Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Photos from Saturday night's Solas show at the Dennison Theatre

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2016 at 9:55 AM

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Photos from Friday's Wonderland show featuring Moksha Aerial Studio Collective

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 11:23 AM

MASC Artisans: Alice (Caitlin Warr) - ©WM MUÑOZ PHOTOGRAPHY
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MASC Artisans:  White Rabbit ( Alex Payne) and Alcie  (Caitlin Warr) - ©WM MUÑOZ PHOTOGRAPHY
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MASC Artisans: Anthony Smith and Audrey Muto - ©WM MUÑOZ PHOTOGRAPHY
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MASC Artisans:  DoorMouse Smalls (Crin McCarvel) DoorMouse Biggie (Crin McCarvel) Alice (Caitlin Warr) White Rabbit ( Alex Payne) - ©WM MUÑOZ PHOTOGRAPHY
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  • MASC Artisans: DoorMouse Smalls (Crin McCarvel) DoorMouse Biggie (Crin McCarvel) Alice (Caitlin Warr) White Rabbit ( Alex Payne)
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  • MASC Artisans: Alice (Caitlin Warr) DoorMouse Biggie (Aynslee McNeel)
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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Love letter to Glass Spiders for last Saturday's show

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 8:00 PM

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Last Saturday, Missoula's David Bowie tribute band, the Glass Spiders, played to a blissful room of fans at the Top Hat, rolling out all of Station to Station, plus other favorites. The show served as a fundraiser for Missoula Community Radio. (Check out photos from the show by photographer extraordinaire, Amy Donovan)

How does one describe a Glass Spiders' show? It's not easy to evoke the sheer radness of it all. But Shane Hickey, of Shane Hickey and his Magical Ukulele and Jerry, wrote a gushing note to the band via Facebook, that basically says it all. And it's especially cool because Hickey's other band, Volumen, who played a reunion show at Total Fest last year and who has been around for eons, once did an epic tribute to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. So this note kind of carries some weight.

Hickey let us share the unfiltered, uncut show review and love letter. Here it is:

Alright, so during your set (and right in the middle of my drunken glee) I told myself I was going to message each one of the spiders individually to heap praise on them. But, now that sounds like too much work so get ready for a great big post on how rad you guys were.

Let's start with Nick. For all intents and purposes, Nick was David Bowie. His singing (including some really tough stuff to hit) was just perfect and that was just the beginning. Facial expressions, the way he held himself, Bowie dance moves... all of it was just perfect. I don't think I need to say anymore, because everyone knows Nick killed it. Also, I'm trying not to think about his performance because I've done many of these songs before and now I feel like a cardboard cutout version of Nick.

Next, let's talk about Jason, because when I listen to music I listen to vocals first and then bass. I thought I was blown away by Jason's playing. Then I heard what he was doing during "John, I'm Only Dancing." Then I was actually a little pissed. It's easy to approximate bass lines when you are covering a song, but Jason wasn't approximating. It was basically note-for-note and... jeez.. those bass lines don't just hang out on open strings or anything. Fuck, "Space Oddity"... fuck! I think Jason normally plays with a pick. If that is true, and if he only learned to play with fingers for this project then the world isn't fair.

Tom. Not only was Tom a shining star during "Lady Stardust" (which I assume is like the keyboard equivalent of giving a speech to an entire arena, while you aren't wearing any clothes) it also appeared to me that Tom was also acting as a sort of director. Several times I saw other band members look to Tom (arms crossed, singing and knowing _exactly_ where they were in the song) to either reassure themselves that the song was where they expected or to help them find where it was. Tom was the center.

On the other side of the stage was Jenny, Ali and Rachel. They had probably the toughest job of the night. I think back-up singers have it pretty rough, in general, because you don't get to share the spotlight and it's your job to make the person in the spotlight shine even brighter. That has to be tough already. It can't have been made any easier being partially obscured by shadow and without monitor mixes. Hell, I can't imagine what the stage sound was like with so many people in the band. It's really a sound person's nightmare and somehow the house sound was pretty much perfect (although, I could have used a little more of the backup vocals in the house mix). Anyway, I guess I'm trying to say that these three women were the unsung heroes of the show for me.

While we are on the subject of things I could have used a little more of in the house mix.... John Sporman. I'll never understand how some guitar players can be playing badass hot licks and solos but yet still look so calm, cool and collected. John is some sort of Zen master, I guess. Just. So. Cool. Every little guitar lick I wanted to hear was there and it all sounded perfect. Somewhere in the second set I saw John smile and it made my heart dance for a second. I guess he has to be careful with those things because they have the power of the Care Bear Stare.

If John was ice, Travis Yost was fire. Whether it was playing the delicate 12-string parts or just rocking the fuck out, Travis killed it. When I first saw the Glass Spiders (Halloween), Travis was playing drums. He was sitting back, confidently, and just putting all the beats exactly where he wanted them without (apparently) a care in the world. On Saturday the confidence was still there and it brought fuckloads of swagger along with it. Big rock moves and tons of energy. Frankly, I'm a little pissed that Travis can do all of this.

Shit, I'm realizing that I probably should have done this in individual messages after all. For one, it's way too damn long. But, even worse is that by doing it this way I'm putting folks at the end and leaving an unspoken implication that somehow they weren't as rad. Please rest assured that this order is completely random and primarily dictated by the way in which my broken brain puts things together.

Moving on. Ben Weiss! "Hay gang, we need a weird musical Swiss army knife that can play bizarro synth lines, play congas like a motherfucker and also do all of our CB radio vocal lines. Who we got for that?" That's my assumption of how the conversation started that got Ben involved. Ben, with his whistle and cop glasses (TM) just bringing the weird. Because you can't have Bowie without The Weird (also TM). Now, I might be mis-remembering here (because it was the end of the night and I had been at the Top Hat since 6pm) but I'm fairly certain that there was a song where Ben had a sustained keyboard note rocking while he played percussion. So, if I'm Ben and the band is talking about how to split money, I think I'm throwing out the idea that I get two shares, right?

And now for Nathan Hoyme on sax-o-mo-phone. It's so rad to hear Bowie songs with an actual saxophone. I've gotten so used to hearing all of those lines played on guitar (I was guilty of this for 15 years) that it's such a pleasant surprise to hear them how they were originally played. I feel like I need to go back and redact all of my angry, late-night FB posts about how the world doesn't need any more saxophone. I was wrong. I get it. The world needs more saxophone, and I'm sorry.

Finally! Jamie Rogers! I hadn't ever seen Jamie play these songs because I missed the first show at the VFW. I'm terrible at talking about drums because my brain doesn't really grok the way percussion works. I can't count the number of times during practice or songwriting that a drummer will ask me what they should be playing and I just stare back blankly. I literally have no idea how to talk about drums. After having seen Travis play many of these songs on Halloween I was curious what kind of differences I would be equipped to recognize during Saturday's show. Jamie played drums like a passionate whirlwind battery. Being the glue that holds all of those musicians together is a task that I would never want. Jamie accepted that challenge and also appeared to be dropping musical Power-Ups throughout the show to recharge the other member's energies. He was the musical equivalent of the mushrooms from Super Mario Bros.

Phew. I did it. Now, get out there and do it again, you guys. Don't worry, I promise I won't write another one of these things. Also, I'd like to point out that I'm posting this after the 24-hour emotional hangover cut-off, so you know these are my actual (un-amplified) feelings.  —Shane Hickey

Monday, March 7, 2016

About Last Night: Nightwish, Sonata Arctica and Delain at the Wilma

Posted By on Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 9:55 AM

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Jillian Campana talks about the tricky subject of UM's production of Hot 'n' Throbbing

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 6:10 PM

Hot 'n' Throbbing stars, from left, Jourdan Nokleby, Jake Bender, Alyssa Berdahal and Kurtis Hassinger. - PHOTO BY CATHRINE L. WALTERS
  • Photo by Cathrine L. Walters
  • Hot 'n' Throbbing stars, from left, Jourdan Nokleby, Jake Bender, Alyssa Berdahal and Kurtis Hassinger.


Hot 'n' Throbbing
is a title that gets some laughs and uncomfortable eyebrow raising. But all you have to do is a read a little more on it to know that the play by Paula Vogel is actually about domestic violence, told through the story of a family dealing with it. It's also a fiercely funny play, at least in the beginning. And it includes some surprising storylines, that provide it with depth beyond just being an issue play.

The University of Montana's Theatre & Dance program opened Hot 'n' Throbbing last week, and it continues through Sat., March 5. We spoke with director Jillian Campana about the title of the play, how she prepared her actors for it and the way she tried to turn violence into beauty without losing the play's edge.


How does this title Hot ’n’ Throbbing work with the actual content of the play?
Jillian Campana: The title is purposefully a little misleading. I think that’s what Paula Vogel had in mind. It sounds like it might be kind of fun—almost has a jazzy type of feel. But the title is similar to the way she approaches the script writing as well: The first part of the play is almost a comedy. People come in knowing it’s a play about domestic violence yet it’s funny enough for audiences to overcome that and laugh. It’s playful and a little flirty and then I think through the humor, it pulls the audience in, just as a lot of perpetrators of domestic violence do. They soothe them and make them feel safe—and then they strike. And thats what the play does.

What made you decide to do this play?
JC: I had read it years and years ago and I thought it would be a great play for us to do, but that it might be a little heavy. Then last year, in thinking about everything that’s going on on campus and in the community with sexual assault … I looked for a play that dealt with sexual assault on a college campus. I didn't find a great one out there that really hit the nail on the head in the community, but it made me interested in the larger topic of control and violence against another person and the different ways that can play out.

How did you prepare your actors for this?
JC: We started reading through the play as a group back in December and we had this luxury of six weeks off to do some research. Everyone shared the information they found on all kinds of aspects of domestic violence. For example there’s two actors that play the children of the couple and so they were really interested in how many children are witness to domestic violence and what that does to them. The actor who is playing Clyde, the perpetrator of the crime, he was interested in getting into the mindset of someone who is drawn to this [violence] and the actor who’s playing Charlene, the victim in this case, she was trying to discover why someone would stay in this relationship.

Who did you work with in the community?
JC: We worked with First Step at St. Pat’s and Cat Otway, she’s an examiner and forensic interviewer and the strangulation expert for the state. MC Jenni, who is a social worker with First Step, talked about the power and control and the cycles that happen in those relationships. We also talked with a retired police officer from Las Vegas who worked a lot of domestic violence cases. So we had these members of the community help us get in touch with this particular issue.

Besides the good information the play might offer to people, what artistic elements do you like about it?
JC: The play is wonderfully complicated by the fact that Charlene has finally left her husband after a lot of years and she’s supporting herself by writing erotic screenplays for women. So she’s engaged in what her ex-husband calls “pornographic” work and what she sees as being powerful for women. We see the characters in her mind who help her write this screenplay, we see the voices in her head that draw her to her ex-husband and we see the voices in her head that draw her away and warn her. Those characters are living on stage the entire time, so visually and aurally for the audience it’s a bit of a barrage of what’s going on in the mind of this one character.

How did you deal with the violent acts on stage?
JC: We wanted the audience to have a difficult time watching the imagery, but not so much so that they had to walk away and not take in the information. So when we had those moments that were either a little aggressive or a little sexual between those two characters, we turned it into a hyper-stylized movement type of piece. The lights shift and the sound shifts. Sometimes it works in slow motion and sometimes it becomes a highly choreographed sequence. We thought it would help the audience to be able to watch it. And also I wanted it to look beautiful. I wanted it to have a lot of aesthetic value rather than it being ugly. I wanted it to be beautiful to watch so people would have to watch it.

What else do you want people to know about this play?
JC: When people ask what it’s about, and I tell them, they say, “That sounds amazing—I can’t come. I don’t want to see it.” And I would just ask people to challenge themselves to come and see it anyway. Friday night there were some younger people—some college kids and a couple of high school kids—who stayed for the talk-back and said, “What can we do now?” I hope people who are concerned about coming to see it can realize that this kind of stuff is happening whether they come to the play or not. And that coming to the play might spur some further thought or action.

Hot 'n' Throbbing continues at the Masquer Theatre in UM's PARTV Center, Tue., March 1–Fri., March 4 at 7:30 PM nightly, and Sat., March 5, at 2 PM. $16 general/$14 seniors and students/$10 children 12 and under. Viewer discretion advised.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Big Sky Doc: Tear the Roof Off tells the untold story of Parliament Funkadelic

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 12:44 PM

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Parliament Funkadelic was a wild and vibrant funk, soul and rock collective that delivered some of the best dance party music ever made. That they would make great subjects for a documentary seems obvious, if not almost too cliché for a group enveloping all the tenets of a party band, including the sex and the drugs. We’ve heard such stories before.

But in his new documentary, Tear the Roof Off: The Untold Story of Parliament Funkadelic, filmmaker Bobby J. Brown offers a complex history and critical look at the rise and fall of these musicians and performers—a talented but tumultuous crew. The one common factor: George Clinton, who took on the role of band leader and most prominent character. Tear of the Roof sees original collective members open up about payment (or lack thereof), exploitation and Clinton's toxic behavior. (Clinton, whose new band will play in Missoula on April 11, is never interviewed for the doc.)

That Clinton apparently took a lot of credit for the hard work of his fellow musicians may not come as a total surprise, but Brown’s documentary is interesting in the way it offers anecdote after anecdote to drive the point home. A lot of the interviews seem to center around Clinton’s beastliness and important issues like sexism within the band. Sometimes the film feels like a broken record about how awful Clinton was, but it doesn't dismiss his talent, either. It's a an eyes-wide-open film that happened to provide an opportunity for original members to vent.

Tear the Roof Off still manages to be fun—how could it not be? And I think that's because Brown doesn't let the drama overtake the music. I especially loved the origin story of “Atomic Dog,” one of the most sampled songs in hip-hop ever. The film covers a wide timeline, from the band’s roots in Doo-wop (they looked like squares back then) to their crazy on-stage antics in the "Chocolate City" era. There are a lot of great music docs out there, especially for fans of certain cult bands. I don't think you even have to be a fan of Parliament Funkadelic to find this film fascinating. It's fresh and original and it has a lot of depth—just like Parliament Funkadelic. 

Screens today, Fri., Feb. 26, at 5:30 PM at the Wilma and again Sun., Feb. 28, 5 PM at the Top Hat.




Thursday, February 25, 2016

Q&A: Director Rebbie Ratner talks stigma, radical change and Borderline Personality Disorder for the Big Sky Doc Film Festival

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 4:36 PM

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A Q&A with Rebbie Ratner, director of the film Borderline, which is part of this week’s Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Borderline screens tonight Feb., 25, at 8:45 PM at the Roxy and again on Sunday Feb., 28, at 12:15 PM at the Roxy.

Tell me, in a nutshell, what Borderline is about.
Rebbie Ratner: It’s a story about this woman who has what’s called Borderline Personality Disorder. I think it’s probably the first documentary to cover it in this way, by going into a person’s life who has it and truly living in the experience with them.

What does Borderline Personality Disorder entail?
RR: The diagnosis is characterized by extreme shifts in emotion that are usually generated by inter-personal slights or perceived slights or perceived rejections. Suicide attempts are common, self-harm—cutting—is common. Drug abuse and eating disorders and unsafe sex practices—all of that is part of it and usually all those things is in one person. So the film follows someone who has it and she’s aware that she has it. You watch her go through life and interface with sort of very basic daily things and watch where she gets snagged … It’s a slow process of recovery and there are glimmers in it. She’s so intelligent and funny and hellbent on getting help that that’s what’s sort of unique in her story.

What made you decide to make this film?
RR: I, myself, have a Borderline Personality diagnosis. I don’t know if I would still qualify … maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t. I ended up deciding to do a film on it because I was going back to school and I had been immersed in the mental health world trying to figure out what was going on with me for over 10 years. I read hundreds—possibly thousands—of books, had tried to get help and had come up empty. So, in part, doing the film was bit of an activist gesture.
When I got out of treatment and I did this film … I was running on fumes, It was almost the only thing I could offer up at that point, I was so focused on my own recovery. I knew had tremendous access to that world and an understanding of it.
How did you meet Regina, the subject of your film?
RR: I put an ad on Craig’s List. Very few people have written about it because they don’t want to come out and say they have it. If you go on the Internet and look it up, there’s really bad stuff people say about those with the diagnosis. .. but that’s how I ended up finding the main person in the film.

How did you approach this film, especially in the editing process, so that you were respectful rather than exploitive of such a personal story?
RR: I think that’s the complete challenge of making the film. I think it’s a really fine line to toe and I don’t know that I always did such a good job at it, but I tried my best. My goal in editing was to create something where you would be having an emotional experience that was filled with contrasts. I edited with other people and I really edited first and foremost by looking at what makes me feel something … but that doesn’t tell a story that wasn’t there. It is a subjective film—a subjective experience of the nature of the diagnosis. I probably privileged certain things in the main character that I identified with.

Was this film cathartic for you?
RR: I had two goals when I made the film. They were very humble goals. One was to finish the film and the second was to not burn bridges in relationships during the making of the film. I wanted to try to walk out of the film with new people in my life and maybe those people have new people in their life and, as a result of it, we are all really enriched. And everything beyond that I didn’t focus very much on.
I actually think in terms of what it’s done for me has really been an opportunity for me to constantly look at the way that I treat people and where I need to be better at it. And if there’s one way that’s going to show me areas I need to work on, it’s making a film about it.

Tell me about the stigma attached to BPD for you.
RR: When someone let’s you put them in front of a camera, it’s really such a brave and generous thing of them to do. Having this diagnosis, I never had a big problem with it. I was just grateful to have a name for something that I was struggling with, and I knew it wouldn’t be right to not identity myself and then ask someone else to put themselves out there. But it is a little nerve-racking.

What else do you want people to know?
RR: The radical thing about getting the right diagnosis … is that this treatment [in the film] is so much about developing skills for self and self-other awareness. How to be someone who does less harm to people and how to recognize harm done to you—and handle it in a way that’s skillful and not destructive—has been radically life changing. It’s a daily process. The treatment they engage with in this diagnosis is Buddhist in nature, and about thinking in multiple perspectives and never trying to hold too tight to one point of view. It’s a treatment that I think benefits anyone. The world would benefit from knowing about it.

Visit bigskyfilmfest.org for more info and check out our coverage on the festival here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A look back on Sunday's Dancing with the Missoula Stars at the Top Hat

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 11:17 AM

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Friday, February 19, 2016

About Last Night: Railroad Earth at the Wilma

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 11:56 AM

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

About Last Night: Infamous Stringdusters with Nikki Bluhm at the Wilma

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 2:05 PM

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  • Infamous Stringdusters
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