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Tuesday Tune: ‘Crazy He Calls Me’ by Audra McDonald

September 2, 2014
Audra McDonald makes Broadway history with her sixth Tony Award win.

Audra McDonald makes Broadway history with her sixth Tony Award win at this year’s Tony Awards.

Audra McDonald is without a doubt one of the most successful and critically acclaimed Broadway performers of all time. Her performances have won her six Tony Awards, which is more than any other actor, ever. She is also the only person to win in all four categories for which an actor can be nominated. Let’s have a closer look at those wins.

Audra’s first Tony nomination and win for best performance by a featured actress in a musical came in 1994 for her performance in Carousel. Two years later, in 1996, she claimed best performance by a featured actress in a play for her role in Master Class. She was nominated for Ragtime in 1998 and, to nobody’s surprise, took home the Tony for best performance by a featured actress in a musical. To recap, McDonald was a 28-year-old, three-time Tony award winner in 1998. She didn’t stop there.

Skip ahead to 2004 and to one of the most critically-acclaimed performances of her career when she won a Tony for best performance by a featured actress in a play for her portrayal of Ruth Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. She also earned an Emmy nomination for the 2008 television adaptation. When the recent revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess was announced, the obvious choice for Bess was Audra. That role won Audra her fifth Tony in 2012, tying her with Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris for the most Tony award wins.

Earlier this year I had the privilege to attend the 68th annual Tony Awards and watch as Audra accepted her sixth Tony Award, breaking and setting the record for the most Tony Award wins for an actor. This time she won for her amazing portrayal of the legendary Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. Watch the video below to see a live performance of “Crazy He Calls Me” on “Charlie Rose This Week,” and listen as Audra truly embodies the voice of Billie Holiday. Her talent can not be denied.


Don’t miss Audra McDonald LIVE in Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts on Sunday, Feb. 8. Tickets are selling fast, so get yours today!

Friday Giveaway! Win Tickets to The Wood Brothers

August 29, 2014

What better way to kick off the long weekend than with a great Friday Giveaway? The Wood Brothers are coming to McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square Saturday, Sept. 27, and you could win two tickets to see them! If you aren’t already familiar with this talented group, check out the video below.

Chris Wood had a scrap of a song that he said seemed like a chorus scribbled in a notebook. He played it for his older brother, Oliver, who’d had a verse lying around he didn’t know what to do with. The two pieces, composed months apart, one in urban Atlanta and the other deep in the Catskills, dovetailed musically and lyrically: the verse about a man regretting chasing unattainable women, with the high-lonesome, harmony-driven refrain of “When I die, I wanna be sent back to try, try again.”

“Neon Tombstone” wasn’t the first song that Chris and Oliver wrote together; since 2006, they had released three studio albums of Americana as The Wood Brothers. But it was the first song they had written like this.

“This is how a song is supposed to come together,” Oliver remembers thinking. “There was some chance, some randomness, to it.” The experience marked a deeper level of collaboration for The Wood Brothers — a newfound fraternal synchronicity that’s captured on their latest album, “The Muse.”

Within the first few bars of opener “Wastin’ My Mind,” which could pass for a lost cut from “The Last Waltz,” it’s clear the brothers are operating on a different plane than when we last heard them, on 2011’s “Smoke Ring Halo.” The components are similar: the dialed-in vocal harmonies, Oliver’s gritty acoustic guitar, Chris’ virtuosic upright bass, the warrior poet lyrics. But there’s a glue, “a yellowy carpenter’s glue,” one imagines, holding it all together. The cohesion comes from the brothers having spent the last two years on the road with new full-time member Jano Rix, a drummer and ace-in-the-hole multi-instrumentalist.

Jano’s additional harmonies give credence to the old trope that while two family members often harmonize preternaturally, it takes a third, non-related singer for the sound to really shine. And then there’s Jano’s work on his literally patented percussion instrument, the “shuitar,” an acoustic guitar rigged up with tuna cans and other noisemakers, which, in his hands, becomes a veritable drum kit.

Tickets for the show can be purchased HERE.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

Email marketing2@ncbpac.org and tell us why you’d love to see The Wood Brothers! Use the subject line: Wood Brothers Giveaway! A winner will be selected at noon Tuesday, Sept. 2, and notified via email. Good luck!

5 Facts About Keb’ Mo’

August 28, 2014

Keb' Mo' Blumenthal Performing Arts Knight TheaterKeb’ Mo’ is considered one of the best blues performers by many fans and critics. He returns to Charlotte on Sept. 22 to play Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts. Click here for more information and tickets.

Fresh off of a tour with Philadelphia funk-blues-hip-hop collective G-Love & Special Sauce, Mo’ will be playing the latest from “BLUESAmericana,” released in April. Get a FREE download of “America the Beautiful” from the new album HERE.

Mo’, 62, has had such an incredible career that he might merit another “5 Facts …” post, but here are the first five to get you going.

  1. His real name is Kevin Roosevelt Moore. Quentin Dennard, his original drummer, called him “Keb’ Mo’” and the guitarist’s label rolled with it. Mo’ started his career playing steel drums and upright bass in a calypso band. He moved on to play in a variety of blues and backup bands throughout the ’70s and ’80s.
  2. He’s won three Grammy Awards for best contemporary blues album: “Just Like You” in 1997; “Slow Down” in 1999; and “Keep It Simple” in 2005. Here’s a video of Mo’ with Robert Cray in concert in 2007.
  3. Mo’ has had an acting career too. It began with an early ’90s Los Angeles production of Leslie Lee’s “The Rabbit Foot.” He portrayed Robert Johnson in the ’98 documentary “Can’t You Hear the Wind Howl” and appeared three times on the TV series “Touched by an Angel.” He also played the ghostly bluesman “Possum” in John Sayles’ 2007 movie “Honeydripper.” These days, his TV work is more behind the camera. He performs the theme song for the smash CBS sitcom “Mike & Molly” and was music director for “Memphis Beat.” And, yeah, he was on “Sesame Street.”
  4. He is a major activist. Among the highlights: He was in the No Nukes group; he performed at the Concert for Peace in honor of the Dalai Lama in 2007; and he performed with Keith Richards and others on the “Playing for Change 3: Songs Around The World” album. From his interview with “CBS Sunday Morning” in 2008, Mo’ says his message of hope and tolerance comes straight from the heart. “You gotta mean it. That’s the main thing,” he explains. “I don’t think it matters how long you’ve lived, but once you get on the planet and start experiencing things, then you got something to talk about.” Check out the “Playing for Change 3″ playlist on YouTube.
  5. In 2012, Mo’ — along with Mick Jagger, B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Warren Haynes — performed at the White House for the “Red, White and Blues” special. The concert, hosted by President Obama and the first lady, was captured in a PBS special. (Click here to watch the full special.)  Mo’ performed “Henry” for the special.Keb Mo at White House

Click here to get your tickets now for Keb’ Mo’ Sept. 22 at Knight Theater. Tickets begin at $35.50. It will be an incredible evening of blues with one of America’s best!

Tuesday Tune: ‘Cry Me a River’ by The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

August 26, 2014
The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra (yes, an orchestra of ukulele players AND great singers) is coming to McGlohon Theater in January! We can call them WIUO for short. WIUO hails from New Zealand and has released six EPs since 2007.

Among the founding members is Academy Award-winner, and half of Flight of the Conchords, Bret McKenzie. His involvement helped the group gain the notoriety it has today, but it’s WIUO’s unique approach and massive amount of talent that keeps the group where it’s at.

WIUO’s next album, “Be Mine Tonight,” is slated for a Nov. 7 release, and the band will tour its home country in promotion of the new album before coming to the states in 2015.

So what can you expect at a WIUO show? Tight harmonies and high-octane ukulele solos in enchanting, and sometimes hilarious, versions of modern and traditional tunes we all know and love. Mix that with excellent comedic timing, witty banter and audience participation and you have an instant party, which is how WIUO likes to describe its concert experience.

Last year, WIUO wowed crowds at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and sold out Union Chapel in London, with U.K. critics raving. STV Scotland called the group “the party hit of this year’s Fringe” and said “these guys and girls sing as well as they play — and they play like a dream.”

When I first laid eyes on the possible setlist for their McGlohon performance, I felt an array of emotions. I was happy, scared, optimistic and excited. Let’s just say the list includes everything from Dolly Parton to Salt-n-Pepa to Hall & Oates and Elvis Presley. One song that really surprised me is Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River.” Being a child of the ’90s, I grew up with JT and have liked his music as it has evolved throughout the years. I love WIUO’s version of this song! Check it out below …

Don’t miss the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra in McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Tickets are on sale now and start at just $14.50! Get your tickets now.

Keep up with WIUO on Facebook, YouTube and on its official website!

Looking Ahead: The Legendary Briarhoppers This Saturday!

August 25, 2014

 

Check out some of The Legendary Briarhoppers on WBTV News on Bounce Friday morning at 8am.

Check out some of The Legendary Briarhoppers members on WBTV News on Bounce, Friday morning at 8 a.m.

The Legendary Briarhoppers are, in fact, quite legendary. The band is the longest continuing bluegrass group in the world, and proud of it. This Saturday, The Legendary Briarhoppers come to the McGlohon Theater stage for one night only. They will be celebrating 80 years and you are invited to the party! CLICK HERE for more info. Read on for a history lesson on this amazing, everlasting band.

In 1934, a potential advertiser called WBT’s Charles Crutchfield to ask if the station had a hillbilly band to help advertise its products. Telling a fib, Crutchfield said “Yes,” which led to the birth of the WBT Briarhoppers. The name comes from WBT announcer Bill Bivens who, during a hunting trip with Crutchfield, was startled by a rabbit jumping out of a thicket, and Bill yelled, “Look at that briarhopper!” At that moment, Crutchfield found the name for his hillbilly band.

The original band members were Johnny McAllister, Big Bill Davis, Don White, Thorpe Westerfield, Clarence Etters and Jane Bartlett. The last original 1934 Briarhopper, Don White, died in 2003. Billie Burton Daniel, who joined the group in 1936, is happy and well in Wilmington. Since that time, The WBT Briarhoppers’ fans have included Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs (who filled in on banjo a few times), Curly Seckler, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and many other entertainment stars.

In keeping with the tradition, the band kept going through the years by adding musicians to replace those who left the station or died. Today, Tom Warlick, Alana Flowers, Hannah Flowers, Dillon Flowers, Donnie Little and Little Ellie Flowers keep the band alive with their stage show including the old Briarhopper songs, new songs and the original scripted commercials of Peruna, Kolor-Bak, Zymole Trokeys and Radio Girl Perfume!

Visit BlumenthalArts.org for the latest on upcoming shows!

Read more about the Briarhoppers in this this post.

5 Facts About Singer/Songwriter Joshua James

August 21, 2014
Joshua James

Joshua James (right) and his band will perform on Sept. 21 at Stage Door Theater.

Joshua James needs no introduction for some of you. The singer/songwriter’s fans know he’s a gem of a storyteller and a soul-stirrer along the lines of Bob Dylan and Neil Young.

James comes to Charlotte on Sept. 21 for a performance in the intimate Stage Door Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $18 and general admission. Click here for more information on the show. 

Like Dylan and Young, James uses pop tunes to deliver vivid, haunting stories that crackle with raw emotion. Check out the video for “Esperanza,” which James wrote and sings in Spanish for a soundtrack based on Jack Kerouac’s Tristessa.

Here are five facts you need to know before you go to the show:

1. Born in Nebraska and raised in Utah

His parents are Mormon, and that upbringing led to many battles over rock ‘n’ roll, James says. He’d buy albums (The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Heart) and his folks would trash them. He would buy them again. James, once a skateboarder, moved back to Utah and has a huge farm Check out his Instagram posts for a good look at his home life.

Listen to an interview with James on NPR’s World Cafe in 2010 about his formative years.

2. Once dubbed “one of 22 up-and-coming artists you ignore at your own peril”

In its 2008 Best of What’s Next issue, Paste featured James as one of the 22 artists/bands to watch. Also on the list: Samantha Crain, Langhorne Slim, The Everybodyfields, Ben Sollee. In the nod, Paste said James is great “for fans of… Brett Dennen, Ron Sexsmith and Ray LaMontagne.”

3. “Sons of Anarchy ” + Joshua James = Match made in heaven

If you’re a fan of the FX show (10 pm, Tuesdays), you have likely heard one of the seven songs by James that have been featured. Read a “Behind The Scenes” report for Entertainment Weekly by Bob Thiele Jr., SOA’s Music Supervisor, on why “Coal War” was perfect for the opener.

Here’s “Coal War” from an extended montage for the Season 4 opener of “Sons of Anarchy”:

 

4. James’ songs are even more palpable in real life. Watch and learn this fan-shot video of  “FM Radio” from a performance at The Evening Muse in NoDa.

 

5. Like Dylan and Young (again), he’s not afraid to get personal.

Check out this Last.FM interview. He also talks about the band paying dues and sleeping in a dugout.

Don’t miss Joshua James and his band on Sept. 21 at Stage Door Theater. Click here to get your tickets now.

Learn more about James on his website and blog (hello, cute family and adorable baby goats!), Facebook and Instagram.

 

Friday Giveaway! Win 2 Tickets to See Mountainfilm on Tour, Sept. 26!

August 15, 2014
Don't miss this nature spectacle coming to McGlohon Theater Sept. 26

Don’t miss this nature spectacle coming to McGlohon Theater Sept. 26

Do you have a sense of adventure? Have you wanted to find out more about preserving our environment? Or have you ever wanted to explore other people’s cultures? All of this can happen in just one night.

How, you might ask? Mountainfilm on Tour is coming to McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square Friday, Sept. 26, that’s how! This show is a collection of films that encompass issues that matter in today’s world, such as environment conservation, culture exploration, and promoting adventure around the world.

This event is based on the Mountainfilm Festival that’s held each Memorial Day weekend in Telluride, Colo., and spans over the course of four days; think of it as part film festival, part ideas summit and part jamboree! This festival attracts some of the leading professionals around the world, including documentary filmmakers, artists, photographers, mountaineers, explorers and journalists.

Based on the festival’s motto, “Celebrating Indomitable Spirit,” judges choose a number of outstanding films to showcase around the globe to help inspire people to stand up and engage in today’s most pressing issues. This tour ensures that everyone gets the chance to see the colorful and motivating films that Mountainfilm puts on. Year-round and worldwide, the tour reaches about 30,000 people on five continents.

Still curious? Check out this recap of the 2014 Telluride Film Festival this past May where the films were actually chosen!

Do you want to be a part of the adventure? Then come on out and see this amazing, life-changing array of films that will inspire you to be the change in the world. Get your tickets HERE.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

Email marketing2@ncbpac.org and tell us why you’d love to see Mountainfilm on Tour! Use the subject line: Mountainfilm on Tour Giveaway! A winner will be selected at noon Wednesday, Aug. 20, and notified via email. Good luck!

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