the inflections of Foster's voice is impressive.

Barrett and Harris create a creepy chemistry while they tango to what is arguably the show's most memorable musical number, "Quid Pro Quo."  "Quid Pro Quo" is a reference to Hannibal's offer to Starling to provide her with information that will help her capture at-large serial killer known only as "Buffalo Bill," if she will reveal personal details of her own life. (Christopher Gattelli directed and choreographed the show).

Lucia Spina plays both Buffalo Bill's captive, Catherine Martin, and Catherine's mother, Senator Ruth Martin. As Senator Martin, Spina displays a beautiful soprano voice even as she wails, ad naseum, Cath-er-ine, Cath-er-ine, Cath-er-ine, in a song-plea to Bill to free her daughter.

All of the actors have superb comedic timing, but none better than Jeff Hiller, who, as Sgt. Pembry, as well as some bit parts, is charmingly funny, and brings to Silence! what actor Jack McBrayer brings to TV hit, 30 Rock.

Overall, Silence! is fresh, quirky and fun, and the budget show is a cheaper, yet worthwhile alternative to Broadway. You can purchase tickets here for shows through September 24.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Trio of Cults, The Naked and Famous, and Friendly Fires Keep Summerstage Rocking.

Another successful Central Park Summerstage concert went down this past Sunday at the park's mainstage area, off of East 72nd Street. As usual, the Summerstage show drew an eclectic, interactive, ready-to-get-down crowd. Rising temperatures, rancid humidity and threats of thunderstorms couldn't keep fans from packing into the park to see emerging indie rock bands, Cults, The Naked and Famous, and Friendly Fires. I have never seen the mainstage area so packed for opening acts, and by the time Friendly Fires were ready to go on, patrons were being turned away from the free concert, which was at capacity.

Cults at Summerstage 2011
While Cults and The Naked and Famous have both only recently released their debut albums, Friendly Fires' first debuted in 2008, and their second studio album, Pala, was just released.
Sunday's lineup, with Friendly Fires headlining, created a nice, fun flow of music that began with the dreamy, upbeat summer sounds of Cults, followed by the dancey, electropop stylings of The Naked and Famous, and culminating with the punchy, experimental rock beats of Friendly Fires.

The Naked and Famous at Summerstage 2011
The female vocalist from The Naked and Famous really makes that group shine.  She plays to her audience well, and sings full of emotion. She also gets creative on the synthesizer/keyboard, and when she harmonizes along with the lead male vocalist (who also plays lead guitar), the result is a smooth, fluid, music-trance inducing sound. The New Zealand-based band may also be known for the distinct percussive beat that accompanies many of their songs and gives them a unique edge.

Friendly Fires at Summerstage 2011
When it came time for Friendly Fires to take the stage, the energy in the park was incredible. Lead singer, Ed Macfarlane, impressed with his Hawaiian shirt and crowd-pleasing antics, including jumping into the audience mid-song. Fancy additions like a horn section and the occasional cowbell gave a twist to the edgy, 80s classic rock feel of this British-based band, who, for an undisclosed reason, dedicated their set to the Harlem Gospel Choir.

All of these bands are currently touring, and will be returning to the NYC area very soon:
The Naked and Famous play Music Hall of Williamsburg, this Friday, August 12 (tickets are sold out, but where there's a will, there's a way...)
Cults will be performing at the upcoming All Tomorrow's Parties US music festival, taking place in Asbury Park, September 30 through October 2.
And last, but certainly not least, Friendly Fires will be back to play Terminal 5 on Wednesday, October 26.

If you want to sample the bands before you buy tickets, check out these popular singles:
Cults "Go Outside"(2011)
The Naked and Famous "Young Blood" (2010)
Friendly Fires "Hawaiian Air" (2011)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"Amateur": An excellent solo debut from emerging artist, Andrew Campbell.

On display this week at the Brooklyn Artists Gym, through Saturday, "Amateur" is the first solo art show from emerging artist, Andrew Campbell. Through a variety of mixed media, including paintings and other works on paper and canvas, "Amateur" examines the female image as portrayed on social media websites, looking at how women portray themselves on-line, as well as how they may be portrayed and/or viewed by others. Campbell's figures in this show depict interchangeable female personas and (mis)perceptions of beauty, sexuality and vulnerabilty, and call to mind a Lichtenstein-esque pop art style.

More and more frequently on social media websites, such as facebook and myspace, women, perhaps unaware of how others will view them (or perhaps excited by it), seem to let fall any boundaries in the images they post of themselves on-line. Often displaying a distinct air of provocativeness and come-hither sexual prowess, women invite internet voyeurs to exploit these images.

Campbell uses this concept of internet voyeurism in his art in "Amateur," and seems to ask viewers to consider when beauty, lust, and a desire for attention become vile, or even violent. Campell has said of "Amateur" that it is "a commentary on how the internet has shaped our lives. We are exposing so much of ourselves we may as well be exposing ourselves."

As one views each piece, he or she is left wondering whether the women can sense their own destructibility. Look closely, as in most of the works in this show, there are two female figures juxtaposed with each other, and it is not always clear where one image ends and the other begins. There appears to be a subtle (or not so subtle) suggestion that the more sexualized images leave the women without any real sense of identity, while the less provocative, albeit still corrupted images, have more clear identifying features.

Campbell is inspired by arists like Francis Bacon, Jean Michel Basquiat, and, in his own words, little chocolate donuts (as long as they are gluten free). While acknowledging that his artistic style is complex and varied, he notes that his brush stroke style resembles early abstract expressionists such as Willem de Kooning or Mark Rothko. To create his artwork, he may combine media including oil paints, enamel, permanent marker, newspaper and magazine pages, coffee grounds, pencil, glue and wood, and many of these media can be found in his works in "Amateur."

Campbell has a BFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and an M.S. in Childhood Education from Fordham University. He has designed artwork for specialty grocery store, Trader Joe's, NYC-based indie rock band, Juicy Bruce, and LA-based alt rock band, Lido Beach, among others. He hopes that shows like "Amateur" will pave the way for future exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide.

"Amateur" can be seen at Brooklyn Artists Gym, 168 7th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, dial #35 at the door) in Park Slope. The show runs through this Saturday, August 6, and is available for viewing between 11am and 6pm. There will also be a reception on Saturday evening from 6pm to 9pm, when the artist will be present to answer questions, and food and drink will be served.

All pieces are for sale. Inquire about prices at the front desk.