The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Copious Notes is going to take a few days off here for Spring Break. Posts will resume on Tuesday, April 6. Meanwhile, make sure to check in with LexGo.com (make it your home page!) and Walter Tunis’ Musical Box blog for all your Central Kentucky Arts and Entertainment info.
Some people may quibble with the words “masters” and “Hall and Oates” being together in the title of The Bird and the Bee‘s latest album, Interpreting the Masters, Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates. Most of Hall and Oates‘ chart-topping career was the result of playing to the easily derided adult contemporary market.
But if I say “rich girl,” you probably say, “and you’re going too far, ’cause you know it don’t matter anyway … ”
The album opens with a new tribute tune, Heard it on the Radio, a cute effort — “When we first kissed, it made it to my list” — but then it gets to the meat of the album, B&B’s take on eight H&O classics. Yes, I said classics.
Three of the songs are taken from the 1981 smash Private Eyes, though it’s earlier hits such as Sara Smile and She’s Gone that fare best here. Kurstin, like Hall and Oates, gets a bit carried away with the synthesizers on tunes like Private Eyes and I Can’t Go for That.
George and Kurstin’s detachment play really well with passive lyrics of Sara, and George brings a perfectly measured breathiness to She’s Gone. Their interpretation is careful to preserve elements like the “was-to” echo, with the straighter vocal playing the response. Nice.
The most fun is Rich Girl with George taking on the role of reprimanding a friend she knows all too well, particularly as she purrs the outro line, “You’re a rich b—-, girl.” I was hoping for a little edge in Maneater, until I remembered The Bird and the Bee don’t do edge. What they do is intrigue, and this spin borrows heavily from Witch, the James Bond-theme sound-alike from last year’s Ray Guns are Not Just the Future.
Another album of new material is certainly what we Bird and Bee fans most look forward to. But for irresistible diversions, Interpreting the Masters is very appealing.
LexArts’ decision to name a program coordinator for the Downtown Arts Center could be seen as a reaction to a drop in use of the 8-year-old facility since Actors Guild of Lexington pulled out.
And that is correct, to an extent.
“I have been thinking about it ever since I got here,” says LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark, who arrived in Lexington about eight months after the DAC opened.
He and Lexington actor and businessperson Leslie Beatty would talk about what sorts of things could be done in the center. But there didn’t seem to be much point in devoting a full-time position to the job.
“Actors Guild had all the good weekends for its shows,” Clark said. “There wasn’t any room for us to be creative.”
Now, with financial travails forcing Actors Guild to abandon its DAC schedule, LexArts has brought in Beatty to direct the center’s programming. Clark says Beatty’s combination of artistry and business acumen made her an ideal candidate.
“You have to know the numbers and what things cost,” Beatty says, “and have to know what the artists need.”
Talking about the future of the Downtown Arts Center, Clark and Beatty are in some ways taking a curatorial approach to the space, looking for interesting local programming, and regional and national artists for the black box theater and, eventually, the third floor.
When the DAC opened, the third floor was unfinished, but plans were announced to make it a cabaret and rehearsal space. That never happened, but Clark says LexArts is hoping to work with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government to develop a business plan for finishing the space, which Clark says should cost $300,000 to $500,000.
“We want to keep the space fairly raw,” says Beatty, who admires the third floor’s exposed brick walls and ceiling beams.
At three years old, the Lexington Bach Choir is establishing itself in Central Kentucky’s active choral community. It presents two concerts this weekend, March 26 and 27, as part of a weekend of Bach in the Bluegrass. Video by Rich Copley | staff.
If you have ever wanted to be part of the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s big show-tune revue, It’s a Grand Night for Singing, your chance has come.
Auditions are being held at 6 p.m. April 5 and 5 p.m. April 6 at the Schmidt Vocal Arts Center, 412 Rose St., on the University of Kentucky campus. Hopefuls need to come with a Broadway or pop song prepared and be dressed for a brief movement audition.
Call (859) 257-9331 for more information and to schedule an audition time. Grand Night is June 11 to 13 and 18 to 20.
WBUL morning hosts DeAnn Stephens and JD Pelletier decided not to let CBS Early Show weatherman Dave Price get away with trash-talking the University of Kentucky basketball team, who will annihilate play his alma mater, Cornell, Thursday in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Price has been wearing his Cornell hoodie on the air this week and talking about how Big Red will kick Big Blue’s butt Thursday night — his fantasy words, not ours.
“Dave,” Stephens asked the delusional highly-educated weatherman, when she got him on the air Wednesday morning. “What were you thinking?”
Pointing out he was 700 miles away, Price said, “this is like a local game for Cornell. The Carrier Dome,” where the game will be played, “is 48 miles from the Cornell campus.”
Stephens said that doesn’t scare UK and Pelletier advised Price to wait until he sees all the blue in Syracuse.
JD and DeAnn got Price on the air to try to get him to agree to give Kentucky equal time on The Early Show. On their blog, they say they got Price to agree to wear a UK sweatshirt on the air Friday after if Kentucky wins Thursday.
Click the blog link to hear the whole exchange.
Horse Play for Arts Education, a spinoff of Horse Mania 2010, was unveiled Wednesday morning by LexArts with students all over Lexington designing and decorating “foals,” smaller versions of the Horse Mania horses.
Horse Mania is a public art project that first filled the streets of Lexington in 2000. The new edition is designed to coincide with the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games in September and October.
Hopes are fans of the project will take to the streets across the city to see the horses like they did in 2000, and Fayette County public schools Superintendent Stu Silberman said that’s a good motivator.
“It’s human nature,” Silberman said after looking at student designs Wednesday morning. “When people know their work is going to be on display they work harder.”
Much like the original Horse Mania, designs for Horse Play ranged from patterns like a puzzle horse to representations of Kentucky life and traditions to civic mindedness. Sayre Middle School student Clay Barnett’s City Horse depicted the construction and population of a city, including an alien space ship landing in town.
“We were happy that we had 100 percent participation,” of the public schools in the design competition, Silberman said.
In all, 50 foals and 7 full-sized horses are heading out to county schools to be decorated. They will be on display along with the 79 horses by local artists starting June 30. They will be on display until after the World Equestrian Games, and will be sold at auction in December at Keeneland.
“I hope most of the schools will be able to buy their horses back,” Silberman said.
Fifty percent of proceeds from the auction will benefit the school’s arts education program and the other 50 percent will go to LexArts’ Youth Arts Council and other arts-in-education programs.
LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark said Horse Play, “Showcases the talents of our young people and arts educators and draws attention to creativity in the schools.”
The initial allure of Ben Sollee is that he is a guy who plays cello, but also loves the folk music of his home state of Kentucky. Rather than rack his cello in favor of an acoustic guitar, he has forged his own path and one of the more distinctive careers in roots music with his big box of wood.
Our first big taste of his sound, musically and lyrically rooted deep in the Bluegrass, was his 2008 debut, Learning to Bend. Sticking with his non-traditional tradition, Sollee’s follow-up is a collaborative album with singer-songwriter Daniel Martin Moore, Dear Companion.
The pairing of Sollee and Moore is somewhat reminiscent of early Simon and Garfunkel, when that duo was mining traditional folk songs for material. While there nothing quite as gorgeous as Scarborough Fair/Canticle here, their performance and lyrics are much closer to their source.
Sollee gets around his cello giving us sounds such as the deep drones of Sweet Marie and fleet plucking of Try. It’s an instrument that works beautifully in harmony with Moore’s guitar and other traditional instruments such as banjo.
These are familiar sounds to Sollee fans as are pointed lyrics, in this case mostly speaking out against mountaintop removal coal mining. But Moore’s presence seems to show in the way the points of songs like Flyrock Blues and Sweet Marie creep up on the listener – not quite as overt as songs like If You’re Gonna Lead My Country. The standout track is Only a Song, a Sollee composition that caught listeners’ ears in its original recording with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, the producer of Dear Companion.
Sollee caught music fans’ attention with something a little different, but on Dear Companion he and Moore show they’ll be sticking around thanks to a much more time-honored quality: growth.
Mar21Filed under: Balagula Theatre, Central Kentucky Arts News, Lexington Children's Theatre, Theater; Tagged as: Balagula Theatre, Bill Owen, Larry Snipes, Lexington Center, Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, SETC, Susan Creech, The Southeastern Theatre Conference, Vivian Snipes
The Southeastern Theatre Conference and Central Kentucky took notice of each other a couple weekends ago.
Conference organizers were wowed by the accommodations and hospitality Lexington had to offer when SETC brought 4,000 conventioneers to town for the first time in more than 30 years. And conference officials noticed Lexington artists, giving a career achievement award to Larry and Vivian Snipes, naming Balagula Theatre runner-up in the Community Theatre Festival and Paul Laurence Dunbar High School student Susan Creech to the High School Theatre Festival all-star cast.
And Lexington noticed the conference, particularly anyone who went near Lexington Center for the three days the conference was in full swing.
As conventions at Lexington Center go, the center’s president and CEO, Bill Owen, says SETC was “one of the largest ever in Lexington and the largest in the past decade.”
Lexington Center leaders think SETC is the biggest convention since the Worldwide Church of God’s gatherings in the late 1980s to early 90s and rank it up there with gatherings of the Rural Letter Carriers and Daughters of the Nile, an international fraternal organization, this decade.
The Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau does not have final figures and an estimate of the SETC convention’s economic impact yet, but does agree it’s one of the largest gatherings in Lexington.
Roseanne Mingo, destination sales account executive with the Lexington CVB, said SETC might have had an even higher profile because many of its activities, such as auditions and a job fair, prompted people to wait and congregate in public areas of Lexington Center.
Still, there is one way SETC could have raised its profile even more.
Mar20Filed under: Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, Photography, slide shows, Visual arts; Tagged as: African-American hamlets, Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, Jahi Chikwendiu, Jimtown Male Chorus, Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series, Sarah Hoskins, Smithsonian Institution
Click the play button to hear Sarah Hoskins talk about her work in Central Kentucky and see a slide show of her images.
Equine photography brought Sarah Hoskins to Lexington. African-American hamlets around the city and in Central Kentucky made the Bluegrass feel like home.
“I was introduced to one woman named Lydia Talbert, and I was introduced to Maddoxtown Church,” Hoskins, left, says of her friend from the New Zion community who has since died. “And from there, what happens is, it gets to be a trust thing. I met one person and they led me to somebody else, and they led me to somebody else. I never thought I would be doing this for 10 years.”
Now, the results of her decade of visiting New Zion, Uttingertown and other communities are on display at The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky. Hoskins will give an address at UK’s Worsham Theatre on Friday as part of the Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture Series.
“I think it’s really important that it is in Kentucky,” says Hoskins, who lives with her family north of Chicago. “I’ve always given lectures, and this work was incorporated with other projects. This is the first time I will give a lecture solely on this project, and it’s an honor to do it in Kentucky.”
She says she talked to residents of the communities where she worked to make sure they were OK with having their pictures displayed at the museum. Many residents plan to come to the lecture. When she has spoken before, Hoskins has ended her lectures with a photo and recording of the Jimtown Male Chorus, and her camera can be heard clicking in the background. The group will sing at Hoskins’ lecture.
Her appearance bookends this year’s Robert C. May series with strong Kentucky themes; the first one, last fall, showcased the photography of The Washington Post’s Jahi Chikwendiu, who grew up in Lexington and started his photography career at the Herald-Leader.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich