Friday, December 28, 2018

Springsteen on Broadway (Netflix) - Review

Springsteen on Broadway (Netflix)

Imagine an almost completely unadorned stage in, for Broadway, an almost small theater, seating only 960 people, an audience Springsteen says is about as small as any venue he's played in the past forty years. Bruce comes on stage in a t-shirt carrying a guitar. He talks, he sings, he plays guitar, harmonica, and piano for nearly two hours, and never loses his audience, either in the theater or in front of their ROKU TV set, not for a second, as he weaves his story in songs and narrative from his many recordings and lovely, evocative writing. 

Springsteen isn't an actor, yet strength, character, passion, and warmth come through in almost every word he speaks. His singing is already known to his millions of fans as evocative, raw, rich, and true. As a solo singer, without the richness of his band behind him, the words take on even more power and conviction as he sketches out his life from his awkward and difficult childhood through his long musical adolescence, to his emergence as a true rock star and then the voice of a generation. 

Patti Scialfa Springsteen makes a brief appearance, for two songs, about two-thirds of the way through the one act show. Springsteen talks about his youth, his discovery of rock and roll, the power of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, his discovery and invention of the Asbury Park music scene, and his growth as a person and a musician. He talks movingly and deeply about his relationship to his parents, his father difficult and distant, his mother able to dance through life...always positive. And these people are brought to life through Bruce's expressions of love and gratitude to and for them. His special tribute to Clarence Clemmons brought me to tears, as did several other sequences. Others, particularly his first experience driving a car cross-country for his first experience driving, with a stick shift no less, is laugh out loud funny. In short this performance of Springsteen on Broadway provides bang-up entertainment with Bruce Springsteen often opening up in ways seldom seen in concerts and impossible in books. 

Bruce & Patti Scialfa Springsteen

With ticket to live concerts by top rock, country, and pop bands in many venues having posted prices of up to several hundred dollars and scalpers asking and getting over $1000 a seat, the future of streamed major concerts seems to be in the future for many music, and theater, fans. With subscription plans in the $10.00 - $12.00 per month range, and the variety of programming seemingly almost unlimited, streaming seems to be the entertainment value of the present and for quite some time into the future. If you haven't discovered streaming yet, you have a happy surprise in your future, reaching way beyond what's on commercial or even premium cable television. 

I can't recommend this concert performance any higher. It offers one of the most entrancing and enjoyable two hours of music and talk I've ever heard. 

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Kominsky Method - Netflx Review

We haven't watched a half hour situation comedy on television for years. I don't know how many it's been, but the cuts and ads we've seen simply haven't motivated us to be willing to endure the increasing number, rate, and time taken up by endless, repetitive commercials. A few months ago, knowing for sure we were going to spend increasingly less time on the road, we dipped our toes into streaming television, and a new world opened to us. I'll have more to say about this part of the journey in another post. Suffice it to say that our viewing habits have had a remarkable change worth writing about extensively on this blog. 

The Kominsky Method, starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin as two aging friends living through the crises affecting to old men, is a half hour laugh out loud comedy/drama which captivates almost immediately while encouraging the viewer to keep on watching until the season ends leaving us waiting eagerly for season two. Nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, the series, which only debuted in November of 2018, has yet to be reviewed, so one can only hope.

Michael Douglas

Alan Arkin

The eight episodes currently available on Netflix tell the story of Sandy Kominsky, one hit wonder actor who has become a drama coach in Los Angeles, and Norman Verlander, a crotchety semi-retired agent, whose wife of fifty years dies in opening episode. Their relationship forms the core of this always engaging program as they negotiate their own relationship along with their trials and tribulations with their daughters, lovers, and work. The dialogue is snappy, often profane and off-color, laugh-out-loud funny, and real. The drama is often touching as these two fine character actors open themselves, wounded as they may be, to each other while seeking to find meaning in their lives. For me, each episode ended too soon. As episode eight ended, I was already looking for more.....

Part of the fun in The Kominsky Method comes from the use of guest cameos, sometimes larger than the ordinary guest appearance of a major actor, like Eliot Gould and Ann Margaret, with Gould playing himself reading an Alex Trebek commercial, and Margaret playing a close friend of Verlander's late wife. Both appearances touch the heart while challenging the memory. 

Chuck Lorre

Produced by Chuck Lorre, often called "The King of the Sitcom" has produced and/or directed many commercial situation comedies which have been major hits on network TV as well as long-running money-makers for the networks. Shows like The Big Band Theory, Grace Under Fire, Two and a Half Men and others have broken boundaries to expand the limitations of the genre. Moving to streaming television on Netflix has increased his ability to broaden his scope and given him a larger pallet of language, nuance, subtlety and courageousness to explore. He accomplishes this with infectious glee.

All of season one of The Kominsky Method is currently available on Netflix, a subscription television service available through your favorite streaming device. We use ROKU, with which we are pleased and thankful to have as the quality of commercial television continues to decline, reaching its low during the weeks during the Holidays, dominated by parades and sports. Great buys in smart TV's will be available as the post season shopping may be even better than the seasonal period just past. Enjoy!

Friday, December 14, 2018

YeeHaw Music Fest - January 15 - 20, 2019 - Preview

The YeeHaw Music Fest will be kicking off its 25th Anniversary season at the Agri-Civic Center in Okeechobee, Florida on January 15th and run through January 20th with the quality and fan-friendly warmth that has come to characterize events promoted by Evans Media Source. Once again, Ernie and Debi Evans have brought together outstanding national bluegrass bands with high quality regional bands. Highlights will be Hall of Famer Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver along with IBMA Entertainer of the Year Balsam Range. The usual round of engaging activities will continue from the moment the gates open on Monday until the last act closes on Saturday evening. Camping facilities are convenient, hot showers available. There will be quality vendors offering a range of festival foods, and plenty of jamming around the Park. Located in southern Florida, warm weather, even in January, is the standard. We always look forward to kicking off our winter season with this historic festival, once located in a pasture about thirty miles north of Okeechobee in YeeHaw Junction and now celebrating its fourth year in the wonderful Agri-Civic Center, located just on the edge of Okeechobee.

Agri Civic Center, Okeechobee, FL

The Agri-Civic Center provides plenty of space for all kinds of RV's including water and electric. The shed provides almost unlimited space for holding a bluegrass festival, offering good sound, space for vendors, including an RV display, and all-season cover along with convenient flush facilities and easy access. Shuttle services help convey festival goers from their sites to the performance areas, including the main stage and the workshop stage.

The Lineup and Schedule:

Doyle Lawson & Quicksiilver (Sa)

With more than fifty years in bluegrass, Hall of Famer Doyle Lawson has played in some of the most important bands in bluegrass history, as well as fronting his own band for decades. Once again, this year, they have been named IBMA Vocal Group of the Year for their solo work as well as their gospel quartet. Fans across the country continue to be captivated by this man and his band. 

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver - 

Balsam Range (Fr)
Buddy Melton

Founded only eleven years ago, Balsam Range has established a remarkable record of recording success and high level recognition, with three IBMA Entertainer of the Year awards and fiddle player/vocalist Buddy Melton having scored three Male Vocalist of the Year awards. This year, bassist/band emcee Tim Surrett was named Bass Player of the Year, too. Hailing from the rural mountain county of Haywood, NC, the band features a remarkable repertoire of traditional sounds coupled with driving southern rock covers and fervent gospel music. This band always pleases with its quality and innovative sound. 

Balsam Range - Matthew

Summer Brooke & Mountain Faith (Sa)
Summer Brooke McMahan

Also from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Mountain Faith began its life as a young, enthusiastic gospel band, catching national attention as runners-up on America's GotTalent. The band has continued to broaden its repertoire, while appearing at bluegrass festivals and singing the National Anthem at major league events in football and other sports, making friends for bluegrass across the nation.  They show their versatility in this cover of Lady Antebellum:

Mountain Faith - Milan

Nothin Fancy (Th)
Mike Andes

Nothin' Fancy has been a fixture on the bluegrass trail for nearly twenty-five years, combining songs written from within the band with well-chosen covers, especially of The Country Gentlemen. Their well-loved humor includes both broad farce and subtle musicality. Since signing with Mountain Fever records, their music and humor has received increasingly serious attention and their popularity has spread still further. We always look forward to spending time with this band which keeps the sawdust between their toes while always striving successfully for greater quality and style.

Nothin' Fancy - Simon Crutchfield's Grave

Mile Twelve (Fr)
New Zealand's BB Bowness

Mile Twelve, based in Boston, has emerged from the red hot bluegrass and Americana scene in The Hub and sparked by Berklee College of Music. Candidates for IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year in 2018, they won a Momentum Award in 2017. The band's members have assembled from all over, but the talented BB Bowness on banjo has come the farthest, from her home in New Zealand to study at Berklee. The other members of the band were drawn to the light currently glowing in and around Boston. Mile Twelve is melodic, musical, and personable. Make sure you get to know them while they're at YeeHaw and in Florida this winter.

Mile Twelve - Our Last Goodbye

Monroe Crossing (Th, Fr)

Monroe Crossing hails from that great old time bluegrass state of Minnesota. Each year they magically appear in Florida, usually before heading out on or coming back from a much needed Caribbean cruise. Their music ranges from the deeply traditional to the interestingly progressive, with rock covers and folk music sprinkled through their sets. They're always fun and sometimes surprising. 

Monroe Crossing - Long, Cool Woman in a Black Dress

Dave Adkins Band (Sa)

Dave Adkins loves what he's doing! He squirms like a puppy with his belly being rubbed every time something in his music tickles him. He has a big, deep country voice which helps display his roots and love of music. He's a hard working musician who brings his all to every performance. 

Dave Adkisn - Put Some Grass In It

Don Rigsby (Sa)

Don Rigsby has had a long and distinguished career as a musician as well as having spent some significant time as a college administrator, working to preserve and extend traditional music. He has played with some of the great bands in bluegrass history, including J.D. Crowe & the New South, The Lonesome River Band, and Longview, as well as others. Most recently, he has been featured with Flashback. He is an articulate spokesman for maintaining traditional music as well as one of the great, in demand, tenor singers in the history of bluegrass music. 

Don Rigsby - The Mountain Doctor

Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome (Th)

Jeff Brown has spent much of his life as a working musician, meaning he also has to find a variety of ways to make a living. In his case, this has included work as a bluegrass DJ and concert promoter, among other endeavors. Through the years, he has performed with the likes of Larry Sparks, Charlie Sizemore, Ralph Stanley, Jesse McReynolds and many others, in addition to having been named a Kentucky Colonel. With his current band, including his son Austin, Still Lonesome, he has released two albums, the most recent being on Mountain Fever Records. He has been a regular at EMS events during the past couple of years. 

Jeff Brown & Still Lonesom - Appalachia Is My Name

Roxeen & Dalrymple (Sa)

The face is familiar, but the band may be new to you, as it was to me. Then I recognized Gary Dalrymple, for more than twenty years the mandolin player, harmony singer, and road manager of The Spinney Brothers. With their retirement from the road, Gary has formed this new duo with Roxeen Roberts, who was a bandmate with the Spinney's twenty-five years ago. This duo looks and sounds like an engaging change of pace.

Wildflower - Roxeen & Dalrymple

Scattered Grass (Tu,Th)

Composed of four local musicians from the Okeechobee area, the members of Scattered Grass are all well known to attendees of the YeeHaw Music Fest. The Prevatt sisters (Spider and Moe) bring their perky enthusiasm and sister harmonies to the band, which also features Sean Campbell on banjo. Justin Mason, on mandolin, has become a regular at EMS festivals, bringing his enthusiasm and organizational skills to encouraging jamming in the jam tent and contributing in other ways as needed. Scattered Grass will host the open Mic on Tuesday with the concert release of their new CD  Always energetic and musical.....

Scattered Grass - Little Georgia Rose

Sandy Back Porch (Fr)

Sandy Back Porch is an Orlando-based bluegrass band frequently seen and heard in the central Florida region. Enjoy their bluegrass and gospel music. 

Sandy Back Porch - Sitting on Top of the World 

Sunday Morning Gospel Sing
Jan Ladd

Jan Lass, her husband Larry, and several members of their band offer a non-sectarian Sunday morning Gospel Sing at 10:00 AM on Sunday morning. For many attendees at EMS events, this low key period of song and reflection provides an opportunity for simple worship and helps prepare them for the drive home. 

Les Sears

Radio DJ Les Sears will be hosting the open Mic "In the Spotlight" at the Pot Luck Supper on Wednesday evening.

Pot Luck Supper

Jo Odum

The ever popular Jo Odum returns as the emcee at Evans Media Source events for another celebration of bluegrass. 

Jan Ladd will host a gospel sing on Sunday morning at 10:00 AM 

This year's YeeHaw Music Fest lineup is power packed and diverse. It will prove, once again, to provide a great kickoff event for the winter season of Florida bluegrass. 

The Details:

Dates: The YeeHaw Music Fest will run from January 15 - 20, 2019 with the gates opening for campers on Monday, January 14 at the gate on highway 710 only at 9:00 AM

Call for Tickets, Camping Reservations and Reserved Seats: The New Phone is 386.385.3500!
3 Day Gate Price = $85.00 (Advanced Ticket Sales are  Closed)
Daily Tickets:
     Thursday: $30.00, Friday and Saturday: $35.00 per day
Children 12 and Under 12 Free with a Paid Adult
Reserve Seating: $5.00 per person
Bring a comfortable Chair - No high backs or conventional rocking chairs. The cylinder charis are OK.  - No high back chairs over 35"


Camping: There are a limited number of camp sites with hookups.
Get Your Campsite and Reserved Seat by Calling (904) 886-8378 (Reserve Seats are Limited)
Primitive Sites: $15.00
20 Amp Electric = $20.00/per night (Three night minimum)
30 Amp Electric = $30.00/per night (Three night minimum)
50 Amp Electric = $35.00/per night (Three night minimum)

Food and Craft Vendors: This year's scheduled food vendors include a barbecue wagon, fish & shrimp sausage etc., homemade ice cream, and a hot & cold drink wagon. More are still being added. 

Important Details:
Show goes on Rain or Shine (Music is under cover) - There are no refunds!
Wristbands must be worn.
Park Rules and Regulations are posted and must be obeyed!
Golf carts must have lights and drivers have licenses.
No Pets, Smoking or Alcohol in the concert and food vendor areas.

How To Get to the Agri-Civic Center

The Okeechobee Agri Civic Center 
4601 FL-710
Okeechobee, FL 34974

Place your Address in the Space Marked O
Click to Make a Personalized Map

YeeHaw Music Fest is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. I haven't been told what surprises you can expect, or they wouldn't be surprises, would they? Evans Media Services has rebuilt this festival from near failing a very few years ago into a thriving and growing event. Come and celebrate the re-birth and anniversary with Ernie and Deb Evans.

Ernie Evans

Deb Evans