March 15, 2016
Closing out our Monk-in-Motion series is young South African jazz vocalist, Vuyo (Vuyolwethu) Sotashe, the 2nd Runner-Up of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition (vocalist). Check him out on March 19!
Tribeca PAC: What do you love about performing?
Vuyo: I’ve always loved to sing. I grew up singing in church and I have always believed that there was something transcendent and spiritual about how the voice engaged in expressing our stories this way. I’ve also found a great deal of joy in connecting to the individuals I sing to – there is a sharing of energy between that happens between the messenger (performer) and the receiver/s (audience) that is so special. So, whenever I perform/sing, I look forward to those moments of transcendence, connectedness and communion, if and when they happen.
Tribeca PAC: How would you describe your sound? Who influences you?
Vuyo: I believe my sound, in many ways is a product of many influences, both musical and personal/life influences. I grew up hearing a lot of music from my own people (Xhosa people), whether it was mother singing in the kitchen or at church, or the kids down the street singing as we played, or the local radio station, or songs from stories my grandmother would tell us when we visited. That have become a part of who I am and have emerged in my vocal expression. I love jazz music, both South African and the American tradition. I studied this music and it has become the base upon which I’ve built a lot of my compositions. I also like to think of my sound like “home”. I hope that this is how the listener feels when they hear my music.
Tribeca PAC: Where/when did you start singing?
Vuyo: I can’t quite remember when I started singing. I’ve asked my mother this question before and she seemed to not recall it as well, haha. But I do remember singing for an audience for the first time – it was at one of my primary school assemblies at Butterworth High School in South Africa. I don’t remember what I sang, I can only recall that my older brother, who was a few grades ahead of me, was really proud :)
Tribeca PAC: Who are your top 3 favorite performers?
Vuyo: That’s a very difficult one. Right now, in no particular order: Sarah Vaughan, Caetano Veloso, Abbey Lincoln
Tribeca PAC: What’s next for you in 2016?
Vuyo: I’ll be launching a project and possibly recording by the end of the year. I’m in the process composing, arranging and collaborating with some of the most gifted musicians I have had the honour of working with. There are some dates for upcoming, exciting performances available on my website – www.vuyosotashe.com – where you can sign up for my mailing list to keep updated on whats happening in my journey.
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March 7, 2016
Coming up next in our “Next Voice You Hear” series is Jayme Stone, bringing his Lomax Project to TPAC. If you don’t know Alan Lomax, read what Jayme has to say about his sounds, and then check out the concert on March 11!
Tribeca PAC: What drew you to Alan Lomax?
Jayme: I started listening to field recordings twenty years ago when I took up the banjo. Alan Lomax is of course one of the most prolific folklorists of the 20th century and this project gave me the chance to dig deeper into his vast archive. I love the diversity of the songs he collected and revel in discovering new sounds, stories, and people through the process.
Tribeca PAC: What can audiences expect to hear?
Jayme: We play a good many of the songs from the Lomax Project album. On this tour, we’re also debuting fourteen new songs that we’ve unearthed and dusted off from the Lomax archive. Bahamian sea shanties, Georgia Sea Island spirituals, ancient Appalachian ballads, fiddle tunes, and work songs collected from both well-known musicians and everyday folk: sea captains, cowhands, fisherman, prisoners, and homemakers.
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March 1, 2016
Our Monk in Motion series continues with First Runner-Up of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, Veronica Swift, on March 5 at 7:30pm. We spoke with Veronica about her musical background and influences, and her upcoming plans. Take a look, and join us this weekend!
Tribeca PAC: What’s your favorite part about being a performer?
Veronica: It gives me the Power of self-expression. I have found myself throughout my years especially in school having a hard time with communicating and connecting with other individuals, especially those my age. So music is a way for me to accurately represent myself and tell a story that relates to others’ experiences.
Tribeca PAC: Who or what influences your musical sensibility?
Veronica: As a jazz vocalist I have always been drawn into the elegance of June Christy, and the fiery rhythmic subtlety of Anita O’Day. Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross gave me the chops of a bebop instrumentalist and Peggy Lee and Billie Holiday as well- these singers I have been studying at a very young age thanks to the upbringing I had in a bebop household of two famous jazz musicians (pianist Hod O’Brien and singer Stephanie Nakasian). As a composer and writer I have always associated with the stylings of Strayhorn and Pete Rugolo.
Tribeca PAC: When did you know you wanted to be a professional singer?
Veronica: There was never a distinct moment n my life- having been brought up with heavy background in bebop and traditional swing, I was on the road at a very early age with mom and dad- recording and performing professionally since age nine (my first appearances at Jazz Standard and the Telluride Jazz Festival.) This has always been the way of life for me.
Tribeca PAC: What albums or artists are you listening to now?
Veronica: I never stray from my roots- the more I listen, the farther back in time I go. As a child I had become familiar with the greats of the bebop era (like Bud Powell and Bord and Diz and the Adderly brothers), then I found myself moving towards the great big bands (some of my favorites being Stan Kenton Orchestra and Artie Shaw’s band as well as Basie and early Duke). Today I spend a lot of time transcribing Boswell Sister arrangements and studying the music of the Ted Weems and Ben Selvin Orchestras and Original Memphis Five and Hot Fives/Sevens. This has contributed to my versatility and ability to sing in many different styles.
Tribeca PAC: What’s next for you in 2016?
Veronica: I plan to release my upcoming album “Lonely Woman” and begin rehearsing with my band “The Rebop Orchestra.” We plan to bring back obscure but fantastic tunes from the bebop and early swing era that never made it to the mainstream and academic realm. I hope to influence my fans (be they young or older) to revisit this time and learn about the unheard gems that people have forgotten.
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February 8, 2006
Our annual Monk in Motion series kicks off on February 20 at 7:30pm with this year’s winning jazz vocalist, Jazzmeia Horn. We spoke with Jazzmeia about her influences, passions, and upcoming adventures. Read more below, then grab your tickets to see this incredible singer.
Tribeca PAC: How old were you when you started singing?
Jazzmeia: I started singing in the church choir at 3 years old.
Tribeca PAC: Who is your greatest musical influence?
Jazzmeia: God is my greatest musical influence.
Tribeca PAC: How do you relax, or what do you like to do in your “free time”?
Jazzmeia: In my spare time I like to take my daughter to museums and parks. I also like to paint and dance.
Tribeca PAC: What do you have coming up in 2016?
Jazzmeia: Beginning of 2016 Jan 15-Feb 14 tour of Austria/Germany. Recording Mid April. Spain in August. Germany again in September and October.
Tribeca PAC: What do you like best about singing in New York?
Jazzmeia: What I like best about singing in New York is the opportunity itself! The great jazz clubs, church vespers, and performing arts centers are slim and having the opportunity to play my music and share my gifts in these places makes me so happy! I am very grateful!!!
Also, prior to the concert on 2/20, Jazzmeia will be interviewed in depth by Willard Jenkins. 6PM – Free.
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January 29, 2016
Hilarious stars from our upcoming annual stand-up event (Friday, Feb. 5) talk all things comedy, New York, and blizzard. Check out their thoughtful and humorous answers to our questions below, and then grab your tickets to ‘The Art of Stand Up with Rick Younger’ for only $15!
1) Tribeca PAC: What interests you about comedy?
Nicky Sunshine: I really enjoy uplifting and encouraging people. Life has its tough moments. A kind word, joke, or funny story can alter someone’s mood and brighten their day.
Pam DeButts: Comedy is the most uncensored, unadulterated and unapologetic form of truth. Comics take what people are secretly thinking and give these thoughts a public forum. Comics see the world as it is, recognize the futility of it and transform that into a hysterical form of art.
Jimmy Son: Stand-Up comedy is an art form that allows me to share with the world my story and my opinion. I get to create art/content for others to appreciate but most importantly, makes me feel great about myself.
Jim Mendrinos: The immediate connection with the audience. I adore that you get an instant reaction. Although on the rare occasion where the reaction is anything less than absolute adoration I hate it.
2) Tribeca PAC: Who are your biggest comedic influences? And/or which comics do you love to watch?
Sunshine: My favorite performers include Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Joan Rivers, Martin Lwarence, Wanda Sykes and Chris Rock.
DeButts: Some of my top comedic influences are Rita Rudner, Dana Carvey, George Carlin, Mel Brooks, Ricky Gervais, Martin Short, Kristen Wiig and Robin Williams.
Son: Joan Rivers for both. She had to fight tooth and nail for everything she achieved and she could care less what other people thought about her or her comedy.
Mendrinos: Growing up it was Freddie Prinze, Robert Klein and George Carlin — all NY guys. As for the people I love to watch now, Louis CK, Colin Quinn and Elaine Boosler.
3) Tribeca PAC: What are you looking forward to in 2016?
Sunshine: I’m really looking forward to more political humor on the presidential candiates in 2016. I’m quite antiestablishment so I really enjoy seeing the entire election process implode. So far its been the most entertaining reality show of the year.
DeButts: I look forward to continuing the progress of my comedy career and to working with more and more talented comics and artists.
Son: Trying new types of jokes, no one expects to execute.
Mandrinos: The show at TPAC! My series Living In Exile is on Tibi TV, and more episodes come out in the fall. That will be fun.
4) Tribeca PAC: What do you like about playing New York shows?
Sunshine: I like shows in NY because audience members come from all over the world. It forces you to write material that is universal and relatable. New Yorkers are tough. Its hard to shock them. Being in a liberal environment really allows performers to express themselves and explore all types of subjects no matter how taboo.
DeButts: New York shows are great because the audiences are diverse. You get to perform your comedy for people of different national origins, ethnicities, ages, races,etc. If your comedy works on a diverse audience, especially on one that doesn’t speak English, you are on your way to comedy success!
Jimmy: Born, raised, and live in New York. Nothing beats being home.
Jim: Smarter crowds with higher expectations. They make me raise my bar because they raise their bar.
5) Tribeca PAC: Blizzards: hunker down or go to Central Park for sledding?
Sunshine: I dislike the cold. During a blizzard I prefer being in the kitchen cooking. I love food. I produce a web series called “Lets Get Greedy”. Food rocks!!!
DeButts: Hunker down. I am a homebody who enjoys Netflix and blankets.
Son: Stand on the sidewalk and watch other people slip and fall down trying to cross the street filled with snow and ice.
Mendrinos: I’m getting older, one fall and I may need to get a life alert, so I’m gonna play it safe and take the snowstorm as a good excuse to Netflix and chill.
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December 14, 2015
In preparation for Christine Spero Group’s upcoming concert at TPAC this Friday, December 18, we spoke with Christine Spero about her inspiration, her sound, and the holiday season. Enjoy!
How would you describe your sound to audiences?
Christine: Our group has a contemporary jazz, pop, Latin, Brazilian sound. We’ve created an exciting blend of these diverse styles in the music I’ve written on our first two cds, We Call It Music and My Spanish Dream as well as on our tribute Cd to Laura Nyro, Spero Plays Nyro. I am a product of the sixties and seventies so the popular music of that time colors my ideas. I have recorded with different rhythm sections but my current group with Elliot Spero on saxes and percussion, Scott Petito on bass and Peter O’Brien on drums bring their unique influences of jazz and fusion to my music as well as Laura’s. On Spero Plays Nyro, we kept the integrity of her music alive while adding touches of our own styles of playing. We opened up on some sections with horn, piano and bass solos and I added some new vocal parts and harmonies. On that Cd is a song I wrote in honor of Laura Nyro and John Coltrane called, “Laura and John”.
What do you find compelling and/or challenging about Laura Nyro’s music?
Christine: Laura Nyro’s music is so filled with rich piano chords, unique progressions and passionate melodies that seem so natural and yet are deceptively difficult to sing as her range was very wide. Her lyrics were so deep, sometimes cryptic and she was as much a poet as a songwriter. Because Laura passed away in 1997 after many hiatuses from the music business, the challenge is to raise awareness of her music which has gotten lost in obscurity but deserves to be heard by everyone.
What do you find different about performing for New York audiences?
Christine: To play Laura’s music in New York is special as she was from the Bronx and also lived in Manhattan. Her third album is called New York Tendaberry, a word she coined. Many of us remember her wonderful Carnegie Hall Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve shows in 1969-70. They would sell out in just a few hours. I am a New Yorker and we have a special bond with Laura’s music. New York was her city.
How do you plan to spend the holidays?
Christine: Always with my family by a nice warm fire and my piano! This time is very precious to me as I’m a mother and grandmother. I try to stay close to home this time of year and play a lot of solo gigs in the Catskill mountains where I live.
What’s up next for you?
Christine: We will be bringing this show out to the mid-west and west coast after a few in Connecticut, Long Island, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We also will be performing my original music in different venues and festivals and are planning to release three singles in 2016.
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October 28, 2015
TPAC interviewed Rick Weil of the Grip Weeds, a contemporary rock band of 4 members who are extremely close, in preparation for their upcoming Tribeca Spotlight concert on Friday, November 20 at 8pm.
Tribeca PAC: How would you describe the sound of the band?
Rick: The Grip Weeds are a contemporary indie band with retro and modern influences. We are sometimes called “Garage Rock”, but our influences go beyond that. While we have long been inspired by the music of the mid to late ‘60s and bands like The Beatles, The Byrds and The Who, our energy is totally current, and modern bands such as Tame Impala have also affected us. Starting with our first album (House Of Vibes) we mapped out a wide musical territory– our music has elements of modern, classic and garage rock, power pop and psychedelia, from which we draw to create our own unique sound.
How does being family affect the way you work together?
Rick: Being a family band brings much intensity to the music. Drummer/vocalist Kurt Reil is my brother, and by this point we have a musical communication and harmony that goes beyond words. Kurt is also married to guitarist Kristin Pinell, and they balance a creative and personal relationship in the band. This can create at times Fleetwood Mac like emotional rollercoasters, as psychological buttons can get pushed. Recently there were stresses that threatened the continuation of the band, but the family ties ultimately proved stronger and the band is working better than ever. The music is stronger as a result, and we’ve been able to withstand pressures that might have broken up another band. Our newest release How I Won The War is based on the struggles we had, but as the title says, we won!
Tribeca PAC: What do you like best about playing for New York audiences?
Rick: We draw serious music fans in New York, many who have been following us since our first shows here. They are very passionate and really “get it.”
Tribeca PAC: What’s your favorite Halloween candy?
Rick: I like Ritter Sport bars. My brother likes M&M’s, but not the brown ones!
Tribeca PAC: What’s coming up next for you?
Rick: The Grip Weeds are backing up music legend Mark Lindsay (former lead singer of Paul Revere & The Raiders) on the Flower Power Cruise in late Feb 2016, where we will be performing alongside ‘60s/70s legends The Turtles, The Grass Roots, Jefferson Starship and others. We will also be backing longtime friend and lead singer of The Smithereens Pat DiNizio in January. We hope to be working on new recordings as we wait out the Winter. Performances in support of our latest release How I Won The War will resume in the Spring.
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May 1, 2015
We caught up with Grammy nominee Ruthie Foster, who will be bringing her mix of blues, soul, and gospel music to Tribeca PAC on Friday, May 8 at 8pm!
Tribeca PAC: Who are your biggest musical influences?
Ruthie: My family was a huge influence on my early musical development, they were all amazing singers and musicians. Other than them, the greats, Ella, Etta, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, even Sam Cooke.
Tribeca PAC: What do you like best about playing live?
Ruthie: I love the energy of a live audience. It’s like going on a journey with a bunch of strangers, you never know what’s going to happen.
Tribeca PAC: What do you want audiences to leave your show feeling?
Ruthie: Well I hope they leave feeling a hallelujah time, because I know I always do!
Tribeca PAC: What are you looking forward to this Spring?
Ruthie: Seeing my Tulips in the yard come out again. And some warmer weather J
Tribeca PAC: What’s next for you?
Ruthie: I try to live in the now, so you never know..
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April 1, 2015
We’re looking forward to Friday, April 10 with band leader Bob Belden and Animation at our Lost Jazz Shrines Series, celebrating The Royal Roost and the legendary Miles Davis. We spoke with Bob about his feelings on Miles Davis and his recent appearance in Iran. Read below to find out more, and then join us on the 10th.
How has Miles Davis influenced your music, and/or your musical style?
Miles Davis was a rare individual musician that meant many things to me in different ways. He seemed to be a curious, progressive musician who always put music ahead of everything else in life and paid the price but earned the rewards. I felt that the music that surrounded Miles Davis represented a pinnacle in the convergence of imagination and taste, to find the elegance in darkness and the beauty in tragedy. One can absorb his music in different ways that are manifested abstractly or literally. I’ve always felt that its important to expand on ideas from the particles of inspiration.
Can you talk a little about your experience playing in Iran recently?
Performing in Iran was an amazing experience for not only me but the members of ANIMATION, who are all on the gig for the LJS. As jazz is a language that is absorbed thru the soul there was a strong sense of love between the audience and us. Being the first musicians from the United States of any genre to perform in Iran since The Revolution of 1979, the surrounding environment was something that could never be found in a modern Western Jazz or Music Festival. There was a lot at stake in ways beyond music.The Iranians respected us for our musical abilities and not for our celebrity status. For us this was a nice way to say hello, to establish a great rapport for collaboration in the future.
(l to r: Jair-Rohm Wells and Bob Belden)
What can TPAC audiences expect to hear at the concert?
Consider that two of the most important artists in Jazz were visual artists; Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. Both understood figurative drawing, Duke was actually offered a scholarship based on his artistic skills, hence his ability to create aural portraits of musicians and people, places and events. Miles Davis was also a visual artist, expressed in his personal fashion sense as well as his paintings. What we would like the audience to experience is a mix of “seeing in the imagination” and “hearing what you visualize”. One of the textures that is most important in music is that of the immediate environment that surrounds the musicians at the time of a particular event or recording. As the Royal Roost was broadcasting in 1948 the actuality of Manhattan was a mix of Majesty and Tragedy. There are many parallels between 1948 and 2015 that make the immediate atmosphere of our concert that much more prescient. The displacement of people from their homes via Slum Clearance in 1948 and Income Disparity in 2015. The segregation in housing and business, the tough attitude of the establishment towards the impoverished, the demonization of philosophies and religions to instill fear, exclusion and paranoia. This was 1948 and this is 2015.
(l to r: Roberto Verastegui, Jair-Rohm Wells, Bob Belden, Bob Belden, Pete Clagett & Matt Young)
What do you like best about playing for a live audience?
Being with my band, Pete, Matt, Roberto and Jair-Rohm, in front of human beings with nothing to hide and nothing to lose. To be able to walk on the edge at all times without fear of falling, or when you fall you turn that into something wonderful. If we can create magic beyond the notes and offer a movie of the mind this is what we like best about playing live. We have a chance to make an immediate impact and embed imagery and sounds and textures and stories and human emotions inside the hearts and souls of the audience.
What other bands or musicians do you admire?
I am not the kind of person who is into admiring as much as understanding and respecting those who I am exposed to in music and in life. Of course I really like the musicians in ANIMATION.
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March 23, 2015
TPAC had the chance to speak with the band members of Hot Peas ‘N Butter, a band for all ages, appearing at the theatre on Saturday, April 11 at 1:30pm. Check out their thoughts on playing for young audiences below, and join us for some family fun on the 11th!
What do you like best about performing for kids and families?
Hot Peas member, Danny Lapidus: The audience reaction! Kids are, literally, the best audiences since they have no problem letting the feelings out…and when they feel great at a Hot Peas ‘n Butter concert and they sing along, dance in the aisles and do all the motions in every interactive song! (we hope they always feel great)
What’s your favorite song to perform?
Danny: So difficult to say, we love them all! Lately, we’ve really been enjoying performing “Fresh Spokes” which wrote for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis. It deals with topic of Bicycle safety – you can watch the video here:
What can audiences expect at one of your shows?
Danny: At a Hot Peas ‘n Butter show you can expect to sing a long to songs from around the world! The bilingual songs are so interactive, you don’t even need to speak spanish to sing a long! You can also expect to laugh, dance, and be surprised!
What are you looking forward to this Spring?
Danny: Wow….we have so many exciting things that we are looking forward to! We are filming a new video! Releasing a whole bunch of new music! And embarking on our spring tour! (Also, we can’t wait to go spring snow skiing)
Describe the band in three words.
Danny: Fun for Everyone!
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February 24, 2015
How old were you when you first started dancing?
What can audiences expect when they come to this performance?
Amanda: Audiences can expect to see some of my signature choreographic structures — riveting ensemble work, heart-pounding athleticism, innovative partnering, the juxtaposition of pedestrian movement and artistry. The piece is episodic, made up of a series of short sections, each introducing an opportunity to find yourself anew in a different way. There is a sense of searching, falling down, getting up again, facing obstacles, gaining courage, discovering play, and re-grouping oneself again and again throughout the piece. This dramatic intent motivates and inspires the choreography. As the various sections layer on top of one another, different dancers are highlighted in several solos and duets, giving the audience windows into each of their individual journeys. The piece raises questions more than finds answers, and aims to create a sense of unity in the ensemble sections — a feeling of being fully present and not being alone. So as individual dancers search for direction, meaning, and grounding, they find agency, celebration, and discovery in the search. They are renewed and re-energized to face the challenges with a sense of possibility and abundance.
What’s your best advice to aspiring dancers?
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
What is your preferred winter snack or beverage for keeping warm?
Amanda: I am always drinking hot green tea. I drink pots and pots of it in the winter time. Favorite snack, hands down – avocados.
January 30, 2015
Check out this video on comedy inspiration from upcoming performer Leighann Lord, and then grab tickets to her performance at TPAC on Feb 6!
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December 22, 2014
October 28, 2014
Former Stars of Frankie Valli & The 4 Seasons: The Hit Men will be performing a special holiday show here at Tribeca PAC on Saturday, December 13 at 8PM. Below is a special message:
It’s a night of your favorite mega hits and holiday classics performed rock and roll and “Four Seasons style” by THE HIT MEN: Amazing performers, superb musicians, superior vocalists, arrangers and composers, whose members were stars of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Tommy James & the Shondells and other mega-hit acts of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Saturday, December 13 at 8PM
September 16, 2014
Check out our recent interview with New York-native and upcoming TPAC performer, Peter Cincotti! We hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoyed speaking with him – and don’t forget to grab your tickets to his show on October 25 at 8pm!
Tribeca PAC: As a New York native, what do you love about performing in New York?
Peter Cincotti: To me there’s no show like a New York show. Partly because I was born and raised here, and that alone makes it special. But also because it’s the best city in the world!
Tribeca PAC: What can audiences expect to see/hear at your show?
Peter Cincotti: I’m excited about this show because we’re going to play a bunch of brand new songs from my upcoming album, which is scheduled for release next Spring. So this audience will get a sneak peak of that and also hear some familiar songs from my last few albums, as well as a few surprises.
Tribeca PAC: Who are your musical influences and/or heroes?
Peter Cincotti: Everyone from Ray Charles to Katy Perry to Alan Jay Lerner to David Guetta has influenced me, although those names look strange in the same sentence. I find elements in so many different kinds of music that trigger something in me which inspires me to approach music from ever changing angles. My heroes are the artists who’ve built careers by following their gut and creating their own path.
Tribeca PAC: You’re a writer, model and actor in addition to a musician. What upcoming projects do you have in the works?
Peter Cincotti: I have a variety of projects currently in the works. I’m in the middle of writing and recording my next album, planning upcoming tours, and I’ve also been involved in a couple of theater projects, one of which is a new musical I’m writing with my sister Pia who is a playwright. We’ve been part of the Dramatist Guild Musical Theater Fellowship this year and I’m really exciting about seeing this show come alive on stage.
Tribeca PAC: Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Peter Cincotti: Ving Rhames.
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Dar Williams concludes our season, Friday, June 20 at 8PM
We recently caught up with the very talented singer/songwriter Dar Williams:
TPAC: You’ve been recording and making music for a long time. What continues to inspire you as an artist?
Dar: Simple things that are suddenly meaningful, like today I was on the Great Wheel (a Ferris wheel) in Seattle and I loved how I could literally feel things coming around again and again. I remembered that things are always coming around! I felt a surge of optimism as I passed the city and the Sound and the city again.
TPAC: What are you looking forward to about playing in downtown New York?
Dar: There are lots of good ghosts in downtown NYC. Lots of history that I can feel, even with the new buildings. It brings out the warmth in audiences too.
TPAC: What can an audience expect to see/hear at one of your concerts?
Dar: I have a wonderful keyboard player named Bryn Roberts who makes me sound good. People can look forward to Bryn. And I intend to look very good, too.
TPAC: You also tour as a speaker and teacher. How does this area of your life inform your music, and vice versa?
Dar: Richard Thompson has a line, “I am a traveler by trade, I only have what I have made. A fortune teller too, they say.” Being on the road for twenty years has given me something to say even though it’s hard to know how a career ” grows”. It sort of accumulates after a while. I know things about how certain audiences, towns and moments come together and I like to talk about them.
TPAC: Can you tell us one silly or fun fact about yourself people may not know?
Dar: I can walk on my hands for hours. I used to spend more time upside down than rightside up. Also: huge disco fan.
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Dar Williams talks about about In The Time of Gods and how it relates to Greek mythology in this interview:
Dar Williams – In the Time of Gods
The initial idea came in a flash. Dar Williams was driving on an isolated highway, crossing from New York into Ontario, surrounded by frozen fields, silver trees, and empty sky, when inspiration struck.
“I thought, ‘I want to write a biker song!,’” Williams says with a laugh. “And then my second thought was, ‘I want to write an epic biker song.’ The Greek messenger of the dead is named Hermes, and I want to write about him-the god of travelers and thieves.
“I had this picture of Hermes starting to take a silver-haired woman down to her death, as she’s asked him to do, and instead he seduces her, saying ‘I love people like you who are experienced and worldly.’ And then I thought, why don’t I really freak out my record company and make a whole album about Greek mythology? So I decided to look at each of the gods of the Parthenon and see if their stories sprang to life for me or not.”
And from that moment came “You Will Ride With Me Tonight,” the fifth song on In the Time of Gods, the ninth studio album by the beloved singer-songwriter. Produced by Kevin Killen (who has worked with such giants as U2, Elvis Costello, and Peter Gabriel), and featuring a remarkable set of musicians including Larry Campbell, Charley Drayton, Gerry Leonard, and Rob Hyman, the ten songs that resulted from exploring this theme became some of the richest music and most evocative writing of Williams’s career.
The complex and mysterious world of mythology aligned with several other issues that Williams was grappling with. “I’m interested in power right now,” she says. “I’m in my 40s, and I’m shocked that the café conversations I had in my 20s-’Somebody has to do something!’- are now my responsibility. I see people who are actually doing things that you always dreamed somebody would do, and I can help make that a reality. So the stakes are higher, in a good way, but you also see the shadow, the reckless behavior, where a person can lose it all in a weekend.”
Of course, the ceaseless turmoil in the world today is of great concern to this seasoned artist who’s also a wife, mother and “involved neighbor,” as she puts it, active in her community. “A lot of what’s going on is actually really gross,” she says, “and to see it as epic, instead of doomed, is helpful for me. These stories and characters helped me make sense of it.”
Williams, though, wanted to be sure that she was serving the songs themselves, and was prepared to abandon the mythology theme any time it didn’t naturally fit; “I didn’t want it to be a gimmick or a test,” she says. But she was pleased to find how flexible and expansive these archetypes really are. “The Light and the Sea” began with the notion of the sea god Poseidon, but became a meditation on retaining a moral compass.
“As I get older, my big struggle isn’t being virtuous and moral, it’s more about what I do in chaos,” says Williams. “When I’m stressed out, I say and do terrible things. There’s a light to follow, and you can lose it in chaos.”
Other songs brought ancient themes directly into the Hudson Valley home Williams shares with her husband, their son, and their young, Ethiopian-born daughter. She describes “Write This Number Down” as “an Athena-ish song” written for her younger child. “It’s telling her not to lose faith, because even when the justice system isn’t up to what you want it to be, there will be networks of people who will help you find justice.”
Williams also wanted to write a song for her husband. “When I go on the road, there’s an understanding that it is part of our relationship,” she says. “In the Parthenon, there is one goddess-Vesta, goddess of the hearth-who sits in the middle of the hall stoking the fire. I never thought that I needed a hearth, but that’s my home, and also my marriage, an anchor in my life that just gets better all the time. So ‘I’ve Been Around the World’ does correlate, but I would have written that story no matter what.”
As documented on her last album, the 2010 two-disc retrospective Many Great Companions, Williams’s growth as an individual over her almost two-decade-long career has gone hand-in-hand with her evolution as an artist. Raised in Chappaqua, N.Y., and educated at Wesleyan University, Williams spent 10 years living in the thriving artistic community of Northampton, Mass., where she began to make the rounds on the coffeehouse circuit. Joan Baez, an early fan of her music, took Williams out on the road and recorded several of her songs.
In 1995, two years after self-releasing The Honesty Room, she signed with Razor & Tie Entertainment, beginning a relationship now in its 16th year. Along with her studio albums, she’s also released the onstage document Out There Live (2001) and the DVD Live at Bearsville Theater (2007).
The final song on In the Time of Gods manages to bring all of her concerns-social, creative, and personal-under one roof. “We have a mountain close to our house called Storm King,” says Williams. “When a circle of clouds gathers around the top of it, that means the rain is coming. Pete Seeger lives across the river and can see the mountain, and I wrote a song saying that Pete is the storm king now. He looks down and watches over us, guides and warns us, like the mountain does.
“So my ‘Storm King’ is not a king of Greek mythology,” Williams continues. “He’s a father figure who influences me from two miles up the road, where he composts and chops his own wood, and reminds me of my responsibilities. ‘Storm King’ is my way of saying that we aren’t living in 400 BC Greece, we are evolving in time. And that’s what you’re allowed to do with mythology-to let it evolve and show who your Parthenon is now.”
That’s the great achievement of Dar Williams’s album. With ease and grace, it reminds us that wherever we are, whenever it may be, we are always living In the Time of the Gods.
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May 6, 2014
Lisa Loeb has kept very busy lately spoofing Oregon’s poor health care roll-out, the latest auditions to the upcoming Star Wars film and, of course, with her concert tour that makes its way to NYC at Tribeca PAC, May 22 (just before Memorial Day Weekend, the “unofficial” start to summer in the entertainment world).
Lisa Loeb is a Grammy®-nominated singer/songwriter who started her career with the platinum-selling Number 1 hit song “Stay (I Missed You)” from the film Reality Bites. Her acclaimed studio CDs include her major label debut, the Gold-selling Tails and the Grammy-nominated, Gold-selling Firecracker, The Very Best of Lisa Loeb and her latest No Fairy Tale. Lisa Loeb has successfully parlayed her talents into a multidimensional career encompassing music, film, television, voice-over work and children’s recordings.
We caught up with the very talented Lisa Loeb.
Lisa Loeb performed on May 22 at 8PM.
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October 28, 2013
Trick or Treat Safety Tips:
Theatreworks USA’s production of Bunnicula was a big success and this family musical about a vampire rabbit was perfect for this Halloween season. Children had lots of fun before the show with activities sponsored by NY Kids Club and received a very nice backpack as well.
Another local business, Canis Minor, sent over a representative with some very appropriate Trick or Treat tips. Check out the clip below:
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October 25, 2013
Our 30th season got off to a running start this year with the New York Premier of the film documentary Maria the Korean Bride. We are very happy that the film is being picked up for showings around the country. This is especially nice because the artist and bride Maria Yoon is a Tribeca neighbor.
Our pals over at Theaterworks USA are stopping by Sunday, Oct. 27 with the not-too-scary tale of Bunnicula, the vampire rabbit. Tickets! This lively musical is based on a very popular series of children’s novels and parents will get a kick out of it too! We’re celebrating some new partnerships with this show as well; KidsClubNY will be sponsoring some activities in the lobby prior to the show, so get there early; and our favorite pet supply store, Canis Minor, will be offering some tips on animal safety in this Halloween season. Speaking of Bunnicula, script writer Charles Busch is performing in Midtown on Thursdays at 54 Below.
Next up in our Family series, New York’s premiere storyteller David Gonzalez, who has appeared here before with his hit shows Aesop Bops, The Frog Bride and Sofrito, will be bringing another of his modern full of mystery and magical musical folk tales, Sleeping Beauty, to us on Sunday, November 17. Tickets.
September 23, 2013
Coming up THIS SATURDAY, September 28 at 4pm, Tribeca PAC will screen the New York premiere of Maria the Korean Bride, a documentary about performance artist Maria Yoon’s travels across America to marry 50 husbands in 50 states in order to examine the tradition and culture of marriage.
We had the chance to speak with a few of Maria’s “spouses.” Read below for their insights on the film, meeting Maria, and what marriage means to them.
Meet Flex Lopez – the Groom from New Jersey:
TPAC: What was my first impression of Maria?
Flex: I get a phone call from a friend of mine telling me that thereâ‚¬â„¢s a woman there that wants to meet me. So of course the first thing that goes thru my mind is that itâ‚¬â„¢s a joke so tell them Iâ‚¬â„¢m busy, but he tells me just get my butt there, so I agree.
I walk in and thereâ‚¬â„¢s Maria speaking with the owners. They wave to me and tell me to come over that they want to introduce me to someone. We get introduced and she (Maria) begins to explain to me the reason why sheâ‚¬â„¢s there and why they called me, so as Iâ‚¬â„¢m listening to her all Iâ‚¬â„¢m thinking is ‘Iâ‚¬â„¢m going to choke one of my friends for playing this joke on me.’ Then Maria begins to show me pictures of what she has be doing, so now Iâ‚¬â„¢m thinking ok and I thought I was nuts – LOL. She explained a little more and I can see as sheâ‚¬â„¢s talking how serious this was to her so I paid closer attention and chatted for a little while and the rest is history. But of course when you have someone talking to you that you just met asking you to marry them, your going to think there a little nuts â‚¬¦â‚¬¦ especially when its hard enough to ask a person you want to marry.
TPAC: Did this experience influence or change your perception of marriage?
Flex: Well, letâ‚¬â„¢s just say that Iâ‚¬â„¢m still patiently waiting for the right woman to come along. But after being around Maria and watching what she as accomplished, marriage will definitely be in my future.
TPAC: Did you enjoy the experience? Would you do it again?
Flex: It is probably one of the craziest things I have ever done, and thereâ‚¬â„¢s been lots of them, and was glad that I did because I was able to help someone accomplish their goal .
Next time will have a little bit more fun with it â‚¬¦..
TPAC: what advice do you have for others on marriage?
Flex: The best advice I can give is to communicate, be part of each otherâ‚¬â„¢s lives, learn what makes them happy and be be involved. But of course coming from the man who has been the biggest Influence in my life, My dad, who past away 15yrs ago, once said if you want to make your Marriage work always keep her happy cause in return she will always make you happyâ‚¬¦â‚¬¦.
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Sept. 10, 2013
Meet Frank Carpenter – North Dakota Groom:
TPAC: Have you been engaged or married since your “marriage” to Maria? If no, do you think you want to have a long-term marriage eventually?
Frank: No I have not been engaged or married since Maria
TPAC: What was your first impression of Maria?
Frank: She was a very cute and surprisingly talkative. Very pleasant to be with.
TPAC: Did you tell your friends and family that you were marrying Maria? How did they respond?
Frank: Yes, I told the world or at least everybody I knew.
TPAC: What can other people learn from Maria’s project?
Frank: Choose wisely, choose for yourself !! Note! Id marry her agian if given the chance. lol.
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September 3, 2013
Meet Jack McCann – Maria’s Rhode Island Groom.
TPAC: What made you want to get involved in Maria’s project?
Jack: Life is short. I try to make the most of it. This seemed like a memorable experience.
TPAC: Did this experience change or influence your thoughts on marriage?
Jack: Yes, it made me realize there are a lot of cultural differences in the US and in the World.
TPAC: What do you remember most from the day?
Jack: Wondering if this was an actual marriage or maybe I was being secretly filmed for sometime of prank TV show.
TPAC: Would advice do you have for anyone considering getting married?
Jack: Find a mate who is complement. Opposite attract!
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Meet Alicia Greene- Maria’s Massachusetts Bride:
TPAC: Why did you decide to “marry” Maria?
Alicia: I saw an ad for the project and I thought it was a fresh voice and new perspective on topics that I’ve heard discussed before. I wanted to be a part of it.
TPAC: Did this experience influence or change your perception of marriage?
Alicia: This experience influenced and confirmed my perception of marriage. I grew up in a small community in Kansas. There were only a few representations of happy marriages as I grew up. I participated in Tom Thumb weddings, pageants and debutante balls. Marriage was an expectation for women like me and had a certain “look”. I did not see many variations of that idea and I knew at an early age that I did not want that kind of life. I believed I could be happy while defining my own relationship. Marriage or not.
TPAC: Did you tell your friends and family that you were marrying Maria? How did they respond?
Alicia: Yes, I did tell my friends and family. The people that matter most to me were not really surprised. But, it was interesting trying to tell my fianc© that I got married 9 years ago.
TPAC: What do you most fondly remember from the ceremony?
Alicia: How beautiful it was!
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August 27, 2013:
Meet Steve Warren – Maria’s Georgia husband:
TPAC: What made you decide to “marry” Maria?
Steve: I’m an actor. It was a gig. It helped that I was intrigued by the concept but I probably would have done it anyway.
TPAC: Did you tell other friends/family beforehand? What was their reaction?
Steve: It didn’t seem like that big a deal. About the only person I mentioned it to was the filmmaker I borrowed the lab coat from, since I was supposed to be a marine biologist for our wedding in front of the Georgia Aquarium. I had worn the coat in his horror film, where I played a mad scientist. Fortunately he got the blood out.
TPAC: Are you and Maria still in touch?
Steve: We are. We’ve stayed in contact and have seen each other a few times. I went to the film’s premiere at the Sarasota Film Festival last spring and hope to go to Atlanta when it screens at the Korean Film Festival.
TPAC: What did you learn from the experience?
Steve: It helped put my real-life relationship of nearly 25 years into perspective. Whatever my reasons for “marrying” Maria, I got a good friend out of the deal; and after the honeymoon is over, that’s what counts in the long run.
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August 21, 2013:
Meet Ram Devineni – Maria’s New York Husband
TPAC: Did your experience with Maria change or influence your opinion of marriage in any way?
Ram: Not dramatically. I am still single, even after I married Maria. I always knew relationships are complicated — that is why I appreciated what Maria was doing.
TPAC: Are you still in touch with your “bride”?
Ram: Yes! Maria and I have become good friends. I think all of her “significant others” have stayed in touch with her because she is a sweetheart! Even the Liberty Bell rings her up sometimes — they were married on August 23, 2006.
TPAC: Did you tell your friends and family that you were marrying Maria? How did they respond?
Ram: I told everyone, and pretty much everyone did a double take. But, once I explained to them that it was an art project, they appreciated it. Only people I did not tell were my 90-year-old grandmothers in India — I did not want to give them a heart attack!
TPAC: What does marriage mean to you?
Ram: Marriage = commitment (love)2 / friendship x understanding (trust + 1.376).
TPAC: The wedding ceremony took place at Times Square! Is there anything you wanted to add about that experience?
Ram: Being in NYC, I felt it was very close to Maria’s heart. This was the last and final wedding in her very long art project, so it was both a celebration and a conclusion. There were “significant others” from other states attending and many of her family and friends were there too — I was glad to be a part of it.
June 11, 2013
Check out our interview with 2012-13 Artist-in-Residence Luke Murphy.
TPAC: What are your biggest inspirations or influences as a performer?
Luke: I like to keep my eyes open and I like to let things I see in lots of different art forms influence me. I find myself really drawn to performance work which moves between the realms of theatre, dance, film, storytelling etc and when I’m looking at how I’m trying to communicate I like to employ techniques used in other art forms. I’ve been studying a lot of architecture recently so that’s really given me some fresh things to consider when dealing with space and light. For this work I’ve definitely been quite influenced by the time I spent working with John Kelly.
TPAC: What’s the history of this piece?â€š How long have you been working on it?
Luke: The idea for this piece was originally for a solo work that was mainly dealing with iconic ideas of the alpha male, it developed in research last year to become a quartet and I became really drawn to the story of Icarus. We’ve been working on it as group now for about five months.
TPAC: What should the audience at TPAC expect to see?
Luke: I think the audience should expect to see a work that plays hopscotch through the grid of dance and theatre. We’re not trying to tell a linear story but the work does have a narrative.
TPAC: After this presentation, where can audiences see more of your work?
Luke: Well in the immediate future Icarus goes on to Premiere at the Cork Midsummer Festival in Ireland from June 28th-30th. The work I made at TPAC last year, Drenched is having its New York Premiere at the Lamama Moves Festival from July 5th-7th and I’m in post production for a dance film I made with Carlye Eckert and David Fishel.
June 6, 2013
Check out our interview with Artist-in-Residence Aaron Sherwood of Purring Tiger.
TPAC: How long have you been incorporating multi-media into live performance? What do you think it adds to both the performer and the audience’s experience?
Aaron: We started performing using multi-media right from the start, a few years ago. We thought it would be great if a dancer’s movements could actually generate and control sounds and visuals. It’s a somewhat novel, but really pleasing experience to have one’s movements controlling these things. We don’t use them as an end in themselves, but just as another tool in our palette. Hopefully the audience will experience joy and wonder, and a type of performance they’ve never experienced before.
TPAC: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to work with Purring Tiger?
Aaron: My background is in music and Kiori’s is in dance. We started collaborating a few years ago and Purring Tiger was born.
TPAC: What can the audience expect from your piece?
Aaron: A heart wrenching, yet ultimately cathartic, journey through life & death. Mizaru is the name of one of the three wise monkeys in Japanese culture, better know in English, as See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil. In our piece, we use this concept to explore how our culture deals with death. It seemed to us that for the most part, in our culture we are afraid to die, and we invent countless number of distractions to divert ourselves from our own mortality. However, by removing these distractions one by one and embracing the fact that this very moment is precious and will never come again we find that we actually become more alive. This is the journey Mizaru embarks the audience upon.
TPAC: Do you have anything coming up you’d like to promote?
Aaron:Mainly our shows at TPAC today and Friday! We also received a grant from Burning Man to bring an installation version of Mizaru to Burning Man this summer. If anyone wants to help out and contribute to this please go here and click Donate: http://www.purringt.com/mizaruinstallation