Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Plus: Closing party this Sunday...

You've still got time to see some great shows of remarkable performers. Here's a rundown of whom I've already seen and have heard great things about, drawn from a posting I did at The Washington City Paper's audience commentary, more useful than the reviewers' own comments.

Some of the best one-person shows aren’t getting the attention they deserve in this Fringe Festival. I’ve personally seen a few great shows, and have heard good buzz about others. You can see the times and ticket information on the Capital Fringe website or at this full schedule; in most cases, you can walk right in and buy the tickets in cash, and save the $3 processing fee.

There are also strong reviews for some plays, including at Theater J in a drama about Herzl and Sharon and the founding of Israel. As the Washington Post reported yesterday:

David Zellnick's "Sharon/Herzl," a world premiere, is part of Theater J's "Voices From a Changing Middle East" series, a mini-festival within the Fringe. A work that's technically still in progress but feels nearly full-fledged, the play runs in an entertaining bare-bones production at Theater J through Sunday. (Those planning to attend should note that it runs about 20 minutes longer than the two hours cited in the Fringe's online guide.)

The play flashes back and forth between the lives of Sharon, the controversial Israeli politician, and Herzl, the Budapest-born writer-visionary who championed the idea of a Jewish state starting in the late 19th century. Zellnick tracks contrasts and parallels between the two lives, raising provocative questions about how violence, pragmatism and utopian yearnings have fit into the history of Zionism.

Note: I'm planning to see the 3 p.m. Sunday show....

The post also highlighted the best of the fringe shows likely to make it into the broader mainstream theater world, including some I'm planning to see, such as Air Heart, the show on Amelia Erhart. Here's the round-up of their latest picks. But they missed, for the most part, some of the great solo performers I've seen or have created strong word-of-mouth:

Slash Coleman’s Neon Man and Mean is both a moving and hilarious look at the death of his best friend. It’s good enough to be on PBS next year, and you shouldn’t miss it. You can learn more about his show at www.slashcoleman.com.

Courtney McLean is a rising young star with a magnetic stage presence and a great flair for comedy who does a lively parody of women’s magazines, adding a mock sci-fi element. The show is Super Glossy, and you can samples of her work and learn more at www.courtneymclean.com.

Zerha Fehzal does a brilliant reading of a one-person presentation, derived from a Japanese play she edited, on Hitler’s machinations to rid himself of his best friend, Ernest Rohm, head of the Stormtroopers. It’s an effort to bring Hitler down to human scale so we can better understand his evil. Here’s what DCist said:
Zehra Fazal Shines @ The Fringe Festival

Zehra Fazal in My Friend Hitler“If I do my job as an actor, you won’t notice that I’m South Asian or that I’m a woman, or even that I’m playing one of the most controversial political figures of all time. I’m portraying a person at a crossroads struggling with a difficult decision.” So says Zehra Fazal (pictured right) of her striking portrayal of Adolf Hitler in her self-produced, one-woman adaptation of Yukio Mishima’s play, My Friend Hitler, currently running at the Capital Fringe Festival.

An experienced young gay and African-American comedian, Les Kurkendaal, transcends those “categories” with a well-reviewed show about a “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”-style comedy scenario involving a black man meeting his white boyfriend’s parents in “Christmas in Bakersfield.” It’s been shown for seven years at a row at the Minneapolis fringe festival, and he’s a steadily working comic, so he’s got the comedy skills needed to make the show a treat for all. You can learn more and see video excerpts of his act at www.myspace.com/leskurkendaal.

Also check out John Hefner, the estanged cousin of Hugh Hefner, in his acerbic and humorous take comparing his life to his famed womanizing relative. You can check out more about his act at www.myspace.com/hefnermonologues

Air Heart, the one-woman show combining acrobatics and a lively monologue on Amelia Erhart, is one of the hottest ticks around.

Go to the links to the schedule on this website, or on the festival website, http://www.capfringe.org/ for more information.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Here's Internet radio's "killer app" -- totally free software called "BOOMbox Internet Radio," that allows you to select from thousands of stations, and, then, simply, click on the "Super Duper Recorder" and it captures the streaming audio, separates them into separate tracks with song/artist ID and saves it to your hard drive. CAUTION: don't click on the casino software that comes bundled with the program, but it's left blank in the set-up, so if you just go through the standard set up, it should work fine...Worth looking into. Here's the program's download site and reviews, plus a thoughtful write up by the radio expert at about.com. Happy listening....but, again, stay away from the casino program....

A great way to hear concert music for free is to check out these classic concerts by superstars at Wolfgang's Vault. You may need to register your email address, but practically anyone you've ever admired, from Bob Marley to Van Morrison to Springsteen to Dylan (I believe), are on this website for hours of in-person live music.

Another resource to check out is my friend Tom D'Antoni's radio show, every Saturday night West coast time, 10 pm to 1 a.m., featuring jazz and blues at this cool Portland station, KMHD. See http://www.kmhd.fm/. Here's a long excerpt from his latest blues and funk tribute show I managed to record off the air, then convert to an Mp3 file (call or write if you want to learn how to record and store streaming music) , including a full-length album of the Neville Brothers very last live appearance at New Orleans Jazzfest. (When you see the speaker icon comes up, double-click on the speaker icon, and a player bar comes up and you can start playing it.) Here's his own blog, with a complete playlist of his show and pictures from the Portland jazz festival, plus links to his other writings and his amusing book, Rabid Nun Infects Entire Convent and Other Sensational Stories from A Tabloid Writer.

Tom knows more about jazz and R&B than anyone I know, and could probably go head-to-head with Elvis Costello (and Garry Giddins) in a match over obscure artists. For a sample of his eclectic array of musical interests, check out Tom's CounterPunch magazine playlist, and search on that website for his other listings. As many of you know, I'm a music buff (well, fanatic), and I invariably find that Tom's been playing not only some artists that I never heard, but never even heard of -- and welcome the chance to discover. So will you.

As for my tastes, you can sample them at my Yahoo radio station, although you may need to press down your control button while left-clicking on your mouse to avoid a pop-up blocker, or possibly even download a valuable software program, Yahoo Music Engine, to hear my eclectic roots music artists. (I'm not sure if that link works, but give it a try.)

For $6 a month, the Yahoo Music Unlimited service is the best streaming music deal on the web, and I recommend it.Go here for a free 14-day trial of the service. You can select full-length albums by artists you like ,program your own "radio station," and even pay cheaper-than Itunes rates to download songs. (If you want to know how to capture for free any streaming music for a permanent .mP3 file to burn onto a CD or download to your computer, call or write me.)

And speaking of New Orleans, probably the greatest music radio station on earth is WWOZ, the New Orleans public radio station, mixing blues, funk, R&B, jazz and whatever else sounds great. It's worth supporting with donations and presumably has links to other worthy New Orleans causes.....

Right now, Pandora.com offers the best selection of free music in stereo you can select that matches your taste. (If you're interested, I can email you my radio stations on that site I've programmed, geared to artists who share the sound and spirit of Alison Krauss, John Coltrane, Van Morrison, Skip James and other personal favorites. )But their services, as with those provided by Live366.com, the most wide-ranging array of music on the web, including world music, are all threatened by a ruling by an obscure copyright royalty board that threatens to bankrupt and silence them all if they're not stopped this month from implementing their draconian new rates. So write your Congressman and Senator through this coalition website,SaveNetRadio.org, designed to protest the ruling and save Web radio.

So take action, and, check out the Web for happy listening!

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