Saturday, April 30, 2016

Go-Go the Analog Way with Dogfish Head this Fall!

Details in this post taken from Dogfish Head Brewery press release...

A celebration of all-things indie craft and now in its sixth year, Analog-A-Go-Go will be moving to Bellevue State Park near Wilmington to accommodate a lineup that’s bigger and better than ever before! The 2016 event will feature six live bands, a cask beer festival and distillery garden, an artisan marketplace, and tons of great local and food trucks from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. It’s going down September 17 from 1:00-10:00pm.

Just what can you expect?

An off-centered lineup that will entertain music fans from all genres:

  • Built To Spill: Indie rock powerhouse Built To Spill is known for heavy, catchy guitar hooks and epic live performances. 
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Originally formed in the early 60s, this traditional New Orleans-style jazz band features a rotating cast of amazing musicians who are anything but traditional. 
  • Talib Kweli: Brooklyn native, activist, and hip hop great will Talib Kewli will take the stage accompanied by a live band. 
  • Ra Ra Riot: With a new album out earlier the year, indie rock darlings Ra Ra Riot will have fans dancing with uplifting synths and catchy lyrics. 
  • Beach Slang: Philly punk mainstay Beach Slang. 
  • Fiance: These Newark, DE natives will kick off the day with their glossy, experimental pop sound. 

Hosted by Bellevue State Park

Happening in the Craft Beer Barn, guests will indulge in 10 cask samplings from some of our best friends in the business.

Limited edition beers will be pouring from:

  • Dogfish Head 
  • Funky Buddha 
  • Beavertown Brewing 
  • Sierra Nevada 
  • Allagash 
  • Stoudts 
  • Samuel Adams 
  • Iron Hill 
  • Burley Oak 
  • Shorts 
DISTILLERY GARDEN Hosted by Bellevue State Park 
Hosted on the Bellevue Mansion Lawn, guests will be treated to six scratch-made cocktails from Dogfish Distilling Co. Dogfish’s spirits employ a grain-to-glass production method, meaning each batch it crafted from scratch to deliver incredible flavor.

The Artisan and Record Market will feature over 25 artists and vendors from more than 10 states. Vinyl vendors will offer crates upon crates of new and rare LPs, while an off-centered bazaar will showcase art, crafts, apparel, jewelry, vintage goods, barware, music accessories, and more!

10+ food trucks creating a unique Culinary Trailer Park, featuring a potpourri of delicious options for hungry festival-goers. Including…

So…are you ready to go-go?
Tickets are on sale now!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Music & Visual Arts Combine in an Evening of Jazz Vespers

By Guest Blogger Sharon Bryant 
Jonathan Whitney's ensemble performs at SsAM Jazz Vespers.
Sharon has lived and worked in Wilmington all her life. She is a member of The Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew & Matthew and currently the Chairperson of their Downtown Arts Ministry. She enjoys being a part of the City of Wilmington and although she loves the arts, she truly loves the musical side of it all.

The Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew & Matthew (better known as SsAM) – which has long been known for a variety of fabulous musical programs – held a Jazz Vespers on Sunday, April 17. Named in memory of the late Rev. Rod Welles (former associate minister at SsAM and a major jazz lover), the evening had the traditional Vespers elements wrapped around wonderful music and interactive art.  Musician Jonathan Whitney, percussionist and Artist-in-Residence at SsAM, used folk artist Eunice LaFate's paintings to inspire his music. A number of youth artists – both from SsAM's congregation and from the larger community – in turn used his music to inspire their live painting.

I truly enjoyed the Jazz Vespers. It was such a soothing type of evening but at the same time very energizing. We listened intently to the music and then watched those blank canvases come to life through the artistry of the children under the direction of Eunice LaFate.

Even the audience got involved, as we were encouraged by Jonathan Whitney to walk around and watch the children at work while enjoying the music in the background. No real talking going on with us – just moving around, taking photos, quietly smiling, as we were simply in awe of it all.
Eunice LaFate poses with the young artists of Jazz Vespers. 
Amazing that Rev. Welles spirit was in the room as he would have just loved it! Oh yes, he was truly there – his God-loving spirit was in the room for real, and that was especially meaningful when we learned that the day was also his birthday!

It was an evening of truly amazing music and the first time something so interactive has happened at the Jazz Vespers! But, hey, we know SsAM is known for being first at so many great things in this community. I suspect this will not be the last time that something like this happens.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Head to 42nd Street – And Dance, Dance, Dance!

Photo courtesy of The Playhouse on Rodney Square.
Mary Ellen Hassett has lived and worked in Delaware since 1996 as a paralegal and attorney. She and her husband Keith enjoy Wilmington arts and culture and devote a lot of volunteer time to Delaware Humane Association.

The musical 42nd Street – The Song and Dance Fable of Broadway – opened with the full cast tap dancing to Audition. This high-intensity performance engaged the audience from the beginning and lasted the entire show.

Director and co-author Mark Bramble with choreographer Randy Skinner did a magnificent job in casting, directing and bringing to life the story of Peggy Sawyer (Caitlin Ehlinger), a young dancer from Allentown, PA who came to New York to audition for her first show, Pretty Lady. Peggy gets her chance to shine when the lead in Pretty Lady breaks her ankle and Peggy is asked to step in by the director Julian Marsh (Matthew J. Taylor). You'll definitely recognize several of the hit songs from this performance like We’re in the Money, I Only Have Eyes for You and 42nd Street.

All of the dancers were phenomenal, but you definitely do not want to miss the lead male dancer who plays Billy Lawlor – Blake Stadnik. Although blind since age seven, Blake led the dance routines flawlessly and captured the audience with his smooth style, charisma and charm.

Enough cannot be said about the great choreography and costuming for this performance. The full cast is used in most scenes, and it was amazing to see how they were able to fit this large group onto the small stage and execute the dance sequences with such grace and excitement. The costumes were colorful and unique and added a lot to the overall presentation.

The staging for this show is rather simple, but with all of the great choreography, costuming and dance, there is no need for anything more!

Although a musical, this performance has many comical highlights that the audience fully enjoyed. If you want to see one of the best musicals that has come to Delaware this year, come and see 42nd Street!

The show runs at The Playhouse thru April 24 during the following times: Wednesday and Thursday evening performances at 7:30pm; Friday and Saturday evening performances at 8:00pm; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00pm. Ticket prices range from $40-$90, and discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.


Artist Ave Opens Doors in Wilmington's Creative District

This post content courtesy of a press release from Artist Ave Station.

Artist Ave Station announces its official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, May 6, 3:00pm at its location at 800 N. Tatnall Street in downtown Wilmington. 

Artist Ave Station opened its doors on December 31, 2015 and has since served the Creative District community as a hub for artists, creatives and entrepreneurs to simultaneously live, work and create.

Artist Ave offers its members luxury loft-style apartments with awesome aesthetics, a high-design shared workspace and a functional creative space to get down and dirty. Tours will be available for the newly renovated third-floor studio loft apartment, which has been gutted and custom remodeled. 

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the space will showcase works by local artist and advocate Michael Kalmbach and his team from the Creative Vision Factory – an organization that provides individuals with behavioral health disorders an opportunity for self-expression, empowerment and recovery through the arts. The Creative Vision Factory members will display a mosaic tile project they've created in collaboration with Artist Ave Station.  

This event will also feature the launch of Artist Ave Station member Llennef Clothing's new spring/summer collection. 

Artist Ave Station is a purpose-built environment that specializes in providing artists, creatives and entrepreneurs with a variety of areas to focus, collaborate, lead and/or socialize. The organization offers members use of space as a gallery or pop-up shop to exhibit work and host events. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

An Much-Welcomed 'Spring Night' Courtesy of Delaware Symphony Orchestra

By Christine Facciolo

Myth, legend and a concerto featuring a most unlikely instrument filled the bill last weekend as the Delaware Symphony Orchestra (DSO) performed its Classic Series “Spring Night” at the Laird Performing Arts Center at The Tatnall School in Greenville.

This was also the occasion to honor Christopher Theofanidis, this year’s recipient of the DSO’s A.I. duPont Composer’s Award. Theofanidis, Professor of Composition at Yale University School of Music, is one of today’s most celebrated and sought-after composers. His orchestra concert work Rainbow Body is one of the most performed new orchestral works of the last 10 years, having been performed by more than 100 orchestras worldwide.

The concert opened with a performance of Theofanidis’s Dreamtime Ancestors, a 17-minute tone poem based on Australian aboriginal creation myths. Theofanidis, who spent time in Western Australia, developed a fondness for these stories while working on his oratorio “Creation/Creator” in 2015.

The stories hold that we are connected to our ancestors past and future through the land. Our ancestors made the land leaving behind remnants of their existence. That is why we feel connected to a certain place. Theofanidis’s tone poem calls the dream state an “all-at-once-time,” where there is no past present or future. He read a tone poem to introduce the audience to these concepts before his composition was performed.

The work unfolds in three movements. The first is called “Songlines.” These are the things our ancestors left on Earth, such as rivers and mountain ranges. The second movement is called “Rainbow Serpent.” This mythical character is common to all aboriginal tribes in Australia. As the serpent moved along the Earth, it left a rainbow in its wake. Its light represents the source of the sun. The closing movement “Earth Stone Speaks a Poem” tells us that even so-called dead objects have something to say.

Dreamtime Ancestors is a romantically lyrical piece of music with no sharp edges, a perfect vehicle for DSO players. Theofanidis has crafted a work that is both accessible yet rhythmically, melodically and texturally complex.

The piece opens with a horn fanfare followed by layers of strings punctuated by cymbal crashes. The initial theme recurs throughout the movement which concludes with a drum roll, cymbal crash as the strings fade out.

The strings own the second movement as their lingering sounds recall the halo effect left by the serpent as it slithered along the Earth. The energetic final movement opens with a clapboard sound (provided by principal percussionist William Kerrigan) after which the strings, then horns and winds join in. Principal flutist Kimberly Reighley offers a strong passage and the movement comes to a close with a resounding crash.

Dreamtime Ancestors was matched with a deserving rarity, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Tuba Concerto of 1954. The tuba did not gain membership in the symphonic orchestra until valves were perfected in the second decade of the 19th Century. Composers welcomed its profound timbre, but Vaughan Williams tapped into the soul of the instrument.

This is a serious concerto in three movements, complete with cadenzas in the first and third movements. In his pre-concert remarks, DSO Principal Tubist Brian Brown revealed he had studied with John Fletcher who made the seminal recording of the work under the baton of Andre Previn in 1972.

Brown delivered a performance that proved him a worthy successor. His tone was big, fat and buttery yet deft and delicate. The opening movement with its run-filled cadenza and the rapid finale were convincing even as they had their share of humor. But it was in the second movement, Romanza: Andante sostenuto, where Vaughan Williams is at his most pastoral and for those few minutes Brown made you believe his instrument is the most beautiful in the orchestra. To be moved to tears by a tuba was indeed a rare pleasure.

After intermission, the orchestra took up works by Modest Mussorgsky (1839-81) and Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971).

Mussorgsky (1839-81) was one Russian committed to making music based on his country’s folklore, rather than the refined manners of 18th Century France or Italy. His Night on Bald Mountain, composed in 1867, evokes a witches’ Sabbath on Mount Tiglav, near Kiev. So violent and strident were its harmonies and instrumentation that it shocked fellow Russian nationalist Rimsky-Korsakov, who felt compelled to purge the score of those atrocities following Mussorgsky’s death. He even tacked on a conclusion designed to bring the work into line with contemporary standards of piety.

Nothing got lost in this performance, though, as DSO Music Director David Amado drew out the shocking elements retained in the score. There was nothing refined or stylized about this performance. This was pure Mussorgsky. Punctuation by one of the Bells of Remembrance just added to the authenticity of the performance.

Furthermore, if not for Rimsky-Korsakov’s serene conclusion, we would have been deprived of Charles Salinger’s superb clarinet solo and Kimberly Reighley’s mesmerizing flute solo in the composition’s closing minutes.

Following was a knockout performance of Stravinsky’s Petroushka. This centerpiece of ballets written for Serge Diaghilev tells the story of the lonely of the sad puppet Petroushka and his said demise.

Amado led an extraordinary performance that brought out all the colors of Stravinsky’s kaleidoscopic score: the hectic opening of the Shrovetide Fair in all its exuberance; Petroushka’s pathos and his rage against the machine; the Moor’s bizarre dance with the ballerina and the eerie code with the ghost of Petroushka thumbing his nose at the magician.

Especially noteworthy were contributions from (again) flutist Reighley, trumpet Brian Kuszyk, clarinetist Salinger and pianist Lura Johnson.


Album Review: Jennifer Campbell, "Perceptions of Shadows"

By Christine Facciolo
It might seem a bit presumptuous for a young pianist to include her own compositions on her debut CD and to christen the project with the title of one of said works.

But Jennifer Nicole Campbell is not just any other pianist. Barely out of conservatory (Peabody Class of ’14) — this young artist must surely possess a bookshelf sagging under the weight of the awards she’s already won.

Those talents are brilliantly displayed in this “a-little-bit-of-everything” recording, the 10 tracks of which range from the baroque to the contemporary.

Campbell was assured and absolutely engrossing in Beethoven’s Sonata No. 30 in E Major (Op. 109) and Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 1. The former was written in 1820 when Beethoven was completely deaf. After the huge Hammerklavier sonata (Op. 106), this work marks a return to a smaller and more intimate character, one might even say, confessional. Campbell applies an appropriately gentle touch to the first movement before launching into the ferocity of the second. The calm and fragile tone of the cantabile theme of the final movement — a set of variations — provides a nice and welcome retreat.

Chopin was undoubtedly the master of the piano miniature and his Nocturnes are the best of the best. Some are profoundly beautiful while others, like the Nocturne in C-sharp minor (Op. 27, No. 1), express pathos, tragedy, even hopelessness. Written in 1845 when the composer knew he was sick with tuberculosis, this is as personal a statement as Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. Campbell’s approach is emotional without being sentimental, balanced and clearly shaded, allowing the music’s passion to emerge.

Purists might prefer their Bach played on a harpsichord. The reason is a simple and valid one: the harpsichord has a sharper tone than the piano, giving the lines more “pop.”

No matter. Campbell displays a firm grasp of Bach’s architecture, delivering a performance of the French Suite No. 3 in B minor that is appropriately sharp in contour with plenty of vibrancy and poignancy.

Campbell shows equal mastery of the music of Debussy. Her control of voicing in “Cloches a travers les feuilles” from Images, Book II is a marvel as is her ability to coax some breathtakingly subtle shades from her instrument.

Campbell is equally brilliant as she evokes the shimmering luminosity of the technically daunting “Sundrops over Windy Water” from Three Etudes (2012) by the young Israeli composer Avner Dorman.

The inclusion of David Auldon Brown’s Sonata I (1977, rev. 2008) was a splendid example of the contemporary idiom to the traditional sonata form. The composer revised the work especially for Campbell during her study at the Darlington Arts Center.

The CD concludes with two of Campbell’s self-penned works: Perceptions of Shadows, which pairs quite nicely with the Debussy and the masterful tongue-in-cheek Variations on Simple Gifts, which will surely have you playing “name-that-tune.”

Friday, April 1, 2016

CTC's "HAIR" a High-Energy Show with a Still Resonant Message

By Guest Blogger, Ken Grant
Ken Grant has worked in Delaware media, politics and marketing for 25 years. He and his Lovely Bride enjoy Wilmington's arts and culture scene as much as they can.

If you've been to a City Theater Company production lately, you know there are certain things you can expect
Photo by Joe del Tufo

  • Innovative and intimate staging
  • Great music
  • A high-energy cast that delivers the goods
This ensemble cast captures the spirit of rebellion and freedom from the 1960s and re-creates the confusion, conflict, and strange sense of hopefulness from the era.One word of warning for those unfamiliar with the musical -- there's not much of a plot to follow. A good portion of the first act serves as an introduction to our central characters, Claude (Brendan Sheehan), Berger (Jeff Hunsinger) and Woof (Adam Montgomery) -- followed by declarations by song on everything from the Vietnam War to drug use to open sexuality.

While there are a few winks and nods to current cultural conflicts, this production of Hair remains firmly planted in the Age of Aquarius.

The timeless elements remain as poignant as ever -- the conflict between a young adult and his parents, the search for an identity and a group of friends, and the difficulty of intimacy in the midst of open relationships.

Director Michael Gray and choreographers Tommy Fisher-Klein & Dawn Morningstar turned the entire room into the stage, allowing the actors to interact with the audience at a new level.

Of course, it's the 40+ songs that drive Hair, and music director Joe Trainor takes advantage of this position, exploring every facet of the musical styles featured from doo-wop to country to rock to the experimental psychedelic sounds of the 60s.

Back to the ensemble: Through most of the production, the audience sees, hears and experiences all 13 actors/singers/dancers as their lines, voices and bodies flow, merge and intertwine. The voices are both powerful and refined, expressing the boldness of youth with just the right amount of underlying uncertainty.

If you lived through the 60s and want to take a trip down memory lane, this production will have you smiling fondly at the passion of youth. If you're younger, you might be able to see how this musical paved the way for musicals like Rent and Green Day's American Idiot.

Hair is playing April 1-9 at the Black Box at 4 South Poplar Street in Wilmington. For tickets, go to