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Archive: Music & Entertainment / Spokane and North Idaho

Aldean, Church, Urban headline Watershed

Jason Aldean, Eric Church and Keith Urban are on the bill as the annual Watershed country music festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre expands to two weekends for 2016, July 29-31 and Aug. 5-7.

Best things? Fans won't have to choose to see one act over another, or pay to see both weekends. Aldean, Church and Urban will be at both. As will music legend Merle Haggard, not to mention Travis Tritt, Neal McCoy and Kacey Musgraves.

Passes go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through watershedfest.com, where you can go for additional information on performers and the experience. Weekend passes are $199. This show typically sells out in minutes, so if you want to go, don't delay.

15th annual Sasquatch Music Festival announces lineup

The lineup of the annual Sasquatch Musical Festival, which has taken over the Gorge Amphitheater every Memorial Day weekend for the last 15 years, has officially been announced.

Some of this year’s headliners include post-punk legends the Cure (who previously headlined in 2008), Florence and the Machine, Disclosure and Alabama Shakes (pictured above). The four-day lineup is rounded out by Sufjan Stevens, Major Lazer, M83, Grimes, A$AP Rocky, Kurt Vile, Purity Ring, Allen Stone, Yo La Tengo, Vince Staples and others.

Though predictions of an appearance by the recently reunited LCD Soundsystem didn’t pan out, the Sasquatch ’16 lineup does boast a number of artists who have made stops at Spokane venues within the last year – Beat Connection, Noah Gunderson, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Telekinesis, Tacocat, Shannon and the Clams, Deep Sea Diver and Joseph are all scheduled to perform.

Festival passes are now on sale at sasquatchfestival.com and cost $350. Daily schedules have yet to be released.

Below: “Ship to Wreck” by Sasquatch headliners Florence and the Machine.

Boz Scaggs coming to the Fox

Boz Scaggs, whose put albums at the top of Billboard's rock and jazz album charts, will perform at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox on March 13. Tickets go on sale Monday (Jan. 4) through TicketsWest.

Scaggs, a former member of the Steve Miller Band, broke through as a solo artist with his multi-platinum 1976 album "Silk Degrees," which spawned the hit singles "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle." He's released 10 albums since then, including the No. 1 jazz release "But Beautiful."

Tickets will be $38, $49, $59, and $62. For tickets or more information, call the Fox box office at (509) 624-1200 (or stop by at 1001 W. Sprague Ave.) or visit the Fox website.

Tony Bennett booked for symphony gala

According to the Spokane Symphony website, the illustrious Tony Bennett will be in Spokane on June 4 to help the symphony mark its 70th anniversary.

The gala, set for the Spokane Convention Center, will feature the 18-time Grammy winner and American icon performing with a quartet. Tickets are not cheap, costing from $225 and $275, and are on sale now through TicketsWest. Included are dinner, the concert and post-show dancing.

Just to get you in the mood, here's Bennett performing his most iconic hit, "I Left My Heart In San Francisco."

Bowie returns to Earth, and Caruso sticks the landing

The reviews are in for former Spokane actress Sophia Anne Caruso.

Caruso, 14 (pictured at left), is co-starring in "Lazarus" off-Broadway at the New York Theater Workshop. The musical stars Michael C. Hall (of "Dexter" and "Six Feet Under" fame, pictured at right) in a role made famous by David Bowie.

In fact, Bowie's fingerprints are all over "Lazarus," a sequel of sorts to "The Man Who Fell To Earth," the 1976 Nicholas Roeg film Bowie starred in that was based on the novel by Walter Tevis. Bowie wrote the script with Enda Walsh ("Once"), and it uses new material as well as old hits, deep cuts and new arrangements of classic Bowie songs.

"Lazarus," directed by Ivo van Hove, centers on Thomas Jerome Newton, the humanoid alien who left his dying planet to find water on Earth we met in "The Man Who Fell to Earth." It's now 40 years later, and he's still here, trapped, un-aged, filthy rich and depressed.

Caruso plays Girl, an ethereal being who wants to help Newton get home.

The musical opened Monday and has garnered some positive reviews, and some head scratching. It certainly doesn't sound like a breezy night of theater. As Ben Brantley pointed out in his New York Times review, "Listening to the characters talk, your response is likely to be either an irritated 'Oh, please,' or a dumbfounded 'Huh?' But then, the music (performed by a ravishing-sounding band, divided from the stage by a transparent wall) starts up. So do a host of visual effects that mirror and mock the people singing or suggest that they (and you) have tumbled into a three-dimensional television set that is perpetually changing channels."

The Guardian simply called it "a thrilling theatrical odyssey - and almost impossible to understand." In the Hollywood Reporter, David Rooney concluded, "Whether or not the outre folly of 'Lazarus' pays off is wide open to debate, but this may well be the nearest thing to a Bowie musical that any of us could have hoped for. At the very least, it's unlike anything else out there and it's certainly not banal." He also wrote: "Many of the new arrangements are gorgeous, notably the final number, 'Heroes,' performed by Hall and Caruso as a duet of healing deliverance. The fact that they're bodysurfing in a pool of spilt milk as they sing is typical of the show's spacey oddity."

Caruso's performance earned positive notices from a number of critics, including Brantley, who described her as "radiant."
Deadline.com's Jeremy Gerard called Caruso "haunting," while Kory Grow in Rolling Stone  wrote, "Caruso breathes just enough drama into the cavemen and sailors of 'Life on Mars' after years of overdramatic cover versions. It's all strange and wonderful and heartbreaking and funny in alternating measure." Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Chris Jones said, "Hall and young Caruso have a palpable emotional connection — weird as it is, this actually is the one relationship in the show that feels rooted in reality, even though neither of the participants are human." And Slate's Chris O'Leary called Caruso "an astonishing young talent, whom I expect will be starring in Broadway plays for the rest of the century."

The initial run of "Lazarus" sold out in minutes, so it was extended to Jan. 20. That sold out, too. Mostly. Looks like there were a few seats left Tuesday morning for closing night. Click here for details.

Since leaving Spokane, where she starred as Annie for Spokane Civic Theatre and as Helen Keller at (the former) Interplayers Theatre, she's pursued an acting career in New York. She appeared as one of the von Trapp children in NBC's live musical "The Sound of Music" in 2013 and was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award as "Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play" for her work in the off-Broadway production of "The Nether." For more information about Caruso, click here.

Binge Watch preview: “Transparent”

Post script to last week's Thanksgiving edition: Amazon Prime released the first episode of the second season of Emmy-winning "Transparent" last night. The remaining seven episodes will be available on Friday, Dec. 11.

The first season followed the Pfefferman family as patriarch Mort (Jeffrey Tambor) comes out as a transgender woman, now Maura, to her grown children and ex-wife. While the half-hour series is darkly comedic, it's primarily thoughtful and sad. It’s also infuriating as the Pfefferman children make the same selfish mistakes in their relationships at every turn.

Nothing appears to have changed in season two, as barely divorced Sarah (Amy Landecker) walks down the aisle with a rekindled college flame, middle child Josh (Jay Duplass) shares a secret against his partner's wishes and youngest sister Ali (Gaby Hoffmann) generally stirs up trouble with her compulsive lies.

We also learn that Maura has not come out to her mother, and is estranged from her sister Bryna (Jenny O'Hara). I'm much more interested in exploring Maura's feelings and relationships—especially regarding her ex-wife and current housemate Shelly (Judith Light)—than her kids', but I think we're in for plenty of lying and cheating between the younger Pfeffermans this season.

If you were able to stomach the family dysfunction of "Casual," you might be ready for an even bigger dose in "Transparent." This uncomfortable second season teaser is merely a taste of the awkwardness that awaits you.

Binge Watch: Thanksgiving edition

One of greatest things about cord-cutting (other than the savings) is that you aren’t tied to your TV and cable box to watch popular shows, which is especially handy during holiday travels. With a Wi-Fi connection and mobile device, you can binge watch on planes, trains and automobiles (non-drivers only).

When you need a break from holiday cheer, check out a few of my favorite newish half-hour shows that don’t quite fit into the sitcom category. I think of them as off-kilter rom-drams featuring eccentric families that will make you really appreciate your own.



While originally broadcast on Channel 4 in the U.K. earlier this year, “Catastrophe” was available to U.S. viewers through Amazon Prime Instant Video this summer. American comedian and writer Rob Delaney co-created and stars in the series with Irish actress Sharon Horgan about two relative strangers who become a couple after a vacation fling leads to a high-risk pregnancy.

With only six episodes, the short series mirrors the brief courtship, engagement and marriage of the two middle-aged protagonists as they grapple with cohabitation, work and anxiety about impending parenthood. It sounds intense, but the good-natured banter between Delaney and Horgan keeps the tone friendly, for the most part.

The second season is currently airing in the UK; its Amazon Prime release date has yet to be announced.

"Master of None"

"Master of None"

If you read comedian Aziz Ansari’s recent non-fiction book “Modern Romance” or watched his stand-up special “Live at Madison Square Garden,” some of the plotlines in his Netflix original series “Master of None” will seem a little familiar.

But that doesn’t make the series any less enjoyable, especially the episodes that embrace bringing up topics that aren’t usually addressed on film—how racism and sexism in media feed prejudice in society, the immigrant experience in America and the realization that old people are just people who got old.

If you’re visiting family over the holidays, I recommend viewing “Parents” and “Old People” in advance; maybe you'll be inspired to instigate some of the same conversations Dev has with his parents and his girlfriend’s grandmother with your own relatives.

A bonus fun fact is that Dev’s on-screen parents are Ansari’s actual parents who have never acted before. Keep that in mind when Shoukath Ansari wins an Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series next year.



For something a little darker, brace yourself for Hulu original “Casual.” Following a divorce, psychiatrist Valerie (Michaela Watkins) and her teenage daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) move in with Valerie’s brother Alex (Tommy Dewey), whose background as a successful dating website founder qualifies him to give his sister jaded and brutally honest dating (or hooking-up) advice, but leaves his own love life lacking.

Watkins’ previous ventures on “Saturday Night Live” and “Trophy Wife” were sadly short-lived, but “Casual” has already been renewed for a 13-episode second season. Her performance is simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious, and reaches some “Office”-level, face-covering, cringe-worthy moments, especially in “…”, as in:

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Last week’s Thanksgiving episode “Bottles” depicts what might be the most mortifying family dinner imaginable. Proceed with caution. Or, at least, wine.

Catch ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ live or on TV

These days, pretty much anything is used as material for a stage show. I recently saw a billboard advertising the Dec. 3-6 run of the musical version of "A Christmas Story," which came as a surprise. I never knew Ralphie could sing — especially with a bar of soap in his mouth.

Arlo Guthrie, too, is roaming the country with musical stage show titled "Alice's Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour" Based on a real incident, which occurred in 1965, "Alice's Restaurant" is a song from Guthrie's 1967 debut album that was made into a 1969 film directed by Arthur Penn. As you can see from the link above, Guthrie will perform his stage show on April 23 at the Bing Crosby Theater. And, it seems, only a few balcony tickets are left unsold.

Prior to that event, however, local Public Broadcasting station KSPS is going to broadcast a version of the show. PBS is scheduled to broadcast the show nationally on Thanksgiving. But according to an email press release I received this morning from Blue Sky Productions, KSPS is supposed to broadcast "Alice's Restaurant 50th Anniversary Concert with Arlo Guthrie" on Dec. 6 (the show was taped live on May 21 at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA.)

Either way, you should check regularly in at the KSPS site to discover the specific date and time. But whether you see the show live or on TV, it's likely you'll end up satisfied. After all — sing along now — "You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant …"

‘Z Nation’ gets third season order

The made-in-Spokane zombie apocalypse drama "Z Nation" has been given a third season by Syfy, according to numerous published accounts Friday.

The Hollywood Reporter said that the channel ordered 15 episodes to air next year.

That should be cause for celebration at the Garland Theater, where tonight's episode - directed by Spokane's own Jason McKee - will be screened. Another local director, Juan Mas, directed the episode that will air next Friday.

Tonight's special screening begins at 9 p.m. the Garland, 924 W. Garland Ave. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and proceeds benefit WAfilmPAC, an organization that supports in the film industry in Washington.

Can't make to the Garland but want to see McKee's episode? It's on SyFy tonight at 10 p.m.

"Z Nation" is produced by The Asylum in collaboration with North by Northwest.

Paisley tickets on sale Friday

Country superstar Brad Paisley will return to the Spokane Arena on Feb. 12 for his first Spokane appearance in four years. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, through TicketsWest outlets. Call (800) 325-SEAT or visit www.ticketswest.com. Prices are $59.75, $39.75 and $25.

The Crushin’ It World Tour will also feature opening acts Eric Paslay and Cam. The latter was named as one of Rolling Stone's 10 country artists to watch this past spring, and she also wrote "Maybe You're Right" for Miley Cyrus' "Bangerz" album.

Nov. 2 deadline for Sound Off! showcase

If you know any aspiring young musicians, you might want to tip them off to this opportunity.

Seattle's EMP invites Northwest bands and musicians age 21 and younger to apply for the 15th annual Sound Off! Battle of the Bands showcase.

Musicians from across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, are encouraged to apply. All genres of original music are accepted. Bands are evaluated by a panel of judges for the following criteria: song composition and arrangement, creativity and originality, technical ability and musicianship.

Twelve bands will be selected to perform at 2016 Sound Off! concerts in February and March at EMP. All semifinalists are awarded with media training, a professional photo shoot, participation in a music industry panel and a festival performance. Prizes for finalists also include musical instruments, recording time, radio airplay and future performance opportunities.

Sound Off! applications are due Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. Contact SoundOff@EMPmuseum.org with questions.

Comedian John Mulaney jokes at The Fox on Thursday

You may (or, given the low ratings, may not) recognize John Mulaney from his short-lived “Seinfeld”-esqe FOX sitcom last year. Mulaney was also a writer on “Saturday Night Live” from 2008 to 2013, and co-created the character Stefon with Bill Hader.

But don’t let those credits stop you from checking out Mulaney’s stand up at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox tomorrow night. He’s really very funny.

For a preview of his style, Mulaney’s two stand-up albums are available on Spotify. My favorite bit is the closer on his 2009 album “The Top Part” about the best meal he ever had.

Mulany also appeared on the sketch comedy series “Kroll Show” as George St. Geegland, associate of Gil Faizon (Nick Kroll), in which the two senior New Yorkers host a cable access prank show with a very specific conceit.

Tickets ($34 - $49) are still available for Mulaney’s Spokane appearance (recommended for mature audiences).

Image via Huffington Post

Ziggy Marley gig at WSU canceled

Reggae legend Ziggy Marley was scheduled to appear Saturday night at Beasley Coliseum as part of the Washington State University Humanitas Festival. That appearance has been canceled, according to the festival website. The notice is posted below:

"Due to unforeseen circumstances the Ziggy Marley concert scheduled for Beasley Coliseum on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 7:30pm, as part of the Humanitas Festival, has been canceled.  The concert has not been rescheduled.  Don’t forget about the all the other great performers scheduled for the Humanitas Festival. See Below.


If you purchased your tickets online or by phone through TicketsWest your credit card account will automatically be credited.

If you purchased your tickets at Beasley Coliseum or at an outlet you will need to send your tickets to:

TicketsWest: Refund, 720 W. Mallon Ave., Spokane, WA  99201 and don’t forget to include your contact information (Name, Address, Phone, Email).

Foo Fighters rock the Gorge

(Above: a photo taken with my iPhone of the Foo Fighters at the Gorge Amphitheatre on Saturday night. As it's impossible to get a good concert photo with an iPhone, this is the best we can do.)

It’s been 20 years since Dave Grohl created Foo Fighters. The group’s self-titled debut, recorded single-handedly by Grohl in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death and Nirvana’s demise, was a fast and furious 44-minute blast of melodic rock.

Two decades, seven albums and multiple Grammy Awards later, Grohl and his band are still making raucous music. And if Saturday night’s show at the Gorge Amphitheatre is an indication, they’ll be doing it for years to come.

The show was high energy, loud, and fun – all that you’d want from a Foo Fighters set. And Grohl proved himself to be one of the hardest working showmen around. Earlier this summer, he fell off a stage in Sweden and broke his leg. Not only did he come back to finish that show that same night, he was determined to complete the band’s 20th anniversary tour.

His solution: a kickass rock ’n’ roll throne bedecked by guitar necks, situated atop a set of speakers and complete with laser lights. “It has a cup holder,” he told the crowd, grabbing a red Solo cup and taking a swig of his “vocal medicine.” He designed it himself, he said – apparently under the influence of oxycontin – and flashed that first sketch on the screen above the stage. The throne is an eye-catching set piece, one that Grohl used to full effect. With his right leg still in a cast boot, Grohl may be confined to the seat but in no way was immobilized. He managed to headbang at will and give his upper body one hell of a workout while the throne traveled up and down the stage.

The show opened with a blistering four-song sprint through “All My Life,” “Times Like These,” “Learn to Fly” and “Something From Nothing.” The band – Nate Mendel on bass, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear on guitar, Taylor Hawkins on drums and Rami Jaffee on keyboards – next launched into “The Pretender.” A fan favorite, judging from the crowd rocking along with fists pumping.

Grohl then slowed things down for “Big Me,” performing it illuminated by fans’ cellphones and lighters. It looked and sounded pretty great.

Anyone who’s been to a Foo Fighters show knows Grohl loves to talk. And he did. He talked about this being a quasi hometown show, given the band’s birthplace in Seattle, and how he appreciated the beautiful setting above the Columbia River. He talked about parenthood and the 7:45 a.m. school drop-off. One of the best anecdotes involved Fred Meyer and how much he misses the Northwest superstore now that he lives where there aren’t any. It’s the kind of store, he said, where you can buy a Fugazzi cassette and a ceiling fan. He used the story to introduce his song “Aurora” off the third album, “There Is Nothing Left to Lose.” It was a highlight of the night as the song showcased Grohl’s singing.

Any complaints are minimal. There was a 10-minute section of guitar noodling that seemed more at home at a Dave Matthews Band show. More troubling was that the sound mix was off at times. Once it sounded as if Grohl’s mic was turned off, and other times the thunderous band completely swallowed his vocals.

Still, as the band rolled through a great cover of Queen’s “Under Pressure,” sung by Hawkins, “This is a Call,” “Alone and Easy Target,” and a rollicking rendition of “Monkey Wrench,” the fans stayed with them for the long haul, as happy to be there as Grohl and his comrades appeared to be. With the opening riff of “Everlong” – the band’s traditional closer – the audience erupted. It’s considered by many to be the best Foo Fighters song; Rolling Stone readers called it such in a 2013 survey. “The only thing I’ll ever ask of you,” Grohl sang, “you gotta promise not to stop when I say when.” And no matter how much many in the crowd didn’t want it to stop, the 2.½-hour set came to a fantastic end.

‘Z Nation’ stars have little use for Spokane

I've never understood why people who come to Spokane for the first time are amazed at just how beautiful the setting is, how surprised they are to find some actual gourmet restaurants here and, in general, learn just how satisfying the experience is. Not energizing, maybe, but certainly enjoyable.

But if they're in the media, and they go return home to a mecca like Los Angeles, they have no problem taking snarky shots … well, just because.

Two of the stars of "Z Nation," which is filmed in Spokane, did exactly that when egged on by the talking heads at Los Angeles television station KTLA last Wednesday. Their names: Michael Welch and Kellita Smith. And their comments are already having an effect on some local filmmakers and erstwhile supporters of the show.

This whole thing would be sad if it weren't actually so stupid. As Clancy Bundy of "Transolar Galactica" put it, "Spokane is post apocalyptic? Your state doesn't even have water."