CONCERT REVIEW: Flight of the Conchords at the Mann

Flight of the Conchords Photographed by Chris Sikich

Flight of the Conchords
Photographed by Chris Sikich

The comedy folk-rock duo of Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie brought the laughs to the Mann on Sunday, June 12th, as Flight of the Conchords. Derived from their hit HBO show of the same name, the New Zealanders come armed with a dry wit and grand misunderstandings of the human condition, making for a kind of healing catharsis for such a tragic weekend. Read more »

CONCERT REVIEW: Escondido at World Cafe Live

Escondido Photographed by Chris Sikich

Photographed by Chris Sikich

It would not have been surprising to see Dale Cooper at World Cafe Live Upstairs on Friday, June 10th, enjoying headliners Escondido. The Nashville-based act goes way beyond its alt-country origins to a space that is otherworldly, of the past and a timeless present and future, not unlike the world of Cooper and Twin Peaks. The radiant duo of Jessica Maros and Tyler James, playing with a top-notch backing band, powered through a stunning mix of tracks from their debut and 2016’s Walking With a Stranger. Read more »

Check Out the Princeton Festival: Peter Grimes

Alex Richardson as Peter Grimes, Caroline Worra as Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes. (Photo by Jessi Franko)

Alex Richardson as Peter Grimes and Caroline Worra as Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes. (Photo by Jessi Franko)

Lovers of the performing arts know that, here on the east coast, the big news is summer festivals. But for local area residents, many of the best known — Tanglewood, Glimmerglass, Caramoor — are far enough away to make it complicated.

Why not take advantage of the Princeton Festival, which can easily be done as a day trip (it’s an hour from downtown Philly by car, and there are a number of public transportation options) — or you can make a multi-day trip of it. Venues are on the Princeton campus.

Of course, the programming is what really matters. Now early in its second decade, the Princeton Festival offers a broad range, including theater, dance and music (mostly classical, but some jazz as well). Many events have complementary lectures. (A production of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music is listed as entirely sold out, but if you’re going to be there anyway, it couldn’t hurt to try.)

The centerpiece of this year’s festival is three performances (June 18, 23 and 26) of Benjamin Britten’s opera, Peter Grimes. It’s a moody, evocative and altogether magnificent work, set in the 19th century, and depicting life in a village on the English seacoast.

Princeton’s cast is unusually strong, including in the principal roles three young singers — tenor Alex Richardson, soprano Caroline Worra, and baritone Stephen Gaertner — currently forging major careers nationally and internationally (Richardson, who plays Peter Grimes, will be featured in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Tristan und Isolde, which opens the season in September).  The opera will be performed here in the McCarter Theatre Center’s Matthews Auditorium — an ideally sized venue (1,100 seats) for this great work.

A suggestion: if you can come on the weekend of June 25 and 26, you can combine Sunday’s performance of Peter Grimes with a Saturday late-afternoon concert of four Bach cantatas, which will be done in Princeton’s Theological Seminary. Now that’s my idea of a great summer getaway!

The Princeton Festival has performances through June 26. For more information, visit the website.

Alicia Keys Will Headline Politico Event at DNC

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys in 2008. (Photo by LuxTonnerre used under a Creative Commons license)

The DNC has its first big-name act – well, besides Hillary Clinton.

Today Politico announced Alicia Keys will headline a special DNC opening celebration on Monday, July 25th. The event will take place at the Politico Hub at the DNC, which per the site “will provide a top-notch destination experience for convention attendees in Philadelphia.” It’s at Commerce Square off Market Street in Center City. Read more »

Philly Natives Patti LaBelle, Gamble & Huff to Receive Marian Anderson Award

Patti Labelle, | EdStock. Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble, via Charles Sykes | AP

Patti Labelle, | EdStock. Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble, via Charles Sykes | AP

Mayor Jim Kenney announced today that Patti LaBelle and Gamble & Huff will receive this year’s Marian Anderson Award. This is the first time since 2008 when Maya Angelou and Norman Lear were honored that multiple recipients have won the award.

The Marian Anderson Award is presented annually to “critically acclaimed artists who have impacted society in a positive way, either through their work or their support for an important cause,” according to the award’s website. The award’s namesake is one of the most celebrated contraltos of the twentieth century. Born in Philadelphia and denied entry into music programs because she was African American, Marian Anderson became a central figure in the early battles for civil rights. She will be memorialized on the back of the new $5 bill.  Read more »

Kanye West Is Coming to Philadelphia This Fall

Kanye West performing in 2013

Kanye West performing in 2013. Let’s hope Ye cranks up the Kanye-as-Jesus imagery to 11 on his Saint Pablo tour. (Photo by Peter Hutchins used under a Creative Commons license)

If you’re a fan, finally strap on your deadstock Yeezy boosts. If you’re not, then maybe head out of town: Kanye West is coming to Philadelphia.

West announced his Saint Pablo Tour this morning on Jay Z’s Tidal streaming service site. He will play the Wells Fargo Center on October 4th. West’s latest album, The Life of Pablo, came out on February 14th.

It’s his first tour since the Yeezus tour in 2013-’14, and his first stop in Philly since he headlined Made in America in September of that year. Read more »

Philly’s Leslie Odom Jr. Beats Lin-Manuel Miranda at Tonys

Lin-Manuel Miranda, left, and Leslie Odom Jr. of "Hamilton" perform at the Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in New York.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, left, and Leslie Odom Jr. of “Hamilton” perform at the Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in New York.

Burr defeated Hamilton — again.

The Tonys were the Hamilton show last night, winning 11 awards at the annual celebration of Broadway theater. But Lin-Manuel Miranda, the play’s creator and star, did not take home the trophy for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.

That went to Leslie Odom Jr., the Philadelphia native who is also headlining and hosting Philadelphia’s 4th of July concert this summer. He plays Aaron Burr in Hamilton, while Miranda plays Alexander Hamilton.

“I will cherish this,” Odom said while accepting the award. He then turned to Miranda: “God bless you. You’ve given us a new vision of what’s possible.” For his part, Miranda was rather excited Odom won.

Read more »

20 Things to Do This Weekend

Johnny Showcase & The Mystic Ticket. Photo by Leo Mascaro

Johnny Showcase & The Mystic Ticket. Photo by Leo Mascaro

Friday, June 10

Korey Riker @ Kimmel Center
Kimmel Center Jazz Residency artist Korey Riker will perform a world premiere of jazz songs inspired by EDM — the drum and bass–heavy electronic dance music. Known for his tenor saxophone skills, Riker has played with the likes of Erykah Badu, Elvis Costello, the Roots and John Legend.

Philadelphia Latino Film Festival Opening Night @ Kimmel Center
PHLAFF’s opening night celebration includes the Philly premieres of two short films, Normal and Being Ñ.

The Shame Symposium. Photo by Kevin Monko

The Shame Symposium. Photo by Kevin Monko

The Shame Symposium @ FringeArts
Experimental performance duo Chelsea & Magda take a look at pleasure and shame through dance and theater. If you miss it tonight, there are performances Saturday and Sunday.

Read more »

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