Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Day 235- Experience Art exhibits at August Wilson Center-"Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution"

The August Wilson Center, Pittsburgh’s African American Cultural Center, offers interesting shows and exhibits.  I recently experienced Kaki King, a unique visual guitar experience in it’s 472-seat theater (see Day 234). The center also has multiple exhibition galleries(see schedule). Recently, by chance, I visited, “Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution”, a show  that focused on the significance of  the positive change in Saturday morning black cartoon  characters in the 1970's-80’s.

This looks like the TV we had when I was a kid

I as a kid in the late 70’s, I remember enjoying "Fat Albert and the Crosby Kids". I  religiously watched the cartoon repeating the jolly iconic “Hey Hey Hey” that was always a part of Fat Albert’s dialogue. My friends and I loved the gang and laughed along with them each Saturday morning. I did not realize that they were shaping positive images in my young mind. Apparently in the 1960's, the Black images were ugly stereotypes. Fat Albert and other shows were  a “revolution” of positive Black characters in animation history.
Harlem Globtrotters

There was a section dedicated to the Harlem Globetrotters and I also remembered that cartoon.  I think I was more excited than my young son to see the Globetrotters when I took him to a show in Pittsburgh when he was 8 years old!

Star-Trek -Lt. Uhura
I had forgotten  about Star-Trek Lt. Uhura who was one of the first black TV beauties and of course the Jackson 5 had us all singing and dancing on Saturday morning.  
The change in the media reflected the changes in the civil rights advances during this time in history.  For me this exhibition  brought back positive happy childhood memories and maybe that is what we all need -more positive dialogue about any race.  I guess when you think about it there was a bit of a paradigm 
shift  on Saturday morning and that is something that should be celebrated!  

I will continue keep the August Wilson Center and its exhibition galleries and shows in my toolbox of new experiences. The next  exhibition,  “Went Looking for Beauty:Rehashing Self",  a photography exhibit by Deborah Willis, PH.D, opens on September 22, 2017.

Other Sources

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Day 234 Try August Wilson Multiple Choice Events- Kaki King a visual explosion and guitar

Kaki King-Potters Clay visual on guitar
The August Wilson Center which has a small  theater was the perfect intimate setting to experience Kaki King. She is a unique artist who fuses  a visual experience  with her distinctive inventive method of guitar playing. Just like  Pink Floyd’s The Wall, her show is one that you have to see, hear and experience. It’s an escape with an explosion of  light and music (see video) .

Her guitar develops a life of its own in this show entitled, “The Neck is the Bridge to the Body”.  As King puts it, “the guitar changes her” and you can feel it evolving and maturing during the performance.  King pushed the limits of creativity just like the dance company Pilobilus. Pilobilus created a story with human shadows: King told a story with digital technology and imagery projected onto her guitar (see Day 198 Pilobilus).
Guitar Awakens
The guitar awakens, it grows eyes and ears, it tries to speak, it develops notes, it feels, and it travels. This is done with her phenomenal playing and the use of  lights, shapes, and color visually mapping images on the guitar in conjunction with images on the screen behind her. 

She produced her sound by playing the guitar's neck as a base, by picking, tapping a rhythm on the guitar's body, or by using her nails along the guitar's side.  Her sound was unique and I heard a jazz influence.  It was a  total experience! (watch here)
Trying to speak

Her guitars are uniquely made and customized for her purpose. I believe the surface of the guitar that she used in this show was carbon fiber. It  made a distinct sound when she ran her nails along its body.  

Growing eyes and ears

I really enjoyed the humorous part of the show where she produced “talking like sounds” while the visual behind her displayed  the “day in the life of her misunderstood guitar” using subtitles. It  reminded me of the sounds  from the Peanuts cartoon when the adults talk to the characters. Her guitar was talking to us!
Her Guitar was talking to us. "I was always nervous..."
There were parts of the show when you just wanted to lean back in your seat, watch, listen and enjoy without much thought.  Enjoying the sound and visual was like a hallucinogenic experience in the absence of  drugs.
At times you just enjoy the visual and sound 

Kaki King was “stand alone” different as she masterfully worked her guitar. I think Kaki King and her guitar have both self-actualized –they have reached their personal best! (get  tour dates)
Had so many questions to ask her

(This show was part of the August Wilson Center Multiple Choice Event Series where you can chose to eat from the food truck, see a show  then join a dance party for $25.00 or  you can choose to just join the dance party for $5.00 in advance or $10.00 at the door. It’s a great night out of  interesting entertainment, food, and dance. Don’t miss the  next one on October 14th which features a Variety Hour of local talent hosted by Rick Sebak.)    

August Wilson Multiple Choice Events

Spiritual Sources
Behold I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you" (1 Kings  3:12)

Other sources
The Neck is the Bridge to the Body https://www.kakiking.com/playbill
Surface changes visual guitar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziPD16xCBBg

Monday, September 4, 2017

Day 233 Labor Day Weekend Heinz Field Rib Fest - food, fun, family and football kickoff tradition

Smokin Joes-a lot of spunk

I am not even a meat person so to go to the Heinz Field Rib Festival   is a little out of my comfort zone as well as a new experience.  Pittsburgh has had a Rib Fest since 1990 when it was held at the now long gone, Three River Stadium.  The pulse of this town is football  and  a rib festival  seems like the  appropriate kick-off  to the  season  since footballs are made from  pigskins. It also could be that ribs are a tailgate favorite and this town goes all out during  Steelers and Pitt football  tailgates. In any event,  Labor  Day and ribs seems to be a deep rooted  Pittsburgh tradition. With free admission and also a great track record of free entertainment, I was off  to try a bunch of  ribs!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Day 232 American Eclipse 2017-Carnegie Science Center-awesome

The rare event of a total  solar eclipse exclusive to the US traversing a path across our country united  many Americans as we all looked up in amazement at this cosmic spectacle. We all had a little "eclipse fever", or at least I did, and why not, a continuous eclipse in the US has not happened since 1976 and one exclusive to the US since 1776. Americans everywhere  saw various versions of  the moon blocking the light of the sun and those in the direct path saw day turn into night. It was a moment where we realized how small we are, a  speck on this planet that is just a speck in the universe!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Day 231 Million Dollar Quartet-Pittsburgh CLO- peak experience of music from the soul

Martin Kaye (Lewis), Billy Finn (Perkins), Derek Keeling (Cash) James Snyder (Presley)

Self-actualization or reaching one’s personal best according to my blog inspiration psychologist, Maslow, is measured by “peak experiences” of the world. With a peak experience “there are feelings of euphoria, joy and wonder”(see simple psychology).  A  peak musical experience is what happens in Million Dollar Quartet, a show about a single jam session with four rock and roll/country legends, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley in 1956. This show  dramatizes  the historical  one time musical moment that took place at  Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee  and was latter known as “The Million Dollar Quartet”.  This play captures the  intensity and feeling of the music that came from the artists’ soul.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Day 230 Pittsburgh CLO-Mamma Mia- a frolic, a vacation

My blog inspiration book “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book"
 reminds us to “frolic” and  a frolic is a good way to describe the musical, “Mamma Mia.” It’s a show based on the songs from the popular 1974 ABBA album with the same title. This show  moves with cheerfulness and excited energy from the beginning to the end. You  can’t help but relax and enjoy it like a mini vacation as you sing along with  the familiar  pop/dance album  hits "Dancing Queen”, "Knowing Me Knowing You”, "Money, Money, Money”, “Super Trouper”, SOS”, "Voulez-Vous”, “Thank you for the Music”, “Winner Takes it All” and of course the title track, “Mamma Mia”.    

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Day 229 Common- Hip Hop Rap and the Pittsburgh Symphony-A voice and community.

As I have said before, I never envisioned myself listening  to  hip hop rap music  but  in my effort to try new things, I have discovered  that I enjoy  the way the rhythmic chants, like poetry, condenses a message. Rapping at times also gives a passionate voice to a cause or an issue  (Day 170- Rapper Kuf Knots  and  Day 122-Biz Markie ).  Common, a hip hop rapper, poet, author, and actor, brought  this style of musical  expression  to the stage with the symphonic sound of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  With the  added  ensemble of  strings, the musical messages seemed  even more powerful- an amplified voice.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Day 228 Pittsburgh CLO-Disney’s Newsies-Take a Stand

Jack (Joey Barreiro) and Crutchie (Daniel Quadrino) "Santa Fe" 
I was awestruck with the strength of the energetic male focused dancing  which augmented the shows  powerful theme for social change when I saw Disney's Newsies  in 2013 on Broadway.  Pittsburgh’s CLO production had the same energy and forceful movement that I  remembered. 

One  of my blog inspiration books, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Disney Golden Book” reminds us that,  “you [got to] tap into your inner warrior to do what’s right”*.  That is just what Newsies is all about-standing against power to right a wrong.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Day 227 Pittsburgh Symphony POPS –Music of John Williams-Larger Than Life

I grew up loving the excitement of the Star Wars series and my son, who is also a fan, had all the action figures.  Listening to the musical scores  from these films brings me and many of us back to a happy place.  I recently added the Pittsburgh Symphony PNC POPS to my list of favorite experiences so I was eager to hear  the orchestra  play the music of John Williams, composer of  many popular and recognizable movie scores such as the Star Wars series, Harry Potter, Superman, Jaws, JFK and Raider of the Lost Ark sequence, just to name a few.   His music like these movies are in many ways "larger than life”  and truly come alive with the talents of a top notch symphony such as our  very own Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Day 226 Diana Krall- Beautiful and Sultry (Benedum Center, Pittsburgh)

As an “empty- nester”  I have been drawn back to my past love for jazz.  Diana Krall made a Pittsburgh stop during her “Turn Up the Quit” tour recently.  This  jazz pianist is a  5 time Grammy winner with  8 albums debuting on the top of the Billboard Jazz charts.  It’s her sultry sound and her interpretation of many  jazz classics that makes her so unique and appealing to many, including me.

Diana Krall is known for her  lower vocal range, sometimes whispering, almost speaking the words. I love the way that she feels the music and her smooth vibe radiates  through her  audience.   She  opened with  the  upbeat, “Do I Love You” and continued with “Look of Love” (Nat King Cole) , “Night and Day” (Cole Porter) and one of my favorites “Blue Skies”(Irving Berlin). Then she continued  for the next 2 hours!  I appreciated that she dedicated “Sunny Side of the Street” to Pittsburgh native Mr. Rogers.

visually beautiful show 

She  travels with a fantastic band who throughout  the show  showcased their talent  during these jazz standards. I loved the violin player who seemed to take the musical  part  usually reserved for a saxophone. He made that instrument sing and even  sometimes  plucked the strings.  It produced a unique musical blend.

I expected to hear good music but I did not expect such a wonderful visual experience at show.  The screen back drop  changed with the feel of the music projecting images and lights that intensified  the musical experience.  During the song “Temptation” it was flaming red  and  then  it had a dreamy effect for “Moonglow”.   Diana Krall created  a truly beautiful  musical escape.
Waiting for the show to start 

(For more upcoming concerts from the Cultural Trust see https://trustarts.org/ )

Spiritual Reflection

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way (Genesis 1:31)

Other  Sources