An e-zine for happenings of local culture in Milwaukee and elsewhere

Archive for February, 2014

Soaring, Brewed Cafe, Jaems Murphy’s Vedic Eden

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A lonesome voice brings everyone into his realm, they savor the feeling. His guitar sings the cryptic melodies of life’s winding road. Everyone’s route has its charms. Jaems Murphy quaintly celebrated the release of his most recent expulsion Mono No Aware, with a small ensemble of musicians and audiophiles at Brewed Cafe. Outside is cold as February in the year 2014.

A sheet draped over the picture window made a silver screen for the Vidic Eden to accompany Jaems Murphy’s numero uno rip Right Your Will. Murphy tumbles through escapades expected for a man in his shoes, somehow unscathed like sopping wet clothes renewed in a gas dryer, better for their tumbles.

Right You Will, Jaems Murphy’s Vedic via Jaems Murphy on Youtube

A gnarly bunch, the Vedic Eden has Murphy’s back on rhythm guitar, stand up bass, keyboard, trumpet and various percussion, not withstanding a door key chime.

If eclectic weren’t cliche they would be serially riding your emotional whims until personal sands are stirred. The Jaems Murphy’s Vedic Eden release can be sampled here on Bandcamp.

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The Lathe Within, Alchemist Theatre, The Chairs

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As the dialog in the theatrical duet The Chairs goes on, you begin to notice the Old Woman (Kelly Doherty) and the Old Man (Tim Linn<) nonchalantly bringing chairs from places all over the stage into the scene. Somehow 52 chairs have made it on stage by the closing scene. Who was this guy Eugene Ionesco and what was he up to?

At Leda Hoffman’s direction Doherty and Linn, guide us along the final bend of that sleepy road that married couples travel in their golden years. The Old Woman and Old Man sit in their chairs, frail, all movements an ordeal. The Old Woman gushes over her husband, of how talented he is and how many people he knows. None of that seems to matter any more, those days were decades ago. The Old Man laments his chosen fate to sequester himself from the world to tend to their humble existence.

A Captain on a Sinking Ship

The Old Woman endearingly butters up the Old Man to tell her a story she’s heard a million times, of how the Old Man revealed his treasured life work to the most important people of the world.

They routinely pantomime the guests’ arrival, as a couple might play a cribbage game together, cordially greeting and conversing with their imaginary socialites. Some guests the Old Man knows. He speaks with regret to his true love Belle, as the Old Woman flirtatiously entertains the Colonel. Soon after they witness a tawdry affair between Belle and Colonel.

More guests arrive. As the Old Man answers the door, the Old Woman fetches chairs and struggles to find places for them. At one point she’s distracted by salacious banter with a photographer who lures her into her own vanity while the Old Man is distracted across the room. Finally, the Emperor arrives.

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Over Bored

In a Pyrrhic victory over their futile lives the Old Man and Old Woman commit suicide in a dramatically metaphorical way, meeting the sea that they greet when the play opens, as they climb out of their humble abode’s windows before the plenary they’ve prepared even begins. The Orator enters dressed to the intellectual nines to deliver the Old Man’s message.

The Orator gathers himself and forcefully speaks a mumble, he cannot hear himself. He tries again. A strained sound exits his mouth, his tongue can’t find its way around his pallet, his is mute. He takes to the chalk board and rakes lines emphatically, inscribing what should be letters but are only line that happen to touch one another. He is illiterate.

Wringing Every Drop

Ionesco mastered “theater of the absurd”, and Leda Hoffman does well to see his vision through. Doherty and Linn share compelling stage presence convincingly portraying that intertwined distantness that elderly spouses sometimes have. The familiar routines, the prediction of the others’ mannerisms appear naturally through their portrayals.

Hoffman successfully makes space for the audience to interpret the piece. In her rendition. the growing distance between the Old Woman and Old Man leaves one to wonder do the chairs represent all those memories and lost interactions of the past each has held on to, drawing them further and further to isolation though their mutual company that never ends.

The Chairs closed The Alchemist’s 2013 – 2014 season February 22. Credit Antishadows for Lighting Design, Andrea Bouck for Costume Design, Stage Manager Jared McDaris, Dramaturg Emily Penick, Set and Sound Design Aaron Koepec.


Speaking of Variety, Best Place, Cabaret Milwaukee

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Creative conspirators Sarai Yardbird Anzaldua, Josh Bryan and Jackie Benka hit their point on their first roll of Cream City’s newest live performance channel Cabaret Milwaukee.

Nestled in the catacombs of the The Brewery’s local watering hole Best Place, eager ladies and gentleman seated snugly around wood furnishings filled the rathskeller for an evening of Valentine’s night entertainment. They received large and savory helpings of melodrama and sideshow talent interludes set to a prohibition era radio show theme.

A Night Under the Cups

Radio host Richard Howling (Adam White), conducted the nights performances backed by the house jazz band stationing Anthony Deutsch on piano, Devin Drobka at drums, Clay Schaub on upright bass and Scott Hlavenka on guitar.

Between scenes that brought the mean streets of gangland Chicago pub side in episode one of The Jealous Revolver, Richard Howling played maestro to zinging one line comedic punches from Mrs. Milli (Laura Holterman) and show tunes belted by jazz siren Sadie Starlight (Jen Cintron).

The Howling Radio Hour talent interludes also featured Jason Hillman stirring the mood with a long form stand up routine, tapping toes of dancer Danielle Weber, and advertisements from the angelically persuasive voices of the Jingle Crew Steve Breese, Sarah Mellstrom, and Katrina Cengeri.

Artistic Brew

A visually enticing approach, the Creative Director Sarai Yardbird Anzaldua’s vision comes to life with scenes staged throughout the cabaret, and at times right next to audience members. In other spots, dual framed scenes allow players to discuss the goings while others are in action.

The technical acumen of co-producer Josh Bryan highlights it all, especially with resourceful lighting design. Jackie Benka’s knack for dialog flavors the entire production with requisite dramatic pace to keep the audience engaged at all times.

Acts of Noir

In episode one of The Jealous Revolver we meet a host of underworld characters. Nightclub owner Vick Marconi (Michael Keiley) has a couple of young workers, starlet Vivica (Michelle White) and Joey Yardbird (Ryan Nelson). The regulars Anna (Anna Ceragioli), Stella (Anzaldua), and Tommy (Bryan) keep the club rumor mill turning, as run ins with the local mob affiliates Jean (Jennifer Grundy), Tony (Brian Miracle), and Marco (Greg Ryan) heat up.

The action reaches a fever pitch when soon after Jean’s unfortunate alcohol induced demise, Marconi is called to a sit down with Marco. Marconi has eyes for Vivica all along, and pushes the issue insisting that she come to the sit down as a customary female acquaintance. Under Marconi’s thumb Joey rides along as the mission’s driver.

At Vivica’s pick up point there is no trace of her, she and Joey have plotted an escape from Marconi’s grip. When Marconi arrives at Vivica’s place instead of Joey, she realized something has gone awry. Marconi weaves through Viviva’s smokescreens, finally with sinister resoluteness applying heavy pressure revealing the Joey’s zip-cock misfired. In treachery Joey ran off before Marconi could catch him. In the nick of time Joey arrives at Vivica’s to intervene Marconi’s wrath, revealing his secret romance with Vivica. Now they’re both on the lamb… until the next episode of The Jealous Revolver.

It’s Alive

A lot of familiar faces from many other artistic efforts in Milwaukee appeared in Cabaret Milwaukee, an truly amazing prospect to see the nucleus of the art’s scene readily forming new bonds. Cabaret Milwaukee’s next stew is sure to be a crowd pleaser in its period homage, overacted glory.


Lit Corners, Sugar Maple, The Viper & His Famous Orchestra

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Tucked neatly in the back of Sugar Maple, the Okka Disk performance space is best known for its annual jazz fest set to turn 6 years old this year. In the meanwhile it also makes a temporary home for jazz musicians and their extended family when the occasion calls. None more suitable that a rare new moon appearance of The Viper & His Famous Orchestra in Milwaukee.

When talent meets ingenuity in music, good things happen, like the The Viper & His Famous Orchestra. They’re a seasoned bunch of classically trained musicians and/or general life enthusiasts, who have mastered the mixology of traditional and homemade instruments, pouring out well measured roots country and swing jazz.

Bring the Mustard

Featuring a ukelele (Ryan Jerving), upright bass and viola (Riley Broach), trombone (Rob Hen), piano (Jon Peacock), percussion (Edward Burch), The Viper really gets interesting when these core ensemble pieces confront their DIY musical doppelgangers.

Meeting their match, Broach gets in the mud on washtub bass, Burch on suitcase drum confirms he and his doppelganger are one in the same , and Peacock ignores all street signage on stylophone, toy piano, and the atrocity that is the air-tubed melodica.

The Howl of Goodtimes

Once the The Viper gets going, the goodtimes roll. They take themselves 45 RPM less serious than their music, pulling out a few comedic bits for their sets to go with the sarcasm and pop culture wit from the ages.

The Viper will take over 91.7 WMSE’s Local Live tomorrow at 6p. If you really must see them live you get another chance March 7th at Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.’s new cafe on Bruce Street.


A Song for All Seasons by The Viper & His Famous Orchestra via The Viper on YouTube