Lake Street Dive wins crowd with showy chops

Written by Scott Mervis on .

LakeIf you work in an office, with mature adults, you may have heard them freaking out about Lake Street Dive because they saw them on "Letterman" or "The Colbert Report or the star-studded Showtime "Inside Llewyn Davis" concert.

The novelty here is that Lake Street Dive puts a jazz singer trained at the New England Conservatory of Music in a bouncy pop/R&B format. The band formed there so they all have jazz chops to spare.

On the band's first trip through it played Club Cafe. On Saturday, Lake Street Dive sold out Mr. Smalls, a venue not perfectly suited to the style. LSD -- as they hashtag it -- ideally should be experienced in a fancier room, something like the old Balcony in Shadyside, with tables and cocktails.

Nonetheless, people seemed to be in good spirits Saturday, especially with frontwoman Rachael Price declaring it one of the biggest shows they've played.

With or without Lake Street Dive, Price is going to be a lot more famous than she is now, likely for long time, because there are a lot of women who can belt out this kind of stuff, but she has the raw ability and the training plus the look and now the backing of T-Bone Burnett. She sang the National Anthem next to Kevin Spacey in "House of Cards." Watch for a World Series or Super Bowl in her future.

Based on the record and the Smalls show, though, I'm still not totally sold on the band. Yes, Price can bring it live and her partners are versatile, able rock moderately or flip to straight-up acoustic jazz combo, with Mike Olson moving impressively from electric guitar to trumpet.

The downside for me is that Price, who draws comparisons to everyone from Amy Winehouse to Etta James, doesn't let many notes go without reminding you that she majored in jazz. It's awfully showy for these songs that often border on clunky, cliched and even a little annoying. And yet catchy! It's understandable then that a sold-out crowd would go wild for "You Go Down Smooth" (with her staccato handclaps) or the signature-changing "Seventeen" or Bonnie Raitt-ish "Bad Self Portraits" (title track of the new album).

Late in the set, Lake Street usually does The Jackson Five "I Want You Back" cover that helped break the band on YouTube. Saturday night, it shelved that for a smoky "Let Me Roll It" from the McCartney catalog.

If all goes well, expect Lake Street Dive in a bigger venue next time, likely the Byham, where the band's talents can be enjoyed in a more relaxed setting.

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Wahlberg gets slimed at Kids' Choice Awards

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


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Story and photo, Associated Press:
By Chris Talbott 
AP Music Writer
Robert Downey Jr. turned inspirational speaker at the Kids’ Choice Awards, Pharrell set another fashion trend, David Blaine lost his head during a slime-induced illusion, One Direction and Jennifer Lawrence cleaned up, and the green goo bath finally caught up with Mark Wahlberg — thanks to some unlikely slimers.
Nickelodeon’s 27th annual awards show was among its more entertaining, opening with a sprawling and colorful Todrick Hall-choreographed performance and closing with Wahlberg’s eventual sliming on Saturday night in Los Angeles. 
Along the way One Direction won two awards, producer Dan Schneider won the show’s first lifetime achievement award and Downey got real after winning best male buttkicker.
“This is the highest honor yet bestowed on me — I’m grateful, humble, the whole deal,” the “Iron Man” star said. “You know I wasn’t always a buttkicker. In fact, life has kicked my proverbial butt countless times in many ways for many years, until I decided one day to start kicking back. Now look at me!”
He slipped in a plug for new movie “Avengers 2” before advising, “Remember when life is kicking your butt, never forget to kick it back right in the face.”
More than a dozen former and current teen stars joined on stage to salute Schneider, the creator of several of the network’s most popular shows, including “iCarly,” “Kenan & Kel” and “Sam & Cat,” a current Nickelodeon hit that won favorite TV show and favorite TV actress for star Ariana Grande.
“You’ve made more milk come out of kids’ noses than anyone else,” “Kenan & Kel” and “Saturday Night Live” star Kenan Thompson said in a video message.
One Direction won favorite music group and favorite song for “Story of My Life,” Lawrence won favorite movie actress and favorite female buttkicker, Selena Gomez was named favorite female singer, Adam Sandler was named favorite male actor at the fan-voted awards and Kevin Hart took favorite funny star.
The awards show isn’t much more than an excuse to slime some of today’s top stars, and first-time host Wahlberg executed several slimings as he successfully escaped the green goo for the show’s first 80 minutes. His first victims were actress Kaley Cuoco and Pharrell, who chose fortuitously to wear a pair of bright yellow SpongeBob SquarePants pajamas instead of his now-trademark poofy fedora.
It was Hart who eventually tricked Wahlberg into the goo, with an assist from the actor’s three young children.
“I can’t believe my own kids turned on me,” Wahlberg shouted.


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The Mangum Sweater

Written by Scott Mervis on .


This picture from the Carnegie Music Hall show posted on Twitter shows The Mangum Sweater.

Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum wore it when he played the venue solo in January 2013 and had it on again Wednesday night for the band's brilliant show. It was really hot in there (as always!), so I can't imagine what it must have felt like under the lights.

When a fan yelled out that he was wearing the same sweater, he responded playfully, "I have two f---ing sweaters. What the hell do you want?"

You won't find much in the way of pics or video from the show because security was swarming like secret service, creating plenty of a distraction, even to Mangum.

This messageboard comment sums it up: 


The show was great, the people yelling s--t during interludes really killed the mood, and the sing along wasn’t bad, since jeff was really encouraging it anyway.

The flashlights on people taking photos and videos, that s--t just got ... annoying and kept distracting me from the show.

All said and done, I had a good time though.



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Recreating lost music

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Next Sunday, Trio Nova Mundi -- violinist Maureen Conlon Gutierrez, cellist Elisa Kohanski and pianist Becky Billock -- will perform a concert that required a little score study, as it were. 

From Ms. Billock:

"One of the trios we are playing on the concert (Trio Romantico by Mexican composer Manuel Ponce) is out of print, and the last three pages of the piano score are missing. We've done everything we can think of to track down the missing pages, including trying to get them directly from the composer's living children/grandchildren. We have had zero luck, but thankfully there is a recording of the piece, so after a lot of listening and scribbling I was able to transcribe the last three pages of the piano score so that we can give a full performance."

It was Ms. Billock's first time doing something like this, and it should turn out to be an important contribution to the literature.

"We are planning to play the piece in Mexico when we are there on tour in May, and hopefully we can give a copy of the dictated music to the Ponce estate so they have the full version," she said. 

More about the concert here: 

Sunday, April 6, 2014
7:00 p.m.
First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, 605 Morewood Ave., Shadyside
Tickets at the door: $18 ($10 for students)


Piano Trio by Amy Beach
Trio Romantico by Manuel Ponce
5 Negro Melodies by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Cafe Music by Paul Schoenfield

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Actor Liam Neeson talks candidly with GQ magazine

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


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325liamneesonblogActor Liam Neeson, 61, talks candidly with GQ’s deputy editor Michael Hainey in the magazine’s April issue which arrives on newsstands April 1. Here are excerpts, courtesy of GQ:
On the movie “Taken”:
“I wanted to do more physical stuff. I really thought it would be kind of a little side road from my so-called career. Really thought it would go straight to video. But it just got great word of mouth. I was stunned.”
On who he wants to work with that he hasn’t yet:
“I’d love to work with Denzel. I have such admiration for him as an actor. I see an incredible nuance of someone who’s so comfortable in front of a camera. There’s an intelligence there; there’s an absolute truth. I’ve never seen that man portray anything less than the truth. It’s pure.”
On working with Woody Allen on "Husband and Wives":
“It was a good experience. There was a lull; a quiet came over the set when he came on. We were out at four in the afternoon. It was [expletive]  great.”
He also described a scene in which he and Judy Davis were in bed, primed for an intimate scene, but they and the crew were uncharacteristically waiting for the filmmaker. He appeared after 20 minutes and nd delivered his instructions to the actors. 
“ So there was no apology; nothing. What happened: His lawyer had gotten in touch with him to say Ms. Farrow has found naked photographs of her adopted daughter [Soon-Yi].”
On his kids:
“I think they do know that I’ll always be there, no matter what happens. But the thing Tasha and I really wanted to instill in them was manners. That may sound like such a basic thing, but I’ve heard so many adults say, ‘Oh, my God, your sons—they look you straight in the eye. They’re very polite and mannered.’ It makes me proud. And it can get you through a lot, in a way. Just showing respect for your fellow man.”
On being a single father:
“It’s just still a day-to-day thing, you know? My boys are teenagers. They’re experimenting. They’re flexing muscles and sometimes dangerous avenues, and you think, ‘[expletive] If Tasha was here, someone could share this.’ But yeah, we’re doing all right, you know?”
“There’s a worry nowadays, with every parent I’ve spoken to. It’s … drugs. It’s a virus. A teenager can take it and suddenly they can be hooked, and it changes their life and their family’s forever. That’s my constant worry. And I trust them, and they’re sensible boys, but it can be just that chemistry that doesn’t work. And now there’s talk of legalizing it. … 
“I was never into drugs, but I had a bad motorbike accident in 2000 and broke my pelvis, my heel. I wasn’t supposed to last the night. And when they took me to the hospital and gave me morphine, ugh, I thought, ‘This is how I want to go, with a big [expletive] jar of this stuff.’ And then when they give you that drip that you give yourself every six minutes. …I knew I was hooked, because I was counting those [expletive] drips, the seconds until I could push that button, and it was instantaneous, that high was.”
On why he gave up drinking:
“I was just — I was drinking too much. It started since my wife died. Pinot Noir: That’s all I drink. I was never into spirits or liquor, hard liquor. And I gave up the Guinness years ago, because it just — past an age, it sticks to you, you know? So last year, I just thought — they’ve been throwing these action movies at me, and I thought, ‘Okay, let’s just change it a little bit.’ And it’s been great. I love it.”
On dating:
“I’m keeping myself to myself. And I like it that way. I’m not hunting. I’m the opposite of a — what would a male cougar be? Is there such a thing? Whatever it is, I’m not that.”
On letting go of his role in "Lincoln":
“Natasha died in March, and then — I want to think it was toward the end of April, Steven [Spielberg] got together a reading, and we all sat: Sally Field, John Lithgow. Oh, just great actors. And Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Steven, of course. We started reading this, and there was an intro, and then I see ‘Lincoln:’ where I have to start speaking, and I just — a thunderbolt moment. I thought, ‘I’m not supposed to be here. This is gone. I’ve passed my sell-by date. I don’t want to play this Lincoln. I can’t be him.’” 
“I was thrilled that Daniel played him, and when I saw the film, I was like, ‘He’s [expletive] Abraham Lincoln. This is perfect.’ Perfect.” 
More information,
Photos: Credit: Paola Kudacki / GQ


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