Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Carolina Chocolate Drops on Prairie Home Companion

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Coordinator, Editor

I didn't know about the Carolina Chocolate Drops until earlier this spring, when we booked them for a FlynnSpace show (Friday, January 11, 2008 at 8 pm). Now, I seem to hear about them everywhere....
My friend Audrey, a North Carolina native, sang the praises of this "old-timey string band" from her home state at at recent "Stitch & Bitch" gathering, as we knitted and purled to bluegrass music by some of her other favorite artists. Not long after, I heard that their fantastic CD, Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind, was slated for re-release on June 26, with new artwork and two additional tracks. Then, on Saturday, I tuned into NPR's Prairie Home Companion and was delighted to discover that they were the show's musical guests, performing four songs: Corn Bread and Butter Beans, Georgia Buck, Hit 'Em Up, and Sourwood Mountain—as well as a Powdermilk Biscuit "Dance-Off" with Garrison Keillor and the Shoes.

If you were away from the radio enjoying the lovely early summer weather, or didn't catch the show for whatever other reason, you can listen to the entire broadcast, or just the relevant segments (1, 2, and 5), on Prairie Home Companion's excellent website. If you discover that you love this band—called the "hottest thing to hit the old-time music community in decades" by NPR's Weekend Edition—as much as we do here at the Flynn, you can get your tickets for their January FlynnSpace performance through the FlynnTix Regional Box Office on or after Tuesday, August 14. (To get a head-start, find out how to become a Flynn member and order your tickets as early as Friday, July 27!)

photograph of the Carolina Chocolate Drops courtesy of the artists
photograph of the Carolina Chocolate Drops in a "Dance Off" with Garrison Keillor and the Shoes: credit Andrea McAvey for Prairie Home Companion

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Worthy of a roadside stop," praises National Geographic

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Coordinator, Editor

It's always fun to open up a new National Geographic magazine and learn more about our planet and the fascinating places and people on it. But it's absolutely delightful to open up a new National Geographic magazine and find yourself looking at a photo of your very workplace.

Alice and Halsey North, friends of the Flynn (whose New York City firm, The North Group, has consulted on Flynn endowment campaigns), spotted the warm glow of our familiar marquee in the May/June issue of National Geographic Travelerthe world's most widely read travel magazine, which "celebrates journeys that are about place, experience, culture, authenticity, living like the locals, and great photography," according to it's mission statement. Big thanks to Alice and Halsey for sending the story on to us!

"Worthy of a roadside stop, the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts Center in Burlington hosts Broadway shows, plays, and musicians," lauds the magazine in bold red letters in an article admiring the pleasures of the "Vermont Cheese Trail." The photo of our marquee offers a fitting accompaniment:

Further in the story, travel expert and Off the Beaten Path travel guide author William Scheller suggests,
"If you're in Burlington for an evening, check the schedule at the art deco Flynn Center for the Performing Arts... where recent bookings have included the State Ballet Theatre of Russia and the Broadway hit Hairspray."

Scheller's story also praises other prime Vermont attractions, such as Frog City Cheese, the Vermont State Craft Center at Frog Hollow, Shelburne Farms and the Shelburne Museum, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Willow Hill Farm, Green Mountain Blue Cheese, and several other destinations.

The Flynn also merited a mention on eHow: How to Do Just About Everything. In eHow Expert Zach Chouteau's step-by-step article on How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in Burlington, Vermont, he recommends: "See a show at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, an art deco palace showcasing everything from big-time magic acts to pop stars to author readings."

photograph of the Flynn marquee: Raymond Patrick, National Geographic Traveler
story: "On the Road: Vermont Cheese Trail," William Scheller, National Geographic Traveler, May/June 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Comic Inspirations and Aspirations

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Coordinator, Editor

I've always envied natural storytellers, particularly those who can weave an entrancing tale with an unexpected ending—all the more better if that ending tickles my funny bone.

While I've been complimented on my sassy, if sarcastic, wit—and have been fortunate to have the skills to make a living as a professional writer and editor—I find it nearly impossible to spin a spectacular story or tall tale verbally... or to remember a punchline. My respect for those who have that natural talent, or the dedication to develop these skills, is huge. Admiration is part of what draws me to the Flynn's quarterly Stand Up, Sit Down, and Laugh comedy shows. Of course, the opportunity to spend an evening listening to truly funny people is the main allure.

Last night's FlynnSpace show, the ninth installment of the popular series, showcased the talents of Burlington-area community members Wendy Whaples Scully, 17-year-old Mike Robideau (who graduates from high school this weekend), State Rep. Jason Lorber, and FlynnArts instructor (and show emcee) Josie Leavitt.

Scully shocked the audience by performing a strip-show, of sorts, while sharing her observations on male domestic blindness. Robideau mused on job responsibilities and Big Macs, among other topics. Lorber debuted new material—and charmingly flubbed a few punchlines—while sharing stories of his one-year-old son, Max, and observations of the social dynamics of Burlington's Church Street. And Leavitt spoke of her love for dog, her veterinarian's not-so-subtle manipulations of the human/canine bond, the unfairness (and sheer boredom) of playing with children, speeding tickets, and grungy underwear.

See, it's at all not funny when I recall the show. But the four comedians were truly hilarious. I laughed out loud. Everyone in the room laughed out loud. But don't take my word for it. Come see Stand Up, Sit Down, and Laugh for yourself. The next show will be Tuesday, August 21 at 7:30 pm. (We'll post more information on the Flynn website soon.)

In the meantime, I'm thinking I might benefit from some training in the comedic arts, and just may try out FlynnArts' one-day comedy blitz, A Taste of Standup (for beginners), on Tuesday, July 10 from 6 to 9 pm.

Those with some standup experience may enjoy FlynnArtsAdvanced Standup Intensive on Wednesdays, June 20, 27, and July 11, and Monday, July 2, all sessions are held from 6 to 8 pm, and the class culminates in a FlynnSpace show on Friday, July 13.

Both courses are taught by Josie Leavitt. Information and registration: 802-652-4548, ext. 4, or Or download the FlynnArts Summer Camps & Classes brochure, paying special attention to pages 11 and 15.

photographs of (left to right) Mike Robideau, Josie Leavitt, and Jason Lorber are by Lani Stack

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bring on the bass!

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Coordinator, Editor

The very best perk of working for the Flynn is the opportunity to experience performances I otherwise wouldn't have attended. In the 10 months I've been here, this privilege has deepened my love for modern dance, fostered an appreciation for experimental theater, and introduced me to bluegrass music—among many other examples.

Last night I took a chance on jazz. I confess, I know little about the genre, and I'm sometimes intimidated by its swank and sultry sophistication. But I've always loved the deep thump of the bass, and so was drawn to last night's spectacular FlynnSpace show by jazz phenom Esperanza Spalding, part of the Flynn's 10-day Discover Jazz Festival. And while I expected a great show, I didn't expect to be so deeply moved by this 23-year-old wisp of a girl.

Sporting a gravity-defying cloud of hair and skinny "skeleton bass" (easier to travel with than a full-sized instrument, Spalding explained, as her larger counterparts have an annoying tendency to become temporarily lost by airlines), Spalding opened with her melancholy arrangement of Autumn Leaves (listen on her Myspace page). Her high, whispery vocals segued into a sharp scat rhythm then cascaded into throaty, full-bodied song—all complementing the deep, mesmerizing sounds plucked from her bass. Accompanied by the fabulous talents of pianist Leonardo Geonvese and Lyndon Rochelle on drums and percussion, Spalding packed FlynnSpace—standing room only—and surely made of plenty of new fans, (myself certainly included). Her original compositions were just as poignant as her arrangements of jazz standards, but it was her tender version of the heartbreaking Body and Soul that brought tears to my sentimental eyes.

Alain Mallet, a pianist for the Paul Simon Band and the Phil Woods Quintet, is undoubtedly a much more knowledgeable judge of musicians than I, but my praise for Spalding echoes his: "She is simply the most promising musician I've come across in recent years. Such maturity and musicality would have been impressive enough had she been in her 30s, but she's barely 20."

Enviably young, stunningly beautiful, and outrageously talented, Spalding has already proven herself a master of her craft. I'd bet that everyone who appreciated her in FlynnSpace last night will follow her promising career trajectory.

Next up: I hope to learn more about the roots of reggae and ska with Lee "Scratch" Perry, in the Discover Jazz Festival's Waterfront World Tent on Saturday. He's billed as "part genius, part madman, 100% audio alchemist"—who could possibly pass that up?

photograph of Esperanza Spalding by Youri Lenquette