Monday, March 30, 2015

CONCERT REVIEW: Joe Pug 'takes the country by storm' at the Bartlett

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 1:54 PM


Joe Pug has no illusions about his place in the world of contemporary pop music. 

At his strong Sunday night show at The Bartlett, he delivered a litany of self-deprecating asides between songs. He described his recently released Windfall album, tongue firmly in cheek, as "taking the country by storm" and as the favorite album of 2015, according to Fox News blowhard Sean Hannity. He also dubbed it the "official album of Quizno's." 

"It's no Subway," Pug joked. "But it's a growing chain." 

Pug's humor helped create a genuinely warm vibe at the full Bartlett, a mood that belied the pretty dark lyrical themes that fill much of his music. The set drew heavily from Windfall, but also included tunes from his older albums The Great Despiser and Messenger, as well as some older EPs. Even his reputation for morose tunes gave Pug the opportunity to get some laughs from the crowd, as in when he described writing what he thought of as a light love song for his girlfriend — "It was like my 'It's Raining Men' or something!" — only to have her find it far from ebullient. 

That song, "Pair of Shadows," was delivered solo by Pug, and was one of the highlights of the show. For most of the gig, he was backed by a three-piece guitar/standup bass/drums band that gave his folk some unexpected muscle not always present on his recordings. What always remained was his gruff voice that belies his youth and makes comparisons to singer/songwriters like Bruce Springsteen and John Prine pretty fitting. 

Pug opened the show with a three-song salvo that touched on three different releases, with the new "Burn and Shine," "Messenger" and "Nation of Heat" drawing the audience into Pug's world. Guitarist Greg Tuohey particularly set himself apart early on with chiming lead parts and ringing solos that inspired Pug to proclaim him "the Richard Sherman of guitar" in a nice nod to the Seahawks defensive back. 

Older songs like "I Do My Father's Drugs," "Hymn #76," "A Gentle Few" and "How Good You Are" (featuring the great opening lines "I was born into a circus, but I ran off to join a home") attracted loud cheers from fans familiar with the older material, and the new songs fit alongside them with ease. There are definitely more positive vibes in new songs like "Windfallen," "If Still It Can't Be Found" and, naturally, "'Bright Beginnings." 

"The Measure," another new one played late in the set, included the lines "What we've lost is nothing that can't be found." Clearly, finding the love of his life and getting engaged has had some effect on his songs and their moods — even if his fiancee doesn't think "Pair of Shadows" is exactly a traditional love song, and even if he followed up soon after with his excellent, gritty "The Great Despiser." 

With any luck, perhaps Pug's sunnier on-album disposition will lead more fans to discover a great, young American songwriting talent
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We're bringing The Big Lebowski back to the Bing

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 12:19 PM


Oh, hey there Suds and Cinema lovers. We just wanted to let you know that the next installment of our venerable beer-meets-awesome-movies series is in response to the many, many loyal fans who asked us to bring back one of last year's films...and that film is The Big Lebowski.

Last year, we had one hell of a night at the Bing Crosby Theater when we screened the film to almost 700 folks, many of whom were dressed in the costume of their favorite characters. And we're hoping to recreate that magic by again having the freshly one-year-old Perry Street Brewing provide the beer for the event on April 15. The beer flows at 6:30 pm and the movie follows at 7:30 pm.

As always, entry is $4 and beers are $4, too.

And, yes, we'll be hosting a costume contest for several categories, including Best Dude, Best Walter and several other wild card categories to be announced later. There's also an after-party at Rain Lounge featuring White Russians made with Spokane's own 21 Window Vodka. During the movie, you can feast on special Lebowski-themed ice cream flavors from Brain Freeze Creamery.

If you're not into the whole remembering things without electronics thing, here's a link to the official Facebook invite. Let us know if you're coming, man.

Here's a look at last year's Lebowski night. It was far out.

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The morning after: Gonzaga's season comes to an end

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 11:31 AM

It's good to see you survived the night, Zag Nation. That was a tough one and some of you are still likely feeling a bit of a sting after seeing Gonzaga's season end yesterday afternoon with a 66-52 loss to Duke.

What you're feeling is the reality that unless you cut down the nets in the Final Four, every team that makes the NCAA tournament ends its season with a loss. That's also what makes this sporting event one of the last great things in all of sports. But I know, it still stings because the reality of a Gonzaga Final Four was right there for you to almost touch. Many Northwest sports fans might not feel too bad, considering they encountered the deepest pit of sporting despair in the final seconds of the Super Bowl. Comparatively, this is just a little scratch, compared to that faith-destroying turn of events.

And, all in all, it's hard to say the Zags let anyone down. They won 35 games this season and made it to the Elite Eight, where they lost to the No. 1 seed, which is how things were supposed to go. The Final Four would have been a delicious icing on the cake this special unit of kids had baked throughout the season, but it wasn't to be. And perhaps worse than the outcome of the game is the realization that two of the program's most beloved players, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., are done playing in Spokane.

"You know, we made it to an Elite Eight, and this is something you dream of, to play on this stage, the final eight teams playing college basketball. You dream of that stuff growing up. And to be playing for a guy like Coach Few made me a better basketball player. Definitely fortunate enough to be in this position right now," said Bell after the game.

What exactly happened? Well, if you look at the box score, it's hard to suss out why the Zags didn't top Duke. Gonzaga shot better from the field, scored more field goals, and out-rebounded the Blue Devils. But Duke hit eight threes, including four by Matt Jones, and also hit 16 of 19 free throws (Zags went just 6 for 9). And Gonzaga turned it over 13 times to Duke's mere two.

There was hope, especially at the start of the second half when this happened:

It had to be a sign that the tides were changing, right? Jahlil Okafor, the top NBA prospect in the country, just air-balled a free throw. Surely, the Zags would steamroll from here on out. And Tony Romo, the king of the choke, was decked out in blue behind the Duke bench. All harbingers of good things to come.

Continue reading »

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Ladies hoops, documentary films and opera at the library

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 10:15 AM

A rough weekend for local sports fans, but rather than dwell on the negative, we encourage you to celebrate a great season for both the men's and women's basketball teams at Gonzaga. You can find plenty of options in our event listings and Staff Picks

Here are some choice selections for Monday, March 30:

SPORTS & OUTDOORS | The regional final at the Spokane Arena for the women's NCAA tourney pairs a couple of powerhouse programs in Maryland and Tennessee, facing off at 6 pm tonight

FILM | The Magic Lantern hosts a special night of film with the Hermanos Spokane Film Screening, in which Monsenor : The Last Journey of Oscar Romero — will be shown to honor Archibishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated 35 years ago. Here's a look at the film: 

LIVE BANDS | You can't go wrong with a little free entertainment, and the Shadle Library has some tonight with opera singer Madeline McNeill doing a gratis performance at 6:30 pm. 

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MB: Zags lose, new Daily Show host and NSA shooting

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 9:23 AM


Gonzaga men’s and women’s basketball teams were respectively beaten this weekend, heartbreakingly so. (Spokesmen-Review) (KREM)

After 33 years, a convicted sex offender living in Sandpoint was arrested Friday in connection with the abduction and killing of a 6-year-old boy. (CdA Press)

Washington could be one of the next states to ban powdered alcohol. (KHQ)

It's harder to get into the University of Washington than ever before. (Seattle Times) 

South African Comedian Trevor Noah has been named John Stewart’s replacement on The Daily Show. (Daily Beast)

Shots fired at NSA headquarters this morning leaves one dead, after two people tried to ram a vehicle into the front gate. (Washington Post)

Is Russell Wilson back to playing baseball? (Seattle P-I) 
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

What's changed since Gonzaga was last in the Elite Eight?

Posted By on Sat, Mar 28, 2015 at 1:10 PM

  • Rajah Bose photo

Yesterday evening, Gonzaga clawed their way to a hard-fought victory over UCLA to punch a ticket to the program's first Elite Eight since the program's Cinderella run in 1999.

The game, played inside what felt like the largest building on the planet, was marked by poor outside shooting by both teams, but gave us a Gonzaga team that knows how to grind out a win when they need to. Thanks to Przemek Karnowski's 18 points, the Zags knocked off UCLA. He also made TWO passes like this to lead the way to a 74-62 win.

Now, Gonzaga takes on Duke at 2:05 pm on Sunday. The game is on CBS.

It's been a long, long while since the Zags were in the Elite Eight and there are some naysayers out there who think that their inability to make it deep into March (and often getting stuck in the Round of 32) is a sign that Gonzaga is not a true national power. True, Mark Few's teams haven't always executed in the tournament, but the years since that first trip to the Elite Eight have seen the program, and the university, make some huge strides.

Here's just a few things that have happened since the then-Dan Monson-coached team beat Florida to get to the Elite Eight in March of 1999. 

- Gonzaga has won 438 games, averaging 27 wins a season.

- Undergraduate enrollment at Gonzaga was just 2,747 in 1999. Now it's 4,896.

- The Zags played in the tiny Martin Centre back then, now their campus is home to the 6,000-seat, $25 million McCarthey Athletic Center. 

- Back then, the team flew commercial and slept in often less-than-great motels. Now, the Zags travel by chartered jet.

- A total of 10 Gonzaga players have gone on to make an NBA roster (Richie Frahm, Dan Dickau, Ronny Turiaf, Adam Morrison, Jeremy Pargo, Austin Daye, Robert Sacre, Kelly Olynyk, Elias Harris,  David Stockton).

- Mark and Marcy Few's Coaches vs. Cancer events in Spokane raised about $7 million for cancer research and assistance for cancer patients.

- Gonzaga's acceptance rate dropped from about 85 percent in 1999 to about 61 percent in recent years asthe university became a more prominent regional school.

- The school has built about $56 million worth of new facilities (not including the McCarthey Center).

- Gonzaga has made 17-straight NCAA tournaments. The only teams with a longer streak are Duke and Kansas.

This article has been updated since it was originally posted. 

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Gonzaga's women take their turn in the Sweet 16 spotlight Saturday

Posted By on Sat, Mar 28, 2015 at 7:21 AM

Five-on-five, the sixth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols are better than the unranked Gonzaga Bulldogs. That’s why the GU women are counting on about 9,000 of their friends to help them out Saturday afternoon when Tennessee and the Zags tangle at the Spokane Arena in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.

“We’re so fortunate to have the support here,” Gonzaga forward Sunny Greinacher said at a Friday afternoon press conference in the arena.

“Our fans are amazing to us,” guard Keani Albanez added, “and to be able to play in front of those fans again, that just means to world to me.”

The Bulldogs, who had to hold their breath to find out if they would even be picked to play in the NCAA tournament, went 2-0 on the opening weekend of play to earn the right to play at least one more game in Spokane.

The Bulldogs are 26-7 and seeded 11th in the 16-team Spokane Region. Gonzaga has knocked off No. 6 seed George Washington (of Washington, D.C.) and No. 3 seed Oregon State in Corvallis. Now they face No. 2 seed Tennessee (29-5), the eight-time NCAA champion, on ESPN at 4 p.m.

ESPN also carries the 1:30 p.m. contest between fourth-ranked Maryland (32-2), the No. 1 seed, and 16th-ranked Duke (23-10), the No. 4 seed. Ticket sales for the Spokane games — including Monday’s Elite Eight contest, a Final Four qualifier — skyrocketed after Gonzaga pulled off two upsets in Corvallis.

The Bulldogs rank among the national leaders in women’s basketball attendance with a 5,366 average at the 6,000-seat McCarthey Athletic Center on GU's campus. Of course, Tennessee averages almost twice as many home fans (10,413), and the Lady Vols recently played in front of 14,390 mostly enemy fans at South Carolina.

“We haven’t even discussed the crowd, to be honest with you,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “Our schedule is pretty tough, and we have been in some pretty tough environments.”

Both teams have balanced scoring, but no overwhelming individuals. The Lady Vols lost leading scorer and rebounder Isabelle Harrison with a blown knee last month.
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Audition to be a Z Nation zombie Saturday

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 3:29 PM


Ever want to be on TV? Start practicing your best zombie moans and hobbling walks tonight, because locals are being cast as undead extras for the second season of Syfy's Z Nation series being filmed in and around Spokane

The last local audition session for the show is being held tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, from 9 am-4 pm in Spokane Valley, at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Interested actors must be at least 18 years old and live in Washington state. There's a $5 fee if you're not with a talent agent or don't have a Casting Networks Account.

Pre-registration for tomorrow's auditions is open online until 6 pm tonight, but those who miss this deadline can still show up — just be prepared to wait. 

While the next season of the Walking Dead lookalike is set to resume filming in Spokane later this year, the future of the Z Nation's impact on regional film industry professionals and actors in the coming years is a less clear. Right now, a bill in the state legislature (SB 6027) is seeking to boost Washington's film incentive program, which industry advocates argue is necessary for projects like Z Nation and others to continue being made in the Evergreen State.

Washington's film incentive program essentially offers cash rebates for qualifying productions made within state borders. Funded by a portion of the state's business and occupation tax liabilities (corporations/individuals can choose to contribute to this fund, getting a dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to $1 million), qualifying productions can apply to get 30 percent of what they spent here back from the state.

That fund, however, is currently capped at $3.5 million, making Washington's the fifth smallest incentive program in the nation — well behind many other states with enormous incentive pools for filmmakers. It's why so many movies are made in Vancouver, British Columbia (which has no cap on its incentives), and other states like Alabama, Louisiana and New Mexico. As of now, Washington Filmworks, which oversees the program, has already received more requests than it can award to qualifying projects seeking to get some money back in return for the economic impact of locating work in-state.

The bill being considered (no vote on it has been set yet; the current session ends on April 26) would gradually boost Washington's program to an annual cap of $10 million by the year 2019. This increase would result in a $3.5 million loss in state revenue during the current budget biennium and a $17 million loss during the 2017-19 biennium. These numbers are the biggest factors working against the request for an increased program cap, as state lawmakers work to balance the state budget while maintaining basic programs.

Film industry supporters from around the state testified on Wednesday during a Senate Ways & Means hearing (captured in the video below), including several Spokane residents whose livelihoods rely on their home state remaining competitive with its neighbors, like Oregon. Our southern neighbor caps its program at $10 million a year, allowing it to sustain several ongoing projects for films and television series. 

Earlier this month, a group of Spokane film workers also traveled to Olympia for a film lobbying day, taking the capitol by storm with a horde of Z Nation zombies. 

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THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Local CD and video releases, CdA Blues Fest and Sir Richard Bishop

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 1:41 PM


Local bands are on a hot streak this month, dropping records left and right, and this weekend we have two new ones. First up on Friday is Coeur d’Alene act the Static Tones, releasing their fuzzed-out, classic rock ’n’ roll disc Brotherhood of Strangers. The trio’s music is gritty and soulful, translating as well in a dive bar as it does on the open road with the windows down. The show kicks off at the Big Dipper with Blackwater Prophet, Stucco and Sorority opening at 7:30 pm. Cost is $5. 

Countrrrrryy fans listen up: homeboy-turned-Nashville recording artist Jeremy McComb comes through Post Falls’ Nashville North (which he co-owns) tonight with a posse of all-star players. Show up before 8 pm for free cover and dance lessons. The show starts at 9 pm. 

You pronounce the band called !!! as Chk Chk Chk — obviously. Tonight, the Brooklyn-based electronic indie band starts its weird dance party at 8 pm at the Bartlett, with Bandit Train opening. Cost is $15 at the door.

The Coeur d’Alene Blues Festival kicks off tonight at the Coeur d’Alene Resort with an intimate Blues Cruise on the lake. Then tomorrow, bluesy tunes continue with help from acts like Selwyn Birchwood and Lisa Mann. Check out the website here for all times, lineups and locations.

Boat Race Weekend, on the other hand, hitting the stage Saturday night, take their emotional style of pop-punk very seriously on their first record, The Talisman. A Gonzaga three-piece — two members are seniors and the other graduated last year — the group is young, but they’ve got more than enough loud, pent-up angst to express in their songs, which translates to one hell of a ruckus onstage.Their Big Dipper performance starts at 7 pm and is $7. The Bight, the Camorra and Head Hiatus open the show. 

Marshall McLean Band, recently voted by the people as the best original band in Spokane, has an official music video release show (see below) up in Sandpoint Saturday night at the beautiful Panida Theater. Anna Tivel opens the show. Tickets are $15. Expect to be filled with a need to dance when you show up. 

Sir Richard Bishop, whose show was moved from the Palomino Club to South Perry Yoga, brings his storied mix of American Primitivism with Eastern mysticism to Spokane. Learn about his recent affair with an old six-string guitar in this week’s music story. The show starts at 7 pm and is $10.

Also worthy of your time on Saturday are rockin’ shows at the Hop! and Underground 15.

Don't expect Joe Pug to sing as many hymns as he once did. Instead, show up Sunday at the Bartlett to hear the music from his new record that almost didn’t happen. The concert starts at 8 pm and is $14 the day of.  

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King Arthur sings, filmmakers slam, and getting crafty with some wine

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 11:01 AM

I know a lot of you will be hunkering down to watch the Gonzaga Sweet 16 game this afternoon, but that's only a couple of hours of your day. You'll want to peruse our event listings and Staff Picks for tips on how to fill the rest of your fine Friday. 

Here are a few highlights I saw for Friday, March 27: 

| The oh-so-familiar tale of King Arthur, Sir Lancelot and the whole Knights of the Round Table crew gets the musical treatment in Camelot, and the touring production is in town through Sunday. 

FILM | Spokane filmmakers, heads up! Tonight is the kickoff of this year's 50-hour Slam, in which creative types write, film and edit a short movie in just 50 hours. The public gets to see the winning films in May, but interested parties will want to get to the KSPS studio to get involved. 

CRAFTS | You can get a little crafty this eve in Spokane Valley by taking a Wine Glass Painting Class
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