Academy of Country Music Awards: the un-awards show awards show

Lee Brice performs "I Drive Your Truck" on stage at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. AP/Invision photos by Chris Pizzello.

Lee Brice performs “I Drive Your Truck” on stage at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Las Vegas. AP/Invision photos by Chris Pizzello.

The Grammy Awards have been becoming more of a concert and less of an awards show for the past decade or so. This year, the Academy of Country Music Awards took a page from that playbook and ran with it, all the way to 9:02 p.m., when the first live award was finally presented.

While yes, there were other awards presented, the evening basically became a huge all-star country concert with some stars such as hosts Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton and Shelton’s better half Miranda Lambert getting multiple shots at the stage.

And it was a display that showed the range of what country music is these days, from Lee Brice’s soulful performance of the heartbreaking I Drive Your Truck to Florida Georgia Line and Bryan’s what-the-heck-is-that performance of the rap-based How We Roll with BMX bikers and flames shooting up in the background — the epitome of trying to prove country is cool by not being country.

Blake Shelton, left, and Shakira perform "Medicine."

Blake Shelton, left, and Shakira perform “Medicine.”

But there were plenty of instances showing how good country can be including Keith Urban’s reliably scorching take on Stars Fall for You, George Strait and Miranda Lambert paying tribute to Merle Haggard with Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down and I’m a Lonsesome Fugitive, Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks teaming up for their Golden and her Rhiannon, Shelton and Shakira’s Medicine (I seem to be the only person in the world who didn’t think it was weird) and Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow’s performance of I Hold On that was so simple, but definitely worth waiting most of the show for.

Yes, like the Grammys, the ACM’s have gotten into the “pairing” thing, trying to give viewers performances they will not see anywhere else. It doesn’t quite reach the spectacle level of, say, Elton John and Lady Gaga. But the ACMs also aren’t as susceptible to the trap of trying to outdo itself Grammy has fallen victim to. Maybe the nicest pairing of this evening was Faith Hill coming out to join husband Tim McGraw on Meanwhile Back at Mama’s, the couple actually looking like they were dressed for an awards show. On a night where a lot of the focus was on the Shelton-Lambert union — we get it, Blake, you get to go home and sleep with Miranda — country’s other superstar spouses quietly reasserted themselves.

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw wave to the crowd after performing "Meanwhile Back at Mama's."

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw wave to the crowd after performing “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s.”

If you like country music circa 2014, there was a lot to like in this year’s ACMs, though I would have liked to have seen a Kacey Musgraves performance. While she may have been slighted in the show’s roster, she wasn’t in the awards, winning album of the year for Same Trailer, Different Park, one of the freshest country debuts in years, and sharing the single of the year for writing Miranda Lambert’s Mama’s Broken Heart.

The ACMs did a nice split on single and song of the year, giving the latter honor to Brice and the writers — Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary – of I Drive Your Truck, a  song inspired by the story of a father who drives the truck of his son, who was killed in combat in Afghanistan, to feel close to him.

George Strait accepts the award for entertainer of the year at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards.

George Strait accepts the award for entertainer of the year at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards.

The actual awards left little to complain about — we’ll save complaints for Shelton’s lame jokes — and ended on a high note bestowing the entertainer of the year honor on George Strait, 61, who announced in 2012 he was retiring from touring and will wrap up his final roadshow in June.

“I always say I have the best fans in the world, and I hear this is a fan-voted award, so I rest my case,” Strait said, accepting the award. Bryan and Shelton, who lost to him, punctuated the honor as they closed the show clapping and Shelton exclaiming, “Our hero! Our hero won tonight!”

For an awards show light on awards, its biggest honor gave the proceedings a delightfully subtle grand finale.

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Letterman retirement is a generational moment

David Letterman, host of the “Late Show with David Letterman waves to the audience in New York on Thursday, after announcing that he will retire sometime in 2015. Letterman, who turns 67 next week, has the longest tenure of any late-night talk show host in U.S. television history, already marking 32 years since he created "Late Night" at NBC in 1982. AP/CBS photo by Jeffrey R. Staab.

David Letterman, host of the “Late Show with David Letterman waves to the audience in New York on Thursday, after announcing that he will retire sometime in 2015. Letterman, who turns 67 next week, has the longest tenure of any late-night talk show host in U.S. television history, already marking 32 years since he created “Late Night” at NBC in 1982. AP/CBS photo by Jeffrey R. Staab.

Children of the ’80s, such as myself, are frequently amused these days by signs that we’re, you know, getting up there. We hear songs we helped drive up the pop charts on “oldies” stations and see movies we saw in high school dubbed “classics.” We go see Pat Benatar at the Opera House and marvel that she can still rock at 61.

But David Letterman’s announcement Thursday that he will be “wrapping things up” in 2015 is a bit more sobering.

When Johnny Carson stepped down from the The Tonight Show in 1992, it was a big deal for people my age. But he was from our parents’ generation. When we started watching Carson, as many referred to the show, it was already a fully-formed late-night institution.

Letterman, now 66, was the guy we watched create an institution and then another. Late Night with David Letterman did what no other show at the time had done: successfully replicated and tweaked the late-night talk show format of Tonight. Letterman’s sarcastic, frequently weird style, was in line with our generation’s sensibilities, and he created iconic late-night moments in an era before they could go viral on the Internet. Can you imagine stupid pet tricks, the Velcro suit or classic interviews with Dr. Ruth or Crispin Glover if they had YouTube to thrive on?

Then, after NBC bypassed him for The Tonight Show chair in favor of Jay Leno, Letterman went to CBS and created the first truly successful network competitor to The Tonight Show with The Late Show with David Letterman in 1994 — though we do have to give props to Arsenio Hall, who was in the midst of a good run with his syndicated show. It continued Letterman’s goofy sense of humor, Top 10 lists and relationship with band leader Paul Shaffer and The World’s Most Dangerous Band, renamed the CBS Orchestra.

The Late Show had its iconic moments, including Letterman’s response to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and made stopping by to check out the Ed Sullivan Theatre a must on New York trips. While Leno’s Tonight show usually won the ratings game, Letterman was always the critical favorite and tended to be the cool show to watch.

Letterman hasn’t offered up a reason for retirement. On NPR’s All Things Considered Thursday, TV critic Eric Deggans observed maybe the Hoosier saw the recent changes in late night talk such as Jimmy Fallon’s successful ascendance to the Tonight Show spotlight, after five years hosting the show Letterman created, and Jimmy Kimmel’s move to 11:35 on ABC and realized late night had become a younger man’s game. While Letterman makes a segment out of his frustration trying to work with Twitter, Fallon quickly makes his hashtags segments cultural touchstones and worldwide trending topics.

There is also something Carson-esque about Dave’s announcement. It is on his terms. It is a guy probably knowing when it’s time to go, not overstaying his welcome, and who probably won’t make much noise after he says goodnight.

What will be interesting is to see how well CBS transitions to another host, which seems to be its intention. While The Tonight Show was an institution that had already been in several hands before Carson’s, The Late Show is Letterman. CBS will certainly try, but is it a seat to be passed on, and if so, to who? Craig Ferguson, host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, which follows Late Night, has the right of first refusal, but that has done nothing to stop an eruption of wide-spread speculation about possible successors including Jerry Seinfeld and Chelsea Handler.

If it is a successful hand-off, that will affirm Letterman created two TV institutions, Late Night and The Late Show, which is arguably a bigger feat than joining the line of Tonight Show hosts.

A number of the potential replacements are indicative of the much more crowded field late night talk has become in the two decades since Letterman staked out his place on CBS. But anyone who takes that job has to be wary of the dominance of NBC’s newly minted lineup of Fallon and Seth Meyers as the new Late Night host.

That will all play out in months to come. But what is certain is that for a lot of us, Letterman’s retirement marks a sobering moment of realizing we have watched a long and storied late night career from beginning to end.

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‘Justified’ recap: ‘Starvation’

Wendy Crowe (Alicia Witt) reacts to news that her son will be tried as an adult in the shooting of a deputy U.S. Marshal as her brother, Daryl (Michael Rapaport), watches.  FX photos by Prashant Gupta.

Wendy Crowe (Alicia Witt) reacts to news that her son will be tried as an adult in the shooting of a deputy U.S. Marshal as her brother, Darryl (Michael Rapaport), watches. FX photos by Prashant Gupta.

Darryl Crowe Jr. (Michael Rapaport) is about to find how how tight family ties are, and which ones are strongest.

Most of the penultimate (a word we’re sure Dewey Crowe would not understand) episode of Season 5 of Justified focused on efforts to arrest Darryl, who we believe shot Chief Dept. U.S. Marshal Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) at the beginning of last week’s episode and then got his 14-year-old nephew Kendal (Jacob Lofland) to take the fall, saying he’d just do a few years in juvenile jail, which would toughen him up.

Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and the rest in the marshal’s office believe they know what really happened and are determined to get Darryl. Part of that involves trying to snuff out his business by putting the squeeze on his associates including Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns).

But the marshals aren’t the only ones after Darryl. The Mexican cartel also wants him and Boyd after the botched heroin score south of the border.

Efforts to get Darryl even make their way out to women’s prison and Ava (Joelle Carter) who comes to regret initially rejecting Raylan’s request for help. After Judith’s demise, a rival gang wants to test her mettle as the new leader of the drug trade in prison.

One plan after another to snag Darryl falls apart as he tries to stay out of trouble, even having his sister go into fairly certain danger to pick up his heroin shipment. Wendy’s defense of Daryl to Raylan just highlights how much he has brainwashed his kin into buying the line about family and that they are being harassed by police — funny how that happens to drug dealers.

The last plans to snag Daryl falls apart thanks to Dewey (Damon Herriman), who bursts in right as Boyd, wearing a wire, navigates Daryl toward a confession to Art’s shooting. Dewey was comic relief in this episode, getting shot at by a country granny while trying to siphon gas from a car and having a lot of difficulty with English, mistaking the word anus for onus and not understanding what third person means. But facing a murder charge and drug charges, all of which he admitted to in the recording meant to trap Daryl, indicate the end may not be so funny for Dewey.

But that is the last botched plan to get Darryl. Frustrated, the marshals play the last hand they seem to have left: charging Kendal as an adult, putting him in line for 40 years to life. Wendy is horrified, and Darryl still appears to watching out for himself. The marshals are betting this will somehow smoke Darryl out — maybe by Wendy giving him up or Darryl growing a conscience? Wendy certainly needs to choose between loyalty to her son or brother, and consider the fallout of her choice.

Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd (Walton Goggins) face off in the marshal's office.

Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd (Walton Goggins) face off in the marshal’s office.

Next week, we will see how this story plays out, though this week also seems to be setting up next year’s final season, and a showdown between Raylan and Boyd. Raylan is no longer amused by Boyd’s antics, but in a standoff in the marshal’s office, Boyd plays the Nicky Augustine card right in front of Raylan’s colleagues. In a telling move for new acting chief Rachel (Erica Tazel), they quickly shut down Nicky talk saying the case is closed.

But the gauntlet has been thrown for the final season. First, we have to get Darryl and get Kendal out of jail.

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‘How I Met Your Mother’ ended the way it should have

Ted (Josh Radnor) with the blue French horn that's been a symbol of his enduring love for Robin (Cobie Smulders) in the final moment of "How I Met Your Mother." Fox Television photos by Ron P. Jaffe.

Ted (Josh Radnor) with the blue French horn that’s been a symbol of his enduring love for Robin (Cobie Smulders) in the final moment of “How I Met Your Mother.” Fox Television photos by Ron P. Jaffe.

OBLIGATORY SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen the How I Met Your Mother finale, read no further until you have.

In the final moments of the How I Met Your Mother finale, Ted Mosby’s (Josh Radnor) daughter Penny (Lyndsy Fonseca) totally called it: “this is the story about how you’re totally in love with Aunt Robin.”

And it was, be it Ted’s story or the nine-season series that contained it.

With its final episode, Monday, How I Met Your Mother fell into a group that includes auspicious shows such as Lost and The Sopranos that enraged large portions of their fan bases with their series finales. What’s got people upset is that in the end, Ted ended up with Robin (Cobie Smulders), the woman with whom he has, at the least, carried on a simmering flirtation for the duration of the series.

Ted (Josh Radnor) and Tracy (Cristin Milioti) on their wedding night.

Ted (Josh Radnor) and Tracy (Cristin Milioti) on their wedding night.

For years, we have been told that Robin would not be the mother of the title, and she wasn’t. That role fell to the impossibly adorable Tracy McConnell (Cristin Milioti), who came into the series’ final season as a serendipitous sprite, being there for virtually every main character at the moment they needed her. Well fell in love with her as she told Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) he needed to stop messing around and go for the woman he wanted, as she comforted a frustrated Lily (Alyson Hannigan) with cookies on the train and talked Robin out of running away from her wedding to Barney. She reminded me of Angel, the beautiful soul of Rent, including the fact that both died.

We were not told why Tracy died, just that sometime after their children were born, she got sick. Well before that, in an episode that took several jumps into the future, we learned that Robin and Barney divorced, Barney becoming frustrated with Robin’s frequent flyer lifestyle as an increasingly popular news anchor.

The episode really set up the finale perfectly, and said a lot of very real things about he endurance of and changes in friendships. It started with Robin’s first meeting with the group, brand new to New York from the exotic land of Canada. Flash forward to the aftermath of Barney and Robin’s wedding, things go according to script: Robin and Barney are married, Ted and Tracy have two kids, then get married, and Lily and Marshall’s (Jason Segel) life and family prosper.

But then Robin and Barney split up, and despite everyone’s best intentions, the friendships fracture. In the episode’s most heartbreaking scene, Robin tells Lily “the gang” is no longer because it’s a married couple they never see, her ex-husband who hits on women half his age in front of her, and they guy she probably should have gone with, who is now with the mother of his two children.

Ted (Josh Radnor) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) have a chance meeting late in the "How I Met Your Mother" series finale.

Ted (Josh Radnor) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) have a chance meeting late in the “How I Met Your Mother” series finale.

She becomes estranged from the gang, but not totally, notably showing up for Ted and Tracy’s wedding and running into Ted on the street with Penny, who likes Robin.

Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) meets the love of his life.

Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) meets the love of his life.

We do find resolution for Barney, whose womanizing is growing increasingly pathetic. He finally finds the love of his life in the daughter he fathered in one of his conquests. We never find out who that mother is, but do find out Barney has become a fully-involved dad, losing sleep and now telling young women on the prowl to straighten up and respect themselves.

“The mother is dead” is a theory that has been out there, and it proved to be true. Some find that ghoulish, and that is the source of some of the anger. Another is that for years fans have believed they’ve been told Ted would not end up with Robin, and he did.

But that’s what How I Met Your Mother has been telling us for nine years: Ted and Robin are in love. Like in many lives, there were chapters before they finally got together, even other spouses. How many stories have we heard of senior adults marrying their high school sweetheart after their spouse passed away? Life often isn’t one neat storyline, as this episode testifies. As Ted’s story ends, his children tell him its obvious he and Robin are in love and after six years, it is time for him to move on.

And if you were rooting for Ted through all his years of frustration, you had to love this episode in which he finds happiness twice: with Tracy, the mother of his children, and Robin, the woman we know he’s been in love with for nearly a decade. There really was no other way for this to end.

Did I feel ripped off by how things turned out? No. I felt happy, which is what How I Met Your Mother has made us for nine years.

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Oratorio ‘Thy Will Be Done’ will be done — someday

Shareese Arnold and Marie- France Duclos at a chorus rehearsal of "Thy Will Be Done." Herald-Leader staff photos by Rich Copley.

Shareese Arnold and Marie- France Duclos at a chorus rehearsal of “Thy Will Be Done.” Herald-Leader staff photos by Rich Copley.

When the first performances of Angela Rice’s oratorio Thy Will Be Done were completed in 2012, the composer was far from finished with the piece.

“All of these ideas came ­flooding into my head after the first performance, of things that needed to be there: the temptation of Jesus in the desert; Jesus saying, ‘I’m the way, the truth and the light;’ and I wanted to do a theme on forgiveness, because that wasn’t in there: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ There were very important themes and messages that Jesus brought into his ministry that didn’t make it that first year.”

So she wrote nine new pieces for the work’s performance last year, and four additional pieces for concerts this week.

140324ThyWillPRC54337Thy Will Be Done will be performed Thursday at the Cathedral of Christ the King and next Sunday at Tates Creek Presbyterian Church.

Gregory Turay, the tenor who has sung the role of Jesus all three years, says he enjoys being part of Thy Will’s continuing evolution.

“It’s growing, and that fascinates me, and that’s what’s so exciting about a living composer working on a piece of music who is willing to change and adjust,” Turay says. “I’ve worked with living composers who say, ‘No, that’s it.’ Even if it bombs, they say, ‘That’s what I wrote.’

“But somebody who’s willing to change and sculpt and create this piece, it becomes a living, breathing work that changes and comes alive in new ways every year.”

For its third outing, Thy Will Be Done has changed behind the scenes. The first two productions were presented by Bluegrass Opera, a company devoted to productions of new works. The new performances are with Global Creative ­Connections, a production company owned by Everett McCorvey, director of the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre.

Composer Angela Rice and producer Everett McCorvey look over the score to "Thy Will Be Done" during a rehearsal.

Composer Angela Rice and producer Everett McCorvey look over the score to “Thy Will Be Done” during a rehearsal.

(Bluegrass Opera will present another new Easter oratorio, King of Glory, on April 14 at First United Methodist Church and April 15 and 18 at Tates Creek Presbyterian.)

Rice says she enjoyed and appreciated working with Bluegrass Opera, but she was interested in the opportunity to work with McCorvey and his organization, which presents projects including the American Spiritual Ensemble and the annual Alltech Christmas choral program at Victorian Square; it also was behind the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

“I decided that the work was ready for a wider audience, and I wanted to work with Everett to help take it to the next level,” Rice said.

McCorvey, who saw a performance last year, says it fills a void.

At Easter time, he says, there are only a few musical options for choirs and ­choruses that want to present seasonal performances. They include the Easter portion of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, Theodore DuBois’ The Seven Last Words of Christ and Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion; the latter two, ­McCorvey says, demand professional choirs or choruses to be done well.

“What’s nice about this is a church choir, a community chorus, a professional chorus all could do this and have a very satisfying experience,” McCorvey says of Thy Will Been Done. He said all involved in this production are paid professionals, including the chorus, the orchestra and the directors.

Rice has not pursued having Thy Will published — yet.

Joshua Chai leads a choral rehearsal of "Thy Will Be Done."

Joshua Chai leads a choral rehearsal of “Thy Will Be Done.”

One quirk she had not counted on was copyright law. The text of Thy Will Be Done is straight from ­Scripture, and the Bible itself is not copyrighted, but many translations are. Much of the first edition of Thy Will Be Done was based on the New International Version, which is copyrighted. So to publish her piece, Rice had to rewrite much of the text using open-source and non-copyrighted versions of the Bible so as not to face thorny copyright issues.

Even more than that, she hasn’t published because she regards Thy Will as a work in progress. In its third production, she wanted to focus on Christ’s relationships.

“Instead of Jesus being like he was the first year, teaching from the Sermon on the Mount and teaching the Lord’s Prayer and teaching what they needed to learn from him, this shows the relationships people had with Jesus,” Rice says. “His relationships with these people were extremely important, and his love for them and what he wanted to do for them. And the feeling was mutual.”

That involved bringing in more soloists to portray characters including the woman at the well and Mary Magdalene.

It isn’t just the singers who like having the composer involved in the process. Chorus director Joshua Chai, who is collaborating with conductor Marcello Cormio on the concerts, says it’s a rare but welcome experience for him.

Choral conductor Joshua Chai.

Choral conductor Joshua Chai.

“It’s a lovely thing to have, even for things that are outside the standard dots on a page,” Chai says. “Just being able to look over and say, ‘How did you mean this?’ ‘What was the ­image in your mind when you wrote this?’ So I can give something to the choir other than, ‘Beat three should cut off here’ is wonderful. Those things are important, too, but the images that Angela is able to give me make the choir’s experience that much richer.”

That experience extends to singers as well.

“I remember in the process of working on ‘holy, holy, holy,’ how almost rhapsodic it was in a way, and that image for me as a singer enhances my ability to give to the music,” says soprano Shareese Arnold, who plays Mary Magdalene. Referring to Rice, Arnold says, “I love that you sit in rehearsals and give suggestions like, ‘Oh, I think you should do this,’ because that really enhances my experience doing this.”

Singers returning to the piece see its evolution.

Rebecca Rudd, Rebecca Keith and Rebecca Farley rehearse "Thy Will Be Done."

Rebecca Rudd, Rebecca Keith and Rebecca Farley rehearse “Thy Will Be Done.”

“It’s interesting coming from last year to see how much it’s changed and how much it’s growing,” says chorus member Rebecca Keith, who was in last year’s production. “Seeing it grow, it’s kind of like I’m journeying along with it in my life journey. It’s very powerful to be part of this and see how it grows as my own faith grows.”

At its core, Thy Will Be Done is as much an expression of Rice’s Christian faith as her art.

“The depth of the Bible, we cannot get to the bottom of it; it’s so deep,” Rice says. “But I can only express what is significant to me, and I hope it is significant to other people, where their faith walks are.”

She and others see the work having a spiritual impact on the audience. Turay talks about a man who had been away from the church for decades who came up to him in tears after a performance.

“Now, I see him at church every week,” Turay says.

Rice says, “I looked around the audience and would see people in tears, and I was perplexed, ‘Why are all these people crying around me?’ And that encouraged me to go on, because I could see my work was having a spiritual impact.”

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UK School of Music has a new director

John Scheib has been named as the next director of the University of Kentucky’s School of Music. Scheib, a former public school music teacher, is currently director of the School of Music and associate professor of music education at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.

John Scheib | Ball State University photo

John Scheib | Ball State University photo

He succeeds Skip Gray who served as interim director since the Fall of 2012 after Ben Arnold stepped down from the post.

“Dr. Scheib brings an incredible energy, strong leadership and vast experience to our dynamic School of Music,” said Michael Tick, dean of the UK College of Fine Arts. “His track record of success, his reputation as an effective and compassionate leader, and his commitment to working in close collaboration with our faculty, staff, and students as we continue to be recognized as a leading music school in the nation, all convinced us that he was the right choice.”

The announcement of Scheib’s appointment comes on a busy weekend for the School of Music with the UK Symphony Orchestra premiering a new work by American composer Thomas Pasatieri Friday night and celebrated saxophonist Jeff Coffin performing and teaching with UK’s jazz programs Saturday. Since former UK President Lee Todd declared the School of Music was “on fire,” several years ago, numerous programs have continued to excel including award-winning wind and percussion programs and the choral program, highlighted by the male vocal ensemble the acoUstiKats appearing on NBC’s The Sing Off in December.

Scheib comes to UK with a variety of experiences at Ball State, including associate director, coordinator of undergraduate programs, primary departmental advisor and teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in instrumental music education and research methodology.

A Wisconsin native Scheib holds a bachelors in music education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a masters degree and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught instrumental music in the Wisconsin public schools for nine years prior to his university work.

Scheib will begin his duties at the University of Kentucky on July 1.

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Video: UK Concerto Competition winner Ingang Han

You don’t have to wait until 9:45 p.m. Friday for thrilling, aggressive play by University of Kentucky students. Hours before the Cats-and-Cards tip off in the NCAA Tournament, UK junior Ingang Han will be the soloist in a performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1and he’s already a winner. The South Korea native triumphed in the UK Symphony’s annual concerto competition with the devilish work that will be one of the highlights of the concert which includes the world premiere performance of Thomas Pasatieri’s Symphony No. 2And yes, maestro John Nardolillo promises you will be out in time for the game.

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‘Justified’ recap: ‘The Toll’

 Michael Rapaport as Darryl Crowe, Jr., Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens in "The Toll," the 11th episode in the fifth season of "Justified." FX photos by Prashant Gupta.

Michael Rapaport as Darryl Crowe, Jr., Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens in “The Toll,” the 11th episode in the fifth season of “Justified.” FX photos by Prashant Gupta.

Things got really messy — literally, in some cases — on Justified this week.

It started with the shooting of Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) as he was taking Alison (Amy Smart) into protection, Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) being concerned the Crowes may come after her for her in retaliation for the death of Danny Crowe, by an accidental self-inflicted wound, in a confrontation with Raylan.

And those fears were well founded as Art was shot leaving with Amy and spent the episode in critical condition. Though we knew the moment was coming, thanks to previews, it was still shocking and emotional to watch Justified’s rock go down. And Raylan feels the brunt of it, particularly when Art’s wife (Leslie Riley) asks him why he wasn’t there, where he was supposed to be.

Raylan can’t escape the fact that the situation has been something of his creating, and he has a hard time making it right as Detroit chief Ed Kirkland (Shashawnee Hall) arrives and puts Raylan on a short leash. There’s a bit of a diversion as Detroit mobster Theo Tonin (unseen) says he ordered the hit and points to Picker (John Kapelos) as the shooter. This leads to the line of the night.

Wyn (Jere Burns) and Katherine (Mary Steenburgen) confer.

Wyn (Jere Burns) and Katherine (Mary Steenburgen) confer.

Picker, along with Wyn (Jere Burns) and Katherine (Mary Steenburgen) are assembled at their hotel room to get an answer from Boyd (Walton Goggins) as to what happened to the Mexican heroin shipment and how he intends to make things right. As their conversation is about to turn serious, Boyd asks if he can smoke. Wyn informs him they are in a no-smoking suite, and just as Boyd is twirling his cigarette between his fingers, a team of marshals storms in. “I see this hotel takes that no smoking policy seriously,” Boyd says, laying on the ground with a marshal’s gun at his head.

Boyd has gotten very serious about his endeavors too.

Cathy Baron as Teri and Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder.

Cathy Baron as Teri and Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder.

In his first scene, where prostitute Teri (Cathy Baron) proposes doing something for him to make up for the fact that the interrogation of Albert, which she lured Albert into, did not yield the desired results, Boyd politely declines but declares he is going to make some changes and takes up smoking.

Now the little field trip to Lexington for the criminal crowd is merely a diversion. The marshals figure out Picker didn’t shoot Art, but the exercise leads to another moment of character establishment for Steenburgen’s Katherine. Before being released, she has a brief meeting with ever-present attorney David Vasquez (Rick Gomez), where we learn that her criminal heyday as the wife of mobster Grady Hale was too far in the past for most marshals in the Lexington office to remember. But he does. David believes she is worse than her husband, and he kind of wishes she was dead.

Steenburgen is subtly establishing a delicious profile for Katherine, simultaneously more sweet and refined and nastier than Margo Martindale’s Mags Bennett in Season 2. It’s too early to tell if her role will be on Mags’ scale, but it is getting interesting.

When they regroup in the hotel room, Picker has had it with Boyd and advocates putting his head on a stick and delivering it to the Mexicans. As Wyn and Katherine confer, Boyd offers Picker a cigarette, clicks the box and tosses it to him. No sooner does Picker say, “These things will kill you,” then the box blows up in Justified’s second gruesome death in as many weeks.

It’s a big declaration that Boyd is back to his old ways.

But that isn’t the most shocking thing that happened in The Toll.

Jacob Lofland as Kendal Crowe and Alicia Witt as Wendy Crowe.

Jacob Lofland as Kendal Crowe and Alicia Witt as Wendy Crowe.

As police are preparing to take a statement from Kendal and his mother, Daryl Crowe Jr.’s (Michael Rapaport) sister, Wendy (Alicia Witt), Kendal begins a confession to the crime. It could not be more robotic and pre-planned if his name was Hal 9000, and everyone is aware he is taking the fall for Daryl. But the confession is enough to spring Daryl, who is eager to leave the marshal’s office leaving his nephew behind to pay for his crime.

Raylan intercepts Daryl at the elevator, promising to take everything Daryl has, and Daryl continues to act like he’s some tough guy, lounging in the catbird seat.

As the elevator closes, we have snarling Daryl: an inept drug dealer who beats his sister, makes his nephew take the fall for him and then says the kid needs toughening up (I’m using his nice phrasing there), mocks the good man he just shot while claiming to be mourning his bully brother he probably would have shot anyway if Danny hadn’t died from his own stupidity. Let’s also point out, despite all his tough talk, Daryl came into the marshals’ office to surrender because he was afraid of meeting Raylan out in the open. Who’s a … well … family publication.

At the end of season two, we were sorry to see Mags Bennett go. Daryl will receive no such pity.

This season of Justified finally got what it needed: a bad guy we can really hate for the last two episodes.

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KET’s ‘backSTORY’ will go behind the scenes at Kentucky magazine

Fans of print media and journalism — a group I am proudly a part of — have enjoyed watching the last couple years as a new Kentucky magazine has launched and grown in this era where print publications have regularly closed, gone Internet only or scaled-back their print products.

Cover of the Spring 2014 edition of Story magazine.

Cover of the Spring 2014 edition of Story magazine.

Story magazine, which is based in Lexington but covers the entire Commonwealth, has built its reputation and readership on strong writing and photography presented in a distinctive visual style, all with a clear affection for Kentucky and its unique attributes.

In addition to an extended look at the legacy of Kentucky native and Gonzo journalism founder Hunter S. Thompson, the current issue has a lovely look at Lane’s End Farm, an inspiring story about a group that braves the elements to take warm burritos to people who are homeless in Louisville, a critique of the state of filmmaking in Kentucky by filmmaker Drew Ingram and a great piece on Kentucky’s primate rescue center by my former Herald-Leader colleagues writer Maryjean Wall and photographer David Stephenson. Last winter, I even stumbled into the privilege of having a few of my photographs used with a feature about Pioneer Playhouse’s drama in prison program.

Now Story’s story is going to be told on KET. In May, the Kentucky network is set to debut backSTORY, a quarterly series about the making of each issue of the magazine.

“The visual element is such a key component of Story magazine in its own right, but translating the print piece to film brings out the emotional layer that most people don’t get to see,” Story publisher Julie Wilson said in a news release. “Honestly, at any given moment, it can be mass chaos or a laugh riot around here.”

The first episode will air at 7 p.m. May 14 on KETKY and have several subsequent airings on it, KET and KET2. (Note: the date and time of the first showing were updated after the original post of this item.)

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Tyler Childers’ music has grown up with him

Tyler Childers at a filming of the web and KET series "Shaker Steps." © Photo by Mark Rush | Shaker Steps.

Tyler Childers at a filming of the web and KET series “Shaker Steps.” © Photo by Mark Rush | Shaker Steps.

When Tyler Childers was 16, he had been writing songs for a few years, “mostly about my buddies and girls,” he says. “When you’re 14 and 15 years old, there’s not much to write about to reach a wide audience.”

Then he wrote a song called The Harvest, about the lack of a harvest.

The protagonist foretells his suicide, but it’s far from teen angst. It’s desperation brought on by an adult life quickly falling apart.

“Won’t you tell my baby sister I’ll be back in the fall, ’cause it’s better to have false hope than no hope at all,” he sings in the song with the chorus:

I’ll be meeting with my savior

To go over my foolish deeds

When he asks me why I did it

Lord, I’ll blame it on the seed

’Cause it didn’t grow in like I planned

And when it did it all went dry

And I couldn’t stand to hear the pain

Of a small baby crying

About that same time, Childers moved to Paintsville and found a group of buddies who introduced him to a lot of music he hadn’t heard. It ended up being all he listened to, he said. That music included Drive-By Truckers, Chris Knight and Lucero.

“That’s when I started realizing the ‘what’ of my songs, what I wanted to be writing about and how I wanted to play my songs,” he says.

Particularly following the inspiration of Knight, a native of Slaughters in Webster County, Childers pursued a write-what-you know course to start building a career as a vivid songwriter and compelling storyteller. With one album under his belt and another on the way, his touring schedule this week brings him back to Lexington, where he lived for more than three years.

On Friday at Willie’s Locally Known, he opens for Virginia singer and songwriter Scott Miller, whom Childers said he has listened to since he was in high school.

“That was one of those bucket-list opening spots, in my book,” he says.

Childers, 22, wound up in Lexington after a semester at Western Kentucky University. He knew he wanted to play music, but he was too young to get into bars. So he enrolled for a few ­semesters at Bluegrass Community and Technical College and worked jobs including at a hardwood flooring company as he got his act together.

A cornerstone of that is his debut album, Bottles & Bibles, which includes The Harvest, along with other characters at various stages of desperation or inebriation. It opens with a similar tale in Hard Times, in which the protagonist foresees the newspaper writing about him getting shot trying to hold up a Texaco station.

They’ll say I was desperate;

They’re probably right

Childers emphasizes that what he “knows” isn’t necessarily from personal experience, but also from being an attentive listener in the barber shop and observing what’s going on. And not all of the once-aspiring author’s songs sound like moments from Steinbeck novels.

There’s the fanciful Junction City Queen, the classic country shout-out Play Me A Hank Song and If Whiskey Could Talk, which should be on any post-breakup play list.

If whiskey could talk

It’d say I’m a great guy

Or at least it ought to

For as much as I buy

But it’s money well spent

Just to help me feel free

From the pain she creates

When she’s cheatin’ on me

The album title, Bottles & Bibles, didn’t come as quickly as it might seem, but it came pretty easily when he was asked what the title was going to be.

“Well, it talks a lot about drinking, and a lot about God,” Childers answered. “Bottles and Bibles.”

It was the one time, Childers says, that a title begat a song, this one being about a preacher whose girlfriend leaves him.

Oh Lord, if you care

Send a spirit down here

’Cause the preacher’s been drinking again

“One of the hardest things for me is naming a song,” Childers says. The impetus to settle on a name often comes when producer Bud Carroll says, “I’ve got to call this file something.”

Bottles & Bibles has been out about three years, and Childers is finishing up a new album that he hopes to have out early this summer. Folks who have followed Childers over the past few years will probably recognize a lot of the songs on the new album, he says.

Listeners will probably notice a bit more instrumentation than on Childers’ first album, which mainly consisted of him and his guitar.

“Not too much,” Childers says. “We’ve put in a little fiddle, pedal steel, percussion; just things where they need to be.”

Where Childers needs to be right now is Greenbrier County, W.Va., where he recently moved with his girlfriend, who got a job there.

“She got a job with working with AmeriCorps, and I’m a pretty mobile person,” Childers says. “I can go about anywhere.”

But his songs will never stray too far from home.

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