Arts, Entertainment, Living

Lucky to have 'Louie'

Thursday, 23 June 2011 12:00 AM Written by

Louie_LadyGaga_033FX's "Louie" (10:30 tonight) rertuns for a second season and that is a good, good thing.

Although the comedy series had not-fantastic ratings in its first season, it's a smart, thought-provoking show that deserved to be renewed.

Read more after the jump. ...

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Grady Champion's new CD - "Dreamin' "

Thursday, 23 June 2011 12:00 AM Written by

515t4jp4TrL._SL500_AA300_This new album by Grady Champion has been out for a while, so I want to be sure you know about this fine younger singer and harp player out of Mississippi who has been cranking out powerful blues.

He was the 2010 winner of the International Blues Challenge, and that got him a spot at last year's Heritage Music BluesFest in Wheeling. He was electrifying -- a commanding stage presence, even as he wandered through the crowd, playing and singing.

This CD, "Dreamin' " (GSM Music) is more of the same, from high-energy harp and vocals like "My Rooster is King" to tender ballads like "Weight of the World" and tough blues with gospel sentiment like "Thank You for Giving Me the Blues."   Then there's almost pure gospel on "Laugh, Smile, Cry Sometimes." The tracks are almost all written or co-written by Champion, with Zac Harmon, who plays crackling guitar throughout.

You can find a little bit of a lot of musical flavors here, but they're all blended nicely into Champion's own style. It seems a little jarring here and there as he he shifts between earthy tracks like "Make That Monkey Jump" and the religious-themed "Thank You (Lord) for Giving Me the Blues." But the music never loses its power.

Champion plays a strong harp, but his strength is his vocal style, which roams from grit to soul and fills all the songs with passion and power.

Here's a video (I prefer live videos to this kind of commercial stuff, but this is a track from the CD):

You heard it here first (I hope)

The legendary Mississippi bluesman, T-Model Ford (James Lewis Carter Ford), who says he doesn't remember his exact birth date age, but seems to be at least in his early 90s, is launching the third of his 2011 tours behind his new album, "Taledragger" (yes, that's spelled correctly).

And he'll be kicking  off the tour on July 21 at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville -- that's appropriate date, the night before the Pittsburgh Blues Festival opens. This real-deal blues should get you in the right mood for the festival.I saw him a few years ago at the Chicago Blues Festival, and he's still got his mojo working.

More later. Here's a video of T-Model:

And I almost forgot --
you can catch the great Duke Robillard and his guitar wizardry tonight at the Thunderbird.

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Chatter on the next generation of consoles has begun, and it’s all thanks to Nintnedo.  But when one console leads, new consoles will follow.  If history repeats itself, you can expect to see Sony and Microsoft’s next creations hit our living rooms roughly a year after the Wii U lands.  If you take a look back, the GameCube and Xbox came out a year after the PS2, and the Wii and PS3 came out a year after the Xbox 360.

What exactly will these consoles bring to gaming?  Well, we know the bare minimum about the Wii U, and that’s the console we know the most about.  We still don’t know anything about the actual Wii U console other than that it’s capable of HD graphics.  We don’t know a release date.  We don’t know a price.  All we really know is that the controller has a nifty touch-screen and the Wii U will be Wiimote-compatible.  Come to think of it, Reggie Fils-Aime and Miyamoto didn’t really tell us anything about the actual console.  They just fooled us with shiny objects and bright lights, and, like babies, we were mesmerized.

As for the next iterations of the Xbox 360 and PS3, we know far less.  All we really know is that they are in development and even that has just been assumed.

But we can hope, and we can dream of playing the next generation of consoles.  We can imagine that they are going to be everything we had hoped for and more, even though high hopes almost always lead to inevitable whining of fanboys who are going to buy the console anyway.  On that note, here are my thoughts on what we may or may not see next generation.

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The sound of 'Smallville'

Wednesday, 22 June 2011 12:00 AM Written by

SMALLVILLE_Score_Cover_copyIf you're missing The CW's "Smallville," or, more specifically its music, you can relive the series with the release of a new soundtrack that includes underscore from all 10 seasons of the show.

Admittedly, it's not music I've been particularly clamoring for, but I do understand why some folks would want to have that music in their collections.

Way back in the Dark Ages of the 1980s (pre-Walkman), I can recall taking a portable cassette recording, attaching a microphone and holding the mic up to the TV's speaker to record TV show theme songs. Somewhere I probably still have cassettes with the theme songs to "Otherworld" and "Rags to Riches."

So I do understand the desire for TV music.

Read a complete release on the "Smallville" music after the jump. ...

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Event: Sip in Style at Bakery Square

Wednesday, 22 June 2011 12:00 AM Written by

Cocktails and shopping, a perfect match.  You can do just this on Saturday.  Join Vitamin Water Zero at Sip in Style from 5-10 pm at Bakery Square in support of Dress for Success of Pittsburgh.

See this summer’s newest trends from Sew Addicted, Trendy TrousseauAnthropologie and Free People. DJ Michael Cunningham and DJ Donnely will be spinning while the fashions come alive on local models! Also, shop sidewalk sales and trunk shows, and get the looks straight from the runway.

The Vitamin Water Zero VIP lounge (21+) will be hosted by the Pittsburgh Chapter of 85 Broads, a global women’s leadership group, on the terrace of the second floor of the Google Building. Connect with Pittsburgh’s finest and most fashionable, get to know other local business professionals, entrepreneurs, and fashionistas!. Guests are encouraged to bring gently worn women’s apparel, footwear and accessories to donate to Dress for Success.


When: Saturday, June 25, 2011, 5-10 pm.

Where: Bakery Square, East End

Why: Donate old clothing to Dress for Success, pick by the latest fashons and network with fabulous local women.

Be sure to check back on Friday for another Clutch post! 

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Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne brings blues 'n' boogie piano

Wednesday, 22 June 2011 12:00 AM Written by

51S0-YwV1BL._SL500_AA300_Take some blues and boogie piano, add a little rock and some roll, maybe some R&B and lots of soul, and you have Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne's latest CD, the rollicking "An Old Rock On a Roll" (Stony Plain, out this week).

Wayne isn't exactly a household word when it comes to bluesy piano, but he should be. The 67-year-old was a child prodigy on piano at age 8, and inducted into the devil's music by an uncle, who encouraged him to broaden the gospel skills developed by his preacher father.

But after a bad scene sitting in with Jimmy Reed as a teen, he put off his blues life for about 20 years, even though he did work with groups like Bonnie and Delaney and Sly and the Family Stone in the '60s.

A move to Vancouver, Canada, in the '80s brought back his blues chops, and found his new life in Europe, where people actually seem to venerate a good bluesman. There've been a few albums, including Juno winner "Let It Loose" in 2006, but this Stony Plain debut, produced by the great Duke Robillard, should get people in the US of A to sit up straight and tap their feet to all these exuberant originals.

There are torchy blues ("Don't Pretend") and swinging rhythms ("Searching for My Baby") and soulful selections ("Heaven Send Me an Angel"), and everything adds up to a great package of piano music played with style and passion by an unappreciated talent. He's playing real-deal music here, folks.

Here's a video sample:


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Canned laughs for sale

Tuesday, 21 June 2011 04:10 PM Written by

PG writer Adrian McCoy passed along news of an auction of an odd piece of TV history: A canned laughter machine, invented by the creator of "I Love Lucy."

Read the release after the jump. ...

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According to Barb Vancheri's recent Post-Gazette article, over 9000 have lined up for the 3000 jobs which come with being the place where Batman is filming.   (

But one man who has written the Animated Batman many grew up here watching has come home to Pittsburgh for a job of his own-- to become an Assistant Professor at the emerging Point Park University Film program.  Allderdice grad Steve Cuden started off interested in theater and went on to have a diverse career in Hollywood which included writing over 90 scripts for such animated shows as X-Men, Iron Man, Batman, and more...  (

Through the serendipity which is Pittsburgh, the CLO is presenting the musical version of Jekyll & Hyde this week which Steve conceived for the stage.  You can listen to a podcast of Steve talking with PG theater critic Chris Rawson about the play and why he came home here....

But it should be noted that Steve coming home is part of an increasingly happy trend who entertainment professionals who have been able to come home and use their talents in this region which include Heide Waldbaum who was a special effects producer on such films as AVATAR and SPIDERMAN and Lisa Smith who produced THE PEOPLE SPEAK with Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman among other illustrious projects.

And though he did not grow up here, CMU professor Jesse Schell had formerly worked for Disney in L.A., but now runs Schell Games on the South Side of Pittsburgh which is one of the great success stories of this region's emerging entertainment industry.  (see   

Jesse is on the board of the Toonseum which is one of only three museums in the world to celebrate cartoon art run by cartoonist Joe Wos.  (

And then you have such innovative houses as Animal which has been responsible for everything from the talking Taco Bell Chihuahua to the multi-platinum Owl City Fireflies video and recently opened an L.A. office.  (

And talented animators who are increasingly populating the area doing innovative work like this Pinburgh video by CMU professor Doug Cooper.

Years ago when Pittsburgh's own Michael Keaton (who began working on stage crew for "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood"), starred in Tim Burton's Batman movie, few could probably envision Pittsburgh standing in for Gotham, or that the Bat signal shining over this city, would be signalling the arrival of talent and jobs.   But Holy ^&(@ Batman!  It's happening! 





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