May 11, 2011 |
James Blake has the element of surprise working for him. The 22-year-old Londoner first became known last year as a producer of dubstep, the British club-music micro-genre marked by throbbing, reverberating bass. But that was "a long time ago," Blake said on Monday night during his first Philadelphia performance, at a sold-out First Unitarian Church, where the show was moved to from Johnny Brenda's to accommodate demand. "Well, not that long. But you know how the Internet is. " Yes, we do. The Internet is a place where an evolving artist can grow up, and be scrutinized, in public long before putting out a full-length album.
April 27, 2011 |
BROADWAY MUSICALS run in packs. This time last year, several were rocking the house - "American Idiot," "Million Dollar Quartet," "Fela," and "Memphis. " (And the latter plays here this week in a closed-circuit video version; see sidebar.) This spring on Broadway, "high-stepping" song and dance spectacles are busting out all over again. But the attitude flaunted in "The Book of Mormon," "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" and "Catch Me If You Can" is fresh and just a little wicked.
April 21, 2011 |
NEW YORK - Dear Lord, what is that joyful noise rising to heaven from the spirited, snazzily habited stage nuns at the Broadway Theatre? Could it be - the Philadelphia Sound of the '70s? Could it be - the new Broadway musical Sister Act , fashioned from Whoopi Goldberg's movies and counting her among its producers? Is it - reset to take place in Philly? If you answered yes to all three questions, you are now free to study your catechism without interruption. Or better yet, save it for later and go get the well-worn lessons that make the American musical form work again and again: Good goes up against big-time evil, but wins.
April 20, 2011 |
NEW YORK - Dear Lord, what is that joyful noise rising to heaven from the spirited, snazzily habited stage-nuns at the Broadway Theatre? Could it be - the Philadelphia Sound of the '70s? Could it be - the new Broadway musical Sister Act , fashioned from Whoopi Goldberg's movies and counting her among its producers? Is it - re-set, to take place in Philly? If you answered yes to all three questions, you are now free to study your catechism without interruption. Or better yet, save it for later and go get the well-worn lessons that make the American musical form work again and again: Good goes up against big-time Evil, but wins.
April 5, 2011 |
True icons of music are being celebrated with new releases and a little help from their friends. ROBBIE'S BACK: Just because he's doing a couple of TV shows - "Late Night with David Letterman" tonight, "The View" tomorrow - is no reason to conclude Robbie Robertson will be hitting the road again. The guy famously gave up touring decades ago in the rockumentary "The Last Waltz. " Still, there's juicy news for fans. Robertson's "How To Become Clairvoyant" (429 Records, A)
March 25, 2011 |
Maybe John Muir was a fool. Muir, the godfather of contemporary environmentalism, was among the first activists to proclaim the "oneness" of humans and the natural world, and to insist that we seek to live in harmony with our surroundings. So convinced was he of nature's essential goodness that once, during a midnight temblor, he ran out of his cabin crying, "A noble earthquake! A noble earthquake!" After recent events in Japan, it's hard to see his point. For the last half-century, Americans have been atoning for the environmental sins of their forefathers, essentially buying into Muir's worldview.
March 22, 2011 |
THERE SEEMS little doubt that Sasha Wrencher was born to sing. "She'd been singing since she could talk," said her stepfather, Bishop James Warren, pastor of the church where Sasha was the star soprano. "She had such a strong voice, she was the sole member of the soprano section of our choir. " In addition to dazzling the parishioners of Pleasant Hill Church, in West Philadelphia, Sasha took her amazing voice throughout the region as a member of a family gospel group and at various functions where religious music was the feature.
December 29, 2010 |
The moment Imowo Udo-Utun fell into Bishop McDevitt High's basketball lap, thigh bones were not exactly snapped in two. Only 155 pounds can be found on his 6-4 frame; look hard, they're there somewhere. But while you're in search mode, don't bother scanning Cardinal Dougherty's 2009-10 roster, assuming you can find one. Hoopswise, Udo-Utun was nowhere to be seen last season. After enjoying decent success on Dougherty's 2007-08 freshman team, then hardly playing at all on the JV squad a year later because, by his own admission, he "wasn't strong enough," Udo-Utun sat out his junior year to concentrate on academics.
December 28, 2010 |
ANNIE L. Duncan, a longtime church leader, had a knack for making the Gospel practical and understandable, especially to young people. "She showed how the Gospel could apply to everyday life," said her daughter, Gloria Whiting. Annie would gather young people around her and pray with them and teach them the practical truth of the Bible, her daughter said. Annie Duncan, who founded the Holy Ghost Crusade Church in North Philadelphia, and was a spiritual leader who took her dedication and compassion to wherever it was most needed, died Dec. 17. She was 83 and lived in West Oak Lane.