Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Scoop On The 2015-16 Cascade Theatre Performance Series

A few days ago, a thick manila envelope landed on my desk, filled with top secret stuff. It's one of the wonderful privileges of being on the inside track at the Cascade Theatre, getting the scoop on the upcoming season before its released to the public. And one of the wonderful privileges of reading the Mistress of the Mix is getting that scoop before most everybody else.

So let's rip open that envelope together, shall we, and see what delights the 2015-16 Cascade Theatre performance season has in store for us?

This would probably be a good time to remind you that if you become an annual member of the Cascade Theatre (a tax deductible contribution of $50 or more), that you'll get to purchase tickets to the season before they go on sale to the general public. Sometimes shows sell out completely before non-members get a shot, so it's not a bad idea. Especially if you're a fan of Dwight Yoakam.
Dwight Yoakam - August 20th
Dwight Yoakam

Yes, you heard me right! Dwight Yoakam is finally coming to the Cascade Theatre, and I've been waiting for over a decade for this!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. There's more country coming to the Cascade this year, lots of it! How about if we start right at the top, with the season opener July 10th, when another country legend, Clint Black, returns to the Cascade. Just five days later, Lyle Lovett and his Large Band will also be returning to the Cascade Theatre stage as well. Later in the season, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy Marty Stuart, Vince Gill with the Time Jumpers, an acoustic evening with Wynonna Judd and friends and a performance from the country/pop crossover legends Little River Band. I've loved them all these years, and never knew until now that they're from Australia (the things you find out when you get an advance copy of the Cascade Theatre season catalog)!

Pink Martini - December 13th
The Return of Chris Isaak and Pink Martini

Another show I'm super excited about is the return of Chris Isaak. He'll roll into town August 19th. Last time he wore a 25 pound mirrored disco ball suit as he put on one of the most stellar, high energy performances the Cascade has ever had the privilege of hosting. He's just not gorgeous and talented, he's also super funny and personable. The last time he was here, we had a lengthy conversation that touched upon a mutual friend he dated in high school (and Chris, if you're reading this, she's single!) and buying family cemetery plots.

Remember a few years ago when I started yammering on about Pink Martini? There were so many people who stopped me on the street to ask me about this band they'd never heard of, to get an idea of what they were like. I told people, "Just go. Trust me. They're amazing. They're like nothing you've ever seen." The first time they performed at the Cascade, my daughter and I ended up on stage with the band for their encore, which was a dream come true. By the end of the evening the second time they performed at the theatre, the entire audience was involved in a 900 person long conga line. Months later, strangers were still coming up to me in the grocery store telling me that Pink Martini was their favorite show of all time. So maybe you don't want to miss their 3rd appearance (a holiday show in December) this year. Especially if you like conga lines.

Sleeper Hits of the Season

There's a few other shows coming to the Cascade in this next season that you might not recognize right off the bat. But I need you to trust me on this, just like Pink Martini: These are going to be some of the best shows of the season!
Watkins Family Hour - August 16th
On August 16th, the Watkins Family Hour takes to the stage. Pretty sure it'll last longer than an hour. Never heard of these guys? I think maybe you have. Remember Nickel Creek? Two thirds of Nickel Creek is the brother-sister team of Sara & Sean Watkins. They've got their own side project going on with the Watkins Family Hour, featuring an ever-evolving group of musicians that join them on stage, making each performance unique and fascinating. Oh....and Fiona Apple is in the group as well. Yeah, Fiona freaking Apple! Don't miss this show if you're a fan of bluegrass, folk, or alternative rock. It's gonna be awesome, and I'm betting on some great surprises.

Lake Street Dive - October 30th
A few years ago, Dave Kepon from Sports LTD told me that the one band he really really really wished he could see at the Cascade Theatre was a band I'd never heard of, Lake Street Dive. I checked them out on YouTube, and realized that just a few weeks prior, my teenage daughter had downloaded a few of their songs on iTunes and had been playing them in the car on the way to school, and I was totally grooving to it too. My point of view is that if a band can appeal to a bunch of semi-hip 40-somethings as much as it does a high school student, there's something special about these guys. And I really really really like them. I'm even giving them a few extra spots on today's Spotify playlist, because they're so awesome. The ticket price is decent because they're still an up & coming band, but this is the show Dave, Sophia and I have been waiting for, and I want to see you there!
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - November 1st
There's another group of musicians coming to the theatre this Fall that you may not realize you're probably familiar with already, another show you just can't miss. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. Sharon Jones is a funk-soul goddess who seems like she just stepped out of 1975. She's electrifying. She's tremendous. And she's backed up by the Dap-Kings. Know who they are? Yes you do, but I might need to help connect the dots for you.

You're familiar with the song Uptown Funk, right? You know, that song that gets played 4 or 5 times every single day on every single pop commercial station in the world? That song is sung by Bruno Mars, but was the brainchild of producer/DJ Mark Ronson, who also plays guitar on the song. Mark Ronson has long been associated with the Dap-Kings, and tapped them to back up Amy Winehouse for her hits "Rehab," "Back to Black" and "Valerie."

In my world, this is enough to get me to go see the Dap-Kings. But if you don't want to take my word for it, how about Rufus Wainwright or They Might Be Giants? Or Phish, Michael Buble, David Byrne & Muse? This gang has recorded with all of these wide ranging artists because they're that awesome. And of course, the Dap-Kings were involved with Uptown Funk. If you like that kind of thing (I do).

And More Awesomeness!

What else is on the list of 2015-16 awesomeness? The Average White Band, Joan Armatrading, Jonny Lang, 'Keb Mo', Charlie Musselwhite & the North Mississippi Allstars and Jim Belushi and the Sacred Hearts round out the rest of the touring musicians for the next season, and the ever-popular spring musical will be, I predict, one of the best ever. Mary Poppins! There's a number of film, comedy, acrobat, dance and opera events, including MOMIX and Colin & Brad, those wacky guys from Whose Line Is It Anyway!!
Those guys from Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Catalogs should be arriving in your mailbox within the next day or two, and members will be able to get tickets to all of the season shows almost immediately. If you don't receive the catalog and you're not a member, consider getting thyself down to the Cascade Theatre box office immediately and get yourself hooked up. Take a listen to a bunch of the music coming soon to the Cascade Theatre in today's Spotify Playlist, and check out the entire season lineup below!

Cascade Theatre 2015-16 Performance Series Calendar

July 10          Clint Black
July 15          Lyle Lovett & His Large Band
Aug 16         Watkins Family Hour
Aug 19          Chris Isaak
Aug 20          Dwight Yoakam
Aug 28          Jim Belushi & the Sacred Hearts
Sep  18          Marty Stuart
Sep  30          Average White Band
Oct  02          The Time Jumpers with Vince Gill
Oct  03          Manhattan Short Film Festival
Oct  14          MOMIX
Oct  18          SF Opera: Show Boat
Oct  22          Joan Armatrading
Oct  30          Lake Street Dive
Nov 01          Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Nov 07          Jonny Lang
Nov 27          Cascade Christmas (through Dec 4)
Dec 13          Pink Martini Holiday Show
Dec 18          Celtic Christmas
Jan  16          Annie Sing-A-Long
Jan  17          SF Opera: Susannah
Jan  22          Colin & Brad: Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Jan  28          Cirque Ziva Acrobats
Feb 19          Wynonna Judd & Friends Acoustic
Feb 20          Charlie Musselwhite & North Mississippi Allstars
Feb 25          Little River Band
Mar 10          Keb' Mo'
Mar 12          Piano Artists
Mar 15          TAO: Seventeen Samurai
Mar 20          SF Opera: Cinderella
Apr 15-24     Mary Poppins
May 22          SF Opera: Norma

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I Felt The Earth Move

I know where I was. Just like the day JFK was shot, and just like 9/11, we're all going to remember exactly where we were and what we were doing last Wednesday. That was the day we all thought a truck had run into the building, right?

I've sorta kinda always wanted to experience an earthquake, just to know what it was like. Not one of the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 kind of earthquakes, and nothing like what the poor people of Nepal just experienced, but one where maybe you needed to shopping for new wine glasses the next day. I'm sure it's just because I grew up never really knowing what it felt like for the earth to suddenly start shaking. Oregon. Ho hum. So boring and predictable.

Then I moved to Alaska, in 1989. The island I lived on was made up primarily of muskeg, a spongy, peat moss bog. I think I've mentioned this before in this column, but muskeg is like a meadow of semi-swampy land. Where bedrock makes it impossible for the 140 inches of rain that falls over the course of a year to drain, creating a swampy mess of decomposing trees and vegetation. The reason I'm telling you this is that most of the buildings on the island are built atop wooden pilings pounded down into the muskeg until they hit hard pan. Behold, below, a great example of homes in Petersburg built atop pilings. In some places, like the airport runway, the pilings don't hit solid ground for 75 feet.

The radio station I worked at was one of those buildings bolted on top of pilings. I remember for about a year after moving to the island, I'd be sitting at my desk, toiling away, and I would feel the building suddenly start to slowly sway. More than once I bolted from the room, yelling, "Is that an earthquake?!" to anyone that might be within hearing distance.

"No, it's just Janet," someone told me, more than once. Janet walked with purpose. And when Janet was walking with purpose, the building sometimes swayed a bit back and forth. Just like I imagined it would be if an earthquake hit somewhere nearby, but not too close. In fact, every single time I yelled out, "Earthquake!" I ended up getting a dirty look from Janet.

Then there was the time, eventually, when the building started to sway, and somebody else said, "Is that an earthquake?" And I said, "No, it's just Janet." And then somebody else said, "Janet's not here."

So there you have it, my first earthquake experience. A gentle swaying back and forth, the slightest uneasy stomach, both blamed on our bookkeeper, but in reality it was tectonic plates grinding against one another far below the surface of the earth.

More than 20 years would go by before I would experience my next real earthquake, and it couldn't have been more different. For one thing, I heard it.

There I was, sitting at my desk. It was right around 11:30am last Wednesday. You remember? I bet you do. I was sitting at my desk in my office, in the Cascade Theatre building on Market Street.

WHAM! I heard it. And felt it. It was like a giant hand had whacked the theatre, and hard. I was sure, absolutely positive, that a car - no, a truck - had slammed into the side of the building on the northwest side. I was sure it came from the northwest. I jumped up and ran out the front door and into the U.S. Bank parking lot to see if anyone was hurt.
Admit it, this is what you were imagining when you felt the jolt of the earthquake, right?
It's what I expected to see.
Nothing. I saw nothing out of the ordinary. I did a perimeter check, mentally scratching my head, and walked back to my office. That was when Kasey Stewart walked out of his real estate office across the street from my office, and said, "Did you feel that? What do you think that was?"

Neither of us thought it was an earthquake. That was a concussion. Maybe an explosion in the sewer under the street. But not an earthquake. It was a WHACK, not a gentle or even not-so-gentle swaying. I ran over to the Cascade, as the box office supervisor was walking out the front door, asking me if I'd heard and felt whatever that was. I'd already convinced myself it had come from the basement, so we went spelunking in the catacombs beneath the Cascade, and came up with nothing out of the ordinary.

It was ten minutes before the earthquake app on Kasey Stewart's phone finally showed that it was really and truly an earthquake that we'd heard and felt, and that it had indeed come from the northwest, just a half mile away from Keswick Dam, 14 miles underground, registering 3.3 on the Richter scale. Kind of minor in the big scheme of things, but a pretty big deal to me. Even if once again I'd felt an earthquake, and thought it was something else entirely.

I'm not the only one. All over the inter webs people were saying that they'd experienced just exactly what I felt. More like an underground explosion or something slamming into the building. My friend Chellie said the same thing I said, "Felt like someone hit the side of the house with a truck. It was one big jolt." In fact a vehicle hitting a building theory was the one I saw most often online. My daughter, on the 2nd floor at U-Prep High School, said there were 2 big jolts, and "everyone was freaking out!" Alan, who lives right at the epicenter, said his cats were "freaking the heck out." Another friend was sitting on the toilet, and didn't sound very happy about it at all. Another friend out in Millville didn't feel a thing, although people reported feeling the quake up in Mount Shasta and down in Red Bluff. Someone used the experience to come up with the greatest meme of all time as far as I'm concerned.
Best. Meme. Ever.
Nobody was hurt, as far as I know. And no property was damaged, as far as I know. The dams, both of them, are still damming, so I'm told. But it was a moment in time I'll never forget, as long as I live. It wasn't what I expected. I didn't think I'd actually hear the earth CRAAAACK!!! beneath my feet. But that's what it was. Not so much an earthquake as an earthslap. Or an earthwham. It was just a little bit exhilarating, a little bit scary, a little bit wild and uncontrolled.

So…just for the record, Mother Nature, if you're paying attention, I'm good. Thanks for showing off just enough to get our attention, and not so much as to make us crap our pants. Appreciate that.
In your honor, here's an earthshaking playlist of songs about the earth moving, quaking, shaking, rattling and rolling. Please share your own stories about earthquake experiences in the comments section below!

P.S. You may notice something a little different with this week's playlist. Grooveshark has disappeared, shut down after a copyright infringement lawsuit. I feel bad that you won't be able to access any of the cool streaming playlists I've created in the past, but ever so grateful that Spotify is here to save the day. Just click on the playlist link above (or click here) to go to Spotify, log in with your Facebook account, and enjoy!

  1. I Feel The Earth Move - Carole King
  2. Intro - Cali Quake - Raphi
  3. Shake - Mercy Me
  4. Rumble & Sway - Jamie N. Commons
  5. Shake, Rattle & Roll - Bill Haley
  6. Shake It Up - The Cars
  7. Shake It - Michael Franti
  8. Quake, Mountain, Quake - The Do
  9. California Earthquake - Mama Cass
  10. Shake Break Bounce - The Chemical Brothers
  11. Sway - Shaft
  12. Shake Shake Shake Your Booty - KC & The Sunshine Band
  13. Quake - Stereotronique
  14. Boom! Shake The Room - DJ Jazzy Jeff
  15. Shaking - Sugarcult
  16. Shake Baby Shake - Seeed
  17. Quake - Marco V
  18. Club Quake - 5 Below 0
  19. Shake It Up - Selena Gomez
  20. House Quake - Magik Johnson
  21. Quake - Herian & Allesten
  22. Earthquake - Passafire
  23. Earthquake Weather - Matt Nathanson
  24. Earthquake - Willie Taylor