News and Features

Tuesday Morning Roundup

RADIO ON VIDEO: If you listen to KXT 91.7 much, you know that artists are constantly rolling through to play in-studio performances. It’s kinda fun passing them in the hallway wondering if the guy with the Grizzly Adams beard carrying a guitar actually works here and you just never noticed him before. Anywhoo … a bunch of recent videos are now posted to kxt.org, including selections from Nathaniel Rateliff, Delta Spirit, Cadillac Sky and Dallas’ own The Naptime Shake.

DANCING THROUGH THE YEARS: Congratulations to Ewert & Company (10 years) and Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth (20 years), which each celebrated anniversaries recently. As you know, for an arts group – particularly a dance company – to make it a year, much less 10 or 20, is quite an accomplishment. The leaders of each group spoke with dallasnews.com about the approaches they take that have kept audiences coming back.

JANE, MEET CHUCK: What do you get when you cross Jane Austen with Chuck Palahniuk? Jane Austen’s Fight Club, of course. (h/t, Vulture) Favorite line: “Is that your blood?” “Oh, yes. Some of it.” Enjoy:

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North Texas Artists in Turkey: Bursa

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Categorized Under: Culture, Uncategorized

Bursa was the first capitol of the Ottoman Empire, and the city still feels prosperous. We spent a long day here, arriving early in the morning on a ferry from Istanbul, visiting the Green Mosque, the Green Tombs, silk stores in the covered market, a long lunch at a famous kebap restaurant, a tour of artisan shops along a covered bridge, and an evening with the Whirling Dervishes.

But the sleeper hit of the day was a trip to the Great Mosque (Ulu Camii). Built in 1396 and renovated, restored and embellished over the centuries, the mosque is known for its tiered fountain in the center of the building and multiple domes. But what stunned us all was the calligraphy – 9 of 12 different types are represented here, created by artists and sultans over hundreds of years. The works are huge, many made with a giant brush (pictured in the slide show below) and require almost a kind of dance to execute. It is stunning, disorienting to see a place of worship decorated so richly with words, no less spectacular than the images, icons and jewels of western cathedrals.

Also warming was the community-center vibe of the mosque. A mother crouches near a pillar to feed her baby, while nearby a man kneels down to work prayer beads. A group of women tourists from the United Arab Emirates smile and show us their beautifully hennaed hands.

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North Texas Artists in Turkey: We're Home

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Categorized Under: Culture, Uncategorized

Our flight home was supposed to be a pretty straight shot – Istanbul to Frankfurt to Dallas. We had to leave for the airport at 3:15 a.m. Friday and didn’t arrive home from our last dinner to pack until 11:30 p.m. Thursday. So some of us (hello Sarah Jane, Barbara and Pam) stayed up all night. Alp took us to a pedestrian mall near the center of town and we marveled at the crowds – families, couples, groups of teens, having tea or a drink or a meal, strolling, packing the streets at midnight.

It was marvelous. Also a Big Mistake.

That early flight out of Istanbul had mechanical problems, which meant we missed our connection in Frankfurt. Collecting our checked luggage and rebooking 11 people took about six hours. And our big group had to split up. John Lunsford, Ben Fountain, Jamie Baker and I wound up flying to Zurich around 4 in the afternoon.  Chatting with Jamie on the plane, I fell asleep for a moment in the middle of a sentence. WE spent the night in Switzerland at the Park Inn, a nicely designed budget hotel. Over drinks and dinner in the bar, John was still going strong, watching for birds in the field outside and regaling us with stories about former teachers (Hattie Hornbeak – what a perfect name) and an annual fourth of July party he and friends used to throw, which involved a parade and other frivolity. “Of course, we had a harpsichord player every year,” he said, sending us over the edge into delirious giggles. Definitely time to crash. Up early Saturday for our leg to New York. And a fabulous 10 hour layover in JFK. Our plane to Dallas was delayed about an hour. We got in after midnight – 8 a.m. on our Istanbul time – more than 50 hours after we got on the bus to the airport. By the end of it, Ben and I were monosyllabic – congratulating ourselves that no one lost his temper or cried on the long trip. But John was still chatting away. I’m convinced the man could have an entertaining and informative conversation in the middle of a hurricane.

Everyone’s back and we’ll be playing catch up this week. I have several guest blogs coming in from my fellow travelers and I’ll be posting slide shows and a few more notes to catch up on parts of the trip I wasn’t able to share while we were on the go.

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Think Video: Jerre Tracy

How can we preserve the endangered historic sites in the urban areas of North Texas? Jerre Tracy, Executive Director of Historic Fort Worth, talks with Krys Boyd on this week’s episode of Think TV about the pressure to protect landmark buildings targeted by developers and which locations top the list of Fort Worth’s Most Endangered Places.

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Mark Nerenhausen Resigns from the AT&T PAC – UPDATED

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The President and CEO of Dallas’ brand new, Performing Arts Center has quit, effective immediately.  KERA’s BJ Austin says Mark Nerenhausen (left) helped launch the $354 million center eight months ago, and had been on the job less than two years.

  • KERA radio story:
  • Expanded online story:

The Arts Center’s Board Chair Howard Hallam (right) praises Nerenhausen’s hard work during the launch of the new institution. Hallam said he cannot speak for Nerenhausen, who was unavailable for comment. But he believes that Nerenhausen had expectations that weren’t being met.

Hallam: “When Mark came here, we were just finishing the most successful capital campaign in the history of this industry. But by the time he got here, we realized that our capital campaign was not complete. We still needed to raise additional funds.”

And the PAC has continued to raise capital funds — some of which have been diverted to cover operating expenses. Hallam says the Performing Arts Center will run a deficit for its first year. And it’s likely to face budget cuts in operational support from the City of Dallas. But he says deficits were to be expected in the early years of a new venue. He doesn’t think the money issues, per se, caused Nerenhausen’s decision to leave.

Hallam: “So we saw a deficit coming and in fact budgeted for a deficit not only this first year but  next year. So even though it’s been a tough year, the tough year was not a surprise to anyone. But of course laboring under these kinds of difficult conditions would, I’m sure, discourage anybody.”

The Performing Arts Center’s Senior Vice President Doug Curtis will be interim CEO. A national search is underway for a permanent replacement.

The full release follows.

Read More »

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Lady Gaga's Band Sneaks Out to Jam with Dallas' Finest

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Categorized Under: Local Events, Music

Photographs by TJ Scott

Guest blogger Sarah Crisman is a Denton-based music writer.

When you are on top of the music industry, you can surround yourself with the best musicians on the planet. The same rule applies if you happen to live in Dallas.

Lady Gaga was an inescapable presence in North Texas this week.  Thousands upon thousands donned Carnival-worthy costumes and piled faithfully into the American Airlines Center on Thursday and Friday to experience a most epic Monster Ball.  While this massive show pulsated grotesquely beautiful energy, it was her band that connected with the Dallas music community at regular jam sessions nearly every night.

These sessions, hosted each week by various local legends like Bernard Wright and RC Williams, are a staple for the heavy cats touring through Dallas.  Drop into Pussy Cat Lounge on any given Monday, or Prophet Bar on a Wednesday and you are liable to hear some of the world’s most demanded musicians shedding with our very own superstars.

This week was particularly impressive.  The Dallas family decided to pull out all the stops to welcome Philly drummer George “Spanky” McCurdy, Diddy-protege Brockett Parsons and Lanar “Kern” Brantley, one of hip-hop’s most sought-after bassist.  The Gaga-band members are connected enough with the Dallas crowd to know where the weekly sheds go down, and they were seen and heard playing with Nard on Monday and The Gritz crew on Wednesday. But we still couldn’t get enough, so Robert “Sput” Searight (Snarky Puppy, Justin Timberlake) threw a last minute jam session at Sankofa Cafe in Deep Ellum after Thursday’s AAC gig.  The night became legend within an hour.

The intimate gathering of the tight-knit community was proof again of Dallas’ small-town/big city dichotomy.  There was no shortage of cameras capturing the unforgettable midnight session.  The room felt more like a family reunion than a red carpet affair – more Gospel revival than A-List after party.  Musicians and friends crammed into the Deep Ellum attic to hear Lucky Peterson shred the way only a blues man knows how.  Sput, usually found behind the drum kit, was on keys, clearing the drums for Cleon Edwards and Spanky. All eyes and ears were locked on the stage, every now and then the crowd would rally unanimous shouts of approval.  As the night crept on, there was no distinction between stage and audience.  All were willing participants, even if only half wielded instruments.

It was then that Brockett, Kern and Spanky took to their craft.  We couldn’t have stopped Spanky from playing if we wanted to!  Brockett, who’s head nearly scraped the ceiling as he approached the stage, filled the seasoned room with soul on keys anchored by Kern’s bassline dictating the pulse of the room.  Spanky’s energy was dizzying, powerful enough to fill a thousand stadiums while he vibed with Snarky Puppy’s Nate Werth on percussion.

See, Dallas, the world of music is right at our fingertips.  You just have to know where to look.

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Monday Morning Roundup

HEY, JOE: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat continues at Casa Manana through Thursday. So is it worth seeing? Depends on who you ask. “This is a stunningly good production of this well-traveled musical that has a shine and polish we rarely have a chance to see applied so lavishly,” Punch Shaw writes in his dfw.com review. Others weren’t quite as thrilled. “Being such a simple show to produce can often lull a production’s creativity,” Kris Noteboom writes on theaterjones.com. “And while Casa makes some positive contributions, it’s ultimately run-of-the-mill.”

CROSS-TRAINING: Those of you who’ve been around this area long enough to remember Herschel Walker remember that the Cowboys running back used ballet as a way to improve his agility on the field. Now, some SMU athletes are taking a similar approach by taking  “The Art of Acting,” a class designed for non-theater majors. “I often use sports analogies when I lecture about acting theory,” Jack Greenman, Art of Acting’s course adviser, tells SMU’s online magazine. “An actor has to determine how a character will overcome an obstacle, just like a running back has to get past the defense to the end zone.”

THE PUNK PLAYBOOK: 1919 Hemphill in Fort Worth is known for its DIY attitude – friends helping friends make art. And now the collective can even claim a record label among its accomplishments. Fort Worth Weekly tells the story of how a UTA student and a punk band came together to release an album.

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The Paul Slavens Show: Live Blog for July 25, 2010

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Categorized Under: KXT, Music, Paul Slavens

Hey kids!

Lots of new music this week and some things that I really dig!  This is where you can leave polite comments and turn me and other readers on to music ideas and suggestions for things to check out and play.  Please leave a link to where you can purchase the music if possible.

New to me this week:
Melatone Sisters
The Do
Johnny Nash
Jeff Simmons
Don Gibson
Henry Cow
Kentuch Colonels
Sleigh Bells
LehMoJoe
The Cool Kids

Tonight’s playlist:

Ella Fitzgerald, “Too Darn Hot,” The Complete Ella Fitzgerald
Song Books

Animal Collective, “Lion In A Coma,” Merriweather Post Pavilion
Melotone Sisters With Amaqola Band, “I Sivenoe,” Next Stop … Soweto –
Township Sounds From The Golden Age Of Mbaqangwa

Whiskey Folk Ramblers, “Horrors In The Kitchen,” And There Are Devils

The Dø,
“Unissasi Laulelet,” A Mouthful
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, “Bartolomeo And The Buzzing Of Bees,” The
Brutalist Bricks

Johnny Nash, “Love Ain’t Nothin’ (But A Monkey On Your Back),” Chess Soul –
A Decade Of Chicago’s Finest Disc 1

School Of Seven Bells, “Babelonia,” Disconnect From Desire

Jeff Simmons, “Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up,” (Album Version) Lucille Has
Messed My Mind Up

Francis Poulenc, “Sonate Pour Flute Et Piano FP 164” – Presto Giocoso
Francis Poulenc –
The 5 Sonatas With Piano
The Stooges, “Gimme Danger,” Raw Power
Patsy Cline, “Heartaches,” The Definitive Collection

Jerry Corbetta & Sugarloaf, “Don’t Call Us – We’ll Call You,” Don’t Call
Us-We’ll Call You

Mark Mothersbaugh, “Zissou Society Blue Star Cadets / Ned’s Theme Take
1,” The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Andre 3000, “Dracula’s Wedding,” (Feat. Kelis) Speakerboxxx/The Love
Below

Rasputina, “Humankind, as the Sailor,” Sister Kinderhook
Wayne Shorter, “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum,” Speak No Evil
Don Gibson, “Sea Of Heartbreak,” Greatest Hits, Volume 3 & 4

Ishi,
“Turn Away,” Through The Trees
Henry Cow, “Bittern Storm Over Ulm,” Unrest
Kentucky Colonels, “There Ain’t Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone,” Long
Journey Home
Sleigh Bells, “Run The Heart,” Treats

James Brown, “Sex Machine,” (Readymade Jazz Defector Remix) Dynamite X
Gerry & The Pacemakers, “Ferry Cross The Mersey,” The Singles Plus
Mort Garson, “Aquarius,” Electronic Hair Pieces
LehtMoJoe, “Times Up,” Spaghetti Western

The Books, “I Didn’t Know That,” The Way Out
The Cool Kids, “Gold and a Pager,” The Bake Sale (Radio Version)
Autechre, “Iris was a Pupil,Move Of Ten

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Adding Up the Reviews on DTC's 'Superman' – Just as It Flies Away

The New York Post‘s drama critic Michael Reidel has weighed in on the Dallas Theater Center’s musical revisal, It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman. The headline and sub-hed pretty much sum up the story/review: “Man of Steel Steals Hearts / It’s a hit in Dallas, but will it fly on B’way?”

With the show closing this weekend, Reidel’s is almost certainly the last review the crime-fighting Krypton  will get before whatever post-Dallas destiny for the show gets worked out.

Sooooo, according to my Officially Unbiased, Government Inspected, Finely Calibrated tally of the media outlets and theater blogs that actually reviewed the show in person (the New York Times‘ slideshow doesn’t count, they didn’t even send a critic), that means the DTC show garnered:

  • seven generally positive reviews to strong raves: Dallas Morning News, Theater Jones, Variety, Dallas Observer, Houston Chronicle, Planet Eye Traveler and the New York Post. (the Planet Eye Traveler??)
  • versus five strongly-mixed-to-negative reviews: Dallas Voice, Rant & Rave, FrontRow, WFAA and mine for KERA.

I point this out because the Post, the NYTimes and others have casually referred to the pleased critics and glowing reviews — as if these were universal. Which means, I suspect, they checked out Lawson Taitte’s rave in the News and Joe Leydon’s ecstatic write-up in Variety and maybe Gary Cogill’s decidedly mixed review at WFAA — but little else. That, after all, is the entire ‘review round-up’ provided by TheaterMania.

In balance, the critics’ consensus could be said to be mildly positive. Or positive with reservations.

In the world of comic-fandom, a mixed response seems to hold true as well. More or less. How do you measure this stuff? There have been eager, excited reports and there have been comic book guys who, no surprise, hate musicals pretty much because all musicals seem gay to them. The happy surge tends to outweigh the negative partly because many of these discussions are prompted by an initial theatergoer extolling the show, and the other comic book readers promptly express their envy and their desire to check it out for themselves. The jeering responses, on the other hand, are often based solely on the video clips.  As usual, very few people who feel lukewarm about a show are driven to post extensive comments about it. That’s why we have theater critics.

Such are the wonders of internet gossip. Whether any of this means anything to Supe’s future prospects on the Great White Way remains to be seen.

At any rate, if you wish to check my stats and come up with your own tally, you can find links to all these reviews and some of the fanboy forums here.

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Track by Track with Paul Slavens: Ishi

“Track By Track” appears every other week on Art&Seek. During the podcast, Texas musicians play their new albums and discuss what went into making them with Paul Slavens, host of The Paul Slavens Show Sunday nights at 8 on KXT, 91.7 FM.

You can download and subscribe to the podcast right here.

Paul’s previous podcast featured Paul talking about his own new album, Alphabet Girls Vol. I. This time, Paul previews Through the Trees, the debut release from Ishi.

Click the player below to listen to the podcast:

Also, be sure to check the Art&Seek blog during The Paul Slavens Show this Sunday.

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