Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Record Store Day 2017

Saturday, April 22 is Record Store Day.

“This is a day for the people who make up the world of the record store—the staff, the customers, and the artists—to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role these independently owned stores play in their communities. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day. Festivities include performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, DJs spinning records.”

The artists releasing special vinyls include Madonna, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, The Kinks, Willie Nelson, David Bowie, and others.

Participating Stores (Not all of the stores will choose to participate in all promotions, or carry all releases. Call store!):

Needle to the Groove
410 E Santa Clara St
San Jose, 95113
408-418-3151

Needle to the Groove
131 I Street
Fremont, 94536
510-371-8027

Needle to the Groove
3780 Peralta Blvd.
Fremont, 94536
510-574-0766

On The Corner Music
530 E. Campbell Ave
San Jose, 95008
408-871-0305

Streetlight Records
980 S. Bascom Ave.
San Jose, 95128
408-292-1404

Streetlight Records
939 S. Pacific Ave.
Santa Cruz, 95060
831-421-9200

Rasputin Music and DVDs
1820 S. Bascom Ave.
Campbell, 95008
408-558-0781

Rasputin Music and DVDs
1939 W El Camino Real
Mountain View, 94040
650-965-8030

Rasputin Music and DVDs
15590 Hesperian Blvd.
San Lorenzo, 94580
510-276-8921

The Record Man
1322 El Camino Real
Redwood City, 94063
650-368-9065

Vinyl Solution Records
151 W. 25th Ave
San Mateo, 94403
650-571-0440

Metavinyl
320 Cedar St.
Santa Cruz, 95060
831-466-9027

A Streetcar Named Desire – Opera Style!

Opera San José resident artist Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and guest artists Ariana Strahl as “Blanche” and Stacey Tappan as “Stella”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artist Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and guest artists Ariana Strahl as “Blanche” and Stacey Tappan as “Stella”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San Jose has really been outdoing itself this year, as it does every year.  February’s Carmen was outstanding, and now they have taken a dip in the theatre-pond, bringing us Mr. Tennessee Williams. Did you know A Streetcar Named Desire was also an opera by André Previn? Well there was no way I was going to miss this. I was so excited to see this show, in a completely different way than I usually am.

As soon as you step into the California Theatre you can see this opera is going to be different. The curtain was already up and there were actors already on stage sitting on chairs! And not a velvet gown in sight. These were manly men, shirtless and dirty, drinking from bottles as they lounged in the chairs waiting for us to sit. Also, the orchestra was behind the stage. All of this was so different from anything I’d seen at the opera before, I was bouncing in my chair waiting for it to begin.

Opera San José resident artists Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and Kirk Dougherty at “Mitch”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artists Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and Kirk Dougherty at “Mitch”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Now I’ll be honest. It had to grow on me. When Ariana Strahl as Blanche DuBois strolls onstage and starts singing my mind had a terribly difficult time connecting what I was seeing to what I was hearing.  My heart fell just a tiny bit as I realized I might not enjoy it as much as I had anticipated. But the music was outstanding, it has the feel of a 1950s film score.  And of course the story of Blanche, and Stanley, and STELLAAAAAAAAA is fantastic no matter what, so I sat and tried to enjoy the show as much as I could.

Fear not, it was already growing on me before the first intermission (there are two).  And it wasn’t long before I realized Streetcar is actually your typical opera story: the male is somewhat of a… trying to come up with a family friendly adjective here… jerk.  Yeah, let’s call him that.  So your main male character is a big, fat, jerk, and the main female that the story revolves around is basically a whore.  Sigh.  And because Streetcar is no Comedy, we know what’s going to happen to the “whore” in the end.

If you’ve never seen or read Streetcar in any version before, note that this is not a show for young children. There is talk of homosexuality, suicide, “loose women”, domestic violence and a choreographed rape.  The setting is a tough time in a tough neighborhood where men earn the money and the women do what they’re told. But it is also an amazing, touching story, and the entire production is done extremely well.

Stacey Tappan is a luscious Stella, Matthew Hanscom is as manly a Stanley as you can get, and I adored Kirk Dougherty as Mitch. But another standout for me was Cabiria Jacobsen as Eunice. She has a smaller role, but it was a great one.

Opera San José resident artist Kirk Dougherty as “Mitch” and guest artist Ariana Strahl as “Blanche”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artist Kirk Dougherty as “Mitch” and guest artist Ariana Strahl as “Blanche”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

The finale of the show at opening night got the standing ovation that it deserved.  From the catchy, more “modern” music, to the 1950s era costumes, to our amazing resident opera singers, and even the sparse, perfect staging, this is an outstanding production. It did grow on me, and then it bloomed, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see the show. I think the show might be a very good introduction to opera newbies, but the music and voices are the usual perfection to please long-time opera fans as well. Perhaps even some English majors can get their noses out of their books and get out for a night to see a story really brought to life.

I’m so glad the show is going to be playing all the way through May 1. It is a great show to end the season with, while we look forward to next year which will include:

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville
Puts & Campbell’s Silent Night
Puccini’s La bohème

Don’t miss this amazing modern opera at the California Theatre.

A Streetcar Named Desire
Opera San Jose
playing through May 1
Tickets

 

Jazz on the Wharf

Santa Cruz WharfSunday, April 24, 2016 enjoy jazz on the century old half-mile Santa Cruz Wharf. This free family-friendly event starts at 11:00 a.m. on the Wharf Stage.

The wharf has shopping, dining and recreation.

For adults, a variety of wines will be available for sale, proceeds benefit the Friends of Parks and Recreation.

Parking is available on the Santa Cruz Wharf — parking rates

Jazz on the Wharf
21 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, 95060
(831) 420-5273

04/24/2016 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Admission: Free

A Magical Evening at Opera San Jose

Well, I was at the afternoon matinee, but still. It was one of the best times I’ve had at the opera, and I’m so happy that there is still time for you to see it. The Magic Flute is a show for adults and children, oldies and newbies, opera and theatre lovers. And it includes a majestic dragon!!

The dragon attacks Tamino in The Magic Flute. Photo credit Pat Kirk

The dragon attacks Tamino in The Magic Flute. Photo credit Pat Kirk

This may not be the best show I’ve ever seen at Opera San Jose, but I still enjoyed it so much and it is a great show for other Opera Novices and Newbies.  As always, the performances were incredible, the story was great, the music was beautiful, the costumes were gorgeous, …but there are some stand-outs that make this a show you should not miss.

1.  This is a great opera for Newbies and families with children.  The Magic Flute is sung in German but has spoken words in English. It always throws me off when an opera is not entirely sung, which is probably the only issue I had with this show, but for newbies and children this is a great plus and makes for an easy introduction to opera.  As always, the lyrics (and spoken lines) are projected in super titles above the stage so you can follow along.  The show has children involved, though they are not the stars, and there were many children in the audience. Although I wasn’t sure they would be able to follow the story entirely, there was not a peep from any of them during the entire three hours.

2. Chris Salinas, Daniel Ostrom and Winter Felton-Priestner are three very young men who can now add “Soprano, Opera San Jose” to their resumes and I don’t think they’ve even hit middle school yet. This certainly trumps my own resume and I might be a tiny bit jealous.

3. There are a couple scenes with children silently wearing beautifully painted animal masks, and the animal-like choreography was riveting. Kudos to both the choreographer and the kids for nailing each of their parts and creating a magical tableau whenever they were on stage.

4. The show is often very funny, usually thanks to Matthew Hanscom as hapless Papageno.  Papageno just wants a wife to love him, but how will he find a woman who wants to marry a poor bird trainer?

5. Isabella Ivy (soprano) is breathtaking as the Queen of the Night.  Two of the songs she sang were so intricate and complicated that any Newbie could see these must be some of the most difficult pieces in opera.  Even more amazing, she sang one of these very complicated pieces in the upper ranges of the scale, while kneeling down, and as she stood her foot got tangled in her skirts. She not only calmly untangled herself, but she never missed a beat or a note in one of the most amazing sections of music I have ever heard. Every jaw in the theater was hanging open. She was incredible.

6. THE DRAGON.  The dragon was simply the most beautiful prop I have ever seen. It was huge and graceful and gorgeous and majestic.  Its wings moved, it spouted smoke from its mouth (the kids in the audience LOVED this), and for me it was the star of the show.  During intermission I voiced my hopes that the dragon would make another appearance, and it did when everyone came out for a bow. That dragon earned its ovation, and so have the operators, the designers and creaters of that piece.  More dragons like that need to be in opera!!

When the entire thing was over I realized that I had had a really fun time. I haven’t always enjoyed every opera I’ve attended, and it has taken me a while to appreciate some parts of opera. But ever since Madama Butterfly, Opera SJ has been drawing me in. I may still be the Opera Novice in most aspects, but I am also quite certainly becoming an Opera Lover.

Recently I have noticed the shows have not had two casts, and are instead having one cast do a shorter run of each show. I don’t know if this is a financial decision (or just a coincidence), but I can say that the performers have upped their game, and the performances are tighter than I’ve ever seen. Try if you can to make one of the last performances (I have heard they are close to selling out all shows) but if you don’t make this one, mark your calendars quickly to get seats for next season. It starts with Puccini’s Tosca, and after that come The Marriage of Figaro (YAY!), Carmen (YAY!), and then A Streetcar Named Desire. That is going to be one amazing season and this Opera Novice is looking forward to it more than ever.

The Magic Flute
Opera San Jose
Thru May 3

Rigoletto: an Amazing and Entertaining opener for Opera SJ

Resident baritone Matthew Hanscom as Rigoletto

 

I’ve been so excited to return to Opera San Jose and see their opening show, Verdi’s Rigoletto! And what a wonderful time we had!

Remember, I am the Opera Novice, and even after several years of attending Opera SJ I still have no technical knowledge, but guess what?  I still enjoy the heck out of the shows.  And that is because you don’t have to be an opera aficionado to love the experience.  My opera reviews are for the general public, with the hope that you will all give it a try one day and discover a new love as I have.

Since this is the beginning of the season, let’s get back to the basics. The first thing you have to do is get out your fancypants clothes and jewelry, because this is your excuse to pretend to be royalty.  Then you make reservations at your favorite downtown restaurant.  If you are going on Opening Night, reservations are very important, as everything is booked solid anywhere near the California Theatre.  Then you just relax, have a great time, and look forward to buying a freshly baked cookie during intermission.

Rigoletto is a great show for a beginner, with over the top tragedy, a tortured clown, vengeance upon vengeance and, of course, a deflowered virgin.  There is also at least one very familiar song.  It is great to have familiar music when you’re a beginner; it makes you feel more comfortable, and it’s always funny to realize a tune you know from childhood is actually from a famous opera.  As my guest said, “I had no idea those were the words to that tune!!” And then we sang it all the way back to the parking garage.

Rigoletto is sung in Italian, but there is a screen above the stage that shows the words in English, so you do not miss a thing.  The set design for the show was not as grand as I’ve seen, but worked well in taking the audience from Rigoletto’s residence, to the outside streets, to a home in the slums where a bit of coin can buy you any favor you wish.

The orchestra was perfection as always; I really feel I do them a disservice by not having grander words for their hard work, but they are amazing.  The performers were also astounding as usual, with special mention for all the hard work of Matthew Hanscom who plays Rigoletto and must sing almost constantly through all three acts. But very special mention goes to a new resident: Isabella Ivy makes her company debut as Gilda and we have a winner here.  When Isabella is on stage, all eyes are on her, and though there are several songs where many people are singing different parts, you will still watch and listen only to Isabella.  She has the voice, she has the power, and she has the talent.  She also sings while lying down at one point, something that even an opera novice can see must be an incredible feat.  I am absolutely delighted to see that Opera SJ has found such great new talent and look forward to her performances the rest of the season.

When looking to buy tickets for a show, remember that the California Theatre is very well designed, and there is no need to pay a lot of money for a front row seat.  Seats in the balcony are fantastic with a great view of the stage.  Attending Opera SJ gives you the opportunity to pretend to be super fancypants, but you can still do so on a budget.

Last, but never least, remember that opera is not a stuffy or boring torture to endure.  At its best there is a really entertaining story, over the top is even better, and Rigoletto fits the bill for a beginner.  Never be afraid to hate all the men, if all the men are playing villains (they often are). Never be afraid to laugh quietly if the dying heroine is taking a few minutes too long to die – or even shed a tear if it’s a truly tragic show.  Never believe that you aren’t meant to think and feel all these things.  What you are meant to do is enjoy yourself.

I have seen theater shows where the last line of the play absolutely destroys the entire experience for me.  For Rigoletto, as the clown wails one final lament I thought “Oh please oh please let this be the last line of the show!!!” and the curtain went down and I clapped my hands and cackled with joy as the audience gave a well-deserved standing ovation.  I absolutely loved this show.  Can you tell?

Rigoletto
Opera SJ
Through September 21
The California Theatre

Resident tenor Kirk Dougherty as the Duke of Mantua and resident soprano Isabella Ivy as Gilda. Photo by Pat Kirk.

Did Somebody Say #Bacon Festival AND Fireworks?

Bacon Festival

What’s not to love about a bacon festival with fireworks too? July 4th and 5th is the second annual Movable Feast Bacon Festival on the Plaza de Cesar Chavez. They’ve expanded to two full days of food, entertainment, music and SJStreet Mart vendors with everything from henna tattoos and organic indigo to jewelry, clothing and more.

The food
Throughout the day there will be a load of food trucks including the famous Bacon Bacon and Baconbot trucks. Even if bacon isn’t your favorite thing there are plenty of other options from Grilled Cheese bandits, Madd Mex Cantina, Tastee Bytes, Chromatic Coffee, Treatbot and Fairycakes. Here’s the list of food vendors.

Entertainment
Kick up your heels to Yeshua and the Hi-Tones, Anya and the Getdown, The People and The Honey Wilders and watch the Pro Wrestling Revolution at several times both days. Silly Ricky the stilt juggler will be there as well as Brian the Bubble guy to entertain the kids. This is definitely a family friendly event.

Fireworks will start at 9:30 on July 4th courtesy of the San Jose Rotary Club

Here’s the full schedule and be sure to get tickets in advance at a discounted price. (Kids tickets are free online)

REBOOT:Music Live at The Tech

REBOOTElectronic music fans are going to flock to the Tech next weekend for live performances from world class musicians staged amid the largest exhibition of interactive, collaborative digital music installations ever created.

Unleash your inner musician and immerse yourself in a new world of musical performances led by revolutionaries who are redefining the intersection of humans and machines.

Panel Discussion with the Artists moderated by ANI 

Interact and make your own music with:

  • 14 installations by renowned artists that allow you to collaborate and explore the boundaries of music making.
  • Red Hot and Sympathetic Resonance, two large-scale, electro-acoustic experiences bring a technological twist to familiar acoustic instruments.
  • The multi-player ConnecTable invites spontaneous jam sessions with friends and strangers alike – no rehearsal necessary!
  • The Space Palette puts futuristic soundscapes at participants’ fingertips – literally.
  • Stepping Tones’ immersive projection mapped environment lets participants create and visualize beats by hand.
  • The Laser Harp Alembic surrounds visitors with an orchestra of sounds, each just a pluck of the air away.

$15 Limited Presale Tickets HERE

RSVP to the Facebook Event HERE

Saturday, May 10th
7pm-1am
at The Tech Museum of Innovation
201 South Market St, San Jose

 

The Tech Museum of Innovation

Visit: thetech.org

Like: facebook.com/TheTechMuseum

Follow: twitter.com/TheTechMuseum

“Once On This Island” feeds the soul at TheatreWorks

The cast of TheatreWorks' musical ONCE ON THIS ISLAND. Photo credit: Tracy Martin

The first thing you’ll notice upon entering the Lucie Stern Theater is the beautiful stage decoration.  Even the wall lights have been turned into overflowing fern pots.  You are immediately immersed in a rainbow of rich island colors and no detail is left out.  Sit down and get ready for a joyous 95 minute trip to the Caribbean.

Clockwise, from bottom right: Ti Moune (Salisha Thomas), Agwe, God of Water (Omari Tau), Papa Ge, Demon of Death (Max Kumangai), Asaka, Mother of the Earth (Safiya Fredericks), and Erzulie, Goddess of Love (Adrienne Muller). Photo credit: Mark Kitaoka

Once On This Island tells a story of the people of Haiti, the “jewel of the Antilles.”   After a terrible storm, a little girl is very afraid and the island people tell her a story to cheer her up.  What follows is a magical, mythical fairytale set to bouncing happy music and tremendously invigorating dancing.  It is the story of little orphaned Ti Moune (Salisha Thomas), blessed and cursed by the gods, who struggles to discover her place in the world and the meaning of her life.  We are taken for the ride with her, meeting island gods, learning some of the French history of Haiti, and discovering the magic of music and dance.  It’s a story of racism, classism and humanism.  The cast is made up of beautiful, talented actors whose skin tones range from the darkest chocolate to the brightest cream, and that is integral to the story.  It is a true ensemble cast, with no player more or less important the another, and they each bring something so special, individual and important to the story.

The stage is amazing, and the props, costumes and hair are equally fantastic.  The flood is an aquatic beauty, the rain dance is a visual masterpiece, the set lighting is deep and saturated, and the costumes… well, I need one of those frog hats.  Hair ranges from natural beauty to the most handsome braids, and it’s all very impressive.

Papa Ge, Demon of Death (Max Kumangai) visits Ti Moune (Salisha Thomas). Photo credit: Tracy Martin

But the magic is in the music, singing and dancing.  We are treated to soaring ballads of love and loss, and joyous songs that make you want to jump out of your seat and move. At one point there is a graceful ballet, and then it is replaced by a soulful island dance of life and spirit, and you suddenly realize the island dance is the one you want to perform, every day and every night, for the rest of your life.

It’s a visual treat, it’s medicine for the soul, it makes you happy to be alive.  And it will make you want to go home and dance, and dance, and dance.

.

ONCE ON THIS ISLAND
Through March 30
TheareWorks
Lucie Stern Theatre
Palo Alto

Madama Butterfly brings magic and tears to Opera SJ

Cast 1: Soprano Cecilia Violetta López as Cio-Cio-san (Madame Butterfly). Photo by Pat Kirk.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to see Opera San Jose’s tremendously entertaining production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, starring one of opera’s most dastardly villains: Lt. BF Pinkerton.

When you have two strong, educated, feminist women in the audience of Madama Butterfly for the first time, you can expect a lot of crossed arms, raised eyebrows, and smirks.  But though the story of an American lieutenant – who believes wives can be as changeable and temporary as the screens in his Japanese home – is barely tolerable, the opera as a whole is gorgeous, tragic, emotional and an auditory blessing.

The story:  Lieutenant BF Pinkerton signs a 999 year lease on a house in Japan that (Bonus!) comes with a free geisha wife!  Even better, the lease is also sort of month to month, and Japanese divorce laws are subject to the whim of a husband, so it’s a win-win deal for Pinkerton.

Not so lucky is sweet young Madama Butterfly, who has fallen in love with her husband and believes this is a till death do them part situation. Unfortunately, Pinkerton has other ideas, and already plans to get a “real” wife when he ships back to America.  Sweet 15 year old Butterfly, to Pinkerton, is merely a “toy” for sex while he’s in Japan, and there is a lot of talk of “breaking her wings” and pinning her for display purposes.  Nice.

Cast 1: Tenor James Callon as BF Pinkerton and soprano Cecilia Violetta López as Cio-Cio-san. Photo by Pat Kirk.

Even better, Butterfly gives birth to Pinkerton’s son after he leaves for America, and during the entire three years he is gone she believes he will return to meet his son and they will be a permanent family.  On the contrary, Pinkerton plans to return to Japan with his new American wife, and take the child from Butterfly to raise as their own.

Without giving away the ending, you can assume it follows the typical line of opera tragedies.  However, I have learned that the last few seconds of Opera SJ’s show, which brings a swift karma payment to Pinkerton, was added for this production.  I don’t know how opera purists feel about this change, but for me it made the whole story much more palatable.

I have always known I am very lucky to be able to see all these opera productions for the last several years.  This show, however, I felt truly privileged.   The music and singing is beautiful perfection as always, but in Act II Madame Butterfly sings “Un Bel Di” (One Beautiful Day), and it was a magical experience.  I have never felt that before at the opera, but Cecilia Violetta López made me feel I was present for something important.  By the end of Act III López is singing with tears in her eyes, and they were still present during the standing ovation at the end.  Cecilia Violetta López, having previously charmed me as Leila in The Pearl Fishers, has earned her place in this company, and should be considered a huge benefit to Opera SJ.

Cast 1: Soprano Cecilia Violetta López as Cio-Cio-san (Madame Butterfly). Photo by Pat Kirk.

Resident tenor James Callon is a perfectly awful BF Pinkerton (in the best way possible) with an amazing voice as usual. Lisa Chavez and Zachary Altman (Suzuki and Sharpless) are spectacular as the only two characters who speak any sense.  And special mention goes to an actor who really deserves mention: Sammy Tittle as Butterfly’s son.  Sammy is quite young and the part requires him to be on stage for much of the show.  He was a quiet scene stealer because he was so absolutely perfect.

There are many visual treats in this production.  The main feature of the set is a changeable lighted screen at the back of the stage.  This provided an impressive opening when the curtain went up.  The screen was lit with giant red and white stripes, and the figures of Lt. Pinkerton and friends standing at attention in uniform set the scene and mood immediately.  Later in Act I Madame Butterfly and her friends and sisters appear in their full geisha costumes and make-up, and gorgeous multicolored parasols.  But while there were some individual scenes that stood out, I was underwhelmed by the stage setting as a whole.  I have seen some drop-dead stage designs at Opera SJ before, and I was really looking forward to being immersed in a gorgeous Japanese setting.  On the contrary, I was not.  However, this is a minor disappointment in what quickly became one of my best experiences at the opera.

I am open about not knowing anything technical about opera, but I know entertainment and a great show when I see one.  Not only is this show now one of my favorite operas I’ve seen so far (and by now I’ve seen quite a few), but some scenes moved me in ways I’ve never felt before.  It’s a show that is suitable for both opera experts and opera newbies.  It’s a show you should not miss.

Madama Butterfly
Opera San Jose
Through March 2nd
California Theatre

 

Free fundraising show in memory of Ryan Viri

Ryan Viri worked at Johnny V’s downtown, where he protected patrons and tried to keep everyone safe while they spent time downtown listening to music.  On the morning of February 12, 2014, he was fatally stabbed after work by someone he had previously thrown out of the bar and on whom he had called the San Jose Police.  Crye Wulf BPM is putting on a free show at Johnny V’s to help raise money for Ryan’s funeral and medical expenses.  The show is February 20, at Johnny V’s, and it’s for ages 21 and over.  Funds will come from the bar profits, and a donation jar will also be available.

If you can’t make that show, or the music isn’t your type of thing, you can still donate to the cause at GoFundMe.

Metblogs sends its condolences to the family of Ryan Viri.  My son was friends with Ryan, and he and many others have been crushed by the loss of a good person with a big heart.  Let’s hope the mayor can get this type of crime under control, as the loss of life in San Jose recently has been far too tremendous.

DONATE HERE
February 20, 2014
Johnny V’s
31 E. Santa Clara Street, San Jose
Doors open at 9pm

 

 

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