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Hunka Hunka Hot Elvis at the Cobb Energy Centre!

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If mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery, then a group of Elvises paid the ultimate tribute to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll on Sunday, January 15th, as they brought down the packed house at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Centre. “The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Event,” ELVIS LIVES, was held for one night only in Atlanta. (And that’s a damn shame! So, for those of you who missed it – pack your bags and take a road trip to go see ‘em! OR request that they stop back through Georgia. A list of tour dates is provided below, but keep reading to see how Elvis will make it worth your while to go. *wink*wink*) But what a fitting way to celebrate Elvis a week after his birth date (January 8)!

The two act show ran flawlessly for about three hours with one brief intermission. Four tribute artists sang, hip swiveled, pelvic thrust, and boogied down as Elvis during different stages of his life and career. The Elvis heart throbs include Victor Trevino, Jr., Kevin Mills, Ben Klein, and Bill Cherry. Victor Trevino, Jr. (Our TBB exclusive interview with him!) was the first up and played the young Elvis through the height of his 1950’s popularity and as Elvis during his time in the army. Kevin Mills took it from there as the movie star Elvis who falls in love with Ann-Margaret (Lori Russo). A black leather clad Ben Klein was 1968 Comeback Special Elvis and flashy jumpsuit-wearing Bill Cherry was Las Vegas Concert Elvis through 1970’s Elvis. All acts were approved by EPE (Elvis Presley Enterprises) Graceland to be a part of the production prior to performance – that means these guys were the cream of the Elvis impersonator/performer crop!

The show was every bit as hunka hunka as you could imagine with tanned, pomade styled black hair, tight pants wearing Elvises giving it their all on stage. The show even included a light display, backup singers and dancers, a live band, and a video screen. It was a full on Elvis party! The video screen was used as a tool to show off Elvis pictures, provide images during transitional background stories, and as a big video picture for the current stage show so those in the back could clearly see the current Elvis performer. (My only gripe with the picture screen was during “Jailhouse Rock” when they showed a cheesy digital jail graphic and during “In The Ghetto” when they opted to show pictures of slum-like areas and people hard on their luck – it didn’t tie back in with the way the rest of the show was going.)

As Elvis grew up before our eyes on stage, he also became more personable. Klein’s 1968 Comeback Special Elvis (third Elvis out of four) joked with the crowd and played his mom’s favorite love song, “Are You Lonesome Tonight” on an acoustic guitar. I don’t know if it was the full on leather suit (he made jokes about its comfort) or his smile, but women in the first few rows were yelling, “Take it off!” to which he replied, “You first,” with a sly smile. Here’s where I should mention that the crowd was comprised mostly of senior citizens and probably 50/50 of men and women. (There were also some younger folks in the crowd too. I saw a guy who was probably in his 30’s, dancing and singing his heart out next to his pregnant wife.) When he sang “Suspicious Minds,” the crowd really started to dance in their seats and sing along. During intermission and after the show, I found out that quite a few of the older folks had seen Elvis in concert before (including my mother!) and thought that all four Elvises were spot on in their performance, but mostly, they loved Cherry’s performance as Las Vegas Concert Elvis through 1970’s Elvis.

Cherry didn’t fail to disappoint – especially the women on the first row! He had his Elvis Vegas gear on, including several scarves, and the women went nuts. Senior citizens started acting like teenage girls! It was like the most amazingly hilarious and weird twilight zone episode ever! (I about fell out of my chair!!) After he hugged and kissed the first lady and gave her one of his scarves, it was like sharks that just smelt blood – they all started reaching up to grab him. He even had to tell one eager women to close her mouth when he kissed her! He ended up giving his last scarf, which he dabbed on his sweaty brow, to a little girl who was being held up by her daddy because she was “too cute!” And every single time Cherry turned around in his tight white pants – and he do so often! – the women screamed and howled like hound dogs on the trail of a fox. Everyone knew the show was coming to a close as Cherry sang, “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” which is the last song Elvis always sang at all of his performances.

Lord Almighty! I definitely felt my temperature rising higher as four hot Elvises nailed their performances on stage – and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only audience member to feel that way! If you get a chance, definitely go see ELVIS LIVES live so that you can celebrate rock ‘n’ roll history and see why the real Elvis was indeed deserving of the title, “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

http://www.elvislivestour.com/

ELVIS LIVES 2012 Tour Dates:

01/19 – Lafayette, LA — Heyman Performing Arts
01/20 – Dallas, TX — Majestic Theatre
01/21 – Texarkana, TX — Ross Perot Theatre
01/23 – West Palm Beach, FL — Kravis Center
01/25 – Ft. Pierce, FL — Sunrise Theatre
01/26 – Lakeland, FL — Lakeland Center
01/28 – Jacksonville, FL — Times Union Center for the Performing Arts
01/29 – Pensacola, FL — Saenger Theatre
01/30 – Little Rock, AR — Robinson Music Hall
01/31 – Broken Arrow, OK — Broken Arrow P.A.C.
02/01 – Columbia, MO — Jesse Hall
02/02 – Lawrence, KS — Lied Center of Kansas
02/04 – Rosemont, IL — Rosemont Theatre
02/06 – Sioux City, IA — Orpheum Theatre
02/07 – Cedar Falls, IA — Gallagher-Bluedorn P.A.C.
02/08 – St. Louis, MO — Peabody Opera House
02/09 – Lexington, KY — Lexington Opera House
02/10 – Clinton Township, MI — Macomb Center for the Performing Arts
02/11 – Lima, OH — Civic Center
02/12 – Champaign, IL — Assembly Hall
02/15 – Great Falls, MT — Mansfield Theatre
02/16 – Idaho Falls, ID — Colonial Theater
02/17 – Billings, MT — Alberta Bair Theatre
02/18 – Bozeman, MT — Brick Breeden Fieldhouse
02/19 – Casper, WY — Casper Events Center

Art

Rain and Fire in Sedona

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Ange Alex

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!

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Artists to Watch

Cry With Us! Puddles Pity Party in Orlando

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Ange Alex

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.

 

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Dance

“20/20:Visionary”: Looking Back, Looking Forward

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Photograph by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

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.

Pen-Yu Chen & Tara Lee in “Boiling Point.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

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.

“Red Clay” from “Home in 7.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

“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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