September 2, 2016 |
Of all the Philadelphia stories to imagine, this is one few would see coming: a balmy summer night atop a double-decker bus ambling down South Broad Street with a pair of hipsters leading a sing-a-long to "Tomorrow" from the Broadway show Annie , quietly sung with thought and soul. Then the situation got serious on Sunday in the Double Decker Music Series tour, a two-hour excursion that features two music groups in each of its two hours playing atop a bus that snakes all over Center City, South Philadelphia, and Fairmount.
March 3, 2016 |
Growing up in West Philly, Joshua Dingle struggled with such a severe stutter he could barely form a sentence. His parents tried speech therapy, but it didn't work. Then an unexpected breakthrough at age 12 changed his life. "My parents introduced me to music and theater," Dingle said. "It wasn't because of my speech impediment, but because I needed something to do at that age. " Dingle said that within six to 12 months, his speech became "near-perfect. " "It was like a miracle," he said.
January 21, 2016 |
The pianist arrives as the food court clock strikes noon. A jazz man at heart, the pianist exudes class. In his sweater vest and tie, Mark Randall sits down at his Baldwin, his sweet, battered Baldwin, nestled among the marble tables and plastic ferns, under the neon lights of the China Pagoda restaurant and the Hair Express salon. He begins to play. A standard, always. Porter. Gershwin. Jimmy Dorsey, perhaps. Some barely notice Randall as they pass through the old Lit Bros.
April 9, 2015 |
Joni Mitchell's health crisis - the Canadian songwriter was found unconscious March 31 in her Los Angeles home and rushed to the hospital - put a scare into legions of fans. Many can't get that line, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone" - from "Big Yellow Taxi" - out of their heads. Mitchell, 71, hasn't released a new album since 2007's Shine . Even ardent followers who scooped up last year's high-concept, self-curated box set, Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting to Be Danced , or celebrated a victory against ageism when she was featured in an Yves Saint Laurent ad campaign, would admit her greatest work was decades behind her. But then, as now, you don't have to go very far in the singer-songwriter universe to encounter the presence of Mitchell, who "continues to improve" and "is resting comfortably" in an L.A. hospital, according to her website.
January 24, 2014
MY HIGH-SCHOOL haircut is in mourning today: The Captain and Tennille have called it quits. This one definitely came out of left field, and while the last time I thought of them was when Reagan was still in office, it's hit me pretty hard. Why, you might wonder, am I grieving over the breakup of a couple I never met and that was capable of producing "Muskrat Love"? It's complicated. At the most simplistic level, I hate change. Those who think that evolution is what keeps us alive (beyond the literal, Darwinian sense)
November 2, 2013 |
The musical Once , currently enjoying its first national tour, is a far simpler affair than all its awards (among them eight Tonys, one Grammy), accolades, and devotees might indicate. Adapted from John Carney's 89-minute 2007 independent film, which was even simpler than its staged twin, Once follows a Dublin busker boy and a Czech immigrant girl over the course of a week as they make beautiful music together. Both onscreen and onstage versions feature Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's Lumineers-y romantic stomp-alongs and wistful ballads for solo and duet, all heavy on minor-chord yearning, with lyrics such as "I wouldn't trade her for gold/I'm walking on moonbeams.
July 16, 2012 |
In the summer of 1997, as a young reporter scouring the suburbs for stories, I landed on the Sunday front page with a 1,000-word ode to a Swarthmore College professor's belief that kids growing up in the ugliest of places could make the most beautiful music. Back in the corner, another fight is brewing , the story began. Up front, a couple of boys are dozing. But in the middle of the school bus lumbering toward some of Chester's most impoverished neighborhoods comes a voice straight from the heavens.
July 16, 2012 |
Several years ago, when I was working for a congregation of Catholic sisters, I visited their mission in Swaziland, a landlocked country in southern Africa. Swaziland is ruled by a king who has been known to make Parade Magazine's list of "world's worst dictators. " St. Philip's Mission is far removed from any city and most of the nearby homesteads have no running water or electricity. Rural Swaziland only began to get pit toilets in the 1990s. St. Philip's has a school, medical clinic, and orphanage that houses 127 children whose parents died from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, or other diseases that are all too common in region.
June 15, 2012 |
There's a not a band in the world better at projecting postmillennial unease on a grand scale than Radiohead, the six-man art-rock outfit from Oxford, England, that spent a lovely late-spring evening in Camden on Wednesday making beautifully jittery music. All century long, ever since the career-redefining Kid A in 2000, Radiohead has been turning inward, relying on fractured polyrhythms, ambient textures, and Thom Yorke's elegantly alienated vocals to convey a sense of sublime digital-age anxiety.
May 19, 2012 |
In its East Coast premiere, Daniel Catán's operatic version of the film Il Postino is infinitely more engaging than one could ever have predicted from an opera that has little exterior action, characters that aren't especially heroic, and music that hasn't a fraction of the usual tension of the opera's 20th-century predecessors. You aren't likely to walk away from the Center City Opera Theater production, which opened Thursday at the Prince Music Theater, thinking you've seen a masterpiece.