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Archive: Music & Entertainment / Spokane and North Idaho

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 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:

iMessage Ellipsis

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."

The calendar’s officially full

Here in Spokane, many of us labor under the belief that our sleepy little burg is lacking in things to do. Some weeks, sure, it's as dead as a cemetery out there. This will not be one of those weeks. The list below is what we just pulled from our "Looking ahead" calendar. There's A LOT of stuff going on the week of Sept. 11-17:

“Last Comic Standing” Live: Sept. 11, the Fox, $27.50-$45 TW

Yes with Toto: Sept. 11, Northern Quest, $45-$75 NQ

Jelly Bread: Sept. 11, the Hive, Sandpoint, $15 TW

Iris DeMent: Sept. 11, the Bing, $29 TW

Sir-Mix-A-Lot: Sept. 12, Perry Street Shakedown, Free

Foo Fighters: Sept. 12, Gorge Amphitheatre, George, Wash. $45-$75 TM

Shania Twain: Sept. 12, Spokane Arena, $46-$136 TW

“Weird Al” Yankovic: Sept. 13, $-35-$45 NQ

(SOLD OUT) Noah Gunderson: Sept. 13, the Bartlett, $17-$20 BT

Five Finger Death Punch and Papa Roach: Sept. 13, Spokane Arena, $39.75-$45 TW

Stars of “Duck Dynasty”: Sept. 13, Spokane County Interstate Fair, $25-$35 TW

Air Supply: Sept. 14, Spokane County Interstate Fair, $20-$30 TW

John Hiatt & the Combo: Sept. 14, the Bing, $32.50 TW

Craig Morgan, Dan + Shay: Sept. 15, Spokane County Interstate Fair, $25-$35 TW

Hopsin, Dizzy Wright: Sept. 15, Knitting Factory, $20-$23 TB

Orleans, the Guess Who: Sept. 16, Spokane County Interstate Fair, $15-$25 TW

Flux Pavilion: Sept. 16, Knitting Factory, $20 TB

Lee Brice: Sept. 16, Coeur d’Alene Casino, $50-$60 TW

St. Lucia: Sept. 16, the Bartlett, $20 BT

Todd Snider: Sept. 17, the Bing, $27-$37 TW

Lost Lander: Sept. 17, the Bartlett, $10-$12 BT

Cheap Trick: Sept. 17, Spokane County Interstate Fair, $20-$30 TW

Plus, there's the rock 'n' roll musical "Rock of Ages"  - featuring all your favorite hair bands from the 1980s - opening at the Modern Theater Coeur d'Alene. For those who aren't about to rock, but who still enjoy good music, Opera Coeur d'Alene will stage "The Magic Flute" this weekend on the North Idaho College campus.

So get out there and do something. No excuses.

*Those initials at the end of each entry? The ticketing agency where one can buy tickets: TicketsWest, Ticketmaster, the Bartlett, Northern Quest.

Hit Pig Out while you still have a chance

Above: My brother devours his shrimp and crab wrap.

By now, you've probably sampled something of what the 2015 Pig Out in the Park event has to offer. That includes food (I had noodles from Dim Sum Wok, while my brother ate a shrimp and crab wrap from a place whose name I can't recall) and music (featuring Saturday night's performance of Big Brother and the Holding Company).

I had hoped to catch the performance on Thursday of The Working Spliffs, but I could never find the stage at which they were performing. It was that hard navigating the crowds with my only partially ambulatory brother (call him Little Brother and the Hand-Holding Company). 

Anyway, if you want to give this final day a try, here's today's music schedule.

And try the noodles, if Dim Sum Wok is still open. They're just the thing for an overcast, somewhat chilly day.

Macklemore, Lewis video goes live

Seattle rapper Macklemore and his producer buddy Ryan Lewis spent a week in Spokane in July filming a video for the first single off their upcoming album. "Downtown" went live on YouTube this morning, and features Macklemore getting funky with collaborators Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee, Melle Mel, and Foxy Shazam's Eric Nally - and a whole lot of Spokane moped, scooter and motorcycle enthusiasts. The video, co-directed by Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty), Lewis and Jason Koenig, has some of the same goofy vibe that made "Thrift Shop" such a smash. As Vulture.com noted this morning, "There are cowbells, name-spelling, and references to Blackstreet. Think of it as a sequel to 'Uptown Funk,' in the opposite direction."
And while it's unclear if the video is supposed to be set in Spokane - a reference to Pike Place Market seems to indicate otherwise - "Downtown" doesn't shy from showing the Lilac City's downtown, good and bad. The Fox Theater, the Paulsen Building, the skywalks and the Parkade are among the downtown landmarks getting some time to shine. There also are shots filmed around the decrepit Otis Hotel and parts of East Sprague Avenue, to add a gritty flavor.
This is the second video the duo has released in recent weeks. The first, "Growing Up (Sloane's Song)," dropped on Aug. 5 and centers on Macklemore becoming a new dad. The new album, the follow-up to the record-breaking and Grammy-winning "The Heist," is set to come out later this year.  Reportedly, the guys are scheduled to perform the song at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday.
Check out the video right here:


Legendary rockers roll through town this fall

Although there have been rumblings on the internet in the last couple of days, it’s finally been confirmed: Neil Young is playing the Arena on Oct. 2. This marks the first time the legendary rocker has performed in Spokane since his 2007 show at the INB.

Young’s touring band is the California-based four-piece Promise of the Real, which appeared on his latest album “The Monsanto Years” and is fronted by Lukas Nelson, son of country superstar Willie Nelson. Joining the band on tour is Lukas’ brother, guitarist Micah Nelson. Set lists on the first leg of the tour have spanned Young’s decades-long career, so expect to hear plenty of classics along with newer material.

Tickets go on sale through TicketsWest on Friday at 10 A.M., and prices range from $59.50 to $125.

Also announced this week: Paul Rodgers is scheduled to perform at Northern Quest on Nov. 15. Rodgers is best known as guitarist and vocalist for Bad Company, but he’s also had hits with Free and the Firm and toured in the mid-2000s as the frontman for Queen.

Tickets start at $65 and will be on sale as of Saturday morning. They can be purchased online or through the box office at (509) 481-6700.

Below: Paul Rodgers and Bad Company perform their 1975 single “Shooting Star.”

Dawes performs for an appreciative crowd in Liberty Lake

An audience of all ages took in the Dawes concert Saturday night at Pavillion Park in Liberty Lake. Spokesman-Review photographer and Dawes fan Dan Pelle was there and put together this photographic slideshow:


Here's a taste from the band's latest record, "All Your Favorite Bands," out now. This is called "Things Happen."

Local bands release debut LPs at back-to-back Bartlett shows

This weekend is a big one for local music releases: Both the Sweeplings and Cathedral Pearls are putting out their first full-length albums and are celebrating the occasion with back-to-back shows at the Bartlett.

The Sweeplings is a project formed by Cami Bradley, the local singer-songwriter featured on NBC’s competition series “America’s Got Talent,” and Alabama-based musician and producer Whitney Dean. Their new LP, titled “Rise and Fall,” comes out on Friday, and Bradley and Dean will be at the Bartlett that night; physical copies of the LP will be available for purchase at the show.

“Etchings” is the first album by local indie four-piece Cathedral Pearls, a collection of ten tightly-crafted tunes a year and a half in the making. Cathedral Pearls has released several EPs in the past, but this marks their first LP, and the band will be performing at the Bartlett Saturday night with the new CD in tow. And this is pretty cool: The $10 ticket also includes a copy of the record.

But the local album releases don’t stop there: Spokane psych-rock trio Blackwater Prophet drops its new record “Ghost” on Aug. 14, which coincides with a show at – where else? – the Bartlett.

Below: Cathedral Pearls performs “Dynamite,” one of the tracks on the band’s upcoming album, “Etchings.”