Just like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, I had jam in my pocket watch and was running late for my big Rockmaggedon date on Friday night. The show to end all shows certainly can wait on one untimely white blonde in boots, right? No way! You want to rock, you get there on time because Rockmaggedon & Bitchin’ Burlesque Show waited for no one to blow the roof off of Smith’s Olde Bar on Friday, September 16.
The evening opened up with The Sexual Side Effects, a band that I’d heard good things about, but unfortunately I missed their opening set. When I got there in between SSE and the next band’s set, the crowd had nothing but rave reviews and comments about how refreshing SSE’s sound was to hear. I’ve put them on my “Bands to Stalk” list now. However, I did try to Google “The Sexual Side Effects” and wow – just wow – lots of medical SSEs. Once I found the band’s site, I pulled up a couple of their demos, Aurora and I’m In Love With A Girl (But She Used to Be A Man), on SoundCloud. From these two demos, I can tell you that SSE has a very solid, psychedelic sound – the kind you might hear when falling down a rabbit hole.
The second band to tear it up on stage was Asphalt Valentine. They were high energy, loud, rock n’ roll machines and apparently not Atlanta’s Dirty Little Secret as they played to a packed out room. Asphalt Valentine had a modern edgy style with a throw back sound, which was rooted in the rock of beloved 80’s hair bands like Motley Crue, AC/DC, and Bon Jovi. (Although the Bon Jovi comparison also has a little bit to do with the lead singer’s beautiful blond chin length locks.) With mega guitar riffs and wailing vocals, this was one rockin’ band that got everyone moving and shaking their hips to the beat. You can even hear the rock band goodness oozing out of their song titles (from their first album “Strip Rock Roll”): Dirty Little Secret, It’s Not Me (Baby It’s You), Be Your Drug, Down to the Aces, and Bombshell. I’m certain a few ladies in the audience were even thinking, “Hey Asphalt Valentine, I’ll be your bombshell, if you’ll be my drug!”
What’s the best way to end the rock portion of Rockmaggedon? With The Issues! Ok, imagine if you will, lead singer Mike Ness from Social Distortion getting into a knock down, drag out brawl with Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer from Green Day – the end result would be The Issues. Even though he looked like Perry Farrell (lead singer from alternative bands Jane’s Addiction and Porno For Pyros), lead singer Wayne Vokovich’s vocals sounded more like Mike Ness with a pinch of Billie Joe during the choruses. Every once in a while I got hints of influence from the punk rock band The Nobodys, like in The Issues’ F**k Me Pumps song. Overall the band had more of a pop punk Green Day feel (which another concertgoer had pointed out to me), but they also had a few songs that could be classified as purely alternative music with less of that pop punk edge. My favorite song – and by far an audience favorite – was their last song, Straight to Hell. The Issues turned it into one big sing-along, inviting their friends and everyone else on stage to sing with them and rock the roof off the SOB.
Speaking of hell and its demons, then the devilishly good looking New Orleans Jon appeared on stage to emcee Mon Cherie’s Va Va Voom – Bitchin’ Burlesque Show. To transition from rockin’ to bitchin’, Scarlett Page came out fierce in an all black ensemble, bumping and grinding to Joan Jett’s I Love Rock N’ Roll. Next up, dressed in white newbie Lola Lesoleil dared to dance a lovely tease to a dark blues-y, gritty song. Following Lola, crooner New Orleans Jon serenaded the beautiful, red feather fan dancing Chameleon Queen with The Jeff Healey Band’s Angel Eyes. Then the show took a break from its rock-themed numbers to include a bitchin’ belly dancing one. Mina, dressed in traditionally flashy, colorful belly dancer garb, played the zills, shimmied, and veil danced beautifully all over the stage for three electronic- style middle eastern songs. And finally, we were at the show’s finale – Katarina Laveaux’s sizzling hot chair tease that brought the house down and ended the rockin’ evening!
Rain and Fire in Sedona
A rainy day in Sedona? What are we going to do. Everything we have planned is outdoors. I am pretty sure that is why people come to Sedona, for the beautiful OUTDOOR activities, like hiking, biking, Jeep tours, viewing the red rocks and photography.
What to do, what to do.
Oh, I know. I had the privilege of meeting some great artists that work in fire and glass! The perfect indoor activity when your outdoor plans are washed away!
The Melting Point in Sedona, conveniently located across the street for the Whole Foods (two birds with one stone, yeah!), is a group of artist focusing on creating and teaching others how to create as well.
When we entered the facilities, it was like entering a fine arts gallery. So many beautiful works of glass art. Jordan Ford is the general manager and one of the Artists. He came out of the workshop and told us the rules, then brought us into the fold.
We were about to become glass blowers!
Jordan had a love for the natural world from a very early age. He went on to study geology in college but that is when he discovered glass. He currently has Bachelor’s Degrees in both Earth Science/Geology and Visual Arts/Glassblowing.
Jordan says , “It’s the process of blowing glass that drives me. I find the physical act of making glass so overwhelmingly fascinating. I approach most of my work with a consideration for the more classical techniques – it’s the framework that I use as a jumping point for experimentation.”
Not only is Jordan incredibly talented, he is really personable and extremely funny. He made everyone in the room feel at ease and we all often irrupted in bouts of laughter.
Another artist that was helping us is Austin Littenberg. Austin became interested in the art of glass blowing at age 16 after watching a documentary. He spent over 12 years developing his craft and learning the technical precision needed to work at this level.
Austin views the many ways Art presents itself and is in tune with it all, and it shows.
Clearly these two artist love what they do, and I for one am grateful for their expertise and their willingness to show the world their art.
They worked with us to create a beautiful cactus, complete with three flowers, one for each kid, and a Sedona rock like base. We loved the patience they showed and the skill to make us feel at ease. We never felt like we were about to do something we just couldn’t. It felt like we had been doing this before. That is the measure of a true instructor.
Our work of art was complete and we left there feeling accomplished and quite honestly, amazing!
Both Austin and Jordan have remarkable skills but also wonderful comedic timing. They were a absolutely pleasure to meet and I look forward to keeping up with their art in the future.
If you find yourself in Sedona and want to meet some really wonderful people, stop by The Melting Point and say hello! While you’re there, blow some glass!
How could I forget one of them most important things; They have a studio dog! Austin brings his sweet baby girl to work with him and she is an angel! We loved her! Make sure you give her some love when you visit!
Cry With Us! Puddles Pity Party in Orlando
I owe him a poem:
Here’s a story of a sad clown who one night in February was traveling through O-town.
He brought a suitcase and a lot of gum, he brought music and videos and tons of fun.
He sang high but mostly he sang low, and he put of one hell of a good show.
He gave a bearded guy a cupcake and danced with a lady, a wolf he would make
There is no doubt he is a boss sir, he even got love from Kevin Costner.
Fans filled the plaza for a night of delight as the 7 foot clown gave us some real insight.
He sang Bowie and Queen and even some Who, also Cash, Lorde and “Let it go” too
Videos played of pets and babies crying, also beautiful artwork and people smiling.
Last night Orlando was anything but mad as we showed much love for a clown that is sad.
Ok, I’d cry too after that poem. Here’s some more info:
If you haven’t been to see a Puddles Pity Party show, you are missing out.
The show had me smiling and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, but I was also moved so many times by the range of Puddles voice. True entertainment never gets old and I have a feeling he is going to last forever.
I loved the interaction he had with the crowd. He pulled numerous people up to help him on stage and all of them were good sports, one man even singing the entire song, “All by myself” karaoke style! The show was so well thought out and planned but with room for some hilarious improv. Especially at the end when he pulled the 3 fans from the audience dressed like clowns. At the end of them performing together, Puddles suddenly remembers that he is scared of clowns! Genius!
Hands down one of the best performances I’ve seen in years.
“20/20:Visionary”: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Last weekend (March 18-20) the Atlanta Ballet gifted the city with “20/20: Visionary,” three pieces, including a world premiere, presented at the Cobb Energy Center.
The world premiere, “Playground,” by British choreographer Douglas Lee, belied its name by being a shadowy piece danced between upright, rolling chalkboard set pieces. Prepared for a lighthearted, joyful expression of childhood, I was surprised that the work instead exposed the darker side of childhood memories. There were some light moments, such as the towering billboard inscribed with multiple lines reading, “Jackie must remember the steps” – clearly a humorous aside about Jackie Nash, one of the most capable company members and perhaps the quickest study in rehearsal. There were some easily-seen choreographic devices–a lot of theme and variation, even more pushing around of set pieces–but there were a few exceptional moments as well, including intricate, slow-motion manipulation of a dancer’s body by another dancer.
The opening work, “Boiling Point,” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, was playfully performed at breakneck speed. Dancers are often told to “make it look easy,” and the company took that concept to heart. Highlighted against the men in black costumes, the women wore bits of metallic fabric, providing splashes of intense color and exposing powerful bodies with long muscles. The piece began with the stage space open almost to its fullest, and the dancers running across like a rushing river. They rolled, twisted, turned, and slid like water itself. The choreography juxtaposed synchronicity with counterpoint, traditional with innovation. There was a gargouillade, rarely seen even in classical ballets. The lines of the bodies were critical to the piece, and often layers deep. The flow was almost nonstop, with only an occasional flick of a wrist or toss of a head to provide momentary stasis. The standout was Christian Clark, who sometimes nearly managed to integrate himself into the group but then something distinctive and powerful in his dancing drew the eye to him again.
“Home in 7,” a work by Amy Siewert, closed the concert. A portrait of Atlanta, the ballet was a rich tapestry woven from music, spoken word, and movement. Performed in 7 segments to a libretto written and performed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and an intriguing, haunting string score composed and performed by Daniel Bernard Roumain, the dance, too, was a poem, shimmering like summer moonlight on the Chattahoochee. John Welker opened the ballet with tiny explosions of movement “Secrets.” Perhaps the most enchanting segment was “Home of the Braves:” 5 men using baseball imagery, holding their formation as they slid precisely between pitches and catches. “Red Clay” evoked August nights, intolerance, and redemption—Atlanta history, a story familiar to many. I first saw this ballet in 2011, and it has grown in depth as the dancers have matured technically and emotionally. Atlanta loves its ballet company, and never more than when it showcases its home city.
John McFall is ending his tenure with the company at the end of this season. For newcomers to Atlanta Ballet offerings, this will have been a dynamic performance. For long-time supporters, it will have been an opportunity to reflect on his legacy. There are a couple more opportunities to see the company under his watch, and then he will pass the torch to Gennadi Nedvigin, the company’s fourth artistic director. Stay tuned!
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