Chief executive officer. Certified financial planner. Director of marketing and public relations. Each of these titles suggests years of corporate ladder-climbing, implying its holders are all work and no play. But who expects the company’s sales manager to be a classically trained vocalist? And what if that VP of accounts is a gifted saxophonist? Use it or lose it, they say—and this week, some of Philly’s top executives, educators, movers and shakers are using their off-the-clock acumen to raise funds for one of Philly’s most worthwhile arts organizations.
Back by popular demand, the third Black Professionals Got Talent is no ordinary talent showcase—it’s a fundraiser for Art Sanctuary, founded in 1998 by author Lorene Cary to focus on the preservation and creation of black art. Its programming includes the annual John Coltrane Jazz Tribute & Festival, the Celebration of Black Writing, a children’s storytelling circle, a “hip h’opera,” and educator workshops to help further the AS mission.
Through a partnership with University of the Arts, this year’s show moves to the Arts Bank to provide more space for its array of confirmed participants, including Malik Boyd, president of Philadelphia Young Democrats; Jamie Brunson (above), executive director of First Person Arts; Natalye Paquin, CEO of Girls Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, and many others, while the sensational Urban Guerilla Orchestra serves as house band to set the mood. Come support these civic and arts leaders as they let their hair down and show the more artistic sides of themselves for a worthy cause. They ought to be lauded—and applauded.
Tues., Dec. 10, 6pm. $25-$35. The Arts Bank, 601 S. Broad St. 215.545.1664. artsanctuary.org
On yesterday’s first “snow day” of the season, Philadelphia Weekly’s intrepid photographer J.R. Blackwell ventured out to photograph her West Philadelphia neighborhood, from the snow-covered streets to the brave sledders in Clark Park. Enjoy!
It’s a rare opportunity to get to a giant pop spectacular down at the Wells Fargo Center. There’s something really fun about a high-budget and giant-sized production full of pyrotechnics, dancers, LED screens, and of course for P!nk, aerial feats. Everyone knows now that P!nk’s an acrobat and a gymnast as well as a damn fine singer. She can belt, yes, but we also love her because she’s irreverent, a little crass, but all in a very down-to-earth way. That could be the Doylestown in her and that’s why it was a very sold-out night Friday night, complete with family members in the audience and generous displays of gift-giving in the form of flowers, teddy bears and love letters thrown on stage.
After a round of a cameraman focusing in on random pairs and groups of folks in the audience (there were a lot of women) kind of like a kiss cam, a creepy clown started messing with people near my section. He ended up being somewhat of an emcee, like a ringleader, and a kinky one at that. More on him later. She started with “Raise Your Glass,” already a classic in her catalogue after its release via her Greatest Hits… So Far!!! collection in 2010. And then we got “Walk of Shame,” full of awesomely sassy and struts, especially during the reprise of “we’re walking… we’re walking.” “Just Like a Pill” preceded one of my favorites, “U + Ur Hand,” it’s just classic P!nk: funky and pop radio perfection aided by a rock riff and an anthemic “Don’t fuck with me” chorus, a chorus that makes Kelly Clarkson drool. She did a “bad dancing song” in which she executed a variety of hilariously corny dance moves and encouraged the audience to play along. You know, the run, the sprinkler, the shopping cart, etc. In her pretend bad dancing, though, you could tell that she’s become a fantastic, experienced and well-rounded dancer over the past decade.
During an outfit change interlude, our kinky clown emcee delivered one of my favorite one-liners of the night when he was playing up the sex. When he was talking about fantasies and the fetishes we all have (leather, lace, underwear, socks, BDSM, etc.), he nodded to all the things that make us happy, like: “Rainbows and puppies and nipple clamps.” She turned in a flawless vocal performance of “Try,” which she did in the air, and came back down to do a cover of “Wicked Games.” She looked absolutely beautiful. She’s fit as hell but not overly so – there was a time when P!nk’s image was a little intimidating not only because she had so much punk attitude, but she also looked like she could beat you down. She still can. But her elegance has been honed and polished over time – her outfits were a perfect blend of rock (with spikes and black), evening wear (flowy and colorful), and a lil’ touch of circusy macabre.
She turned in a strong performance of “Just Give Me a Reason” with Nate Ruess beaming through a video feed (not live). Turns out this one’s her #1 hit on Spotify – guess the youngbloods must really love their delightful radio smash. “Trouble” came next, another staple in her old school catalogue, and then the bombastic and badass opener from The Truth About Love, “All We Are We Are.” She climbed into an orb to do “Sober” and it started rotating and moving and then more dancers climbed on and it was completely sick. She sat herself at a piano for the next one, “The Great Escape,” and explained that she’s slowly but surely learning to play the piano and the guitar, with the help of her band, and that she’s finally able to play full songs. Coulda fooled us. She sounded great and it was a moment where we got to see a little bit of the softer side of her that we know is there. She also did an acoustic version of “Who Knew” before blasting out “Perfect” and “Most Girls.” The throwback nod to her olden times, when she was way more thuggish ruggish and hip-hop, was a fun reminder of how America first got to know Alecia Beth Moore.
It’s wild to think that 2001’s M!ssundaztood is already 12 years old (and that she had just turned 22 when it came out). What I’ve always loved about P!nk is that she’s kind of like no one else. She’s a pop star at this point, this is clear, but has always basically blazed her own path. She’s a feminist and girl power hero but not in an anti-men way, just a hearty sense of “I don’t need you, dude” or “Sure, I’ll take a drink from you but you’re dismissed.” The short hair, the tough girl act (which we know isn’t an act), and she can dance like a professional – who can step to her? It was stunning taking in her flexibility and grace, even singing while upside down and spinning and not missing a single note. It’s been a little weird watching her get deeper and deeper into the aerials and acrobatics, but again, who else does it and does it while singing flawlessly? Have you seen her do “Glitter in the Air” at the 2010 Grammy’s? Just making sure.
Well, I did it. I watched, eagerly, a live musical on NBC last night. Supposedly—and it’s really hard to believe—they put on a live, three-hour staging of The Sound of Music, and they made Carrie Underwood Maria Rainer and Stephen Moyer (Vampire Bill) Captain Von Trapp.
At first, I was intrigued, because—the hell is this? A prime-time live television broadcast of a musical? They’re grabbing, and they’re desperate; slowly but surely, the realization started to set in that Walmart had paid for all of this mania. If I had to guess, that was a $1- to $3 million affair. You pay everyone, you dress everyone, you build the sets, and you keep the commercials light and Walmarty on a Thursday night from 8 to 11 p.m., and I’m sure everyone makes out just fine. It just seems so weird. And then it pretty much got weird.
The first few scenes sure were churchy. I did remember a nun storyline, but boy, did we go to the chapel and say many prayers and look at many crosses. Nuns galore. That first spell before the first commercial had, like, 20 nuns singing in operatic harmony. Wait, were they all white except for Audra McDonald? I think they may’ve been. And McDonald proceeded to sing and act circles around the Chiclet-toothed American Idol winner from Oklahoma. Damn, she was blowing all kinds of people out of the water—with supreme control, expressive eyes, mesmerizing control and boundless appropriate energy. It was in those first few scenes that I thought to myself about Miss Carrie, ‘She is trying so hard not to sound like she’s from Oklahoma right now.’ It mostly worked for her; she didn’t sound like a redneck, and she didn’t sing her parts of songs with twang or a hick inflection. But the fact that this is the praise I’m willing to sing for Underwood in this performance is telling.
The production value was strong in some aspects and weak in others. I’ve got to just say, right up front, that that was one hell of a Nazi stage where the Von Trapp Singers made their cleverly stealth escape. It’s not so much that it was troubling to see so much red and swastikas on my television because it’s painful to confront what those symbols and colors represent. It was because it was done so high-budget, that there was about 10 to 15 minutes of it in my face in technicolor, in high-definition and in the same field of vision as a menorah holding warm candles. The Nazi and WWII themes felt especially potent, but only because they felt nominally and indelicately pawed. Then, during the commercial, we were blitzed with a suite of tributes to giant, white families in the Midwest as we followed the Brooks family, who roll 14 deep. Commercials felt short, maybe about half the duration of a typical roll through a sitcom or a regular prime-time movie. It felt dirty.
What you realize watching The Sound of Music on stage or on film is that they sing the same songs over and over again. They are: “Do-Re-Me,” “16 Going On 17,” “The Sound of Music” and the yodel song. There are a handful of one-offs that come mostly when the adults sing to each other, but it sure does get a little repetitive when it’s not Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Underwood is obviously no Andrews, but Moyer doesn’t make a terrible captain. His face looked caked and contorted with makeup for the first hour before he lightened up and started singing, but his voice is solid, and he added an emotional depth to the cast that it desperately needed. Laura Benanti came out of nowhere with a belt-capable, giant set of vocal chords, but her smizing and overdramatic facial contortions made her a little laughable (in a good way?). What really hit me over the head was one moment in which Liesl, the eldest Von Trapp sibling, was sitting on a fancy salon couch, singing “16 Going On 17,” just before the Nazis showed up to fuck up everyone’s lives. Underwood and the delightfully capable Ariane Rinehart duet the classic tale of becoming a woman and becoming an adult, and there was absolutely no contest for who was more compelling. Even the Barnard junior making her television debut was capable of showing more emotion in her face—we call that acting, right?—than Underwood.
In NBC’s defense, the whole thing felt painfully and perhaps painstakingly rehearsed, directed, produced and edited. Not wholly unenjoyable, though. I’m pretty sure I caught a few small missteps in angles and transitions, but no one dropped a note, flubbed a line or tripped on a step (to everyone’s chagrin). That was part of the excitement of watching live. Shout out to Moyer—I got a little misty-eyed when his kids were singing for that evil bitch, Herr Schrader, and his heart melted before our very eyes, and he had to start singing himself, even though he hadn’t in years, probably even since his wife died. Then there was a big family hug, and Underwood knew she might’ve scored herself a little job security. But someone ought to have been blunt with her: That second wig looked cheap and like maybe she found it on Chestnut Street.
Maria Bello in NBC’s now-cancelled “Prime Suspect”—which’d still be on the air if my editor had her way.
November was a big month for us—meaning the queers. We got Illinois, the 16th state in the union, to legalize same-sex marriage. We got the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed, effectively protecting us from getting fired for being gay on a national scale. And then last week, we got some new big names joining the fold – sort of.
In a pretty much flawlessly written essay written for the New York Times’ outstanding Modern Love column, Maria Bello, a Philly native (Norristown!) and killer actress, explained her complex and winding journey towards otherness. Part of what’s so lovely about it is that she doesn’t really come out as a lesbian, and yet, do a quick “Maria Bello” Google, and you’ll be confused. Almost all of the stories talk about her “coming out,” calling her “gay” and “lesbian,” except for the smart ones. Time managed to get it right, with a story entitled “If You Think Maria Bello is a Lesbian, You Weren’t Paying Attention,” and the L.A. Times‘ Nico Lang lumped in Tom Daley (which I’ll do in a minute, as well) with a story called “Tom Daley and Maria Bello show there’s more than one way to be out.” Kudos to them.
See, the thing is, Bello’s delightful tale of her having to tell her 12-year-old son, Jack(son), that she has been seeing a woman is also peppered with her past, which includes loving men, specifically Jack’s father. Bello also admits to just plain thinking about the phrase “partner” differently than most. Can our best friend or our sister or our brother-in-laws not be partners in their own ways?
Over time, especially in the last couple decades, it’s become more and more commonplace to simply have an unconventional family model. Gone are the days of the ideal family being a husband and wife and 2.3 kids with a picket white fence and a golden retriever. Now, a single woman with a great apartment, zero dogs, no yard or fence to speak of and the appropriate resources and support network makes for the perfect mother. No husband or wife? Doesn’t matter.
And marriage is a funny thing, isn’t it? For gay folks, yeah, we want it. But you still have to meet the right person, make a connection, build trust and cultivate love before you make a legal commitment – and you can do all of those things without a ring or a ceremony. While straight folks balk at gay marriage, calling it an abomination of the institution, they’re off fucking up their own matrimonial vows and screwing with their kids’ heads (that is, of course, if they’re not having this exact conversation with them while they’re getting divorced).
We humans, we’re pretty confusing, both to ourselves and especially to others. When and if you can find a connection that satisfies all kinds of emotional needs, wouldn’t you think it shouldn’t matter what this person looks like? Shit, they don’t even need to kiss you. If another human gives you love, hope, safety, security, companionship, a few laughs and maybe a backrub or a hug while you weep, well, you’ve got something good. Bello’s found that in a woman, a companion who loves and has loved her son, who supports her spiritually, professionally and personally, and it’s an inspiring and humbling journey she’s been on – one she was so kind to share with the world.
As soon as it hit the interwebs, people were itching ALL OVER to bandy about the words “lesbian,” “gay,” and “coming out.” It’s pretty much unnecessary and also unsurprising. We love a scandal. But the funny thing is this is far from a scandal in 2013. It’s just another uplifting narrative in your Facebook feed to make you shed a tear, take a deep breath, and go back to your life with a renewed faith in your fellow man. We are capable of a great breadth and variety of life, and each of us is living it out in our own perfectly bizarre way.
Cue Tom Daley, the gorgeous and taut young Brit, who is, objectively, one of the best divers in the world. He delivered a heartfelt confessional video, in bed, in which he admitted that he’s been into women and still is, but at the moment, he’s found happiness with a man. The internet also went ape with people putting their filthy and undesirable two cents in, like it’s a broken SEPTA token machine. Gays didn’t appreciate him avoiding the term “gay” — and we won’t even touch the whole notion of gays dumping bulldozers full of shade on bisexuals — but it was still an unbelievably bold move on his part, one that took a ton of guts.
Honestly, watching folks’ minds get blown by the gray areas around the terms we’ve come to use to describe celebrities is a blast. S’kinda like that US Weekly’s regular feature “Stars — They’re Just Like Us!” in the sense that they don’t know what they’re doing; they have feelings for all kinds of genders, and they entertain the notion of an utterly non-traditional family. Look at that!
Sounds like: Dev Hynes is the man. Writing for Solange and Sky Ferreira hasn’t slowed him down, and his creativity’s inspiring—futuristic funk plus airy R&B ambience.
Free association: The Londoner-turned-New Yorker should jam out with Prince.
For fans of: Dam-Funk/Rhye x Chairlift/Frankie Rose, Jessie Ware, odd hats and boots.
Sounds like: The Barcelona DJ and producer’s newest since blowing minds with Fin doesn’t disappoint—sprawling, blissed-out house compositions for the night.
Free association: Pay no attention to titles. Just push play and bone/burn/boogie.
For fans of: Andy Stott x DJ Koze + Glasser with the 2 Bears, chilltimes, electro dreams.
Sounds like: Hard to believe this kid’s 19, but the UK folk- and rock-minded singer songwriter’s got skillful delivery, a punchy sense of rhythm and legit chops.
Free association: A sophomore here, but no slump. Dude’s picking up steam for a reason.
For fans of: King Krule/Bob Dylan/Eugene McGuinness + Arctic Monkeys, explosive talent.
Sounds like: Not a lot of surprises from the self-proclaimed King of Memphis; the 32-year-old veteran emcee sticks to trap raps over syrupy production.
Free association: There’s a track called “ION Want It;” it’s good, but “LeBron James” is not.
For fans of: Meek/T.I./J. Cole/Ne-Yo/Jeezy/Wale/Rich Homie Quan, guap, dope and the trap.
I Want to See Pulaski at Night
Sounds like: A charming lil’ EP that cradles “Pulaski at Night” with movements and instrumentals, always with that viola loopin’, whistlin’, folksy Chicagoan charm.
Free association: There’s something really romantic about this man’s thing for strings.
For fans of: Sufjan x Phosphorescent + Bowerbirds with M. Ward, the second and Windy City.
Sounds like: The queen of weird and mother of monsters delivers an equally panned and praised batch of queer-friendly pop obsessed with the fabulous life.
Free association: “Applause”/”Gypsy,” fine; “Donatella” and “Fashion!” save this sinking ship.
For fans of: Britney/Katy/Madonna, trends in pop (like EDM), tiaras and Mary Jane.
Museum of Love’s Pat Mahoney and Dennis McNany play the Dolphin this Friday.
It’s no secret: Thanksgiving is a multi-day run of sheer gluttony. We don’t just stuff ourselves on the big day; we also manage to morph into capitalist zombies on Black Friday—plus we drink like maniacs before and after. The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is notorious for being one of the biggest bar nights of the year, as home-for-the-holidays friends reunite at their old stomping grounds and get lit like candles before waking up and grazing like cows all day. Well, we thought we’d highlight some solid bets for things to do on the Friday night after Turkey (or Tofurkey) Day, both with your kinfolk or as far away from them as possible, that aren’t just about the neighborhood watering hole or shopping ‘til you’re damn near dead.
20th anniversary tribute to Nirvana’s In Utero and the Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dreams at Milkboy
Hey, grunge heads: Are you pumped or what? Performed live, cover to cover, are two of the era’s most iconic and revered LPs. Doesn’t really matter who’s performing ‘em, does it? It could be your little brother’s stoner basement band—as long as they storm through track after track with frenzied angst, we’re sold.
8:30pm. $10. Milkboy, 1100 Chestnut St. milkboyphilly.com
The Machine’s tribute to the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon at the Keswick
When I was in eighth grade, and my brother was a freshman at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, he took me to see this show, and I will never, ever forget it. No, there’ll be zero original Floyd members, but it really doesn’t matter. Especially when you get a woman who can blow out that “Great Gig in the Sky” solo. And you just know they’ll have one.
8pm. $27.50-$32.50. Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside. keswicktheatre.com.
MiMOSA at the TLA and Slayer at the Susquehanna Bank Center
Here, you’ve got a couple options for your raver cousin and your creepy goth uncle. The TLA show’ll be packed with teens, 20-somethings and sad old tweakers reliving their glorious past, but it’ll all be very pleasant and not-too-EDMy house and jungle trance-type stuff. Bet you know what that Slayer show will be like: incredibly loud, sinister and slightly disturbing death metal. Hey, we all have our thing.
MIMOSA: 9pm. $15. With Architekt, Thriftworks, Bogl + Yonas. Theatre of Living Arts, 334 South St. tlaphilly.com
Slayer: 7:30pm. $19.25-$59.50. With Gojira + 4arm. Susquehanna Bank Center, 1 Harbour Blvd., Camden, N.J. livenation.com
Christmas Light Show and Wanamaker Organ Concert at Macy’s
This is simply an institution, period. And while our beloved Macy’s will certainly be full of basics trying to buy piles of discounted fleece, tune them out, and look up. The Grand Court Organ, purchased in 1909 at the St. Louis World’s Fair, is the largest playable instrument in the world. Their cheerful holiday celebration goes off every two hours, starting at 10am; the last show’s at 8pm.
Bi-hourly. Free. Macy’s, 1300 Market St. visitmacysphiladelphia.com
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center
Perfect for a grandma and grandpa excursion or for young sophisticates who appreciate classical music. This suite from Vivaldi is easily his most famous and celebrated, depicting seasonality with extraordinary musicality. Get away from the slobs, and go upscale with this excellent short-run bet.
Through Sun., Dec. 1, various times. $51-$137. Kimmel Center, 1 S. Broad St. philorch.org
Museum of Love at the Dolphin
A new project from LCD Soundsystem’s Pat Mahoney and The Juan Maclean’s Dennis McNany (aka Jee Day), and we can’t wait to hear (and see) what it sounds like. The pair have a single called “Down South” and an debut album on the way, but regardless, the Dolphin’s one of the best places to drink and dance in South Philadelphia until you hurt the next day.
10pm. $5. The Dolphin, 1539 S. Broad St. dolphinphilly.com
Stephen Kellogg and Countdown to Ecstasy at World Cafe Live
Upstairs, you’ve got some folk from the former, one of Americana’s finest modern troubadours, and downstairs, you’ve got the chill times you’re lookin’ for in the cheese-rock prog jazz sounds of PA’s premiere Steely Dan tribute act. Drop off the staid in-laws with Kellogg, and take your uber-cool folks down the steps.
8pm and 9pm, respectively. $25 and $15-$18 respectively. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400. philly.worldcafelive.com
Circular Ruins at Johnny Brenda’s
This is the ideal free dance party for denizens of Northern Liberties and Fishtown, with DJ Robertson Pennsborn Freeman spinning R&B, garage and soul, all on vinyl. Craft drafts are in order to fuel your retro-rocked pool-shooting and hip-shimmying.
10pm. Free. With DJ Robertson Pennsborn Freeman. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. johnnybrendas.com.
Body Rock at Kung Fu Necktie
If you’re looking to get sweaty, this is the spot. Every DJ in the mighty Illvibe Collective’s a polished professional well-versed in whipping up a funky, ecstatic dance-floor fervor. It’ll be packed, most likely, so get there early. Guaranteed you’ll be bumpin’ and grinding with your neighbors within minutes.
9pm. $5-$7. Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St. kungfunecktie.com — BILL CHENEVERT