7/16: Big Star, High Priest, Dalai Lama

AlexChiltonAlex Chilton, pictured in later years fronting the millennial version of Big Star. The twisted history of “The Greatest Band That Never Made It” is encapsulated in BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME, the doc feature that opens this Thursday as part of the Summer Music Film Series at The ShowRoom.

It was during those still-smoldering weeks in the wake of September 11, 2001. While Bruce Springsteen began work on the big important album that America expected, nay demanded him to produce, Alex Chilton took the stage of a small downtown club for one of the neighborhood’s first sets of live music since the attacks. What he offered up to the modestly scaled crowd managed to sum it all up better than anything that wound up on The Rising.

“Let’s twist again,” he sang. “Like we did last summer.”

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12/29: Bouncing Bundles of Joy in AP

Bouncing Souls drummer/ punk rock father Mike McDermott is joined by rocker daddy-o (and child development specialist) Jon Caspi for a discussion on the doc feature THE OTHER F WORD, screening tonight at The Showroom.

When the stalwart skwadron that is The Bouncing Souls continues its annual Home for the Holidays stand in the numbing no-man’s-land between Christmas and New Year’s, pretty much all manner of punkrock pedigree will be amply represented on the stage and the Stoney floor.

Everybody who is anybody, in other words, with the exception of two distinct type of somebodies: freeloading freelance journalists who acted too late to score press comps — and those willing but woefully left-behind souls who couldn’t score a babysitter.

Like Restless Leg Syndrome and Static Cling, the notion of Punk Rock Parenthood didn’t used to be an issue. In fact, it was more like an oxymoron or a brain-scrambling paradox; a theoretical improbability suggesting that the adherents of a resolutely anti-authoritarian lifestyle would themselves morph inexorably into authority figures.

Charging into the arena of public discourse (and glomming onto the residual glow from this week’s HFTH excitement), the folks at Asbury Park’s artsbloc screenspace The ShowRoom are taking this pulse-pounding problem head-on, with several screenings of the buzzed-about doc feature The Other F Word — including a special event this afternoon that pairs an internationally respected authority on family dynamics (who also happens to be a punk-powered singer and songwriter) with a charter member of the Bouncing Souls (who also happens to be the father of a bouncing bundle o’ joy).

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A Case of Indies Exposure in AP

Peter Kinoy, Paco De Onis and Pamela Yates — editor, producer and director of the game-changing doc feature RANITO: HOW TO NAIL A DICTATOR — are the special guests during an in-person appearance at The Showroom on Saturday night, part of the AP IndieFest 2011.  

Don’t look now (actually, do look, now), but maybe for the first time since the glorydays of the old cinema palaces, Asbury Park has become a movie town — and for that you can thank Asbury’s nifty neighborhood nickelodeon, The ShowRoom and its filmophilically forward-thinking founders, Nancy Sabino and Mike Sodano.

In the works as we speak is something of a minor explosion of proposed art auditoriums and screening spaces, both all-new constructions and adaptations of existing properties. Nancy and Mike are, as you’d expect, already on the case — with a relocation and expansion (detailed here in a previously published pixelated page of upperWETside) that will beat the rest of the pack to the Punch by months, maybe years.

And, when the sidewalks in and around the Cookman Avenue corridor eventually become choked with Oscar hopefuls, work-for-scale H’wood heavyweights, Weinstein brothers and other migrating songbirds usually spotted at Sundance and other firmly established filmfests? The Sabino/ Sodano tagteam will still have gotten there first, via a feisty startup called the AP IndieFest 2011.

A three-day slate of screenings and ancillary events offered under the subheading “Films That Change You For Good,” the second AP IndieFest combines the eclectic multi-platform programming of “just another weekend at The Showroom” with in-person filmmaker discussions, live performances, a rare revival of a neglected mainstream hit from the 1970s, and the return of the homegrown phenomenon known as The AP in 3 Film Challenge.

Kicking off this Friday, September 23 and continuing through September 25, the whole thing is presented in tandem with the Asbury Park Film Initiative and with the Arts Coalition of Asbury Park — a couple of locally based nonprofit entities that are equally passionate about the projected image and its presence here in the region’s flagship zip for all things artful. Also playing a high-profile role in the proceedings are Yoga Basin (who will be tying into their own Yoga Fest events going on this selfsame weekend), plus Dana Reeves and the word-powered whirligig that is Adult Relaxation. More on IndieFest and all who sail with it, in three…two…one…

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Thirst-E Thespians, Black Box Beats

Anthony Younes, Samantha Ambler, Jason Propst, Rudy Palma and Tammy Owens stand ready to quench your desire for something a bit more refreshingly tart in summertime theater, as Thirst-E Productions stages Nicky Silver’s THE MAIDEN’S PRAYER at The ShowRoom in Asbury Park.

Seems as if we’ve been posting a lot of stories lately about The Theater here on the Upper WET Side, and while we don’t deny it — it is, after all, our longtime beat and supposed specialty over at what’s lately been rebranded NJ Press Media — we could tell you in our defense that there’s been some intriguing stuff going on, well beyond the usual Nunsense.

So if we’re guilty of outright neglecting an event like last weekend’s VTAF — a press pass would’ve fixed that in a little old souped-up jiffy — we’ve also been working overtime, burning the midnight oil up in our crumbly Victorian garret, to reinforce the fact that there’s more going on ‘neath the summer-stage sun and stars than Grease and The Music Man (not that there’s anything wrong with a top-shelf treatment of a well-turned warhorse; witness our latest post about what’s up down at the Surflight). In recent days we’ve hepped you as to ReVision Theatre‘s Carousel gambit with Spring Awakening; alerted you to the latest endeavors of Cabaret for Life, and kept you in-the-loop and loopy over the ongoing mission of NJ Rep.

With the dogday doldrums of August keeping many of the more “serious” regional stages dark as downtown LB, a couple of small and highly mobile Asbury-based entities have re-emerged to stake their slice of late-season, magic-hour light — one a relatively new enterprise made up of actors who are thirsting for something a bit different; the other an illuminating discovery within the wreckage of a proudly pedigreed guerrilla arts group.

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Helen On Wheels, in a Summer of Music

Do Teens Change Music? For that matter, Why Do Fools Fall in Love? WHERE MUSIC LIVES author Helen Pike seeks the answers, and she’ll be invoking the spirit of juvie chart-topper (turned junkie rock-bottomer) Frankie Lymon to find out.

It is well nigh impossible to keep up with Helen-Chantal Pike.

We mean that in the sense that it’s always difficult to stay current with the collected works of the prolific local historian, author, raconteuse and rocky-ological digger of diverse sounds. We also mean that if you have a notion of, say, joining her in a drink and a bit of catch-up conversation, well, you have to keep up to catch up. Like, literally chase after her as she fireballs forward to your appointed destination, with or without you.

The editor of the recently published anthology of essays known as Asbury Park: Where Music Lives has had a busy bunch of months, even by Helenic standards — with much of that activity centered around the city’s hosting of the Smithsonian’s touring New Harmonies exhibit and its attendant year-long slate of interrelated music-themed events.

That aforementioned anthology — a whirlwind carousel ride past some little-known corners of Asbury musical history; written in many instances by the very people who gave those scenes their soundtracks — was the “guest of honor” at a July 10 “Book Jam” event on the stage of Asbury Blues; an evening that featured such pieces of the Asbury musical mosaic as Sonny Kenn, Xol Azul Band frontman “Gee” Guillen, folk singer/ folklorist George Wirth, saxman Dorian Parreott (performing a piece written in Asbury for Fats Waller), gospel singer Tyron McAllister, opera/ cabaret vocalist Brett Colby, and Patsy Siciliano (performing an original song about the city penned by doo wop specialist Ray Dahrouge).

If you’ve reckoned that Pike’s peaked as regards the promotion of that book (her tenth in toto and her third on the city in particular), then reckon again: she’ll be on the scene for Sand Blast Weekend; signing copies of her Asbury-centric titles on Friday, July 22 between the hours of 4 to 7pm at the Asbury Galleria inside Convention Hall’s Grand Arcade. Then on Tuesday, July 26 she’ll be taking over the historic Stephen Crane House — yeah, the same hallowed haunt where the author of this blog makes his home these days — for the first of three “Music Memoir” events that culminate with an “Unplugged” words ‘n music birthday party on August 9.

Of course, absolutely none of this even begins to address the question “Do Teens Change Music?” — or precisely what any of it has to do with Frankie Lymon. That’s another story entirely, natch — about which more after the break.

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ShowRoom 2: Bigger, Longer, Uncut

The ShowRoom proprietors Nancy Sabino and Mike Sodano are all smiles, with the announcement that their downtown Asbury screening space will be moving to even more spacious Arts Bloc digs in the next reel.  

“Let’s meet 4:45 at DJ’s Deli on Mattison,” read the message from Mike Sodano, co-proprietor of downtown Asbury’s nifty neighborhood nickelodeon, The ShowRoom. “We have some evolutionary news for you!”

Well, say no more — that kind of tantalizing talk (plus the prospect of a sandwich) is more than enough to assure our showing up at the appointed time and place. The only question would appear to be the nature of this “evolutionary” announcement — an added matinee, perhaps? “Circus Man” Ice Cream now available at the concessions? An exclusive revival screening of the elusive Shore-shot masterpiece Thin Mints?

Even more exciting, as it turns out. After just a little more than two years at the present location on the Cookman Avenue “Arts Bloc” — an interlude in which Mike and partner Nancy Sabino hosted enough films, plays, lectures, panels, concerts, skits and signings to easily fill five years’ worth of calendar — The ShowRoom will be picking up and moving, right across the street, to a larger building all their own; a multi-screen facility that should demonstrate, once and for all, the harmonious co-existence of Evolution and Intelligent Design.

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iPoet: It’s Losers Take All

Homer field advantage: National poetry slam finalist and LOSER SLAM co-curator NICOLE HOMER hosts a special workshop and performance poetry program during the final iPoet event of 2011 on June 11.  

Every Thursday night, tucked away in a corner of the oldest, most venerated, crazy beautiful coffeehouse on the entire New Jersey Shore, a revolution comes equipped with rules of etiquette. In the city that gave the world Mailer, Parker and Poet Laureate Pinsky, the future sometimes speaks with a floorboard creak or an attic draft — and in this arena of competition, it’s the “Loser” that walks away victorious.

To put it another way, “we heart irony.”

A year-round institution that’s likely done more than anything to keep the Long Branch Lit-light lit in a fast-changing tech/ media/ communication landscape, the thing called LoserSlam has embedded itself into the quirky crannies of The Inkwell like a restless poltergeist — a poetrygeist, if you will. On the afternoon of Saturday, June 11, LoserSlam co-founder Nicole Homer invades the Long Branch Free Public Library with the full faith and fury of her performance poetry cooperative, as guest artist and host of the fourth and final iPoet event in 2011.

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