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Sunday, December 22, 2013

New Reviews in 2014 . . .

     As the year winds down, so does the opportunity for live music events and other arts entertainment in the community.  So, even though my posts may be infrequent, at this time of year, I am already planning for 2014.  They'll be more events, more reviews and photo's; and Concert For The Cause will return in the summer with even more surprises, bigger acts, and more great causes to support as we get the non-profit wheels rolling.
 
     Join me in 2014 for more great reviews and coverage of the best Central Kansas has to offer in entertainment.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Black Swan Green

Monday Night Book Discussions
"BLACK SWAN GREEN"
(written by David Mitchell)
Salina Public Library
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe  12/09/2013



     I don’t know if I’m just not interested in reading right now (perish the thought, this has NEVER happened to me) or if these last two book club selections just haven’t been all that interesting .  But here we go with another book that just fails to impress me.

     It all comes down to the language.  Usually I’m thrilled to find a book that uses unfamiliar language in unfamiliar ways so that I have to think about what the author is saying.  I love language so this generally pulls me in every time.  The turn of a phrase or an unfamiliar way of looking at things and I’m hooked.  But lately I just want to be able to pick up a book and read it.  I don’t necessarily want to decipher it or learn from it.  I just want to dive in and enter another world for a while and lose myself.  If that’s what you’re looking for, too, this is not the book for you.

     I just couldn’t get into this book.  A coming of age novel set against the backdrop of world events sounds like a terrific start to a novel.  It should have intrigue, mystery, lessons learned through mistakes, close ties formed between the characters in the book, and world events that the reader relates too; all those things.  Possibly it does.  But the language just doesn’t do it for me.  It actually pushes me away and toward other books, any other books.  

     When a book sets itself up in the book blurbs as some spectacular be all end all book, I always get suspicious.  I don’t think that any book is the greatest book ever written (except maybe the Bible).  No book is the be all end all book of all time and any book that’s saying this is a book written by an artist with a huge ego.   Books are wonderful stories crafted by people with a gift for language and all writers think their books are special.  And they are!  But the last book you’ll ever want to read because it’s one of the greatest book of all time, probably not.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Concert For The Cause

 
Concert For The Cause:
Featuring Kaleaha B., Dominus X, Lacey Cruse, and Victims of Spotlight (VOS)
The Rusty Needle Bar
Hutchinson, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013

     Concert For The Cause moved inside, out of the cold in the park, to hold a special concert at The Rusty Needle Bar on Saturday to benefit The Reno County Food Bank.  This was an all-ages show and a night of  acoustic music.

     Many of your favorite performers from the summer concert series were there to perform.  Kaleaha B. opened the show and sang a three song set.  Every time I see this young woman she amazes me.  Her first show in the park was amazing.  She was a show veteran showing no signs of stage fright.  The next time I saw her she had dialed it up 100%.  By the third show, she had definitely come into her own and she owned the stage, completely at home in front of the audience.  Last night she wowed the crowd again by singing three songs with background track music.  I enjoyed all three songs, she put her own spin on all three.  My favorite of the set however, was Two Black Cadillacs which she dedicated to her mother.  Kaleaha B. participated on American Idol over the summer and made it to the third round.  For someone so young that is an amazing accomplishment.

     Dominus X,  Lacey Cruse and Victims of Spotlight (VOS) rounded out the night.  Dominus X sang some original songs as well as a variety of cover tunes.  Their original song Burnout will be released as a single on New Year’s Day.  So make sure to check it out.  Their performance of this song was one to remember.  They also sang songs by A Perfect Circle and the Samuels Band.

     Lacey Cruse arrived with her band in tow, officially now known as Red 57.  Lacey’s performance over the summer included her and a young woman who accompanied her on guitar but they didn’t have an official name .  Tonight we got the full band and it was incredible.  Lacey’s music is something that you can pop in your CD player and just have it live within your life as your day to day background music.  It provides all the colors of the day. 

     Victims of Spotlight also sang some songs by A Perfect Circle and it was interesting to hear two different takes on these songs.   One of my favorite songs was Justin Timberlake's What Goes AroundSean Story performed one of his original songs, live on the air on the Kansas CW station.  Go to the CW website and check out his performance.  The song he sang was soulful and full of emotion.  You will love it!  Also, last weekend Sean provided back up music for Morgan Wilke when she opened for Pam Tillis at the McPherson Opera House.  It was one for the record books.  VOS  and Sean Story are going places.

     At the end of the evening, in true Concert For The Cause style, an impromptu jam session broke out.  The crowd loved it.  The fans of this concert series generally stay till the very end because this has been known to  happen and you just never know where it’s going to lead.  

     Concert For The Cause will return this next summer with more surprises in store, bigger and better shows, if that’s possible, and more great causes to support.  Until summer returns, check out special fundraisers around the area for non-profits in need.  Be sure to check out their Facebook page and website to keep up to date on all the concert happenings this winter and come to the park next June when the festival of music begins again.
 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Quilt Show


It’s amazing what a person can come across on their way to some other event.  I attended a concert on Saturday night at The McPherson Opera House and a quilt show broke out.   
Here are a few quilts from that show.  Enjoy!





















Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The McPherson Opera House: A Brief History


The McPherson Opera House:
A Brief History
McPherson, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013



       The McPherson Opera House didn’t always look the way it looks now.  It wasn’t always listed as a place of historical significance on the historical register.  For years it sat in disrepair as an eyesore on a prominent corner in McPherson.  One day some bricks fell from the front onto the sidewalk and the great opera house debate began.


      Should it be torn down or revitalized?  The debate waged on and everyone chose sides.  Those bricks kept falling, the ceiling began to cave in and the building wasn’t fit for human habitation.  The one business still located there had to move out.  There was more talk and both sides became very vocal about the fate of the building.


      There’s a saying in show business “that the show isn’t over until the fat lady sings”.  This phrase was repeated around town so much, that one day the McPherson Sentinel ran an ad:  The fat lady will sing in front of the opera house on Friday at 7 pm.  Of course, the entire town turned out on every sidewalk, street corner, driveway, parking lot, and lined up across the street from the building; which by now had become so unsafe it wasn't safe to walk down the sidewalk in front of the building and the sidewalk and off street parking was now cordoned off with chain link fence.  


      No one showed up to sing.  And there was much speculation around town as to why no one showed up and what did all this mean.  Shortly thereafter, work began on the opera house.  Many years and millions of dollars later, it became the beautiful building it is today.  

     Entertainment is the main reason for this opera house to come into being in the first place and every year features an extensive list of events, some pictured here.  


    Leading the opera house into a new era is its director, John Holecek, looking quite dapper on show night.  Tonight it was Joseph Hall's Elvis show.




Monday, November 11, 2013

The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York CIty

Monday Night Book Discussions
"THE MOLE PEOPLE: LIFE IN THE TUNNELS BENEATH NEW YORK CITY"
(written by Jennifer Toth)
Salina Public Library
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe  11/11/2013
*NOTE: If the library is closed Nov.11th, the discussion will be held on Nov. 4th.


     This book is  a series of stories, one on one accounts, of homeless individuals in New York.  I tried to get into this book, I did.  The first story that I read was very compelling.  But I knew that the stories were going to primarily be about how the system has failed these people and the people themselves have failed their own lives.  A series of heartbreaking stories of how these homeless folks had scraped by and built a hardscrabble society out of cast offs and nothingness.  I didn't see anything uplifting that was going to come out of this story whatsoever.

     I work in a service organization that helps those in our community who are poor.  Some of these folks are just always in the wrong place at the wrong time, for whatever reason.  But some choose this life because they imagine it is easier than working.  For whatever reason, these stories of want and need occur, it is always heartbreaking.  Where I work, it is not always possible to help with all the need that's out there, sometimes when we help we make it worse and people become dependent on the system.  There's really no answer to any of it.  There are those rare occasions though, when it is possible to help an individual turn their life around and come out on top.  It's always a thrill when that happens. 

     I hear these stories everyday and I simply could not hear any more stories of need, want, heartache, or heartbreak.  More power to you if you can finish this book, but I just couldn't.  I've heard more than enough stories like these.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Joseph Hall's-Elvis

 
 
Joseph Hall's Elvis: Rock and Remember Tribute Show
The McPherson Opera House
McPherson, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013
 
 
     On Saturday night, Elvis did not leave the building after the show.  He merely went to the lobby to sign autographs.  


      You haven’t seen Elvis until you've seen Joseph Hall’s "Elvis".  He sang, he danced and captivated the entire audience.  There were multiple costume changes and during the first half of the show he threw teddy bears into the crowd.  I actually thought at one point that a few of the older ladies were going to get into a throw down in the aisles when one reached for it and another grabbed it from her it at the same time.


      Hall sang many of my favorite Elvis songs.  One of my favorites, Kentucky Rain, I got to hear during a backstage interview and although it wasn't part of the show, I got my on personal mini concert back stage.  He did a rendition of Suspicious Minds right before intermission that quite honestly, I think was better than Elvis.  He put his whole heart and soul into each and every song.  And can he belt out a tune.  Without a microphone, his voice would have resounded off the rafters in the opera house.  




     Hall was a contestant on America’s Got Talent on the third season.  In an interview before the event he said that he waited outside in line for eight hours to audition.  When his time finally came, he was given ninety seconds to impress the judges.  A minute and a half.  Apparently that’s all it takes to completely change someone’s life.  He was chosen to appear on the show and made it into the Top 10 before he was booted off the show, ironically after he’d sang Suspicious Minds.  



      After intermission and a costume change, the well- known white jumpsuit, the evening got even better.  It was one hit after another.  Hall did each one justice including two Christmas songs and a salute to veterans


      During the second half of the show Hall invited all the ladies down to the front of the stage and gave many of them the scarf from around his neck.  I thought another throw down was going to take place as ladies competed to see who was going to elbow their way in close enough to the stage to get a silk scarf.

     This is just the tip of the iceberg of what this show was all about.  There was so much more and if you missed this show, you missed so much.  Hall is making a tour around Kansas stopping at various venues around the state.  He also performs in Branson on a regular basis at the Americana Theatre.  Check out his website: http://www.josephhallbransonelvis.com/  for more information on his schedule.  Hall will appear in Hutchinson at The Fox Theatre in February of 2014.