Whether you’ve got a passion for fashion or just an unhealthy obsession with America’s Next Top Model, this Thursday, Drexel is inviting you and the rest of the general public to a free screening of the new critically acclaimed documentary “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution,” which explores a moment that forever changed the fashion industry.
More specifically, the film recounts the 1973 fashion face-off between American and French designers at the Versailles Fashion Ball in Paris that skyrocketed American designers to international acclaim and more importantly, marked the first time black models were hired to walk the runway.
Following the screening, the film’s award-winning writer and producer Deborah Riley Draper will be joined by model Pat Cleveland for a Q&A session. Cleveland, who is featured in the film, actually walked the Versailles runway on that historic night in 1973, helping pave the way for the likes of Iman, Tyra and Naomi.
Over the course of her career, she’s modeled for every major designer in the world—Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, etc.—and was a actually in the American fashion icon Halston’s regular troupe of models, nicknamed “the Halstonettes.” While you’re there, be sure to stop into The URBN Annex’s Pearlstein Gallery where a stunning Halston-designed gown will be on display just for the occasion.
Hosted by the Design & Merchandising Program in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, the screening starts at 6 p.m. in the URBN Annex Screening Room (34th & Filbert Sts.).
Maybe Boys And Maybe Trails: Toy Soldiers’ Gig Next Friday’s A Screening And Guaranteed Good Time Gig
Ron Gallo and his Toy Soldiers crew met Seth Klinger when he was assigned to them as an intern for Ropeadope Records, where, in 2011, they issued a one-off EP called Get Through the Time. They hit it off. Klinger started filming and making videos for them, and then suddenly, he was making a documentary about the balls-to-the-wall tour that took them to South by Southwest. Now, they’re crazy about him. “Luke, our keys player, has a tattoo he got in New Orleans a few weeks ago that says ‘Cajun Seth,’” says Gallo, Toy Soldiers’ frontman. Yeah, that’s real love.
Klinger has bore witness as the ragtag Americana band that calls Philadelphia its home has grown better with age. There’ve been plenty of lineup changes over time, but for two and a half years, Toy Soldiers has been playing with a cemented membership that works for them. “The current lineup is the one,” Gallo says. “It took a while to find it, but the fates aligned, and it’s been great ever since October 2010. Dominic Billett on the drums, Bill McCloskey on bass, Matt Kelly on guitar and Luke Leidy on keys. This is Toy Soldiers.”
A Toy Soldiers show is one that communes with the spirits of generations past and present; add a little whiskey, and the band acts as dance conductors. It channels folk traditions, delta blues, raucous vintage rock ‘n’ roll and a little bit of country, yet Gallo doesn’t really embrace the notion of Toy Soldiers being country or folk, per se. “I really just think we’re all drawn to the soul, energy, honesty of the roots of this country’s music,” he says. That fevered moment when you succumb to the energy of a band and dance without inhibitions? That’s what Gallo and Co. strive for. They want you to give in and let go.
“We do like fun and making people dance. That’s the best most undeniable thing: watching people move uncontrollably,” says Gallo. And that’s exactly what they’re hoping to do at Johnny Brenda’s next Friday night with their double-function event: First, they’ll screen The Maybe Trails, Klinger’s documentary, which they scored and soundtracked, and then they’ll bang out a sweaty rock ‘n’ roll set, their first hometown gig in months.
They’re looking at a later-in-2013 release of The Maybe Boys, hopefully an album that’ll put them more squarely on the national rock map; there are plans to develop a serious campaign to get this record heard. This time, they worked with Bill Moriarty, their first pairing with an outside producer and, thankfully, a seasoned and accomplished one at that. Moriarty’s worked with Man Man and Dr. Dog, but Gallo says Toy Soldiers had a goal going into the sessions: “To get the live show energy across. And he found a way to do exactly that. It’s gritty, and it’s really fun. We love it.”
But it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the last few years. With endless tours, soundchecks, naps in vans and technical difficulties, the moments that pummel Toy Soldiers’ faith, vision and determination just keep on coming, and that’s exactly what The Maybe Trails captures. Asked what one of those worst-nightmare moments on tour were, Gallo perfectly distills the band’s drive to make people have a good time. “Definitely the van break down,” he says. “It’s those moments when you really question what you’re doing, and if you can somehow persevere and make it through when literally nothing is going right, that’s true love.”
The Maybe Trails and The Maybe Boys. What’s the connection? “The title came from a joke when we were in Texas during our tour last year” confesses Gallo. “One night at SXSW, we were sitting on top of our van, drinking and people-watching. We realized every girl in Austin is beautiful. So we played a game: Every girl that would walk by, we would vote ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ Almost 99 percent were yesses. Then Luke said, ‘You know what other people think when they look at us? They’re ‘maybe’ boys.”
Fri., April 19. 8pm. $10. With The Holy Ghost Tent Revival. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. johnnybrendas.com
So. PIFA, the Philadelphia International Festival of Arts, is now in full swing and the Kimmel Center, its beating heart, proudly features a “time machine.” Yes, two years ago we celebrated Paris and now we embark on the heady task of time traveling: “PIFA asks audiences ‘If you had a time machine…’” The guide’s introduction says: “This journey takes us from the Big Bang to the invention of casual Fridays, and from a family-friendly puppet show in 1876 to the landing of Columbus in 1492, as the artists feverishly work together across time and space, crossing and blending a variety of styles to reflect PIFA’s core values of collaboration, innovation, and creativity.”
Alright, maintaining a positive attitude, we say this is cool. It’s cool that there’s loads of free programming, it’s cool that our city endeavors a month-long festival of arts that attracts artists of every medium to our city, and it’s cool that unique programming is created specifically for this festival.
But, uh, time travel? Could be cool. We love Back to the Future. But if we’re being real, like we do, some of these things are just so weird. When pushed and constricted by a theme, seems like some whacky stuff came about. Some stuff gets really specific, creating art based on a date in time. While other events stretch over hundreds of years of history.
Here are seven musical moments we’ve got our eyes on:
1. Last Call at the Downbeat (Jazz Bridge): “In November, 1942, 25-year-old trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie is in Philadelphia leading his own quartet at the Downbeat Club. He’s just been fired by big bandleader Lucky Millinder after a stint at the famed Earle Theatre at 11th and Market Streets – right around the corner. It’s war time, and big band swing is all the rage, but Gillespie has been experimenting a bit with a new approach to music. Something most people don’t even know about yet, something called bebop… he’s anxious to play you a little and tell you a lot about Philadelphia jazz – back in the day.”
April 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th at 8pm. $25. Red Room at the Society Hill Playhouse, 300 S Broad Street.
2. Bond and Beyond (Peter Nero and the Philly Pops): “Agent 007 has the suave sophistication needed to thwart the evil plans of Dr. No, Goldfinger, and Mr. Big – and so des his musical motif. Relive the thrill and adventure as The POPS, led by Michael Krajewski, play the iconic music of James Bond and other themes of espionage. Audience favorite Debbie Gravitte lends her sultry soprano to these tantalizing tunes for an evening you won’t want to miss. After all, you only live twice!”
April 26th-28th. $30-$114. April 26th, 8pm, April 27th & 28th, 3pm. Verizon Hall, 300 S Broad Street.
3. The Children’s March (Singing City and the SC Children’s Choir): “May 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Children’s March in Birmingham, Alabama – a major catalyst for bringing about the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. The newly commissioned work by Philadelphia composer Andrew Bleckner and acclaimed Philadelphia storyteller and narrator Charlotte Blake Alston features Singing City and the Singing City Children’s Choir, and tells the story of one moment that changed the course of civil rights in America. The concert will be followed by a conversation with the artists.”
April 26th, 8pm. $20-$30. Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut Street.
4. Casual Friday (Stone Depot Dance Lab): “Stone Depot’s Casual Friday begins with a Happy Hour in the Ruba Club’s inviting lounge, sponsored by Philadelphia Brewing Company, and continues on a wild ride through an unorthodox history: a performance for anyone who has braved the work force, navigated the social strictures of bosses and co-workers, or simply needs a Casual Friday for any reason.”
April 12th and 19th, 6:30pm & 8:30pm. $15. Ruba Club Lounge, 414 Green Street.
5. Aquarian Exposition: A Trip Back to the Original Woodstock (Sharp Dance Company): “Join us for a night dedicated to the unique and controversial decades of the 60’s and ’70s. Aquarian Exposition: A trip back to the Original Woodstock taps into the spirit of love, acceptance and exploration that made the hippie movement one that will transcend time. Enjoy some of the most prolific music in history performed as dancers embody the groovy sixties through new and original choreography set by Diane Sharp-Nachsin. Audience members will feel like part of the performance… including a contest for the best dressed audience member in hippie gear! Don’t miss this beautiful homage to Woodstock.”
April 12th-21st, April 12, 13, 19, 20, 8pm, April 14 and 21, 7pm. $20. The Box, 2628 Martha Street.
6. SENDMSG (Dan Deacon): “Internet Hall of Fame inductee Ray Tomlinson sent the first email from one computer to another in 1971. For the past forty years the evolution of his contribution has grown to see over 3 billion email accounts in existence today and the generation of new social communication technology. Enter instrumentalist, composer and DJ Dan Deacon, who uses this moment as a springboard to creat an evening where the audience is as much a part of the performance as he is. Using smartphone technology, Deacon and the audience will creat a shared musical experience to open and close an evening filled with a unique show not to be missed.”
April 12th, 8:30pm. $15. Perelman Theater, 300 S Broad Street.
7. Songs in the Key of Life: Robert Glasper Presents a Stevie Wonder Tribute: “Firmly planted in the worlds of jazz, hip-hop, and R&B, Grammy-nominated Robert Glasper bring together an all-star cast featuring the Experiment Band (Derrick Hodge, Mark Colenburg and Casey Benjamin), Lalah Hathaway, Stokley Williams, and Eric Roberson, dedicated to Stevie Wonder’s timeless body of work. This performance, commissioned by Harlem Stage, includes new arrangements and new compositions written by Glasper, inspired by Stevie Wonder.
April 14th, 8pm. $25-42.50. Verizon Hall, 300 S Broad Street.
As someone who attended an inner city public high school where creative and professional opportunities were pretty much non-existent, I felt to compelled to share this announcement.
This June, The Art Institute of Philadelphia is offering local high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to explore one of 14 different creative trades during a hands-on, one-day-only workshop. At each Summer Studio, students will have access to professional-grade tools and technology as they work on real-world projects under the guidance of an experienced faculty member.
What really sold me was the selection of workshops students have to choose from: Advertising; Animation; Audio; Baking & Pastry; Culinary; Digital Filmmaking; Fashion Design; Fashion Marketing; Game Art; Graphic Design; Interior Design; Photography; Visual Effects; and Web Design.
While obviously, The Art Institute is attempting to recruit soon-to-be high school grads, that’s neither here nor there. What’s important is that these soon-to-be high school grads will have a chance to see how their passion can be translated into an actual career.
The deadline for registration is June 6 and all of the workshops will be held on June 20 at one of two Center City locations. The $25 dollar registration fee covers the cost of instruction, supplies and lunch for the students.
I can only assume that time is of the essence, so click here for all the deets and sign your kid up ASAP.
Unfortunately, due to space, I wasn’t able to mention in this week’s art column the full line-up of events and performances that Plato’s Porno Cave: The New World still has in store inside Little Berlin (2430 Coral St.)
I can assure, even if you missed the outrageous opening festivities, you’re still going to want to experience The New World for yourself while you still can.
Weds/20: Archival Film Night – During the third and final archival film night of PPC’s run, folks will have a chance to catch three different films: The Phantom of Liberty (1974), Aria (1987) and Fallen Angels (1995). The $5 dollar suggested donation will score you a bowl of popcorn and PBR. (8pm-1am. $5)
Fri/22: Ms. Teena Geist in “The Stairwell Symphony” – Local performance artist, Ms. Teena Geist will lead audiences on a journey through “the fog of adolescence” as she attempts to find her true self and “silence all the haters” through a variety of techniques including, improvised vocal mantra, guided meditation, herbal remedies, and live action painting. “Should be interestingly weird,” says PPC curator/creator, Marshall James Kavanaugh. “I look at it as the suburban evolution of the New World.” (8pm-12am. $5-$10)
Sat/23: Erotic Word Exchange – During this free-for-all evening of soulful philandering, anyone and everyone is welcome to share a little bit of erotica, whether it be in the form of a song, story, joke, rant or philosophy. Either sit back, listen and enjoy the free stimulation, or get up and be apart of the conversation. (8pm-1am. Free.)
Fri/29: Cirque Skeletique – Given that The New World opened with a “Big Bang,” you best believe it’s going to close with a bang, albeit a slightly smaller one. This Philly/Brooklyn-based nouveau cirque orchestration uses a fusion of music and movement narrative to tell a story, a story set in the apocalyptic “New City.” Get it? The individual featured performances include everything from sword swallowing, stilt walking, knife throwing and contortion to juggling, dancing, aerial acrobatics and other freak-show acts. Needless to say, this is not your average circus. (8pm-1am. $10)
Daring dames, First Ladies, riot grrrls, famous Philly females—all are front and center this month as the city celebrates the talents and achievements of awesome women both past and present in honor of Women’s History Month. Here’s a few female-centric happenings local ladies should definitely consider marking down on their calendars.
In conjunction with their current multimedia event Create Chaos!, tonight, Permanent Wave Philly will be hosting a special dance party to raise money for the 10th annual activism, music and arts festival, Ladyfest Philly. Going down June 7-9, each year, the festival honors the artistic, organizational and political work of women, trans, genderqueer, intersex, and queer people with a weekend of workshops, musical performances, discussion groups and other events. If you can’t make it out tonight, no worries—PWP still has plenty of things lined up this month including a feminist photo shoot/live sketch this Saturday and skill share/craft session on March 24. (Fri/8, 9pm. $5-$7. Eris Temple Arts, 602 S. 52nd St.)
The sweet scent of estrogen and creativity will continue to permeate West Philly on Saturday as Vitamin D Productions once again hosts its free all-ages, all-female arts festival showcasing an eclectic group of artists. Using her signature fusion of movement and sound, local physical theater artist, Mira Treatman will be presenting a humorous yet thought-provoking performance piece while the art/music duo, Blown Away will be combining melodic harmonies and projected drawings to create an aural-visual spectacle. Covering the musical portion of evening are New York pop/rock/soul songstress, Lachi; Brooklyn-based poet/rapper, Sam LaRoche and West Philly’s experimental teenage twosome, The Barking Spiders. As always, there will be a deeper message at the core of the event, with this year’s speakers and performers tackling issues relating to abuse and bullying. (Sat/9, 7pm. Free. The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St.)
Though Philly’s hugely popular storytelling competition always seems to a pretty interesting theme each month, this one might be the best yet. Host Katonya Mosely will open the mic to ladies who’ve got something to say and demand to be heard, regaling the audience with real-life tales of female empowerment. If you yourself have an experience you want to share, feel free to throw your name in the hat. Otherwise, just sit back and let some fascinating women entertain you. (Mon/11, 8:30pm. $8-$10. World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St.)
Although typically the best place to learn about a bunch of old affluent white men, this month, the Center is carving out a space for the women who have helped shaped this great nation yet rarely get the credit they deserve in history books. Programming for the exhibit includes a 20-minute interactive show focusing on remarkable women that have called this city home and some of Philly’s “famous female firsts.” Guests can also learn some pretty interesting facts about America’s First Ladies and the role that women played in the Prohibition era. (Daily through March 30. $13-$14. National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St.)
Before there was Beirut, capitalizing on the trendiness of world sounds in indie rock, Devotchka was paving the way with their bizarro spaghetti western-influenced bleeding heart folk. Though they’ve been putting out records since 2000, it was in 2006 that they really started to get the exposure and love they deserve.
On Morning Becomes Eclectic, the famed KCRW radio show, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris heard a Devotchka tune and contacted the Denver band to provide the soundtrack for their film Little Miss Sunshine. The film, obviously, went on to great critical success and the soundtrack garnered a Grammy nomination.
However, their stellar EP from 2006, Curse Your Little Heart, and the follow-up to the success of the soundtrack, 2008’s A Mad & Faithful Telling, were records that cemented my love for this totally unique sound. They use all kinds of weird stuff: theremin, accordian, organ, sousaphone, bouzouki, trumpt and melodica.
There’s something about them that feels like the circus. They’d fit right in underneath the big top alongside sword-throwers, fire breathers and stilt-walkers. It’s just a little freaky (in a good way).
Tickets are $24 in advance and $26 at the door and Pearl & The Beard open. Doors are at 7pm and show starts at 8pm.