Tuesday, February 02, 2016

An Open Mic Skips a Monday

As the first month of 2016 came to a close, The Sherman Theater's Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA held their weekly Open Mic Nite Series www.facebook.com/OpenMicAtTheLivingRoom on Sunday January 31st. A newly arranged venue greeted the many who came to either perform or partake of the talents that would appear on stage that evening. There was also an anticipation among the gathering to experience magical qualities of the featured performer for the night.

It was after the much beloved sign in ritual in which musicians, poets, comedians, and others places their signatures upon the sign in sheet could perform occurred did the event's co-host, Theresa Ratcliff, take the stage to welcome those who were present and introduced a gentleman known as Bongo Dan who volunteered to provide percussion to performers who desired it. She then proceeded to introduce the first performers on the list who were a duo known as “Cry Baby Selfies” (formally known as bbqwhore) www.soundclick.com/bbqwhore consisting of Rick and Frank Mitchell. The father and son duet explored concepts through other worldly lyrics that were accentuated by a series of profound beats that wrapped each utterance they shared with a hallucinatory blanket.

Cry Baby Selfies were followed by Ann Matthews who performed a song about deciding to have children to the delight of parent and non parent listeners alike while being accompanied by Bongo Dan, She was followed by comedian Chris Jones www.facebook.com/Chrisjonescomedy/?fref=ts who explored a great number of topics to the amusement of the audience. He was followed by a guitarist named, “Vanessa” who soulfully sang songs that spoke the truth found in a life of contradictions. She was followed by Harmonicist, Emmitt Derrick, who performed a number of Louisianan Blues compositions to the delight of the crowd. This was followed by a break as the featured performer prepared for their set.

The duo known as “Skip Monday” consists of Kaylin Karr on Guitar and Vocals and Nathan Montella on Box Percussion. The mystifying essence found in the original songs composed by Ms. Karr were enhanced by a voice whose divine attributes wrapped themselves around every word she gave a presence to. There were many times during her performance did she look toward the sky assuring the denizens of heaven they can take subsistence and inspiration from the songs she sang. The magic found in Mr. Montella's beats added to the depth of each song by creating an underlining rhythmic current that served to emphasize the subliminal elements of the compositions.

Skip Monday are from Scranton, PA and has received many local awards throughout 2015 for their talents. These include the Steamtown Music Awards, Weekender's Reader Choice Awards, the Happenings Magazine “Happie Awards,” and Electric City Best Of 2015 Award. Skip Monday has recently released an EP titled, “Wildfire.” Please explore the Skip Monday Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/SkipMondayband or their Website at www.skipmondaymusic.com for more information.

After a break ensued in order for the audience to learn more about Skip Monday by conversing with them as well as with one another, Co hosts Theresa Ratcliff and Satilia Rose (aka Tilly) took the stage to choose the winning ticket of the evening's raffle. The funds were raised to help reimburse some of the expenses Skip Monday had incurred during their journey to The Living Room. It was after the winner claimed his prize, which was a gift certificate to the local Starbucks, did the the performances resume.

It was at this time did the duo known as “Woodrow” www.facebook.com/wearewoodrow/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf consisting of guitarist Brian Bramkamp and vocalist Theresa Ratcliff with special guest Bongo Dan take the stage. Together, they took those who were present upon a journey which began down a rabbit hole with a quizzical Alice. They were followed by Dave Angelus Wotring who began by sharing his appreciative sentiments with those who changed his life toward a better existence and continued to share these concepts through a song. He was followed by Justin Scalia whose voice and electric guitar flowed throughout the room with their penetrating vibrations that lingered in the crowd long after the final notes were played. Justin was followed by another electric guitarist named, Joe Craig, who shared a number of songs that touched the chords of every instrument embodied within the human soul.

Mr. Craig was followed by Zack Hammond whose comedic talents explored a variety of topics ranging from Kink Films to the origins of Fetishes. He was followed by Frenesi Gates who was joined by Dark Ashley who added a variety of sounds from his keyboard to enhance the performance art piece that challenged the realities that premeditate the formulation of our thoughts. Frenesi Gates was the final performer who was on the sign in sheet but, since there was time left before the evening would come to a close, those who placed their names on the waiting list were afforded the opportunity to share their talents.

The first of these were Dark Ashley who performed earlier with Frenesi Gates and continued exploring the multiplicity of thoughts inhabiting the interiors of the mind. He was followed by guitarist, Michelle Leanna Zbinden, who shared her considerable talents to the delight of all who heard her. She was followed by Brad who performed a number of dance routines which were well received by the audience. The final performance of the evening was that given by co host, Satilia Rose (aka Tilly), who had introduced a number of individuals throughout the night. Ms. Tilly shared her poetry which brought a thoughtful countenance to the gathering which proved to be a befitting finale to the event.

The next Open Mic Nite is scheduled to take place on Sunday February 7th beginning at 7pm with sign ins beginning at 6:30pm. The featured performer for the evening will be Rashaad Taylor.” www.reverbnation.com/rashaadtaylor Musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who would like to share something with a receptive audience are welcomed to do so. In the meantime, you'll be able to view photographs taken during the Sunday January 31st event in the An Open Mic Skips a Monday Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154545685348761.1073741939.91146283760&type=3.

The Sherman Theater’s Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. In addition to their Open Mic Nites series, the venue also holds a number of concerts and special events. Please Explore The Sherman Theater’s Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 or call 570-421-2808 for more information on the venue, all they have to offer, and how to be a part of it all.

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

The Inauguration of a Community Orchestra

In spite of the prevalence of funding cuts in the arts throughout the many higher educational institutions residing in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the spirit that elevates the endeavor associated with creativity remains prosperous. This could not be more evident than in the Inaugural Concert presented by The Pocono Community Orchestra on Sunday January 31st at The Stroudsburg, PA High School. The gathering of musicians were conducted by Betsy Buzzelli-Clarke who served as a professor in the Music Department at the local East Stroudsburg University (ESU) of PA until it was discontinued as a result a number of budgetary deductions and is currently an Assistant Professor in the ESU Theatre Department

A quiet anticipation filled the sizable audience who began to fill the school's auditorium as they awaited the members of the orchestra to take their preparatory places. It wasn't long before a violinist took her place at the conductor's podium to lead the ensemble through the tuning process of their instruments. It was after the violinist completed her task and took her place among her comrades did Ms. Buzzelli-Clarke appear on stage.

She was greeted by a rousing applause that was filled with encouragement and appreciation for bringing this group of musicians together to perform the classics. It was during the subsidence of the communal outpour of affection did Cellist and Orchestra Board Member, George Taylor, share his welcoming remarks directed toward the audience and shared a brief biography of the group. It was after his words did Ms. Buzzelli-Clarke raise her baton to coax the first notes of the performance from the instruments lovingly played by the talented musicians.

The pieces performed were composed by well known entities in the classical music genre such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Sergei Prokofiev, and Peter Tchaikovsky. However, the afternoon consisted of their lesser known works which enhanced the audience's appreciation for the varied fullness of each composers' productivity. The musical discoveries the gathering of music lovers encountered entreated them to explore the emotions that were musically expressed in each newly uncovered piece which refreshed the heart through their every measure.

As the marvelous concert came to its conclusion, Violist Jaimie Juschitsch presented Ms. Buzzelli-Clarke with a bouquet of flowers and words of appreciation for bringing the ensemble together. It was at this point did The Pocono Community Orchestra bid their audience and each other farewell forming memories that were certain to enhance the lives of those who were touched by the experience. You'll find more photographs taken during the concert in The Inauguration of a Community Orchestra Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154542131808761.1073741938.91146283760&type=3.

The Pocono Community Orchestra was initiated in the September of 2015 when the ESU/Community Orchestra were abandoned by the institution due to budgetary restraints while a need to continue their endeavors were realized by a number of community members. The Pocono Community Orchestra welcomes new members to join their assembly of musicians and supporters. Their next concert is tentatively scheduled to take place in the May of 2016. You can learn more about The Pocono Community Orchestra by calling Orchestra Board Member and conductor, Betsy Buzzelli-Clarke, at 570-420-1233.

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

And The Bands Played O(M)N

The second installment of The Sherman Theater's Living Room weekly Open Mic Nite Series in Stroudsburg, PA www.facebook.com/OpenMicAtTheLivingRoom for 2016 was held on Sunday January 17th. The night began as it usually does with musicians and poets preparing their performances while those who enjoy experiencing their talents prepared themselves for another satisfying evening. The venue began to fill to near capacity as the time for those wishing to share their creativity to place their signatures upon the sign in sheet arrived and many eagerly took their spot in line to do so. It was after some time did the event's co-host, Satilia Rose (aka Tilly), take the stage to welcome those who were present and to introduce the first performers on the list.

The performances began with a band named, “Azure” which consisted of Jazz Ortiz on guitar and vocals, Lauren Bruckstein on Rhythm Guitar, Andrew Baer on Bass, and Victor Valez on Drums. From the first riffs of the Jimi Hendrix Experience's “Purple Haze” which is found on their 1967 album titled, “Are You Experienced?” to the final echoes of Nirvana's “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from their 1991 album titled, “Nevermind,” the quartet elicited a number of inaudible utterances of “Holy Shits” and “WTFs” from a mesmerized audience. The excellent performance skills and the uncanny musical phrasings flowing from each musician proved to be a mind blowing journey which were catapulted by the vocals of Ms. Ortiz whose audibilities created favorable comparisons to Cherie Currie of the band known as “The Runaways” (of whom Joan Jett was a member) and to Debbie Harry of “Blondie” in the minds of many. However, Azure's mastery of the music they interpret stands alone and a future where of upcoming bands will be compared to their qualities can be seen in their performance. Azure will be performing during The Rock Your School Benefit Concert on Saturday February 6th at The Charter Arts Theater in Bethlehem, PA. You can learn more information about Azure and their future gigs by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/AzureBandPA.

Azure was followed by a solo performance given by guitarist Brian Bramkamp of Woodrow www.facebook.com/wearewoodrow/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf who struck a chord within all who listened while elevating their perception of the dreams he inspired through his songs. Brian was followed by Frenesi Gates whose conceptional phrasing found in his poetry were strung together by his voice, his body language, and the imagination of the audience. He was followed by a performance given by The Forwardian Players who presented a piece titled, “Oh, That's Cold” which was written by Paul Adam Smeltz (yeah, that's me) who appeared in it along with Anthony DeRobertis (aka Frenesi Gates). The presentation was well received by the generous audience. The Forwardian Players' were followed by Ann Mathews who shared a spoken word performance centered around a desire to enjoy a salad. As Ms. Mathews performance concluded, a brief break ensued.

The break was followed by the appearance of Satilia Rose (aka Tilly) and Emillie Day who invited Dayanara Howard to the stage. She spoke at length about her entering a business management competition among the regional DECA membership and came in 4th place. This honor gives her the opportunity to move on to the state competition in Hershey, PA which is planned for March. Successfully competing in the state competition will allow her to move on to the national competition in Nashville, TN.

However, participating in these competitions are costly and are paid for by the competitors and their families. Ms. Howard asked the gathering for their financial help. A raffle was offered by The Living Room which offered 2 tickets to The Pink Floyd Laser Light Spectacular which will be presented at The Sherman Theater on Saturday March 5th along with a $25 gift certificate to the Flood's Restaurant in Stroudsburg, PA. A number of individuals purchased raffle tickets but more funds are still needed. Donations are accepted through Crowdrise which can be accessed at their website at www.crowdrise.com/dayanaragoestostated/fundraiser/bobbymoran.

DECA (formally known as the “Distributive Education Clubs of America”) is a national association of marketing students and competitions that is designed to encourage leadership and managements skills. The organization prepares leaders and entrepreneurs for careers and education in marketing, finance, hospitality, management, and other business areas. It is one of ten organizations listed as Career and Technical Student Organizations by the United States Department of Education. The organization has more than 5,000 chapters with over 220,000 members. You can learn more about DECA by exploring their Website at www.deca.org or from their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/decainc?_rdr=p.

As Ms. Howard's words concluded, Satilia Rose (aka Tilly) and Emillie Day remained on stage to render a duet of spoken word poetry whose separate experiences epitomized in their individual works complimented each other's until new memories emerged to fill the audience's imaginative consciousness. Ms. Rose and Ms. Day were followed by Brad who shared a number of dance routines which enlivened the audience as demonstrated by their supportive vociferation. Brad was followed by Chris “Cee-Rock” Roberts who reconstructed the foundations of the listeners' souls through the poetry and philosophical perceptiveness found in his deftly composed pieces along with those written by other artists which he seamlessly performed.

The next to perform was a guitarist named “Alex” of the band known as “Mona's Staircase.” He was joined by other members of the band who were Joey on Bass and Ryan on Drums. Together, they performed a number of smooth, psychedelic instrumentals that led the subconscious thoughts of all who listened to the realm of forever. You can learn more about Mona's Staircase by exploring their Website at www.monasstaircase.tumblr.com or from their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/Monas-Staircase-980144132058640.

Alex and his band mates were followed by a poet named, “Michael” whose words created out of the memories of the past spoke their humorous truths to the present and future. Micheal was followed by a woman known as “EQ” who moved the audience with a series of life filled songs that were lovingly presented through a voice and ukulele whose wonderful effects of their gentle minglings were reflected in the joyous countenance of the audience. You can learn more about EQ by exploring her Website at www.eqchannel.com or from her Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/EQ-340799832691077.

EQ was followed by Michael Palomino whose words explore the eternal depths of emotion through the brief language of poetry. Mr. Palomino was the last performer recorded upon the event's main list which allowed those who were upon the waiting list to perform during the remainder of the evening. The first of those to perform from the list was POP PA DOC who performed an A Capella version of the song titled, “Sharp Dressed Man” originally performed by ZZ Top and can be found on their 1983 album titled, “Eliminator.” POP PA DOC was followed by a succession of members of the band “Azure” who shared extensions of their considerable talents with the audience through their poetry.

The fist of these was Andrew Baer whose words explored the cultural malaise of the United States. The next member of Azure to share her words was Jazz Ortiz who touched those who explored her imageries with their heart found new realities to call home. She was followed by the band's drummer, Victor Valez, whose poetic beats echoed throughout the room and the minds of all who inhabited it. Mr. Valez was followed by the final performer of the evening who was Olivia Watt. She sang an A Capella version of the song titled, “Sunday Morning.” The song is performed by the band known as “Maroon 5” and can be found in their 2004 album titled, “Songs About Jane.” Ms. Watt's rendition of the song elevated it's playful properties toward a higher plane of meaning as her voice enhanced the essence of each lyric.

It was after Ms. Watt's performance did the evening come to a close with some appreciative words shared by co-hosts Satilia Rose (aka Tilly) and Emillie Day. This led to numerous conversations between those who performed and those whose understanding of music and poetry were expanded by them. These words soon mingled with those bidding adieu to one another in anticipation of another installment of the Open Mic Nite.

The next Open Mic Nite is scheduled to take place on Sunday January 24th beginning at 7pm with sign ins beginning at 6:30pm. The featured performers for the evening will be the band, “Wait for the Day.” www.facebook.com/wftdmusic/?fref=ts Musicians, poets, writers, and anyone who would like to share something with a receptive audience are welcomed to do so. In the meantime, you'll be able to view photographs taken during the Sunday January 17th event in the And The Bands Played O(M)N Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154509259668761.1073741937.91146283760&type=3.

The Sherman Theater’s Living Room is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg, PA next to The Sherman Theater who owns the building. In addition to their Open Mic Nites series, the venue also holds a number of concerts and special events. Please Explore The Sherman Theater’s Living Room Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Living-Room/123978921059378 or call 570-421-2808 for more information on the venue, all they have to offer, and how to be a part of it all.

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

Monday, January 18, 2016

We Sing The Weekend Eclectic

Among those who are often seen wandering around The Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg, PA www.stroud-mall.com, a group of multi-generational music lovers gathered in the mall's food court area on Saturday January 16th to participate in an event titled, “We Sing Weekend.” 60 people stood in front of a banner created by artists inhabiting the town's Origins Gallery www.facebook.com/OriginsGalleryStroudsburg as an audience numbering over 200 people waited to experience their voices. Bob Riday led the choir and the audience in an eclectic variety of sing-along compositions like “Row, Row, Row your boat,” “Rubber Ducky,” “This Old Man,” and “Hokey Pokey” while Donna Molan accompanied the assembly on piano. A delight was reflected in the voices and eyes of all who were present as the childlike joy that was embodied in each song touched their hearts.

TheWe Sing Weekend” endeavor actually began on Friday January 15th. Prior to the Stroud Mall event, a large number of music lovers shared sing-along songs with over 250 Seniors Citizens who resides in senior communities located throughout the Monroe County, PA area. Many of these singers were part of the event at The Stroud Mall along with others whose desire to share their voices came to join. I did not attend the sing ins at the senior communities but, if the experience at the Saturday performance can be used as an faithful indication of their qualities, it could be reasonably surmised that the senior community performances were highly enjoyable. You'll be able to find more photographs taken during the “We Sing Weekend” held at The Stroud Mall in the We Sing The Weekend Eclectic Gallery at www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154504743238761.1073741936.91146283760&type=3.

The We Sing Weekend” initiative was begun by Tassy Gilbert and Gary Raish as they realized that everyone likes to sing and everyone has a voice. And, sing along songs were compositions mostly everyone knew and could easily sing. So, an invitation was issued to the community a few weeks prior to the event encouraging anyone who loved to sing to join. Joining promised a wide degree of flexibility as there were no rehearsals scheduled for weekend event and there were no restriction regarding the age one could be to participate nor were there any thought given to the level of singing experience one had. All one had to do was to show up and sing.

A wonderful blending of voices came together enhancing the community building qualities of the songs they performed. I found the afternoon at The Stroud Mall to be a very pleasing one as I enjoyed being reminded of songs taught to me as a child in elementary school and on records my parents bought me during my preschool years. A hope that there will be other such community sing ins scheduled for the future was shared by all who were present. The leaders of the endeavor indicated there will be a number of them but they were currently in the planning stages. But, it was anticipated such plans would be solidified soon. You can learn more about We Sing Weekend” and future events by exploring their Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/groups/925548060874110 or by emailing Gary Raish at garyraish@hotmail.com and Tassy Gilbert at tassy.gilbert@gmail.com.

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.