Saturday, September 24, 2016

something different (and in a good way!)

"Bravely adventurous – the best band in the UK" 
4/5 - The Guardian
"Captivating, exquisite, stunning – Lau evolve naturally through experimentation" 
5/5 - Songlines
"Lau consistently set the standards for others to follow" 
Album of the month - Folk Radio

Members of LAU (left to right in the photo from their FB page...)
  • Martin Green - Accordion/FX  
  • Kris Drever - Guitar/Vocals 
  • Aidan O'Rourke - Fiddle
So these were amazing musicians - and it is almost impossible to categorize their music. I had all sorts of imagery come to mind as they were playing from barren rocky coasts to trains to highways to field of wild flowers to fires.... to say that the music is evocative is an understatement.  Such creative force! 

from wikipedia- 
Lau is a British folk band from both Scotland and England, formed in 2005. Named after an Orcadian word meaning "natural light",[1] the band is composed of Kris Drever (guitar, vocals), Martin Green (accordion, piano, electronics) and Aidan O'Rourke (fiddle). To date, the band has released four studio albums and a live album.  Their debut album, Lightweights and Gentlemen, was released through Reveal Records in 2007. The band subsequently won the "Best Group" at the BBC Folk Awards, 2008 and went on to receive the award the next two years running.

so - on top of the trio being terrific they were playing at an excellent venue as well- the SPACE location in Evanston which is just the right size, in my opinion, for a concert.  So we won all around.
Two songs that I really enjoyed were Ghosts and the Burrians.

From Derek's Music Blog an excellent summation:
Ever since the release of their 2007 debut album. Lightweights and Gentlemen, Lau have been variously described as “adventurous,” and “modern folk’s most innovative band.” That’s no exaggeration. Lau are, without doubt, one of the most exciting and ambitious folk bands of their generation. That’s why Kris Drever, Martin Green and Aidan O’Rourke have been winning awards, praise and plaudits ever since. This includes, winning the BBC Folk Award for the best group four times in six years. That takes some doing. However, Lau are no ordinary band.

So how about some photos from tonight?

And on with the show!

this is a band you should look into more seriously- and to give you a sense of how seriously here is a bit more the Derek's Music Blog which is much better able to explain it than I would be- 

Ever since the early days of Lau, the three members have worked on other projects. Despite these other projects, they’ve always returned to Lau, which the three members fondly describe as “the mothership.”
On their return to the “the mothership,” Kris Drever, Martin Green and Aidan O’Rourke hit the live circuit with Lau. Soon, Lau had established a reputation as one of Scotland’s best live bands. Whether it was festivals or small intimate venues, Lau lifted the roof with their unique brand of folk music.
When Race The Loser was released in 2012. Praise, plaudits and critical acclaim came Lau’s way. Race The Loser was no ordinary folk album. It was much more than that. While folk was the most predominant influence, but were elements of jazz, rock, electronica and soul. The soul comes in the shape of Kris’ world-weary, all-knowing vocal. His vocal played a part in what was a folk album for the 21st Century. Race The Loser was a career defining album from Lau. However, would Lau followup an album like Race The Loser?

Just like previous albums, The Bell That Never Rang was released to widespread critical acclaim. Lau were back, and back to their innovative best. The Bell That Never Rang was triumphant return from Lau. 

Opening The Bell That Never Rang is First Homecoming.  It’s a track that showcases Lau’s unique brand of innovative folk. A rumbling sound in joined by a plink plonk guitar and wistful strings. Soon, thunderous drums signal the arrival of Kris’ vocal and a chirping guitar. There’s a sense of hope and joy in Kris’ vocal as he delivers the cinematic lyrics. He’s a changed man. No longer is he alone, now that he’s found someone to love: “in this new place I call my home.” Previously, this seemed out of reach, but: “I’ve lost the urge to be by myself.” By the time Kris delivers that line, seamlessly, the arrangement has come together. As the strings dance, drums pound and the guitar chimes, as Kris experiences hope, happiness and joy.

Ghosts closes The Bell That Never Rang. It’s another understated ballad. This is something Lau do so well. As Kris plays his acoustic guitar, he hums. It’s as if he’s just sitting at home playing his guitar. Instead, the red light is shining, and the tape is running. He delivers an inspired performance, singing of the “Ghosts” of his past. They surround him, and are everywhere. He realises that as he wonders where he would go to escape them. His lyrics, and his delivery of them are both beautiful and haunting. Especially with washes of accordion and a pulsating drums that plays in the background. They prove the perfect accompaniment to Kris on this hauntingly beautiful ballad.

some more photos (above and below) from their FB page!

So on we go - with the busy fall schedule- tomorrow night dinner with a friend and then this upcoming week we have a farewell to John & Barb dinner on Monday (they leave for the south 10/1 whereas we will be in Chicago for a few more weeks - in Phil's case more than a month!) then the French Laundry dinner at Next and also dinner Thursday with another friend and wine geek... AS September draws to a close and the days get shorter we know it is time to round up our "stuff" and follow John & Barb south but not before we have an extremely full October with the Film Festival, a number of plays and dinners with friends and with each other...  no time to just sit around LOL- so stay tuned...

Friday, September 23, 2016

we have made our selections!

Yes the tickets went on sale today for the Chicago International Film Festival! And I will say that it is very international - a different flavor than our winter Sarasota Film Festival. we combed through the catalogue - after three years we are getting better at this process and so it didn't take all that long despite there being 45 pages of film blurbs and a schedule of two full weeks-

here is what we ended up with - the festival starts in mid October - so you will get reviews from us later in the year- this is just a taste to whet your appetite for the event and maybe get you thinking about grabbing your own tickets this year either here or at the Sarasota Film Festival 2017 in April!

the three Phil will see while I am out of town are these- every one of them was on my original list but were not playing while I was in town-

then one we are headed to together -

then my own selections for when I am in town and had no conflicts - since we already have several plays and a three dinner reservations at our favorite places - the juggling is sometimes a bit difficult...

these first two have Chicago connections-

then an Israeli film that looked to have good potential-

 satire and whodunit - how can you go wrong especially when it is French satire? LOL

and finally the one I chose because one of my favorite actors is in it - I have loved Jennifer Ehle's performances for a long time and so I thought I would be sure to see this if there were tickets available and I was in luck!

So there you have our own lineup for the CIFF- 2016.... we will of course report back when we have actually viewed the films to let you know what was a winner and what didn't live up to expectations... so stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Miller's View

So now that it is back in the school year - LOL- theater season is also back in full swing-

Tonight we went to the National Theater Live production of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge 

here is the blurb from the website:

Following its smash-hit original broadcast, the Young Vic’s ‘magnetic, electrifying, astonishingly bold’ production of A View from the Bridge returns due to audience demand.

This stunning production of Miller’s tragic masterpiece won a trio of 2014 Olivier Awards including Best Revival, Best Actor for Mark Strong (The Imitation Game; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and Best Director for Ivo van Hove.

The great Arthur Miller confronts the American dream in this dark and passionate tale. In Brooklyn, longshoreman Eddie Carbone welcomes his Sicilian cousins to the land of freedom. But when one of them falls for his beautiful niece, they discover that freedom comes at a price. Eddie’s jealous mistrust exposes a deep, unspeakable secret – one that drives him to commit the ultimate betrayal. 

and here something from the wikipedia entry on the play-

A View from the Bridge is a play by American playwright Arthur Miller, first staged on September 29, 1955, as a one-act verse drama with A Memory of Two Mondays at the Coronet Theatre on Broadway. The play was unsuccessful and Miller subsequently revised the play to contain two acts; this version is the one with which audiences are most familiar today. The two-act version premiered in the New Watergate theatre club in London's West End under the direction of Peter Brook on October 11, 1956.

The play is set in 1950s America, in an Italian American neighborhood near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It employs a chorus and narrator in the character of Alfieri. Eddie, the tragic protagonist, has an improper love of, and almost obsession with, Catherine, his wife Beatrice's orphaned niece, so he does not approve of her courtship with Beatrice's cousin Rodolfo. Miller's interest in writing about the world of the New York docks originated with an unproduced screenplay that he developed with Elia Kazan in the early 1950s (entitled The Hook) that addressed corruption on the Brooklyn docks. Kazan later directed On the Waterfront, which dealt with the same subject. Miller said that he heard the basic account that developed into the plot of A View from the Bridge from a lawyer who worked with longshoremen, who related it to him as a true story.

Act 1 – In the opening speech Alfieri describes the violent history of the small Brooklyn community of Red Hook and tells us that the second-generation Sicilians are now more civilized, more American, and are prepared to "settle for half" (half measures) and let the law handle their disputes. But there are exceptions, and he then begins to narrate the story of Eddie Carbone, an Italian American longshoreman who lives with his wife Beatrice and her orphaned niece Catherine.

Eddie is a good man who, although ostensibly protective and fatherly towards Catherine, harbours a growing passion for her as she approaches her 18th birthday. We learn that he has not had sex with his wife for nearly three months. Catherine is studying to become a stenographer and Eddie objects to her taking a job she has been offered until she finishes her coursework, expressing a dislike for the way she dresses and the interest she is beginning to show in men. Beatrice is more supportive of Catherine's ventures and persuades Eddie to let her take the job.

Eddie returns home one afternoon with the news that Beatrice's two cousins, brothers Marco and Rodolpho, have safely arrived in New York as illegal immigrants. He has agreed to house them saying that he is honoured to be able to help family. Marco is quiet and thoughtful, possessing a remarkable strength, whereas Rodolpho is more unconventional, with plans to make a career singing in America. Marco has a family starving in Italy and plans to return after working illegally for several years, whereas Rodolpho intends to stay. Although Eddie, Beatrice and Catherine are at first excellent hosts, cracks appear when Rodolpho and Catherine begin dating.

Eddie convinces himself that Rodolpho is homosexual and is only expressing interest in Catherine so he can marry her and gain status as a legal citizen. He confronts Catherine with his beliefs and she turns to Beatrice for advice. Beatrice, starting to realise Eddie's true feelings, tells her that she should marry Rodolpho and move out. In the meantime, Eddie turns to Alfieri, hoping for help from the law. However, Alfieri tells him that the only recourse he has is to report Rodolpho and Marco as illegal immigrants. Seeing no solution to his problem, Eddie becomes increasingly desperate and takes his anger out on Rodolpho and, in teaching him to box, 'accidentally' injures him. Marco reacts by quietly threatening Eddie, showing his strength by holding a heavy chair above Eddie's head with one hand.

Act 2 – A few months have passed and Eddie reaches a breaking point when he discovers that Catherine and Rodolpho have slept together and are intent on marrying. Drunk, he kisses Catherine and then attempts to prove that Rodolpho is gay by suddenly and passionately kissing him also. After a violent confrontation, Eddie orders Rodolpho to leave the apartment.

Eddie visits Alfieri and insists that the kiss has proved Rodolpho is gay and that he is only marrying Catherine for citizenship, but once again Alfieri says the law cannot help. Out of desperation, Eddie phones immigration services but in the meantime Beatrice has arranged for Marco and Rodolpho to move in with two other illegals in the flat above. When immigration officials arrive and arrest Marco, Rodolpho and the two other immigrants Eddie pretends that the arrest comes as a complete surprise to him, but Beatrice and Marco see through this. Marco spits in Eddie's face in front of everyone and accuses Eddie of killing his starving children. Eddie tries to convince the neighborhood of his innocence but they turn away from him.

Alfieri visits Marco and Rodolpho in custody, obtaining their release on bail until their hearing comes up. Alfieri explains that Rodolpho will be able to stay once he has married Catherine but warns Marco that he will have to return to Italy. Vengeful, Marco confronts Eddie publicly on his release, and Eddie turns on him with a knife, demanding that he take back his accusations and restore his honour. In the ensuing scuffle, Eddie is stabbed with his own knife and dies, as his stunned family and neighbours stand around.

The cast tonight - all absolutely amazing- you literally couldn't take your eyes off the stage- the drama was so intense and the coming events so inevitable given the characters that you were drawn into and along with the tale....

So my own review of this extremely intense family drama: every single performance was outstanding. Eddie, Beatrice, Catherine and the illegal immigrants they shelter, Marco and Rodolpho, all came to vivid life on stage.  Each of them knowing things are not right and each of them allowing the train wreck they see coming happen.  Each time Beatrice attempts to call out Eddie and Catherine on the truth, without an absolute allegation that will destroy her marriage to the man she loves, she fails.  Each time Catherine surrenders to Eddie's emotional manipulation instead of standing up for herself, the atmosphere darkens further.

The most touching character in the play (to me) was Marco, who was trying to keep his family alive and who was the ultimate victim (IMHO) of the refusal of Eddie and Catherine to confront the issues raised by Eddie's passion for his niece.  In the end it was he who drew my tears.  Betrayed by Eddie, Marco's deportation will certainly end with the death of one or more of his children and his wife who are starving in Sicily. A truly honorable man, it was he who deserved the admiration of the narrator/lawyer/Alfieri rather than Eddie in my opinion.  The narrator's evolving identification with Eddie created - in my opinion an inability to keep his higher view.

Overall a very interesting character study - intense drama - with a pacing that just built the tension of the situation to the final climactic scene where it literally rained blood....

next up - a concert at SPACE in Evanston of the group LAU -

Lau is a British folk band from both Scotland and England, formed in 2005. Named after an Orcadian word meaning "natural light", the band is composed of Kris Drever (guitar, vocals), Martin Green (accordion, piano, electronics) and Aidan O'Rourke (fiddle). To date, the band has released four studio albums and a live album.

So back with more later- about all sorts of stuff... as usual...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

wine, women and more wine

so tonight we met our gal pals Mary & Sheila for dinner at Osteria Langhe. Another amazing meal - and I admit up front that I am already in a groove there with the coniglio.  Sheila and I both ordered the coniglio and Mary and Phil both ordered the porchetta...

on Tuesday they have a "trifecta" menu where the three course prix fixe is extremely reasonably priced.  We all went for that - with the mains named above and various starters- I had the funghi - Phil had the plin - Mary had the snails and Sheila had the gnocchi.... all were fabulous!

the dessert also went two and two with Sheila and I taking down the panna cotta and Mary and Phil going the chocolate route....

here are some photos - OH and a wonderful bottle of Italian Barbaresco courtesy of "uncle" Neil!

Sheila brought the Langhe and we brought a sparkling wine to start-

in order below-  the plin - the gnocchi - the funghi and the lumache

the porchetta and then the coniglio-

the cioccolato and the panna cotta- each times two!

so again a worthy meal - the prix fixe is a fabulous value and the food is beyond good- really really terrific - so tasty! Tomorrow we are off to Northwesern for the National Theater Live production of A View from the Bridge. so stay tuned as usual....