Many of us grew up with Colin Quinn as a member of Saturday Night Live, but there are those of us whose first dose of Mr. Quinn’s raspy Brooklyn accent was on MTV’s non-gameshow, “Remote Control,” where he’d destroy the hits of the year in his unmusical voice. Since then, this stand-up comedian has acted in films and television, hosted comedy variety shows, and recently popped up on an episode of “Girls.” But during his stint on SNL, Mr. Quinn was already working on long-form stand-up. His first show, “Colin Quinn: An Irish Wake” went to Broadway, and since then, he’s maintained a presence on stage. Now this Saturday, he comes to the Lobero with his latest, “Unconstitutional,” an examination of our nation’s founding document, or 226 years in 70 minutes. This will not be a history lesson, but you just might learn something … and you will be laughing. In this interview, however, Quinn gets into the serious business of parsing this document and reveals that he’s a big James Madison fan.
It was a long two days at Santa Barbara High School this weekend as judges weighed in on the wealth of young talent auditioning for the Teen Star singing competition. Around 70 students from seventh to 12th grade tried out for the coveted February performance at the Granada.
Add to that the 20 seen on Thursday in the North County auditions, and that’s a lot of singers to experience. But as of 8 p.m. Sunday, the 10 finalists (and two alternates) were announced.
The winners, in no particular order are: Jason Paras (Dos Pueblos High, 12th grade); Karlie Mack (San Marcos High, 12th grade); Zoe Burritt (Cabrillo High, 10th grade); Nathaniel Neumann (Dos Pueblos High, 11th grade), Grant Bower (Santa Barbara High, 10th grade); Mary-Grace Langhorne (Goleta Valley Junior High, seventh grade); Brandi Rose Lentini (Santa Barbara High, ninth grade); Luana Psaros (Dos Pueblos High, 11th grade); Sulema Mejia (Pioneer Valley High, 12th grade); and Dylan Ortega (Santa Ynez Valley High, 10th grade). Two alternates also were chosen. They are Olivia Huffman (Solvang School, eighth grade) and Sydney Shalhoob (La Colina Junior High, eighth grade).
‘Jason Mraz was very popular,” said Joe Lambert. Teen Star’s executive director, of the song choices made by the contestants. ‘As was Christina Aguilera and Maroon 5. What was surprising was that we got two songs from ‘Frozen’ which only just came out in theaters.”
The panel of judges was the same from Thursday. Doing the honors were singer-songwriter Patti Castillo, KTYD’s Lin Aubuchon and the News-Press’ own Don Katich, director of news operations. To make sure the judges keep their ears fresh and unbiased, Erik Stein, casting director of PCPA at Allan Hancock College, came in after the contestants had been whittled down to 20, and he gave them all a fresh listen.
Contacted by phone, the finalists were relaxing Sunday night.
Jason Paras auditioned with Michael Buble’s ‘I Haven’t Met You Yet” a selection he felt really matched his own personality and the way he feels. ‘It really portrays who I am and also, I just really love singing.” He wasn’t nervous, he says, because this February will mark his return performance at the Granada – he was a finalist last year, too.
‘Don’t sing songs you think other people want to hear you sing,” he advised. ‘Just focus on delivering the best performance you can so you’re happy with what you do.” Mr. Paras has his sights on being a singer-songwriter, but at the moment he’s also the editor-in-chief of Dos Pueblos’ newspaper and plays water polo.
Zoe Burritt got her chance to sing two country songs in her audition, and that’s good because she wants to head in that direction in her career. This Lompoc resident sings every chance she gets at various events, including local fairs, and this is her third time auditioning and her first to earn her a final spot. She chose ‘Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood (who Zoe’s dad says she bears a vocal resemblance to) and ‘Tim McGraw” by Taylor Swift.
‘These songs are a good match for me, and I can sing them really well, she says.” Miss Burritt has recently picked up guitar and piano, and said that she’s not too worried about her stage presence, but ‘I need to work on my vocal strength,” a tip she picked up from her three years auditioning.
‘It was more comfortable this year,” said Nathaniel Neumann, who was also a finalist last year. ‘There was a lot less stress and a lot more fun.”
Mr. Neumann auditioned with Phillip Phillips’ ‘Drive Me,” a singer who won 2012’s American Idol.
‘The panel is very attentive to you being stressed out and nervous,” he said. ‘So they mention before the audition that they’re there for you to succeed and not make you feel pressured, or if I don’t make it I’m not a good singer. They want you to win. If you don’t make it they’ll give you pointers and tell you they’ll see you next year!”
Speaking of Stories kicks off 2014, and its 20th season, with “Nothing but Laughs,” its annual show of humorous tales. Maybe it’s a sign that the funniest comedy writers now work in the non-fiction essay format, or maybe it’s just pure coincidence, but the line-up for the two shows this Sunday and Monday at Center Stage Theater is all in the hilarious-but-true tradition.
The line-up for Sunday and Monday feature five Speaking of … regulars, all five of whom are also adept at comedy. Katie Thatcher will read Sloane Crosley’s childhood tale, “The Pony Problem;” Meredith McMinn will read Nora Ephron’s aging-ritual tale, “I Feel Bad About My Neck;” Devin Scott — the youngest of the performers — will read Michael Thomas Ford’s confessional, “The F Word;” Tom Hinshaw will take on David Rakoff’s mountain climbing story, “In New England Everyone Calls You Dave;” and Robert Lesser caps things off with Paul Rudnick’s sugar-holic tale, “Good Enough to Eat.” Executive director, Maggie Mixsell has made sure each performer really matches the personality of the writer. Well, as closely as possible.
‘Radiant Body Globs,’ Ball-Nogues Studio
Installation view of “Almost Anything Goes: Architecture and Inclusivity” at Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara
‘Eye Candy Table (detail),’Atelier Manferdini
Museum of Contemporay Art Santa Barbara photos
In the 21st Century, things have gotten wiggly. Where once a discipline hopper like Warhol was an anomaly, it’s now rare to find an artist working in one medium. The new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara asks whether a similar breakdown is happening in the architecture and design world, and if affording firms and designers museum space changes the way we see them, or how they see their audience. “Almost Anything Goes” explains the title of the exhibit that opened last week and runs through April 13.
The focus is on Los Angeles artists trained in architecture, the majority with a link to the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-ARC) in downtown L.A. Along with MCA’s Miki Garcia, the exhibit has been curated with Brigitte Kouo, a SCI-ARC graduate.
It’s kind of hard to say what it is,” says one of Vaud and the Villains’ musicians who goes by the name One String, when asked to describe the group in a video interview a few years old. “It’s vaudeville. It’s just this side of theater; it’s Americana.”
The 19-piece group comes to SOhO this Sunday for their first proper, late-night, Santa Barbara gig after having spent the last five years building notoriety in their native Los Angeles. The creation of married couple Andy Carneau and Dawn Lewis, Vaud and the Villains is a dream of a band that might have existed in the 1920s or 1930s, a mix of races and styles, of Dustbowl and traveling medicine show, all acoustic, but loud and raucous as hell, playing the American version of Joe Strummer’s “Three Chords and the Truth.” But a Vaud and the Villains performance is also a show, with a narrator (Mr. Carneau) and characters with fictional backstories, as well as dance routines. (Mr. Carneau is fond of quoting Oscar Wilde to explain the fictional group: “Every saint has a past while every sinner has a future.”)
The idea for “Visionaries,” Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum’s new show opening tomorrow night, came from the various trips Miki Garcia and Valerie Velazquez have taken as part of their job. Not trips far afield or to other museums, but ventures closer to home, to the houses of the board members of CAF. While discussing business or making social calls, the two couldn’t help but witness the collections on display and how the members supported not just CAF, but the artists in the gallery and contemporary art as a whole.
“Seeing how people incorporate these pieces in their home is an art in itself,” Velazquez says.
Since the premiere of Beatlemania in 1977, the Beatles tribute band has not just become an accepted part of popular entertainment, but something approaching an art, with its own unspoken laws and aesthetics. Audiences accepted the Beatlemania cover band because it came in the guise of a Broadway show, a multimedia experience, and were forgiving for any inauthentic moment. But just as there are forgeries of Rembrandts so good that even the experts are fooled, the stakes in the Beatles tribute band world are very high indeed.
For several years now, the Fab Four, an Orange County-based tribute band, has earned a reputation as the toppermost of the poppermost. With Ron McNeil as John Lennon, Ardy Sarraf as Paul McCartney, Michael George Amador as George Harrison, and Rolo Sandoval as Ringo Starr, the Fab Four have made thousands of jaws drop with their uncanny performances. They won’t win any look-alike competitions (though Sarraf gets pretty close), but their voices sound dead on, and the music, all live, comes as close as most people will get to either reliving their first Beatles concert or seeing them at all. Santa Barbara audiences will have that chance when they play a benefit concert for the Marjorie Luke Theater, on Sunday, November 23.
It’s taken conductor Vladislav Chernushenko 25 years to get to the United States to tour. Originally, the group he heads-the St. Petersburg State Academic Capella Choir-was scheduled to make their first American tour back in 1978. “The contract was signed,” he says, “And then it didn’t happen for political reasons.”
The history of the St. Petersburg choir can be charted out along centuries of political reasons, events, and decisions, yet their music has kept its close ties to the spiritual. One of the world’s oldest choirs, the group formed in Moscow in 1479 for the express purpose of accompanying Tsar Ivan III wherever he went, celebrating mass or entertaining. Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great both sang in choir at certain points. In 1703, the choir sang at the inauguration of St. Petersburg a major event in the choir’s history, and there they remained. In 1837, the great Russian composer Mikhail Glinka became Kapellmeister, and wrote many operatic works expressly for the choir. During the Communist Revolution the choir’s sacred music fell out of favor, but the group continued, under the name the Popular Academic Chorus, and performed works by Shostakovich, Kabalevsky, and Prokofiev. As rules became lax, the sacred crept back in, until the coming of perestroika unleashed the history of sacred Russian composers and work back into the repertoire.
“The inspiration for this piece came from not really knowing what I wanted to do.”
Choreographer Kenneth Kvarnström is talking on the phone from his San Francisco hotel room about “Fragile,” the hour-long work from 2001 that his dance company is bringing to UCSB Campbell Hall on Wednesday.
“Fragile is how I felt,” he says. Since 1987, the Finnish-born but Stockholm-based Kvarnström has made it his company’s mission to produce one long work per year, and then tour the world with it.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
–Robert Frost, from “The Road Not Taken”
Choreographer William Soleau has been thinking about destiny and choice a lot this year as he puts the final touches to his four-act work “Seasons,” a world premiere for the opening of State Street Ballet’s tenth season.
“What if I had chosen another college?” Soleau asks, “What if I hadn’t met that one teacher? What if I had not fallen in love with that one girl?
“These ‘what if?’ questions are something everyone can relate to,” he says.