Concert Review: Seth MacFarlane and the Great American Songbook at Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA, August 5, 2016

Photo of Seth MacFarlane
Seth MacFarlane. Credit: Art Streiber.

Family Guy creator, writer, and voice actor Seth MacFarlane made his Wolf Trap debut last Friday (August 5) in Vienna, VA. He’s currently on his “Great American Songbook” tour, featuring the pop standards from the 1940s and 1950s. The National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Steven Reineke, joined MacFarlane at the Wolf Trap’s Filene Center.

Many selections that evening came from the works of Nelson Riddle and Gordon Jenkins, who collaborated with famous crooners such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Ella Fitzgerald. Other songs were from arrangers Don Costa, Ira and George Gershwin, and lyricist Adolph Green. MacFarlane’s baritone voice is well-suited to these numbers with a flair and strength that are similar to Sinatra’s. His rendition of “Old Man River” was quite spectacular and easily one of my favorites of the night. Continue reading “Concert Review: Seth MacFarlane and the Great American Songbook at Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA, August 5, 2016”

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Concert Review: The 2016 Summerfest Concert Series on the Plaza: Magic! and Other Popular Artists

Photo of Nasri
Nasri, lead vocalist for Magic! Credit: Pat Cuadros

The Plaza is still a relatively new addition to Tysons Corner Center, one of the premier shopping venues in Northern Virginia. However, the public square has quickly become a top spot in offering alternatives that are comparable, if not better, than the events within Washington, D.C. I’d like to spotlight the 2016 Summerfest Concert Series, which closed on July 31.

Summerfest is held annually in the summer at the Plaza, which partners with radio station 94.7 Fresh FM. It’s notable for bringing in top artists that are popular locally and across the U.S. This year’s series featured artists such as Shawn Hook, Rachel Platten, the Legwarmers, and even former American Idol contestants. The 2016 Summerfest closed with Billboard artist Ingrid Michaelson.

I arrived 15 minutes early on July 22 and I was able to stand close to the front of the throng by the stage. The winning act slated for that evening was Magic!, the Canadian reggae fusion band well known for the hit song “Rude.” They have a new single out called “Red Dress,” which is also getting airtime on the D.C. area radio stations. Continue reading “Concert Review: The 2016 Summerfest Concert Series on the Plaza: Magic! and Other Popular Artists”

Whistler Film Festival: ‘Born to Be Blue’

Born to be Blue is a passion project that was years in the making for actor Ethan Hawke and director-writer Robert Budreau. Hawke plays the role of jazz trumpeter and crooner Chet Baker, who seems to be on the cusp of a comeback when the film opens in the mid-1960s. After his release from an Italian prison, there’s a black and white sequence that pulls the viewer back 1950s. The big moment is an evening in New York at the Birdland jazz club, where legend Miles Davis (Kedar Brown) is in attendance.

Ethan Hawke and Carmen Ejogo
Ethan Hawke and Carmen Ejogo in ‘Born to Be Blue.’ Photo courtesy of the Whistler Film Festival.

Co-star Callum Keith Rennie emerged for a Q&A after the screening at the Whistler Film Festival earlier this month. He called attention to the tensions that he felt Budreau and Hawke wanted to capture. “It was the new white guy on a scene that was predominately understood to be Black. It was ‘the new kid in town.’ I think there was a bit of a distance between the groups coming together,” Rennie explained to the crowd at the Village 8 Cinema.

Continue reading “Whistler Film Festival: ‘Born to Be Blue’”

Book Tour – ‘Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink’ By Elvis Costello

Slate writer Dan Kois interviewed legendary singer-songwriter Elvis Costello in Washington, DC.

Elvis Costello in DC
Elvis Costello in Washington, DC. Photo Credit: Bruce Guthrie

Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Elvis Costello stopped by Washington, DC, last week for a memorable evening with fans. The event was held at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue and was comprised of an on-stage interview with Slate writer Dan Kois. Costello has been promoting his new memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. There is also an audiobook version available with his voice.

With such a prolific career that spans some 400 songs, one might imagine that Costello hasn’t missed an opportunity to expand into uncharted territory musically. However, he revealed otherwise to Kois and the packed venue. Humorously ascribing it to his “flawless judgment,” Costello decided not to collaborate with critically acclaimed singer Adele on her album, 21. “That’s not in the book,” he added, flashing a grin to the audience.

Sporting a white hat, black-framed glasses, and a black suit, he came across as humble, witty, and quite likable in the discussion. Costello spoke about collaborating with Paul McCartney, his love for history books, and listening to music with his twin sons. Continue reading “Book Tour – ‘Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink’ By Elvis Costello”

Interview: Hollis Brown Reflects on New Album ‘3 Shots’ and a New Tour

Be sure to watch my full interview to learn more about Hollis Brown and to hear snippets of a few of the latest tracks from 3 Shots.

Rising rock and roll band Hollis Brown stopped recently for a concert at the Southern Café & Music Hall in Charlottesville, VA. The ambitious rock quintet is promoting their latest album, 3 Shots, boasting a variety of tunes with a mix of rock and country influences. Standout tracks include the titular track of “3 Shots,” “Cathedral,” and even the eulogistic “John Wayne.”

Hollis Brown Group Photo
Photo: Hollis Brown / Bloom Effect.

Cementing its current line-up in 2014, Hollis Brown consists of vocalist/guitarist Mike Montali, guitarist Jonathan Bonilla, bass player/vocalist Dillon DeVito, drummer Andrew Zehnal, and pianist/vocalist Adam Bock. It’s noteworthy that these gentlemen hail from different parts of the United States (New York, Ohio, and Missouri), yet they succeed in exuding a confidence and swagger that is usually characteristic of veteran bands. That positive energy is further bolstered by the seamless merging of vocals and strong guitar work when they perform onstage. Continue reading “Interview: Hollis Brown Reflects on New Album ‘3 Shots’ and a New Tour”

“Walking Dead” Star Emily Kinney Exhibits Whimsy and Flair on her “This is War” Tour

Emily’s tunes run through roller coaster of tones in a folk-pop style: from lighthearted and whimsical all the way to sad and haunting. They share a frankness about life that doesn’t fail to draw you in; that is, if you haven’t already been won over by her personality and spirit!

Her upcoming album is entitled “This is War,” but Emily Kinney radiates a lovely aura of excitement and geniality in her constant smiles. The actress and singer, most known for her role as Beth Greene on “The Walking Dead,” performed this past weekend on her guitar at Jammin Java in Vienna, Va. It wouldn’t have been a complete night without a couple of tunes from the hit AMC show. She even brought her glockenspiel, to the delight of the crowd. Continue reading ““Walking Dead” Star Emily Kinney Exhibits Whimsy and Flair on her “This is War” Tour”

TV News: Ian McKellen and Cookie Monster Model the Word ‘Resist’ … With Varying Results

I’m rather amused that I mentioned Ian McKellen earlier this week when I reviewed Martin Freeman’s appearance on “Hobbit Office.” McKellen showed up on “Sesame Street” in a skit with Cookie Monster. The word of the day was “resist.” There seems to be a reference to “The Hobbit” as the actor plays with a ring. However, Cookie Monster fails to grasp the meaning of the concept until the cookie appears.

We all know what fate will befall the cookie by the end of the video. Part of you hopes Cookie Monster will stay away from the cookie, while the other part of you is waiting for that classic cookie gobbling moment. Even if a lot of headlines are devoted to nutrition these days, it’s doubtful that Cookie Monster will ever give up his beloved and precious cookies. And who could blame him? Continue reading “TV News: Ian McKellen and Cookie Monster Model the Word ‘Resist’ … With Varying Results”