I am pleased to announce that I will be joining the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., as a marketing and public relations associate.
It has been a long-time dream of mine to work in the arts, and that dream has finally come true. That makes this move, essentially, a career reboot for me so it feels very much like a new beginning. I know I will love every bit of the experience, though.
Very soon, I will be helping to share the many stories of George Street Playhouse, especially those focusing on its amazing educational programs, and advancing the playhouse’s mission of enriching people’s lives by producing world-class theatre.
I am very proud and humbled to be joining the wonderful staff at the George Street Playhouse. For more information about the theater, please visit http://georgestreetplayhouse.org or check out the George Street Playhouse on Facebook and Twitter.
If you listen to the Technology and the Arts podcast I do with John LeMasney, then you will know that I’ve mentioned 99% Invisible, a fantastic podcast and public radio program about design and architecture hosted by Roman Mars, a few times this past season.
While season 4 of the 99% Invisible podcast has been successfully funded through Kickstarter, the fundraising effort is currently into its “stretch goal” phase. One such stretch goal comes from one of the podcast’s sponsors, MailChimp, which has put up a challenge grant of $20,000 should the podcast reach 10,000 backers on Kickstarter. As I type this, they are at 7,383 with 13 days to go.
If you are interested in stories about design and architecture told in fascinatingly interesting ways and are unfamiliar with 99% Invisible, go the podcast’s web site right now and listen to a few episodes. I am sure you will find it as entertaining and informative as I do…and if that should encourage you to help 99% Invisible reach this stretch goal, just go to the podcast’s Kickstarter page and pledge as little as $1. Just a buck and you will be counted as a backer toward the stretch goal of 10,000.
I have been pretty obsessed with the electronic, instrumental music featured during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games, especially the brilliant “And I Will Kiss” by Underworld (see video below), and it has rekindled my interest in the genre.
Back in the early 1990s, when I was part of a techno-industrial-rap project with my friend Christian Beach, we wrote something that I believe we were calling “Why Can’t We Live as One?” at the time. The original intent was to have rap vocals accompany the music, but what we got around to recording actually provides the foundation for a pretty cool instrumental track.
Anyway, here is the original instrumental version of “Why Can’t We Live as One?”
A few days ago, I was looking at a recent issue of Sports Illustrated that featured photographs from a current exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles called “SPORT: Iooss & Leifer,” looking at more than 40 years of sports photography from the two legendary SI photographers.
Now, I became familiar with Walter Iooss Jr. as a child because my dad grew up with him in East Orange, NJ, and played stickball with him. He also admitted to questioning Walter’s manliness at the time for walking around with a camera all the time. Well, that camera led to Iooss covering some of sport’s greatest icons — Michael Jordan, Joe Namath, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus — and photographing some of the world’s most beautiful women for SI’s annual swimsuit edition.
(Way to go, dad!)
Anyway, I checked out the exhibit’s web site and posted a link to it via Twitter, adding that my father played stickball with Walter in East Orange. The venue tweeted me back saying that it was “a great connection.” I then replied to ask if the video portions of the exhibit would be made available on DVD for people like me who can’t get out to L.A. for the show.
Well, today a David Scharff from the Annenberg Foundation tweeted me to say that a SPORT DVD is definitely in the works.
That’s all well and good, but when I get tweeted by somebody, I like to know more about him or her. So I usually check to see if they have a link to a web site on their Twitter profile. David didn’t, so I turned to Google.
Never heard of them? Well, most people probably haven’t. But oddly enough, I have heard of them because one of their songs, “Looks” (listen below) has been covered and performed quite often by one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Mike Doughty.
And while I don’t have any personal connection to Mike Doughty (besides following him on Twitter and going to several of his shows) or The Student Teachers, I feel a personal connection with Mike Doughty’s music. So it’s just kind of funny how my dad’s personal connection to Walter Iooss Jr. led to my having a Twitter conversation with somebody who wrote and performed an obscure song made somewhat less obscure by one of my favorite musicians.
I will be playing accordion for my good friend, singer-songwriter Christian Beach, when he performs at Twisted Tree Cafe in Asbury Park, NJ, on Friday, June 19, at 9:45 p.m. The performance is part of the annual Wave Gathering Festival, which features more than 175 artists appearing at more than two dozen venues throughout Asbury Park.
Gorgo (mandolin) and Agency‘s Michael Scotto (percussion) will also be taking part in the ensemble.
So if you are in the area, please stop by and take in some great local music.
So I recently became aware of a great online community called TalentTrove.com, which I kind of think of as “Star Search 2.0.” Basically, it is one big talent search site featuring all the social networking tools you know and love (friends, messaging, forums, and — most recently — blogs).
What sets it apart from other social networking sites is that TalentTrove.com puts an emphasis on getting talented artists — spanning several disciplines (which I’ll get to later) — discovered by the rest of the community, as well as external audiences. This creates a network of friends all supporting each other’s creative endeavors. Through the daily “Stage of the Day” profile (profiles are referred to as “stages”…or a person’s “MyStage”) and the editor’s picks featured on the home page, the site promotes the talents of its own members to both the TalentTrove.com community and to external visitors.
In addition, there is TalentTrove.com Radio and TalentTrove.tv. TalentTrove Radio provides streaming audio of programs and music featuring the audio-based talent found on the site. TalentTrove.tv, meanwhile, provides channel-based navigation of the user-generated videos found on TalentTrove.com.
The site also has regular contests, such as Best Comedian, Best Cover Band, Best Singer, Best Guitar Solo, Best Drum Solo, etc., which are voted on by other members of the TT.com community (more on these later).
And getting back to what kind of talent is on TalentTrove.com…well, it’s probably easier to talk about what talents are NOT featured on TalentTrove.com, because almost any kind of talent imaginable is showcased on the site. Of course, you have your musicians, bands and singers. But you also have actors, comedians, writers, dancers, culinary artists, craftspeople…just go to TalentTrove.com and click on “categories” to see for yourself.
The site can also be used by people seeking an online portfolio, as TalentTrove.com accepts uploads in the form of audio, video, photos and text (and the upload process is pretty easy). Another great feature is that it allows you to copy videos you may have already uploaded to YouTube so you don’t have to go through the trouble of uploading the same video to your TalentTrove.com profile (or stage).
While TalentTrove.com is a relatively young company, it has received some pretty strong press and it appears to be gaining a devoted following.
OK, back to the talent contests. TalentTrove.com was recently seeking submissions for a Best Piano/Keyboard Peformance contest. Now, I know I’m not that great of a keyboard player, but there was this techno thing called “Vortex” I recorded back in the early 1990s that I thought would be my best option for the contest. Even though techno really isn’t my thing anymore, I felt it best represented a full keyboard peformance. Even though all of my songs are keyboard-based, I cover a lot of the crappy playing with fake strings and stuff that take the emphasis off the actual keyboard playing.
However, the only recorded version of “Vortex” I have was done on an old 4-track cassette recorder and the song is poorly mixed with a couple of audio glitches thrown in, as well.
So I decided to try to record the song entirely from scratch using GarageBand on my MacBook. I didn’t have much time to do this either, but I managed to remember how most of it went. I didn’t necessarily need it to be an exact copy of the original. I just wanted to capture the spirit and feel of the original song while updating it a bit. Unfortunately, a lot of the sounds on the original recording came from an old Roland Jupiter synthesizer I had for a few years. However, I sold it to Christian Beach’s former keyboard player in Slave of Id and Artists That Kill. That meant I was going to have to settle for the weak sounds included with GarageBand instead of the fat, warm Jupiter sounds featured on the original. But I still think it came out pretty well, considering I was trying to reconstruct a 17-year-old song while working under a tight deadline with little time to spare.
Anyway, I submitted “Vortex” to the TalentTrove.com contest. The finalists will be revealed tomorrow (Friday, May 29) at 10 a.m., but even if it’s not among the candidates, I am glad the contest inspired me to bring another old song of mine back to life.
You can listen to the new version of “Vortex” by going to its media page on my TalentTrove.com stage, or by using the embedded player below.
Like I said, this isn’t really my kind of music anymore, but let me know what you think.
In looking over my previous post about New Jersey’s upcoming music festivals this summer, I thought about another really cool upcoming event held near the Roebling Market in Trenton, N.J.
It is called Art All Night and it is literally a 24-hour arts and entertainment event that takes place this year from 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 20, until 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 21. Although this is the second year in a row that it takes place during Asbury Park’s Wave Gathering Festival, I did manage to get in a night for the Wave Gathering Festival in Asbury Park last year AND make it to Art All Night in Trenton for a few hours before it closed that Sunday afternoon.
The cool thing about Art All Night is that artists of all ages and skill levels are invited to submit one — only one — piece of artwork for display in the exhibit hall during the 24 hours of Art All Night, which is held in a 50,000-square-foot building that is part of the Roebling Machine Shop that manufactured cables used to construct the Brooklyn Bridge (the building is slated to become the home of the Museum of Contemporary Science). There are some musical acts and demonstrations that take place in adjacent Millyard Park.
There is also a stage inside the main building on which musicians perform throughout the event.
Please check out the photos I took last year (see the slideshow above) and be sure to check out the web sites for both Art All Night and Artworks, downtown Trenton’s visual arts center and the primary force behind Art All Night.
Summer is around the corner and that means it’s almost time to enjoy multi-day music festivals here in the northeastern United States, especially here in New Jersey.
The biggest summer music festival in these parts is All Points West, which returns to Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., from Friday, July 31, through Sunday, August 2, 2009. The second-annual APW festival features 65 artists on three stages, including the Beastie Boys, Vampire Weekend, Tool, Neko Case, the Ting Tings, MGMT, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Coldplay. A lot of great acts will be there (although I’m not a fan of Coldplay at all), but APW is very pricey. Three-day tickets for APW cost $199 + applicable fees (for a limited time, so that rate will go higher as the date gets closer) and single-day passes are $89 plus fees (again, for a limited time). However, I did read on the APW web site that tickets can be purchased in installments. Not sure if that was the case last year, but that is a nice option if you really want to go.
For the third consecutive year, I plan on attending WXPN’s XPoNential Music Festival at Wiggins Park on the waterfront in Camden, N.J. This year’s XPN festival takes place Friday, July 24, through Sunday, July 26, and features headlining acts like They Might Be Giants, Aimee Mann, Peter Bjorn & John, Robert Cray, Shemekia Copeland, Guster, and Steve Forbert on the main River Stage. In addition, many local and up-and-coming acts like Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles, Hoots & Hellmouth, John Gorka, and Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby will be showcased on the Marina Stage.
And because WXPN is the home to the weeknight kids program, Kids Corner, there is also a Kids Corner stage away from the main festival area that will include family-friendly acts like Skip Dennenberg and Miss Amy on the Saturday and Sunday of the event.
What’s especially nice about the XPN festival is that, if you buy your tickets before July 11, you get nearly three days of music for just $40. And if you are a member of the station (based at the University of Pennsylvania), the cost is just $30 for the three-day pass…PLUS, you get access to the ever-popular “members only” area where you can get free water, iced tea and lemonade AND meet the artists performing at the festival. After July 11, the three-day ticket prices go up to $40 for XPN members and $60 for the general public. Still a bargain for such a great music festival, but there is no reason not to buy your passes at the early-bird rate.
If you are more into the club-hopping type of festival, Asbury Park, N.J., offers the fourth-annual Wave Gathering Festival from June 19-21. Although the schedule and artists have not yet been announced for this year’s Wave Gathering Festival, last year’s event featured more than 180 artists at 23 venues throughout the city…so that should give you an idea of what to expect. The Wave Gathering Festival has been a big part of Asbury Park’s recent rebirth as both a city and a local music scene, and has featured the likes of Ingrid Michaelson, Ben Arnold, Val Emmich and Nicole Atkins & The Sea.
Three-day passes for the Wave Gathering Festival are also a very affordable $40.00, while single-day passes are $25. You may also purchase admission to individual shows at prices set by the venue (and many of those are typically just $5 or $10).
There are many other music festivals going on in New Jersey during the coming months, but these should be a good starting point before you go looking for others.