The expression, ‘Out with the old, in with the new’ takes on new meaning for Umbrella Stage Company’s dynamic musical, Head Over Heels, a gender-bending jukebox musical comedy which includes a case of mistaken identity that integrates the renaissance with contemporary themes and the 80s in Arcadia, a land that thrives on a beat. If that seems like a lot, it’s because this ambitious show tackles a lot in its approximately 2-hour time frame.
With resourceful direction by Brian Boruta, The Umbrella Stage Company presents Head Over Heels the Musical live and in person at the beautifully-renovated Umbrella Arts Center, 40 Stow Street in Concord, MA through Sunday, May 8. This show may not be appropriate for young children. Click here for more information at for tickets.
Who else to handle a beat but the Go-Gos! Following a string of jukebox musicals such as Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia! (featuring music from Abba), Movin’ Out (featuring music from Billy Joel), Good Vibrations (featuring music from the Beach Boys), Moulin Rouge and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert(both which deliver covers of contemporary pop songs), 80s pop princesses the Go-Gos handle this production’s unique beat. This lighthearted show highlights many of the Go-Gos snappy, feel-good numbers such as Vacation, Our Lips are Sealed, Head Over Heels, and We Got the Beat along with some lesser known tracks that don’t land as well.
Head Over Heels is lively and cheerful in presentation from overhead neon lights, versatile surrounding white columns, and a live band veiled behind translucent curtains onstage by set designer Janie Howland to bold and bright period costumes in pink, green, and yellow weaving 80s glam with a rock-n-roll edge by Brian Simon and Johnny Cagno to the rollicking, up-tempo choreography by Lara Finn Banister.
Based loosely on Sir Phillip Sidney’sThe Arcadia, Head Over Heels is a farce that follows a few Arcadian love stories with one taking a cue from Shakespeare as love struck shepherd Musidorus, portrayed by John Breen, must disguise himself in order to gain approval to marry Princess Pilocleas, portrayed by Temma Beaudrea. Beaudrea and Breen have a brimming, awkward, and excitable chemistry as they fight not only the royal rules, but the predictions from a mysterious oracle that ultimately sees the kingdom’s demise unless things change. Meanwhile, Philocleas’s sister, Pamela, portrayed with humorous narcissism by Bri Ryder, is proclaimed fairest in the land, but a groom might not be what she has her sights on after all.
Damon Singletary as King Basilius brings gravitas and humor to the king’s bombastic nature while Kate Pickett’s flirty and dry sarcasm makes Gynecia a scene stealer. Robert Saoud as Dametas portrays the sympathetic and seemingly sole voice of reason. While the majority of the characters are so fixated on what each of them wants, Dametas and Kai Clifton, a commanding presence as Pythio, may be the only ones capable of seeing the bigger picture. Singletary and Saoud deliver some amusing scenes together as they share differing outlooks on this kingdom’s shaky ground.
The humor ranges from irreverent to absurd to charming. Head over Heels makes some deliberate and clever points in its storytelling, but can get more fixated on what each character stands for rather than giving the characters more depth. However, If you enjoy a frivolous farce dipped in 80s nostalgia, this “trifle” as Sir Phillip Sidney has called his prose, this one may be for you.
The Umbrella Stage Company presents Head Over Heels the Musical live and in person at the beautifully-renovated Umbrella Arts Center, 40 Stow Street in Concord, MA through Sunday, May 8. This show may not appropriate for young children. Click here for more information at for tickets.
It has been said, ‘Happiness is good food and good company.’
For those who miss hugs and some good company, Liars and Believers (LAB) in Cambridge, MA may have a cure for that with their interactive, virtual, and family-friendly production of Beyond a Winter’s Day continuing through Saturday, March 27. This production is offered on a pay-what-you-can basis. Click here for more information and for tickets. These are live streaming zoom performances that are scheduled at specific times.
Directed shrewdly by Jason Slavick with video editing by Sam Powell, Beyond a Winter’s Day is more an experience than simply a theatrical production. What makes this experience rather unique is how cleverly it is put together. Not only does Beyond a Winter’s Day deliver a selection of insightful, creatively dynamic stories including an open-ended tale that ticket holders are encouraged to finish, but takes it one step further.
Before watching, ticket holders are offered three recipes that could be considered hearty comfort food for a winter’s day to be prepared prior to the production. The food is cleverly woven into the storyline and cast members enjoy the food with the audience during key points in the production, creating a multi-sensory experience.
Though a portion of the production is set in space, Beyond a Winter’s Day attempts to evoke the comfort you might feel sitting in front of a campfire while eating, conversing, and sharing stories. The colorful cast, portrayed by Rachel Wiese as Isabel, Rebecca Lehrhoff as Mishka, Glen Moore as Fergus, and Jesse Garlick as Stanislav, address the audience on occasion and the audience can respond via messaging. A marginally self-aware piece, each nuanced character that introduces the tales all react differently to being separated from their other cast mates and gradually learn how best to capture that light and feeling of togetherness once again.
Each tale is produced with varying creative styles and conveys a strong message about the underdog, judging a book by its cover, a campfire fable with unexpected attendees, and an open-ended story for you to finish.
Each tale possesses its own strengths, but Vasalise the Blessed, an original work written by Rachel Wiese, was a particular highlight. Its rich shadow puppetry boasts a passing resemblance to The Tale of Three Brothers in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I film. The haunting, detailed quality of this work is evident right down to the lattice pattern in Vasalise’s dress and the poignant story seems to come out of a set of dark fairy tales.
Jesse Garlick’s Malka and the Bahema is a fascinating Yiddish morality tale that involves a variety of puppetry including hand and finger puppets as Malka embarks on a harrowing journey to prove an entire town wrong and Kendra Bell’s mischievous and expressive costumes for a bedtime fable look like they walked right out of storybook.
Beyond a Winter’s Day also features its own version of musical storytelling in the live, upbeat, and relaxing acoustic rhythms from singer-songwriters Carlos Odria and singer Mali.
Liars and Believers present innovative Beyond a Winter’s Day through Saturday, March 27. This show is on a pay-as-you-like basis and streams live at scheduled times. Click here for more information and tickets.
The beauty of mythology is how outlandish a tale can be while still conveying a powerful, contemporary message. ‘Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth‘ with ‘What Time is it, Mr. Fox?’ is an immersive, multimedia experience that weaves live music with a classic tale…and a twist.
For three Thursday nights during the summer with a final performance that took place on August 22, The Museum of Science in Boston’s Charles Hayden Planetarium presented a theatrical experience that conveyed messages of female empowerment, human nature’s capacity for cruelty and shallowness, and more through this classic mythological tale. Click here for the full trailer.
Imagery of the legendary creature, Medusa Photo credit to ‘Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth’
‘Man plans and God laughs’ takes on a whole new meaning when breathtakingly beautiful Medusa plans to become a priestess to Athena. However, what she thought was her path became a sordid journey. Told in flashback in Crete 1100 B.C., ‘Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth’ offered humor, violence, and beauty weaved into an insightful, message-driven tale.
Packed with illustrations depicted more artistically than realistically by animators Ruth Lingford and Norah Solorzano, this panoramic experience combined with the Charles Hayden Planetarium’s supersonic sound creates a mesmerizing journey through the world of Ancient Greece. Rich blue skies, the star-studded cosmos, and dark, raging oceans were just glimpses into this mesmerizing experience.
The band, ‘What Time is it, Mr. Fox?’ Photo credit to ‘What Time is it, Mr. Fox?’
As the tale unfolded, the haunting and emotive sounds of acoustic neo-soul group, ‘What Time is it, Mr. Fox’ performed original songs that emphasized the madness, grief, tyranny, and danger within this tale. With vivid lyrics such as, “We can do a lot more with this kind of rage,” “Trying to breathe while learning to drown,” and “You’re going to wind up dead if the devil gets in,” this dynamic group’s jazz-infused interludes between scenes not only enhanced what the characters were thinking, but the journey itself. Front and center and bathed in blue light, a few of the most beautiful orchestrations included On Fire, Learning to Drown, The Witness, and Into the Black.
The men were depicted as arrogant and narcissistic and the conversations between the gods had their moments of humor, chemistry, gossip, and power talks. However, what made the tale so intriguing was it offered a more rounded, sympathetic view of the legendary Medusa while sharing various interpretations of her through statues and illustrations. ‘Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth’ means to shatter those preconceived notions of this mythological, snake-haired creature and bring her to a place of mercy and anguish, powerful but yielding, and facing issues that were not so different than they are today. She was a myth, a monster, but still a woman.
Though this show has completed its run, ‘Medusa: Reclaiming the Myth’ may still have a future beyond its time at the Museum of Science. Click here to learn more about ‘Medusa Reclaiming the Myth’ and here for more on the band, ‘What Time is It, Mr. Fox.’ The Museum of Science offers programs throughout the year and continues ‘Subspace Redefining the Adult Experience‘ through the fall.
As a fan of the twist-ending, they have been nothing short of fascinating. Directed by Michael Hisamoto, Flat Earth Theatre continues King of Shadows through June 22 at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets. This show may be haunting for children.
The setting of Flat Earth Theatre’s ‘King of Shadows’ Photo courtesy of Flat Earth Theatre
Much like Riverdale, an ordinary setting withholds extraordinary secrets. Grounded in the reality of missing children in San Francisco, King of Shadows delves into the lives of four distinct characters, all affected by their dark past. The haunting set and intimate, encompassing staging, especially PJ Strachman’s light design, Bram Xu’s sound design, Stage Manager/Puppeteer Amy Lehrmitt, and scenic designer Ryan Bates, create an immersive, unsettling atmosphere for what is about to unfold.
Compassionate and ambitious Berkeley graduate student Jessica, portrayed with finesse by Laura Chowenhill, may be in over her head when she meets Nihar, a mysterious, wise-beyond-his-years homeless teenager portrayed by Trinidad Ramkissoon. Ramkissoon’s penetrating gaze and inquisitive nature give Nihar an edgy charisma. He has a fuzzy past, but that does not stop Jessica from her perpetual desire to help others.
Logical and protective policeman Eric Saunders, portrayed impressively by Matt Crawford, is suspicious that Nihar may have a dangerous agenda. Crawford’s Eric is a great foil for Chowendill’s pensive and conflicted Jessica, setting the stage for some sparks. Jessica’s resentful and impulsive younger sister Sarah, portrayed with sarcasm and sass by Abigail Erdelatz, is capable of anything as she longs for a different life.
Flat Earth’s multi-layered production, King of Shadows is best seen without revealing too many details. Though it’s an increasingly outlandish tale, King of Shadows has more than its share of suspense, leaving the audience constantly wondering where each character’s loyalty truly lies.
Trinidad Ramkissoon as Nihar Photo courtesy of Flat Earth Theatre
Flat Earth Theatre’s final production of its 13th season, King of Shadows continues through Saturday, June 22 at the Black Box at the Mosesian Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street in Watertown, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets.
Partially surrounded by a lush green lawn that gives it a campus feel, The Mosesian Center for the Arts houses a number of productions, concerts, and exhibits during the year. Offering free parking and next door to Panera Bread, Earful and Gilly Assuncao are among the featured concerts this month while The Wizard of Oz and the opera, La Cenerentola, are among the upcoming theatrical productions. Click here to see all that Mosesian Center for the Arts has to offer.
For 27 years, the Boston Pops have made Gospel Night a highly-anticipated tradition. A glorious, enthusiastic audience which includes newcomers and returning fans greet conductor, pianist, and composer Charles Floyd, the Boston Pops Gospel Choir, and a selection of guest artists. This year, award-winning Gospel singer Dottie Peoples headlines this year’s concert for one night only on Saturday, June 15 at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and for tickets to this beloved annual event.
Renowned conductor, pianist, and composer Charles Floyd talks about his longtime role with Gospel Night, its evolution, and having dreams he never imagined would come true.
Renowned conductor, pianist, and composer Charles Floyd leading the Boston Pops Photo courtesy of Stu Rosner/Boston Pops
Sleepless Critic: The Boston Pops Gospel Night is an incredible event each year. The last time I went, it seemed like a nonstop celebration, joyfully continuing long after the concert was over.
Charles Floyd: Everybody looks forward to that part of the program because it is probably the most energetic. The music can be very exciting and uplifting. We like to feature something that the gospel choir performs without the orchestra.
The orchestra wants to go into overtime and that gets into an issue, but if the building is still open, there’s no reason why the choir can’t stay to do a couple more numbers if they enjoy singing and the audience is going to stick around. When the formalities are done, it’s a nice moment when people can just let their hair down.
SC: The concert is so uplifting, you don’t want to leave. You have been with Gospel Night for 25 years, almost since its start.
CF: I appeared the second year. I was called because the conductor the first year could not do it the second year. I had to take a year away back in 2004, so this is my 25th and it’s their 27th, but I am celebrating 27 years just like they are.
SC: It must be amazing to see how it has evolved over the years.
CF: It’s been an honor to be a part of it. I was working with Miss Natalie Cole for close to 14 years. We had done a few concerts with the Boston Pops, and at the time, Maestro Lockhart and I were in the running in some capacity to step in. Keith got the gig and I was very happy for him. It was great for the community and I was somewhat new, and so they called and asked if I had done that sort of thing. I said I have and only had about 6 weeks’ notice to prepare.
It was a little bit nerve-wracking to put together an entire program, write orchestration that didn’t exist, and then learn the classics and light classics on top of having to cater to guests artists. We balanced out the program with Keith conducting the first part of the program and I conducted the third part of the program, Rhapsody in Blue.
Keith had to be at Tanglewood and other places as the date of Gospel Night moved around. That’s kind of how it happened. When the door opens, you walk through or the door might not open again and here we are.
Award-winning gospel singer Dottie Peoples Photo courtesy of Boston Symphony Orchestra
SC: Some of the best things happen spontaneously. This year, Dottie Peoples will be the featured artist on Saturday, June 15. Do you have a hand in who performs each year?
CF: I am involved in the process. I don’t always have control over who the artist will be because a certain artist I may want to work with may not be available, but they are nice enough at the Pops office to ask who they could look into. They come up with their own ideas too. We all put our cards on the table and explore the possibilities.
SC: You have been part of the Gospel Night tradition for so many years and you have performed all over the world. Music has been a part of your life since you were 4.
CF: I used to bang on cables and pretend like I was playing. Everybody thought it was cute. By the time I got to a piano, I was 4 and I was already taking out melodies and ordering things by year. It was another six months before I started taking formal lessons, but yeah, music has been a part of my entire life.
You never know what life is going to hold when you are young. Just because you start playing the piano no matter how good or bad you are at it, there is no guarantee of what the future will hold. I took physics and journalism as a back up in high school, but once I got to college, I dedicated myself completely to music and didn’t try to be a master of all trades.
All through 10 years of conservatory and grad school, it was all piano. I was not a conducting major and I found myself in a situation where a conductor was needed. I was the only person who could step in at the time, so I got serious about conducting. I started studying all kinds of things such as opera, had to go through all the symphonies and all the major works of all the major composers.
I learned so much about accompanying singers with the baton from listening and attending operas. I played for singers my entire life, but to watch a conductor accompany a singer is something I don’t think a lot of people really appreciate at least the way that I did and what I learned from it. It’s been fun and as long as the work keeps coming in, that’s the greatest thing. Just to keep going.
SC: What have been your career highlights? I understand you also performed Howard Shore’s ‘The Lord of the Rings Symphony‘ at his request. That must have been tremendous.
CF: I was trying to explain it to my sister and family not long ago. People talk about having their dreams come true. My situation is a little backwards. It’s not a question of my dreams not coming true, but most everything that has transpired in my career were things I never dreamed of in the first place.
If I had said when I was eight years old that I would be at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops or working with an orchestra at Carnegie Hall with James Taylor and Sting or sitting at an event next to Harry Belafonte or conducting orchestras for Natalie Cole or playing the piano for somebody else. These are usually once in a lifetime events and I’m grateful that they continue to happen. New things are coming in all the time and I couldn’t be happier or more grateful.
Click here for Gospel Night tickets, call SymphonyCharge at 1-888-266-1200, or visit the Symphony Hall box office during business hours at 301 Massachusetts Ave in Boston, Massachusetts. Follow The Boston Pops on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, who recently released their live debut album, The Heart of the Run is returning to Club Passim for a sold out CD release party in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Friday, June 7 at p.m. Sam Luke Chase is opening for the group. Click here to learn where Whiskey Treaty Roadshow is opening next on their ‘Band Together’ tour and here for future performances at Club Passim.
Whiskey Treaty Roadshow’s David Tanklefsky talks about Whiskey’s unique songwriting, the Beatles, and their touring adventures. Click here to see their award-winning, short documentary and follow them on Facebook.
Sleepless Critic: You’ll be at Club Passim on Friday, June 7 and are currently touring. You have also performed at Club Passim for their bi-annual interactive ‘Campfire Festival‘ which features an interactive concert experience on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend.
David Tanklefsky: Passim is a special place and we are lucky to have it in the area. It seems like as less money is available to go around in the music world, the relationship between musicians and venues has become more transactional. Passim is the opposite. They are unique and truly care about developing musicians and giving them a platform for being heard.
SC: How did Whiskey Treaty Roadshow form and how did you meet?
DT: Tory Hanna is really the conduit through which the band came together. One of my best friends, who I was in a band with for years growing up, was living in a loft in Brooklyn with Tory and we started hanging out through him. His wife Susie went to high school with Greg Smith and Tory knew Billy Keane through the Berkshires music world. Billy had played a few shows with Chris Merenda and was a big fan of his old band, the Mammals. It happened very naturally, which I think is the best way for creative groups to get together.
With Chris Merenda, David Tanklefsky, Greg Daniel Smith, Tory Hanna and Billy Keane Photo courtesy of Whiskey Treaty Roadshow
SC: Whose idea was the award-winning, short documentary and how did you decide on the details to the documentary? It features lots of scenic, peaceful views of different areas of Massachusetts.
DT: Tory grew up with a filmmaker named Tim Bradley who was looking for a new documentary project. Tim captured our rehearsals for a four night tour we had organized through Massachusetts. It was our first time playing together as a group.
Watching it now is such fun because it’s a snapshot of a band just starting out without any expectations beyond playing four great shows. Tim meticulously planned out all the locations and the amazing videography. When Tory mentioned his friend wanted to film us, I trusted his judgment but never imagined Tim would come up with such a well-crafted film. It really helped catapult us into being a real band.
SC: You have a relaxed sound, a rhythm likened to a drive down a peaceful country road. You have a bit of a country tinge to some of your music. Was that planned? How did you end up conforming to a sound?
DT: In folk music, there are songs and chord progressions that become seared into your soul over time. We’ve never had a discussion about it, but everyone brings songs to the table that we think will work with our instrumentation and vocal abilities. I think the folk/country/Americana textures come from having many stringed instruments on stage and the collaborative spirit of just sitting around, passing the guitar, and sharing songs.
SC: Folk music is full of rich stories and each of you has a distinct style. How do you come up with your songs? Do you write a song together or are the songs bits of each songwriter or one song written by one another?
DT: In this project, everyone writes independently and then brings songs to the table in various forms of completeness. We’ve been tinkering with different instrumentation and having some songs with more minimal arrangements as it has evolved. We ask ourselves, ‘Do we need five people strumming away like mad men through this whole song?’ Often the answer is no. In the next few months, we’re planning to do a little songwriting retreat where we write more actively together for the first time, which will be new, exciting, and hopefully fruitful.
SC: Where did your love for songwriting start? Your particular songwriting style has a bit of humor with some rich lyrics and a bit of an unpredictable tempo at times.
DT: When I was 10, I had an unhealthy obsession with the Beatles for three years straight. I thought they were a perfect band. My friends and I went as the Beatles for Halloween every year between ages 10 and 13. No one wanted to be Ringo and no one was left-handed like Paul so we were four kids with mushroom cuts and right-handed cardboard guitars.
Later I became inspired by songwriters that are always growing, pushing, and challenging their listeners. I think Paul Simon is the gold standard for that. I’m in awe of the insatiable curiosity he taps into and I try to write from a position of newness like that. Being unaware of where my curiosity will take me but trying to just follow it through.
SC: I understand you are touring. What kind of venue would be an ideal place for you to play?
DT: It was a huge thrill to perform with Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter Sarah Lee. That’s way up on the list.
We played a last minute show in Cambridge at a really tiny place in Central Square and it was packed in with people standing on tables, total chaos. The bouncer was adamant that no one else could come in because it was too packed. One person left outside was our drummer, Jimmy. He came in the back door and was kicked back out onto the street. We said, ‘But that’s the drummer!’ The bouncer replied, ‘I don’t care, I said no more!’ Eventually we brokered a deal and Jimmy was allowed inside and the show went on. Theatres and dive bars are both okay in our book.
Click here for more information about Whiskey Treaty Roadshow and and here for future concerts at Club Passim, 47 Palmer Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, conveniently located in Harvard Square. Not only a haven for music lessons, Passim offers live concerts nearly 365 days a year featuring Grammy winners to musicians with a dream. Click here for their music schedule and follow Passim on Facebook and Twitter.
It all started with a fiddle. Childsplay’s Artistic Director Bob Childs didn’t realize over 40 years ago when he entered a shop in Maine to have his violin fixed, it would be the start of something that would change his entire life. Featuring a long list of award-winning musicians from across the country and beyond, internationally-touring Childsplay recently released their latest album The Bloom of Youth. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Artistic Director and violin maker Bob Childs talks about creating Childsplay’s unique sound, making 160 violins, their latest album, and the lasting friendships he has made through music. He has a shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Sleepless Critic: What is it about the fiddle that appeal so much to you?
Bob Childs: I worked my way through college as a carpenter and my first job out of college was in Maine selling furniture. In 1976, I took my violin for repair to an old violin maker, Ivy Mann, because I thought about playing Irish fiddle music.
When he repaired my instrument, he asked me when I was coming back. I had no concept of what he was saying so I said I wasn’t sure. He pointed at this wood he put on his bench and said that he would love to teach me violin making because he was in his 70s and was ready to pass on information before he stopped working. I was 22 and I decided why not.
Training as a violin maker involved six years of apprenticeships and some journeymen work since it is a European instrument. I worked with two violin makers who were training in Germany and then ended my journeyman work in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I worked for a shop that mainly worked with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
SC: With the band and everything, Maine seems to be a center point in your life.
BC: Maine is an incredible place not just for the land’s beauty, but for the great music. I really cut my teeth on music and got to know a lot of the old musicians there. We always sell out the shows in Maine and the audiences are incredibly enthusiastic. Even though I am down in the Boston area, some family members still live there and I think at least three or four of the musicians also have Maine roots.
When I left Philadelphia, I came here in 1986 and the band has been together since 1988. When Childsplay first started playing together, a woman in Washington D.C. wanted me to play in a fiddle concert when I was working in a shop in Philadelphia. I said yes and she said that the name of the band is Childsplay because everyone in the band is going to be playing one of your instruments. We had an amazing time and it’s been over thirty years of playing music together.
SC: Childsplay also features many performers.
BC: Yes and I have made over 160 violins. Most of my instruments have gone to classical musicians and I’ve always built an instrument for somebody with them in mind. So, I’ve gotten to know so many incredible musicians and they are great friends.
Childsplay’s latest album Photo courtesy of Childsplay
SC:The Bloom of Youth is your latest album and features some beautiful music. Big acts like U2 and Bruce Springsteen have snuck right through to perform there. One of your DVD sets features a live performance at the Somerville Theatre.
BC: Yes, the first DVD set was filmed at the Somerville Theatre in the late ‘90s. The second one was made at the Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 2013. That film in particular had great success and was picked up by NPR, PBS, and has been shown on pretty much every station in the country.
I think if people attend a Childsplay concert, they really get into the spirit! The musicianship is unsurpassed featuring All-Ireland Fleadh champions, two national Scottish fiddle champions, and Boston Symphony players, but the best part is the band’s energy. You can feel it live, on the DVDs, and Bloom of Youth because it is dynamite.
SC: I understand your latest album, The Bloom of Youth is also your final album.
BC: It’s our seventh album and our last album because after next year, we are going to stop touring as a band for a number of reasons. One is because tour costs are incredibly high. There’s 21 musicians, five on the production team plus all the other expenses. Next year will probably be our last year of touring and I hope people will come out and honor the incredible musicians that have been part of the band and the music we have created together.
SC: I’ve listened to the album and I really like the joyous rhythms of Buddy Strathspey and Noodle Vendor’s plucking rhythm.
BC: Shannon Heaton, an amazing composer and flute player who we get to perform with, put together TheNoodle Vendor. She lived in Thailand for awhile and the music she created was a unique cross between Irish and Thai music. Hanneke Cassell put together Buddy Strathspey. We both play two other tunes together on the album. When you hear Childsplay, you hear interesting rhythmic elements and these great harmony layers create a unique sound.
SC: What is the inspiration behind this new material and what do you think sets this album apart from previous albums?
BC: We share the stage and the CD with Karan Casey, the most amazing singer from Ireland. When we first started making our CDs and playing music, we didn’t have a vocalist with the band and it became clear to me when someone made the comment, ‘Out of all the instruments, the violin is the one that sounds most like the human voice.’ I realized that we should add vocals.
In Bloom of Youth, Karan came over from Ireland and she’s touring with us. We cover some of her songs, what she’s written, and others that she’s brought to the band. All the arrangements were done by Childsplay members Hanneke Cassel, Keith Murphy, and Bonnie Bewick so we had a lot of fun in making this last album.
SC: One of the tracks with Karan’s vocals, Where are You Tonight I Wonder is lovely. It’s like a little lost love song.
BC: Andy Stewart from Silly Wizard wrote it in Scotland shortly before he passed away. It’s a beautiful song and Karan’s voice is absolutely stunning. The song is meant for a lost lover and her singing in the band really conveys that blue feeling you get when a relationship ends.
Award-winning Mastering Engineer Bob Ludwig has mastered so many great albums such as U2 and Springsteen. He mastered our album as well and he played Karan’s voice right in the center of the sound. It is absolutely magical to hear that and understand how he really had the ear to make that happen.
We also offer free fiddle lessons. Different members of the band give fiddle lessons and people can go to the website and download them. We’ve had a half million people do that over the years.
SC: You guarantee we’ll be experts at it in the end.
BC: I’ll do my best to help you.
SC: The band has evolved so much over the years. How do you feel about how the band has come along?
BC: It’s an inter-generational band with the youngest member 17 and the oldest person in their 70s. More than that, there is a maturity that comes from years of playing together. The band members have been together over 20 years and there is a sound that emerges over time. I started making violins in ‘83 and I first started in ‘76. Not until ‘83 did the violins start sounding like how I made them. It takes several years of playing together to develop an ear for each other and a real sense of creating our sound and that has happened. I’m so proud of the band! It’s remarkable to be onstage and see the audience receiving and reacting to the music.
SC: What do you hope people will take away from your music or when they attend a live show?
BC: The one thing I hope to convey to people through our music that it’s possible to create things yourself. As Karan Casey wrote in her liner notes, ‘Childsplay is an exercise in democracy. There’s no one leader in the band and everyone takes turns leading and it’s a real creative process.’
I’m hoping when people are moved by our music and its creativity, they’ll be inspired to make their own music or do something creative to add to the world. The world is in very difficult times right now and I’d rather have a legacy making beautiful things and connecting people.
Click here to learn more about Childsplay, their tour schedule and how to get The Bloom of Youth which is also available on ITunes and CDBaby. Follow Childsplay on Facebook or all their latest updates.
After spending Sunday afternoon at the Calderwood Pavilion for the Tony award-winning musical Fun Home, I had made reservations through Open Table for The Beehive restaurant right next door at 541 Tremont Street in South Boston, Massachusetts. It’s a charming and convenient place to enjoy after show cocktails, brunch, lunch, or dinner while featuring daily live music including jazz and tribute to famous musicians. Decorated subtly for Halloween and featuring a lit outdoor patio, The Beehive has unique charm and Bohemian décor in the South End on the orange line off of the Back Bay T stop.
At the time I made the reservation, the live band didn’t start until 8 p.m. The servers were friendly and asked about the performance I saw at the Calderwood. Pricing is a bit expensive, but the food is wonderful and can easily be shared. The artisan sour dough bread was seasoned with sea salt and topped with delicious honey butter. Our dinner dish, the half chicken was tender, flavorful and juicy mixed with carrot puree, bok choy, rainbow carrots, and olives in a peanut aillade. It was more than enough for two unless you prefer to take some home.
The Beehive is open seven days a week and located in the Back Bay, an area in Boston that features many theatrical options. The Beehive offers a special menu on holidays and are open on Thanksgiving. Take a closer look at the Beehive here for the menu, live music schedule, and much more.
South Shore Conservatory, known for offering fun, educational, and interactive classes and entertainment for all ages for the South Shore of Massachusetts and beyond, is proud to enliven Wednesday mornings once again. Sponsored by The Harold and Avis Goldstein Trust with WATD as media partner, South Shore Conservatory’s Wacky Wednesdays has been delivering award-winning, educational, and interactive family entertainment for their 21st year every Wednesday mornings as part of their outdoor Summer Spotlight series. Wednesday morning concerts also feature free lemonade and chocolate milk starting at 10 a.m.
Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys Vanessa Trien, courtesy image/South Shore Conservatory
Bumble and Karen K Courtesy, Karen K & the Jitterbugs/South Shore Conservatory
Debbie and Friends, courtesy image/South Shore Conservatory
All concerts take place rain or shine at Jane Carr Amphitheater, One Conservatory Drive in Hingham, Massachusetts. With funding from Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, the Jane Carr Amphitheater has been updated entirely. See the South Shore Conservatory’s summer spotlight concert series at affordable prices and no charge for children under three. Discounted prices for groups are also available. Click here for tickets and more information or call 1-781-749-7565, ext. 22.
Swept up in the weathered pages of a photo album is a story of forbidden love and a reflection of time gone by and the beauty in its passing. Celebrating its 90th anniversary, Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston proudly presents the award-winning, grand scale musical, Showboat as part of Reagle’s 49th annual summer musical season. Starring Broadway’s Ciaran Sheehan as Ravenal, Sarah Oakes Muirhead as Magnolia, and Broadway’s Michel Bell in his Tony award-winning role as Joe, Showboat arrives for two weekends only from Thursday, July 6 through Sunday, July 16 at Robinson Theatre in Waltham, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Broadway’s Michel Bell reprises his Tony award-winning role as Joe in Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s ‘Showboat’
With music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Showboat focuses on the happenings aboard a Mississippi showboat over generations from 1887 through 1927. This insightful musical, which delves into social issues and prejudice, features the classic numbers Ol’ Man River, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man and Make Believe.
Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston will close out its summer musical season with the toe-tapping, Tony award-winner for Best Musical, 42ndStreet starring The Dukes of Hazzard star Tom Wopat for two weekends from Thursday, August 3 through Sunday, August 13. Performances will be held at the Robinson Theatre, 617 Lexington Street in Waltham, Massachusetts. Call 1-781-891-5600, click here, or email email@example.com for more information on their summer musical series and much more. Group tickets and gift certificates are also available. Stay updated on all of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s latest news by following them on Twitter and Facebook.