Arts & Culture

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What We've Been... Listening To

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 4:25 PM

Welcome back to the Inlander staff's semi-regular rundown of the cool and worthwhile things we've been into lately: words we've been reading, shows we've been watching, music/podcasts we've been listening to, and tasty treats we've been drinking/eating. This week, we're telling you about the tunes and 'casts you should be checking out right now:

Find past installments of "What We've Been..." here:

Mike Watt, “ring spiel” tour 95
I’ve been listening to Mike Watt’s new live album, “ring spiel” tour 95, a document of the punk legend’s first solo tour after years leading The Minutemen and fIREHOSE. Ostensibly, the tour was to promote Watt’s then-new album Ball-hog or Tugboat?, but the fact that his backing band was made up of folks like Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder brought a bunch of fans out of the woodwork for shows headlined by the burly, politically-minded bass player. When you listen to this live set of 16 songs culled from Watt’s various bands, you might not notice the influence of his more-famous backing players (except for when Vedder steps to the mic for “Against The '70s"), but you’ll certainly get a lesson in aggressive punk delivered with masterful musicianship and just the right amount of teetering-on-the-edge-of-sloppy performances driven by an enthusiastic crowd and an even more enthusiastic Watt. The guy is still at it 22 years later, and it’s a joy to time-travel back to when Watt was just getting his solo sea legs. (DAN NAILEN)

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Zuill Bailey Brings Home the Grammy

Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 2:14 PM

The week before the Grammy Awards, Zuill Bailey says he felt like he had been “strapped to the front of a freight train” — from the build-up since the nominations were announced, to the red-eye flight from Alaska to Los Angeles, to the well-wishers popping up on his phone. So how does he feel now that he has one of those little golden gramophone statues for his mantle?
Zuill Bailey, winning a Grammy last night. Next week: his 2017 Bach Festival kicks off in Spokane.
  • Zuill Bailey, winning a Grammy last night. Next week: his 2017 Bach Festival kicks off in Spokane.

“Such exhilarating chaos… nonstop for 12 hours,” Bailey texted after winning Best Classical Instrumental Solo on Sunday night. “The Grammys were electrifying.”

Bailey has been music director of the Northwest Bach Festival in Spokane since 2014; his 2017 festival kicks off next Tuesday, Feb. 21.

“Tales of Hemingway” was a Grammy darling, winning three — for Bailey’s solo cello playing, but also for Best Contemporary Classical Composition and Best Classical Compendium. The piece reflects composer Michael Daugherty’s “obsession,” as Bailey puts it, with Ernest Hemingway and depicts several of his novels and stories. Daugherty recruited Bailey to be his cellist for the piece and wrote it with his skills in mind. Bailey will perform “Tales of Hemingway” as part of the festival, on March 2 at Barrister Winery.

As critic Nick Barnard described it in his review on MusicWeb International, Bailey exhibits “total technical security,” in the performance, “but also a willingness to push the expressive envelope with playing of a very wide dynamic range and great tonal variety.”

“Psychologically, I am bound to this piece,” Bailey says. “Most things we play, we’re reinterpreting the past. This is new music. This was written for me. This is the present and the future, and that excites people.”

The story of the recording is a bit harrowing, as Daugherty wanted the Nashville Symphony to record the premiere performance in April of 2015.

“I only had three or four weeks to get it ready,” Bailey recalls. “In fact, I learned the piece in the Davenport Hotel, during the Bach Festival. Then, at the premiere, things were being changed right up until I walked on stage.”

Another fun fact: They had to redo the final bars of the piece.

“At the end of the performance, the audience went berserk,” Bailey says. “Michael walked out on stage, and one of us said something like, ‘Well, we’ve really got something here!’ Then they evacuated the hall so we could re-record the final 15 seconds.

“Knowing that every note I played would be forever, you have to deal with that fear,” Bailey says. “But really, I had been practicing for that moment for 40 years.”
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Friday, February 10, 2017

Local tabletop game makers find fast success for crowd-funded project Dice Throne

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 4:50 PM


When Manny Trembley and Nate Chatellier showed up to the first day of the PAX South gaming convention in Houston last month, the Kickstarter project they set up to fund their game Dice Throne had already reached its modest goal of $15,000.

This happened in less than 48 hours.

Today, with 13 days left in the campaign, Dice Throne has received nearly $69,000 in pledges from more than 1,300 backers.

The Spokane-based game creators were at PAX (a regional version of the all-encompassing gaming convention started in Seattle by the creators of the Penny Arcade webcomic) because Dice Throne was chosen as one of eight featured games for the convention's Tabletop Indie Showcase. There, Trembley and Chatellier spent three days, Jan. 27-29, demoing their game to attendees.
Trembley, left, and Chatellier, demoed Dice Throne at PAX South last month. - DICE THRONE
  • Dice Throne
  • Trembley, left, and Chatellier, demoed Dice Throne at PAX South last month.

Dice Throne is a two- to four-player combat game using unique dice and cards that then interact with a player's chosen hero character; each hero has its own dice and cards that aid it in combat and defense. Fast-paced and quick to learn, the game's basic dice-rolling mechanics are comparable to Yahtzee, but it draws influence and inspiration from other familiar tabletop games, like Magic: the Gathering (the game's turn phases are very similar).

Each hero offers a different style of play, and their fantasy archetypes — the game's four core characters include the Barbarian (a tank-y combat fighter), the Pyromancer (spells and fast direct damage), the Shadow Thief (a poison-flinging rogue), and the Moon Elf (ranged, with damage deflection skills) — will be familiar to anyone who dabbles in such realms.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

National Geographic photographer encourages Spokane audience to understand the oceans' plights

Brian Skerry's work celebrates the sea and highlights its major problems

Posted By on Thu, Feb 9, 2017 at 11:51 AM

Skerry has photographed sharks of all species for the magazine; here is an Oceanic Whitetip next to a biologist. - BRIAN SKERRY
  • Brian Skerry
  • Skerry has photographed sharks of all species for the magazine; here is an Oceanic Whitetip next to a biologist.

Audiences at Wednesday's National Geographic Live! event took a trip around the world's oceans without having to leave the icy streets of Spokane. For the third installment of the series' third season at the INB Performing Arts Center, award-winning underwater photographer Brian Skerry mesmerized with his tales of encountering sharks, whales, seals and other denizens of the world's vast ocean landscapes from behind his camera lens.

For those who missed it, Skerry has been photographing underwater landscapes and its inhabitants for three decades; his work has been widely published in National Geographic, and most recently for the cover story of this February's issue on the centennial anniversary of the U.S. National Parks Service.

This thresher shark is one of countless unintended victims of gillnet fishing. - BRIAN SKERRY
  • Brian Skerry
  • This thresher shark is one of countless unintended victims of gillnet fishing.
Beyond regaling us with tales of how a great white shark ripped apart his camera equipment, and coming face-to-face with a Southern Right whale that had never before encountered humans, Skerry emphasized an important message: ocean conservation works, and we need to protect at least 30 percent of the world's oceans if we want them to survive and thrive for future generations. (Right now, he says, about 3 percent of the ocean is protected from commercial operations like fishing and oil drilling.)

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture has its new executive director

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 4:46 PM

The ups and downs of the leadership of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture have been well documented, from the firing of its former executive director Forrest Rodgers nearly a year ago, to its hiring of an interim director who happened to be married to a then-board member — and was a former U.S. ambassador to boot.
Wesley Jessup, the MAC's new executive director
  • Wesley Jessup, the MAC's new executive director

Now, the MAC has apparently found its permanent replacement for Rodgers in Wesley P. Jessup, who the board of trustees announced Thursday as the museum's new executive director, effective March 1.

Jessup's background includes working with a Native American corporation in his home state of Alaska to develop a cultural center in the Bering Straits region, working with tribal leaders from 20 communities there. In a press release announcing his hiring, Jessup said that experience has him excited about working with the MAC's extensive collection of Native American artifacts.

"I look forward to working with local tribal leaders and the museum staff to ensure that this world-class collection of of more than 22,000 artifacts, photographs and documents from the Plateau Indian tribes continues to not only be preserved, but also utilized to educate people about this region's rich Native American culture," Jessup said.

The new hire has also worked at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, the Pasadena Museum of California Art and, most recently, as the director of the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center in Colorado, where he led a $4.6 million fundraising campaign for a new auditorium, and developed programs and exhibits that more than doubled the museum's attendance, according to the MAC's statement.

Jessup received his M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies at City University of New York, attended the Getty Museum Leadership Institute, where he received his Arts Management Certificate.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Spokane Civic Theatre's 2017-18 season lineup is out!

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 3:56 PM

The Spokane Civic Theatre just hit mid-season, with six productions to go on its 2016-17 schedule — including this weekend's opening of the popular contemporary drama Vanya and Sonia and Mash and Spike — but its leaders are already looking ahead to the 71st season this fall.

At an announcement party Friday, the Civic announced the shows it'll be staging in 2017-18. As usual, the season starts out with bang via a big production of a classic musical; this year it's going to be West Side Story. For the holidays, A Christmas Story is 2017's pick, while the season finale next spring is set to be the romantic-comedy musical Hello Dolly! Other mostly contemporary choices fill out the rest of the season, on the main stage and in the intimate Firth J. Chew studio theater, including the dramatic Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Here's the full list:

Main Stage
West Side Story, Sept. 22-Oct. 15
A Christmas Story, Nov. 17-Dec. 17
Cactus Flower, Jan. 12-28, 2018
10 Nights in Barroom, Feb. 16-March 4, 2018
Dial M for Murder, March 23-April 8, 2017
Hello Dolly!, May 18-June 10, 2018

Studio Theater
Psycho Beach Party, Oct. 13-Nov. 5
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Jan. 19-Feb. 11, 2018
2.0 (TwoPoint_Oh), March 2-25, 2018
Misalliance, April 27-May 20, 2018

Season tickets go on sale March 1, with single tickets on sale July 5.
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2017 Oscar nominees include record number of African-American actors, films of local interest

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 9:56 AM

Hidden Figures is up for Best Picture, and Octavia Spencer (right) earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
  • Hidden Figures is up for Best Picture, and Octavia Spencer (right) earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

While you were obsessing over the new president's latest actions or Gonzaga's big win last night and move up to No. 3 in the polls, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scientists released the list of Academy Award nominees this morning.

As mandated by law whenever she makes a film, Meryl Streep is among the nominees up for Best Actress, and after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy last year over the lack of African-American nominees, this year there are a record six nominations for black actors in acting categories (Denzel Washington for Fences, Mahershala Ali for Moonlight, Ruth Negga for Loving, Viola Davis for Fences, Naomie Harris for Moonlight, Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures). Nothing gets Hollywood moving, apparently, faster than some bad PR.

Among the Best Picture nominees are several still playing in Spokane, including Moonlight, Hidden Figures, Fences, La La Land, Lion, Hacksaw Ridge and Manchester by the Sea; the other nominees in the category are movies that already played here and moved on, but keep an eye out for return engagements now that the nominations are out for Hell or High Water and Arrival.

Of local interest: Viggo Mortensen earned a Best Actor nomination for the Washington-shot Captain Fantastic. And the Spokane NAACP is hosting a fundraiser screening of Best Documentary Feature film I Am Not Your Negro as a fundraiser for the Black Lens newspaper on Feb. 21 at the Magic Lantern.

For a full list of this year's Oscar nominations, go right here.
Viggo Mortensen (red suit) is nominated as Best Actor for his role in Washington-shot Captain Fantastic.
  • Viggo Mortensen (red suit) is nominated as Best Actor for his role in Washington-shot Captain Fantastic.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

REVIEW: Pippin soars as high-flying journey of discovery

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 12:26 PM

Naysh Fox stars in the title role.
  • Naysh Fox stars in the title role.

In the late 1960s, around the time Pippin was first conceived, the notion of "finding yourself" had begun to infiltrate the popular imagination. The job that you were expected to hold from graduation until retirement, the dull routine of domesticity, the strictures of the nuclear family — in the minds of many, these came to be regarded as atavistic barriers to self-actualization. Free yourself from them and, now unencumbered by convention, you give yourself the opportunity to discover true fulfillment. Or even greatness.

Although it's largely (and inexplicably) set during the reign of Charlemagne, Pippin's plot—not to mention its songbook—bears the indelible timestamp of the era that gave rise to it. A young boy finishes university, questioning his identity and his place in the world. He ventures off to war in pursuit of glory. He takes part in orgiastic sex in pursuit of pleasure. He overthrows his father, a powerful leader, in pursuit of fairness and justice. Finally, exhausted by the futility of his quest for contentment, he winds up on a country estate with a young widow and her son. He comes to enjoy it, but he can't shake the feeling that he's destined for something extraordinary. After all, the high-flying troupe of players that encircles the action keeps telling him that.

Pippin's ultimate choice for his life runs counter to the troupe's wishes, of course, and puts paid to some of the more hedonistic stereotypes of its period. In that way, it makes for a refreshing homage to simplicity and anonymity, even though developing an appreciation for those qualities takes a lot of contrasting spectacle.

The nationally touring Broadway production of Pippin at the INB Performing Arts Center offers that spectacle in abundance. It has the acrobatics, illusions, ensemble routines and shameless glam for which this show is renowned, complemented by a top-notch and multi-talented cast of young singers, dancers and actors that is hard to fault. Naysh Fox plays a springy, charismatic Pippin who's delightful to watch; Housso Semon is a commanding Leading Player with a rich singing voice and a graceful, sensual execution of the Fosse-inspired choreography.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What We've Been... Reading

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 3:38 PM

Welcome back to the Inlander staff's biweekly rundown of the cool and worthwhile things we've been into lately: words we've been reading, series we've been watching, music/podcast we've been listening to, and tasty treats we've been drinking/eating. This week, we're nerding out about the great blogs, books and journalistic works we've come across lately.

Find past installments of "What We've Been..." here.

Capsule wardrobe bloggers can show you how freeing decluttering your closet can be.
  • Capsule wardrobe bloggers can show you how freeing decluttering your closet can be.
Every two weeks, I get obsessed with something different. Scroll through my Internet history and you’ll find the everyday Google searches then stumble upon 65 entries over three days wondering, “How to breathe properly” or “Best way to sleep.” Well, lately, it’s all about a capsule wardrobe: a compact, versatile collection of 30 items or fewer, typically to save money, closet space and reduce time spent looking through the contents of your closet, 90 percent of which you have no intention of wearing ever again. There are blogs upon blogs offering advice on how to streamline your wardrobe — that is, the “magic number” of items per season, 3, 5, 10, 20 basics you “must have” in your capsule, or “buy our $5/mo app or you’ll fail,” etc.

Be More with Less has been my go-to blog. It has a veritable ton of methods to declutter everything, positive posts on how to de-stress in general, and the ever-present reminder from blogger Courtney Carver that she is there to help, but no one knows what will work for you better than yourself. I have found I care less about the magic number of clothes, and more that nowadays I can actually remember every piece of clothing I own, so that’s a step for me.

If you’re ready (and it may hurt a little), also check out Tokyo-based organizing consultant Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a best-selling decluttering and organizing guide that took the world by storm in 2014. (RAVEN HAYNES)

Sports Illustrated is best known (duh) for its photography, but the weekly mag has had its share of excellent writers and ripping good yarns during its decades of existence. And while the magazine is constantly trying new things to stay relevant in the modern media environment — hello fitness columns and ever-increasing dose of “charticles” — the Jan. 9 issue presented a new-ish feature called "SI True Crime" that really is just another name for what the magazine does best — combining some compelling storytelling with stellar photography and some interactive features online.

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Share your West Central stories for a new, interactive art installation

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 12:31 PM

Payphone booths are a relic of the past — yet another victim to technology's rapid advances — but an upcoming community art project seeks to give the booths new purpose through storytelling.

The West Central Dial-A-Story Project is spearheaded by the Kendall Yards literacy and resource nonprofit Spark Central, with support from Spokane Arts, Laboratory Spokane and the Spokane Civic Theatre. But before this exciting, original project can become a reality, contributors of all ages are invited to submit their West Central-centric stories.

February 19 is the deadline to submit true, first-hand experiences set in or associated with the neighborhood. Then, 30 stories will be chosen and made available for public listening at three phone booths installed in the historic West Central neighborhood.

Project organizer and executive director of Spark Central Brooke Matson says the project seeks to share stories from West Central residents past and present, as well as students, employees, business owners and anyone else who spends time there. You don't have to be a resident of West Central, however your story should have an obvious connection to the place. Specific requirements for Dial-A-Story submissions are outlined in more detail online.

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Unslut: A documentary screening and discussion

Unslut: A documentary screening and discussion @ Moran Prairie Library

Mon., Feb. 27, 6-7:30 p.m.

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