Thursday, September 27, 2007

American Machine

"We Americans love to hear stories about us."

This is the opening line in Jim Lantz's Note From the Playwright in the playbill for American Machine - A Play About Us. Now, if more movie makers would follow this so true advice and make more movies about us, I, and I think many other folks, would be happier movie goers. American Machine is a play though, not a movie, and I am writing about it tonight for three reasons:

1.) It did have music (note, this is a music blog) which was done by one of my faves, Brett Hughes with vocals enhanced by the phenomenal Shannon McNally, who incidentally are both on tour as we speak.
2.) Jim Lantz was the first playwright to ever approach me about the potential to do publicity for a theatrical show. I have done work for shows before, but never approached directly by the writer, and this felt good. The work didn't actually turn out to be a gig, but the concept of the play certainly was of interest on a personal level and I immediately respected Jim's style, honesty, and energy.
3.) I just returned home from watching the play and want to share it with my readers, since it still has over a good week running at the FlynnSpace and you should see it!

As an inactive actress myself (not so much by choice, but having takien the public relations career path instead, although I am still a professional storyteller and my life is always a stage), I do not find myself in attendance of many theatrical productions. This is probably for two reasons - (a) I probably deep down would rather be on stage and (b) I spend my time and money going to rock concerts. I also think I have often been bored by overly done, probably over-my-head productions and prefer movies on my couch. And these reasons is part of what made American Machine stunning.

Plot: Part parable on the American dream, part cautionary tale taken from the headlines, American Machine tells the story of a great factory that once made parts for classic American cars. As a makeshift family of six friends comes together each night to work, they're soon faced with rumors that their employer will be downsizing—or even closing altogether. As they begin working on a new order—making buckets and mops for Wal-Mart—the prospect of being split up looms before them, and their dedication to the once-proud factory is put to the test.

From the moment I sat down, I felt like I was looking through a large window into the back of a factory building. Everything about the set was exact - old wood, falling down brick walls, vintage Coke machine, orange plastic chairs - it was truly authentic and very detailed, which I admired. The set served three action locations, but all worked well almost as one set, as the lights did a tremendous job (as they should in any small theater) at changing scenes, as opposed to changing sets.

After watching the first few interactions, once all characters were introduced, I was sucked in. The FlynnSpace is small and intimate and I was up front making me very close to the action. But, instead of feeling weird because I was so close, I felt like I was watching a big screen movie because the acting was so right on. From my years of acting on a real stage (and in my own movie) I have learned the number one rule in acting - is re-acting. Re-acting to everything, not so much to take away from the main action, but enough to make it real. American Machine was filled with re-acting which is in my opinion what made it so touching and so real. I was especially entertained with the interactions between the two women. Having worked a third shift job several times in college, while not at a factory, it was still a tedious third shift, I could easily relate to the mood and types of people who work the graveyard shift.

The story and writing was fantastic. I knew it was going to be good, from what I had read, from the buzz that has been about town, and from the first impression I got from Jim when we met at Muddy Waters to chat about publicity. So, I was already going in with high expectations and was definitely touched, if not moved by the content, dialogue, and delivery. Jim Lantz has it right on - "we Americans love to hear stories about us." Maybe we are an egotistical lot, but we're people just the same and we like to know there's always a chance of things getting better. Kudos to all involved and if you can - check it out -

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Seth Yacovone and Grateful Dog

I recently had the privilege to attend the most fantastic wedding I have ever been to. One of my first "jam band scene" in Vermont friends, Randi Ploof, married her sweetheart, best friend, and business partner at a very homegrown, low-key, and absolutely beautiful wedding party a few weeks ago in Lincoln, Vermont.

I first met Randi back when I first moved to Vermont in 2000. The guy I was seeing then became good friends with a huge Seth Yacovone fan and we spent a lot of time going to Seth's shows and hence I met another huge fan - Randi. Since then I have gotten to laugh and boogie with Randi at a few various out-of-town parties (my favorite kinds) and always have fun run-ins with her at Higher Ground shows and festivals like moe.down where we're both full of antics!

In more recent years, Randi has been making quite the name for herself as a phenomenal dog groomer, and a little over a year ago opened Grateful Dog Grooming in the center of Hinesburg, Vermont. I could not find a website for Grateful Dog Grooming, but I am sure many of you hear her ads on WCLX - The Album Station and I did find this recent article in the Champlain Business Journal(scroll down a bit).

While the wedding was pure, simple, and earthy in the gorgeous September sunshine of Vermont, the music was ROCKIN'! Seth Yacovone played his heart out all afternoon which was more like a private rock concert than a wedding - just as Randi had hoped is my guess. I haven't seen Seth play in a while and man, does he SHRED!!!! I am definitely back on the Seth Yacovone bandwagon! I found the old website to the Seth Yacovone Band, which is not active as Seth shreds between solo gigs and playing with all sorts of folks, but I wanted to post some info anyway. He is always gigging around Vermont - so check out a show! He can also often be found at Nectars - check out the schedule -

Photo credits to JAFO and State of Mind Music Magazine.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Come See Me Sing!

I am a trained singer and even went to college on a singing scholarship, but rarely sing in public anymore as that's not the direction my life has taken, but......this Friday I am singing at Radio Bean with TOR (see post below) and would LOVE to have folks come check it out! I start our set off around 10 pm and moral support is the BEST!!!
Ekis days
a younger me!
as Sally Bowles in Cabaret

Monday, September 10, 2007

Vermont Band Got .down

Yippee!!!!! I am so excited that I get to write about moe.down!!! As I have mentioned before, my personal favorite band in the whole wide world is moe. However, my blog forum prohibits me to write about them because they are not a Vermont band and this blog is for Vermont bands and musicians.
So, the only thing I can say in relation to moe. and Vermont music is that moe. is a very gracious band and very unfilled with their own egos. They hold two stellar festivals each year (which of course I do not miss) and while they certainly play many sets of fantastically wankified guitar and rhythm witchiness, they also invite over a dozen other bands to come rock out with them and share in the magic, fun, music, and merriment.

Vermont jamband veterans and mainstays in the industry themselves, Strangefolk, were invited to headline the mid-afternoon Sunday set at moe.down Labor Day weekend. Moe. may be my favorite band, but Strangefolk squeaks into the top five so I was thrilled to bounce from my Team Vermont campsite to the sloping grassy stage at Snow Ridge Ski Area in Turin, NY. A true air guitar player, several buddies and myself spent the entire set rockin' out on blow up guitars and grinning ear to ear at the perfection of the day - blue skies, smiling sun, gentle breeze, trees, grass, and no mud, truly fantastic friends, and kick ass tunes. My only slight disappointment was that Strangefolk did not play the song, All the Same, a song that helped save me from thoughts of despair early this spring. But then again, this was a weekend that brought the past year of my life full circle and thankfully nothing is the same. Moe.down offered an introduction to a huge group of friends, brought together by music, and who all live in Vermont - connected by years of various friendships and music and travel. I can't wait to see what this next year has in store and look forward to introducing you to some new characters in my evolving movie.

Oh, and yes, Mitch was there and I think we may be entering the air guitar competition at Red Square Thursday night - think they'll allow blow up guitars??
Photo Note - Thanks Tom Bailey for the photos!