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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Al Green

The Stiefel Theatre
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe 9/23/2012

Al Green . . .The Stiefel Theatre was nearly at capacity on Sunday night for the Al Green show.  The lights dimmed down and the band took the stage one by one and began to play.  The back-up singers took their places as the audience eagerly awaited the appearance of Al Green.  Everyone was on their feet by the time Al Green arrived on stage.  The audience was clapping, hooting and hollering most of the way through the first song.

After that the audience quieted down and took their seats, the concert began in earnest.  “Take me to the River”, the second song in the set got the audience mellowed out.  Several songs later and Green sang a version of “Amazing Grace” and his back-up singers, who turned out to be his daughters, sang the the second verse in perfect harmony.  

Green sang all his hits and the audience joined in singing with him.  It was hard not to.  “Love and Happiness”, “How Do You Mend A Broken Heart”, and “Here I Am” were just some of the songs that the audience knew by heart.  Throughout the show, Green passed out long-stemmed roses to ladies in the crowd and at one point he walked off the stage and into the crowd, up the aisles where ladies swarmed him, hugging him.  

When Green took the stage again, he did a medley of some of his other hits.  The medley did not disappoint as he gave his all to each snippet of song.  “I’m So Tired of Being Alone” was the next full song that he sang, along with “Still In Love With You”, which worked up to the final song of the set and his most well-known song of all time, “Let’s Stay Together”.  By now the crowd was on its feet again, sensing that the show was nearly over and this was the big finale.  

Green sang one more song, “God Bless Our Love” which was the final song.  His manager came out on stage and walked him off the stage while the band continued to play and the back-up singers continued to sing.  Eventually the back-up singers wound down, and left the stage and the band members finished their parts of the set and left the stage, as well.  It’s safe to say that a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Kinsey Sicks

Century II: The Mary Jane Teall Theatre
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe 9/21/2012

The Kinsey Sicks . . . What do you get when you take 4 pairs of high heels, 4 red, white and blue dresses, 4 outlandish over the top hair pieces, and mix in 4 men?  Yes, 4 men, known as Trampolina, Rachel, Trixie and Winnie.  You get The Kinsey Sicks.  This quartet of cross dressing men have been performing together now for twenty years and their act never gets old.

 The Kinsey’s sing and dance to popular songs that they’ve re-written the lyrics to, they tell jokes and use innuendo to get their message across, there are sight gags, too.  And oh the sight gags, such as Rachel eating Cheetos out of her underpants and then offering some to an audience member on the front row.  It was an audience hit.  The show on Friday night featured lots of audience participation, as the Kinsey’s went out into the audience to engage audience members and poke fun at themselves at the same time. 

This show on Friday night was entitled “The Erectile Dysfunction Tour” and was a spoof on this year’s election in which the Kinsey’s, all four of them, had been asked to step in and run in Romney’s place.  Needless to say the satire was as over the top as they are, and included references to all of the hot button issues that have gotten Romney into trouble with the press as well as with other candidates.  Clearly the Kinsey’s had an agenda but at times it was hard to decide just which side of the election they were on.  It was all in good fun and no matter the political preference, everyone had a good laugh.

Near the end of the show the Kinsey’s brought a young man on stage and sang a song to him.  When someone from the audience comes on stage at any event, you never know if they are going to freeze up or play along, and this young man did a fantastic job.  He played it to the hilt and I even began to wonder if he was a plant.  But after the show it was learned that he was a theatre student, just there watching the show, was thrilled to have been invited on stage, and was use to being on stage in front of a crowd.  The Kinsey’s couldn’t have picked a better audience member to join them on stage.

Truly this was an inspired show and so funny.  I’ve never left a Kinsey’s show where I haven’t just laughed myself silly.  What a great way to forget your troubles for a little while and get happy. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Railroad Earth

The Stiefel Theatre
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe 9/16/2012

Railroad Earth . . . This band is one of those old school bands that just has that special feel to it.  The stage is set with big amps and speakers as well as a variety of lights and a fog machine that the band uses to their advantage.  The entire show harkens back to a time when showmanship and the overall look was as important as the music.

The members of the band are: Todd Sheaffer (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Tim Carbone (violin, vocals), John Skehan (mandolin, vocals), Andy Goessling (is there anything he can't play?), Carey Harmon (drums, percussion, vocals), and Andrew Altman (upright bass).  Todd Sheaffer is a powerhouse on vocals.  When he sang "Mighty River", the power and energy in his voice was un-believable.

This group began the show with "Potter's Field" which had a somber tone to the lyrics but was a high energy song that the band played with gusto.  The light show behind them moved, shifted, changed, and rearranged itself so that it looked like a lava light.  The music reflected an Irish influence as well as a Bluegrass feel.  The two styles blended perfectly together.

Some other stand out songs were: "Lovin" You", "The Good Life", "Chains" and "Cold Water".  This band sings songs of the earth, the spirits that surround us, love, loss, and the human experience.  I especially enjoyed the songs that were off of their CD entitled "The Black Bear Sessions".  "Cold Water" was one of the songs off that CD. These songs had an earthy, other-worldly quality to them.

The band played two sets which were both high energy and they truly gave all they had to the performance.  The audience managed to talk them into an encore.  The band played a new arrangement of  "Have A Little Faith" and it gave the song a totally different feel.  I think the saxophone had something to do with it.

If you like high energy, a beat you can dance to, solid lyrics, and feel good tunes, well, you have just got to check out this band. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dumptruck Butterlips

The Stiefel Theatre
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe 9/16/2012

Dumptruck Butterlips .  .  . This band opened for Railroad Earth at The Stiefel Theatre on Sunday night.  Knowing this was a college band from Lawrence, KS. I wasn't expecting very much.  After hearing the first few lines of the first song, though, I was hooked.  Their sound is like nothing I've ever heard before and that is saying something.  Butterlips, on the keyboards and accordion, is the perfect complement to Dumptruck's acoustic guitar.  Megan rounds out the group on bass. 

They started out their set with "Little Angel" which began soft and slow but with an unusual keyboard rift.  The middle of the tune picked up the pace, eventually winding down, returning to the soft and slow tempo it began with.  It can best be described as fluttery.  I got this image in my mind of a butterfly flitting between flowers.  Their music has a dreamlike quality to it.  Hard to characterize and describe.

All three musicians sang a cappela on "Darlin" and their voices blended perfectly.  I know they had to have practiced that but it just seemed so natural and easy, like there was nothing to it.  The mark of a good musician is when the difficult looks easy and this group pulled that off effortlessly.

"Bustin' the Streets" and "Just as Bad as You" rounded out their set.  Both of these songs had their trademark style. The words and the music blend into unusual harmonies for their unique style.

I browsed their website and they're self-described as "gypsy hippies" and that is a perfect description.  Their look and their music is from another time and place, yet firmly fixed in the present.  It has a timeless quality.   Go check this band out if they come to your town.  They are really going places.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Tortilla Curtain-a book discussion

Monday Night Book Discussions
(written by T. C. Boyle)
Salina Public Library
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe 9/10/2012

The Tortilla Curtain . . . after reading this book, I went to Goodreads and read the reviews.  I spent a lot of time wondering what the author was trying to convey with this book.  Was it the social conditions that both the couples in the book faced, was this a commentary on illegal immigration, was this about environmental destruction, hatred/fear of those whom are foreign to you, an expose of poverty in America, or was it relationships between men and women?  I never really figured out the answer to my questions. 

I think the thing that resonated with me was the relationship between Candido and America (his common law wife).  Candido brings America to the U.S. to a better life, or so he paints the picture for her of what life will be like.  She believes him and comes with him to the U.S. where nothing is like he told her it would be.  She has a neverending series of misfortunes, that had she stayed in Mexico would have not occurred.  She's lied to from the very beginning and at one point she makes the remark that their life is "an ongoing catastrophe".  I feel deeply for America and Candido has got to be the dumbest man alive.  He seems so blind to what is going on around him, unable to focus or even see the reality of the situation.

Then there's Delaney and Kyra.  This is a couple that know little about one another and who are operating in their own orbits, doing very different things, sharing the most superficial parts of their days with each other.  I wonder what's the point of an exsistence like this?  They don't seem to connect deeply on any level, they're just together so that they aren't alone.  Their lives are ordered and comfortable, unlike the hardscrabble existence of Candido and America.  Nothing much happens to them so they "invent" drama, to color their days.  The graffiti incident comes to mind.

The fact that this book generated more questions than it ever answered, kept me asking questions about what the author was trying to convey with this book, and finally just lulled me into finishing the book with my mind blank, just taking the story as it came; I would consider this book a work of art.  Whatever baggage the reader brings with them to this book, is what the reader will get out of it.  Truly that makes a work of art.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Little Stitches

Little Stitches
Aneela Hoey
© Lydia Lowe 9/5/2012

     I love embroidery.  If you've read my reviews before, you know that's true.  If you love embroidery as much as I do, you will love this book.  Aneela Hoey has taken the intimidation factor out of the art of embroidery.

     She covers everything from the tools you'll use, to how to transfer the patterns, the stitches and how to use them, as well as how to do specialty stitches, and how to care for your embroidery once you've finished stitching the designs.

     The designs are quite unique.  They are delicate and full of color.  These are designs will have you taking a trip back in time to coloring books, paper dolls, and long summer afternoons creating art as you play.  The designs are irresistible.  Ms. Hoey gives you ideas for quick projects that you can make with your designs. 

     So if you have always wanted to embroider, were not quite sure how to transfer the designs, a bit intimidated by the stitches and not sure what to do with the embroidery when you're done with it?  This book covers all that and more.  I know I'll refer to this book again and again as I keep on stitching.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ryan Coon

Metro Coffee
Hutchinson, KS
© Lydia Lowe 8/1/2012

Ryan Coon . . .played Metropolitan Coffee on Saturday night.  He brought along a friend, Riley Withrow, who opened the show with some wicked guitar licks.  Withrow won an award recently for his blues guitar work.  Withrow also played through Coon's break.  The crowd enjoyed the differing guitar styles.

After Withrow opened the show, Ryan Coon took the stage and opened his set with the piece "Midnight" from his first album.  Coon played a variety of songs on acoustic guitar from his CD's.   He described  his style of guitar playing as being a zen guitar style where anything goes.  If it feels right, it goes into the song. 

We heard a wide variety of pieces from slow sad songs to upbeat toe tappers.  The pieces Coon played were primarily from his first CD and included: "Hope", "Friends"which was the only ballad of the group, to "Midnight Rain" which was a toe tapper.  A new song, "The Way" from his second CD, was an instant hit with the crowd as well as "Desiree" which reminded me of a child's laughter.  

Coon is a regular contributor to the program "Nightcrossings" which is a show that runs Monday through Saturday, 10:00 p.m. to midnight, on Radio Kansas.  His music has been featured on there for three years and right now it is primarily the music from his first CD.  Coon said that he favors electric guitar but one night he decided to pick up an acoustic guitar for his performance to change up his act a bit, and a rep from Radio Kansas was in the audience and heard him play.  The rest is history.  Now Coon prefers the acoustic guitar.

Check out Ryan Coon's music on "Nightcrossings" each week and catch him in concert.  His live performance is terrific.