Friday, September 22, 2017

Day 236- Sylvan Esso with Helado Negro- Enigmatic Musical Performances at Stage AE

My blog inspiration book, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book”, reminds us to “be unique” and  to “make music a part of your life.”   In my quest to experience varied  musical genres (see Days 15,  113, 140, and 122 ),  I was excited  when  Stage AE brought the new music of  Sylvan Esso, a duo of Nick Sanborn’s electronics and Amelia Meath’s  unique voice, to Pittsburgh.   Heladro Negro, a Latin singer  from Ecuador who uses “performance art” opened the show.  The mysterious sounds and performances of both of these artists  made this  enigmatic  show  such an enjoyable new experience!   

Sold out crowd at Stage AE

I first saw Sylvan Esso perform their  single, “Radio”, on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
 I loved the way Meath’s  voice paired  so well with  Sanborn’s electronic  rhythms.   I do not know  why I enjoyed their sound so  much or what to even call it, but just like wine; if you like it, it’s all good! 
Sylvan Esso 

Esso Sylvan was formed in 2013. Their  music for a “seasoned girl”  like me was a bit of an enigma. In fact, my friend and I after the show vigorously debated how to describe them.   I insisted that they were  “indie” and he stressed that they were “techno pop” . Whatever they are, their sound sold out Stage AE and we both swayed, jumped and felt the rhythm with 2,700 others that night!

We swayed, jumped and felt the rhythm with 2,700 others that night!
 Meath has a sweetness to her voice  which is especially  evident in their  debut single, “Hey Mami”.   Sylvan Esso  uses the catchy repeated  phrases in their music which is characteristic of pop (listen to “Rewind”).

I wondered  if  2 people would seem lost on a stage. They used the lighting well to enhance the mystery of the music  and they kept up the energy especially with  “Die Young”,"Kick Jump and Twist" and their  encore, "Radio".  However you  describe them, it was a great show!

Helado Nego with Tinsel Mammals  

Helado Nego was so different  that  I think he is  in a class that is all his own.  Often  singing in  Spanish, his sound  was soft and whispery.   He  told me that he used, “tinsel Mammals” in the show-why, I don’t know, but  coupled with his voice, it was hypnotic. (listen here).

Helado Negro 

I have said this before but, Stage AE brings some  interesting and talented performers to our city  for a price that does not break your piggy bank. Although the show was sold out there was plenty of room and you could get as  up close and personal with the music as you liked.

 I say check out the schedule  and take a chance on the show. This one was an enjoyable enigmatic experience of music!

( I can't wait for  my next visit to  Stage AE to see the Pixies on October 4th )

Spiritual Source
We are all unique.
Yet you, LORD, our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
(Isaiah 64:8)     

Other Sources 
Stage AE upcoming events

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
Surface changes visual guitar

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!