Arts, Entertainment, Living

Eric McCormack back in prime time with 'Perception'

Monday, 09 July 2012 02:53 PM Written by

perceptionPASADENA, Calif. -- Eric McCormack ("Will & Grace") returns to prime time tonight in the TNT drama "Perception" (10 p.m.), which I reviewed yesterday in TV Week. McCormack plays a neuroscience professor with paranoid schizophrenia who assists an FBI agent (Rachael Leigh Cook) in solving crimes.

"I said to Ken, 'Can we just make this guy a gay lawyer? It might be a little less work for me,'" McCormack joked at a January TNT press conference. "But he was very insistent. So we did a lot of research together. ... By sheer coincidence last summer, after we shot the pilot but before the series, I ran into a woman in the grocery store in Vancouver, who turned out to be a neuroscience professor at the University of British Columbia, and we became fast friends. And so she took me around the brain center up there, and that was tremendously helpful too."

Read more after the jump. ...

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Albert Castiglia is "Living the Dream"

Monday, 09 July 2012 12:00 AM Written by

516wefKYZ0L._SL500_AA300_Albert Castiglia is a Florida blues guy who sort of started out at the top, playing lead guitar with the Junior Wells band from 1996 to Wells' death in 1998. Although he did play with a local blues band in Miami in the early '90s. He makes Fort Lauderdale his base now.

Since then, he's been performing and recording regularly, with his latest CD, "Living the Dream" (Blues Leaf  Records) our subject for today.

Castiglia plays a mean guitar, writes interesting lyrics, and isn't afraid to move around blues styles, which he does easily.

He can lean into a tough blues rocker, like the title track that actually opens the album. It's lean and fierce; with an energetic solo midway. Then there's "The Man," with a bit of Latin flair, but lyrically aimed at the heart of current economic issues -- "...break out the buckets and bust out the pans, we're all doin' cleanup for the man."

Castiglia has written or co-written five of the tracks here, including the two already mentioned. But he pulls some fine music from some covers that are worth covering, like Freddie King's "Freddie's Boogie," and one of the my favorite cuts, a very unusual cover of "Directly From Heart to You," an old doo-woppy kind of thing written by Himself, Little Richard, who recorded it with the Johnny Otis band.

Another favorite thing here is Albert's facility with three fine acoustic blues, the mournful "Sometimes You Win," a shuffling original "I Want Her For Myself" and the very bluesy "Call Me When You Need Me." An album full of this kind of material might be an interesting idea.

There's also a very stinging and torchy "Walk the Backstreets," in a classic blues framework, crying over classic blues heartbreak. The set closes with another unusual choice, a driving version of Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm."

I've seen Castiglia a couple of times, and heard some of his earlier albums. He seems to be getting better and better, especially with his musical choices and original work here. 

Here's a video of "Directly From My Heart to You" (the keyboards on the CD make for a better cut):

Here's the Little Richard version, one of my all-time LR faves:

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TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by clicking here.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “Suits,” football overruns and weather cut-ins. As always, thanks for reading, and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

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New Lil' Ed CD -- "Jump Start"

Friday, 06 July 2012 12:00 AM Written by

510-D49JAFL._SL500_AA300_It's time to get back to some new CDs once again, and this is the latest from Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials, titled "Jump Start" (Alligator).

The Imperials are a bit of an increasing rarity these days -- a real, honest to goodness Chicago blues band, still working together after about a quarter of a century. Ed Williams is a tough slide player in the mold of his uncle, J.B. Hutto, and the Imperials make music that's straight out of old-school blues.

This latest album features 13 fine songs crafted by Ed, or Ed and his wife, Pam. And there's a Hutto song, as usual, this one a tough version of "If You Change Your Mind." 

The originals are full of feisty lyrics and feiry guitar, and range from the roar of the throbbing opening track, "If You Were Mine" to the the torchy sounds of "You Burnt Me" and "Life is a Journey."

"World of Love" reminds us that Ed can front a band with his vocals as well has guitar, and if anything, this album finds Ed stretching a little beyond his traditional roots. Nearly 25 years together means that Ed and the band fit their music like a glove, but also that they're comfortable enough in their talent to make this fine music seem effortless.

Ed's also been around enough that most of you have probably seen him perform. The fez, big eyes, red tennies and jump shots are hard to forget. But it's the music that matters, and Ed delivers.

Here's a video of "World of Love" followed by a video interview with Ed:

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PBS's 'POV' on the state of the night sky

Thursday, 05 July 2012 11:32 AM Written by

City_Dark"What do we lose when we lose the night?" filmmaker Ian Cheney asks as he narrates his film "The City Dark," airing under the "POV" banner tonight on PBS (10:30, WQED).

It's a question worth pondering as the night sky in more and more places goes from a dark abyss full of stars to a dull glow caused by light pollution shining up that bounces off particulates in the atmosphere.

Read more about the film in the "POV" release after the jump. ...


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CD Review: Bela Fleck & Marcus Roberts

Thursday, 05 July 2012 06:00 AM Written by
 Despite its African origins and its 19th Century popularity as a classical instrument, most of the world still associates five-string banjo with folk, early country and particularly bluegrass.  Given that ongoing misconception, Bela Fleck has been an agent of change.  32 years after his first solo album, the 14-time Grammy winner has been the cutting edge of five-string virtuosity. His bold, eclectic musical palette showcases the instrument in various settings, both with his band the Flecktones and with other collaborators from various genres including classical, Western Swing,  Jazz and World Music.

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The LEGO brand games have evolved slowly over the years. The development team, Travelers Tales, have had seven years and nearly a dozen movie-based games to improve the LEGO formula, but they’ve generally played it safe. Each LEGO game based on a movie or comic book is similar to its predecessor, with an extra feature thrown in to justify the new iteration. “Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes” fits this mold, but is actually diminished by some of the game’s added elements. 

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Andy Griffith, Actor, Musician: 1926-2012

Tuesday, 03 July 2012 02:25 PM Written by

He personified America at its simplest and most bucolic.  He helped to create a fictional universe--Mayberry, North Carolina--of traditional values, elemental pleasures and gentle good humor and make it a world nearly everyone aspired to live in, if only in their minds and hearts.  Andy Griffith's passing today ends a remarkable career that began in Mt. Airy, North Carolina in the 1940's. His autobiography, I Appreciate It, has been repeatedly touted as nearing release, but no info is available on Amazon regarding any updated release schedule. This is adapted from my ay August 2011 blog Andy Griffith: Behind the Music with added video.  More of Andy's musical side is available on my 2011 Believe Your Ears music podcast including some very rare recordings he did for Capitol.

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