Just a few days before their performance with The Apache Relay at Stage AE last week, indie rock quintet Nevada Color released its debut EP, Sharkey Lewis. In six songs, the band embarks on a colorful adventure of bright guitars and sunny vocals (“Sweet Adventurer”), as upbeat rhythms and playful percussion reveal their desire to just have fun.
The tunes are sweet and clean. Like a well-oiled machine, each instrument blends with the others impeccably, creating a smooth, unified sound. The precise attacks on every note and chord (as in “Lucy”) reveal an extreme attention to detail, a quality that makes for effective crescendos and decrescendos throughout Sharkey Lewis. Even at the most energetic junctures of each song, the band maintains an ear-pleasing composure. Nevada Color sounds polished but sustains a lighthearted vibe (“Into the Woods”).
Aside from precision, the band also demonstrates an awareness of their sound and what elements work well together. A wealth of group vocals (as in “I Am An Animal”) adds an extra layer of melodious gold beneath Quinn Wirth’s velvet voice, while Jeremy Westhead’s spot-on drumming pairs well with busy guitar licks. Sharkey Lewis is good mood music, consisting of refined yet rollicking compositions.
The world-premiere show about pioneering African-American singer Roland Hayes has four more showings through Sunday. Read more in Program Notes.
This stage bio of African-American singer Roland Hayes isn’t a play in the standard sense. It’s more a succession of imagined scenes from his groundbreaking life, from childhood in rural Alabama poverty to stardom on world concert stages in the early 20th century.
Of course there’s plenty of music too, with the powerful voices of Jubilant Sykes (as Hayes) and Kecia Lewis (as his mother) booming out everything from vintage spirituals to German art song. Many scenes in fact feel built around the songs they lead up to.
This isn’t a heady evening at the theater. Playwright Daniel Beaty has arranged the scenes chronologically, with some flash-forwards to tie things together. And it’s all built around a few simple conflicts: Hayes’ desire to sing; his mother’s resistance to that career choice; and society’s resistance to a classically trained black vocalist. (Hayes was born in 1887; and we thought Marian Anderson, born 10 years later, in Philadelphia, had it tough — because, of course, she did.)
But the whites who kept Hayes down are represented in this show by a single character — a brutal Southern cop. The other seven roles played by actor and piano accompanist Tom Frey are all sympathetic. If more genteel influential persons ever barred the singer’s way — and they must have — we never get a concrete sense of it. Worse, despite some lyrical writing, Beatty never offers much insight into Hayes. He’s simply someone driven to sing and who hates segregation, both qualities you could have guessed going in.
Still, as Michelle Pilecki points out in her review of the show for CP, the skilled and tireless three-member cast are quite enjoyable. And Hayes’ amazing story — he died in 1942 — is too little known. If nothing else, Sykes’ performance makes sure you won’t forget it.
There are four more performances of Breath & Imagination: 8 p.m. tonight, 5:30 and 9 p.m. tomorrow, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
Regardless, enjoy the holiday weekend.
This week in CP:
—We lament the closing of Shadow Lounge, one of Pittsburgh's most important and influential venues. Their legacy series will feature local artists including Phat Man Dee, Mega Def, and Jasiri X.
Phat Man Dee
—Critics' Picks featuring Brokeback, Smooth Tutors, Kevin Bowe, Grizzly Bear, Boats, Chuck Ragan, and Dave Hause!
Have a great weekend everybody!
Tags: Stream , Ish , Streaming of the Ish , Ish to Stream , Boats , Grizzly Bear , Brokeback , Chuck Ragan , Shadow Lounge , Jasiri X , Phat Man Dee , Kevin Bowe , Smooth Tutors , White Wives , the Wakening , NOISE , FFW>>
City controller/mayoral candidate Michael Lamb has taken some lumps from those who argue he should have done more to unveil alleged financial shenanigans in the police bureau. Now comes this fortuitously timed story in the Post-Gazette, in which we learn that Lamb had "quietly" begun auditing the bureau. Lamb even claims that his initial inquiries may have led a whistleblower to come forth.
In other police news, Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson is drawing a thin blue line in the sand, telling fellow officers to quit spreading "falsehoods" about fellow officers, because it damages morale.
One area where you're not going to see a hell of a lot of debate in this year's mayoral race? Gun control.
Those blue-ribbon analysts at the Rand Corporation say that expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania will be a net benefit to the state. Gov. Tom Corbett, who has previously opposed such an expansion, is said to be "considering" it ... and will have a long-awaited April 2 meeting to discuss the issue with the federal Health and Human Services director Kathleen Sebelius.
A woman in Bethel Park doesn't like the city flying a rainbow flag ... and the Tribune-Review is on it. "Lesbians, gays and transsexuals are honored ... under a flag that many people have died for?" grouses the woman. News flash: Some of the people who fought and died under that flag were gay. The flag doesn't just belong to you. Deal with it.
Every once in a while we like to give you things here at FFW>>. This is one of those times!
We've got a pair of tickets to see California rap trio Pac Div at 6119 this coming Tuesday. Here, watch their latest video with Mac Miller:
Now, to enter, leave a comment below letting us know what your favorite Pac Div song is. Deadline is tomorrow — Friday, March 29 — at 4:00 p.m. We'll pick at random from the commenters and get in touch with the winner. (Be sure to use your real email address to register when you comment, so that we can get in touch if you win.)
Sunday's the deadline for "POP Your Culture With the Warhol D.I.Y. App," a contest built around the app that lets you Warholize any image. Read more in Program Notes.
First things first: The Supreme Court heard arguments in a second gay-marriage case yesterday, and you can find audio and a transcript here. The first hour or so involves a debate over standing -- the right of a party to bring a case -- and is pretty excruciating, though the court may decide to toss the case entirely on that basis. The second part deals with the merits ... and you can see why Paul Clement -- who represents the anti-equality crowd -- is as feared as he is. At times, he almost makes it sound like he's doing same-sex couples a favor by barring them from enjoying the same rights as straights. He just wants to treat gay couples in different states equally, you see. Even if that means "equally badly." In any case, this is a good time to remind folks that even here in Pennsyltucky, support for gay marriage is on the rise.
In related developments, did you know that our very own Sen. Bob Casey is one of the few Democratic Senators to oppose gay marriage equality? Are you even surprised? A group of progressive activists is trying to change his mind.
Are parking valets going rogue in Market Square? There have been allegations that a parking valet outfit, hired by the city to make dining in Market Square more convenient, have actually been making things worse -- by laying claim even to public parking spaces. The firm's ownership has political ties -- although hey, who doesn't in this town? -- and blames gripes on a "rogue" employee. But folks are riled up now. You could probably loot the city treasury and not raise an eyebrow in this town, but if Pittsburghers think you're improperly taking away a parking space? Watch out.
Concerns continue to mount over an issue we first reported earlier this year -- Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald's use of undated resignation letters to keep nominally "independent" board appointees in line. Fitzgerald has now handed over the names of more than three dozen appointees whose letters he has in hand, prompting no small amount of hand-wringing in county government.
Finally, a quick round-up of mayoral action. Bill Peduto releases an internal poll showing himself with a 9-point lead over Jack Wagner in the mayor's race. That result echoes a similar poll from an independent-but-fledgling outfit, but Wagner himself says he's got polling that shows a tighter race. Wagner hasn't released that data yet, however, so you're free to ignore it even more thoroughly than you'd ignore an internal poll that a candidate does release. In other news, Wagner earned the backing of state Sen. Jim Ferlo and the FOP -- with whom Ferlo has long squabbled. (For that matter, Ferlo and Wagner fought when they both served on council ... though as Ferlo pointed out to me yesterday, in those days he was an ally of then-Mayor Tom Murphy. And we know how that ended up.) Peduto, meanwhile, announced an endorsement from Ed Gainey -- a disclosure which surprises absolutely no one, but still represents the earliest endorsement from a black leader that I can think of. Also, Darlene Harris has dropped her own mayoral bid -- anyone want to bet against her endorsing Wagner too?
A new contest invites you to submit cultural images converted into digital Andy Warhol-style screen prints via The Warhol D.I.Y. POP App.
New York-based translation and marketing agency Acclaro and The Andy Warhol Museum present the social-media contest, called “POP Your Culture with The Warhol D.I.Y. Pop App.”
Submissions should be entered online on the Acclaro Facebook page. The contest launched March 21, and the deadline is midnight on March 31 (that's Sunday).
The DIY Pop App is available for smart phones that allow users to make any image as iconic as Warhol’s famed Campbell’s Soup Cans.
Here's a sample work.
The contest will have four winners, with the top three selected by Nicholas Chambers, the Milton Fine curator of art at The Warhol. The fourth winner will be selected by votes from the masses on Facebook.
The grand prize is a trip for two to Pittsburgh including a private tour of the current museum exhibition, Regarding Warhol. Second- and third-place winners willl receive gift certificates to The Warhol Store in the amounts of $300 and $200 respectively that are also valid online.
The fourth winner, selected by likes on Facebook, will have their submitted image set as The Warhol Facebook and Twitter profiles for a day, exposing their work to more than 550,000 combined followers.