So this past weekend, I celebrated my birthday surrounded by friends, friends of friends, and cream puffs (thank you Little Bread’s goddess Hannah). I was enjoying the entire weekend until I actually stopped to breathe for a second and realized something. Damn, it’s hot.
Whatever happened to spring in Northwest Arkansas? As I’ve stated before, I’m not the biggest fan of summer and I’m patiently waiting for autumn. From a cultural standpoint, there isn’t much to get excited about. However, I thought I would take this week and look at some things that we should all pay attention to this summer. A few weeks back, I looked at some films that might be of interest. This week, I’ll look at theatre, television, music, and books.
If you are traveling this summer to New York, you won’t be disappointed by the fantastic assortment of shows appearing on Broadway. Although the musical slate is a bit stale this year with Tony-nominated “Memphis” holding up a blah season, straight plays are having their day in the sun. Whether it is Alfred Molina in “Red” or Angela Lansbury in “Little Night Music,” the great white way has been star-packed this season. If I could advocate only one show, I would recommend “Fences.” Revived from its original run in 1987, the 2010 version co-stars two time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington and Academy Award nominee (“Doubt”) Viola Davis. Washington is acting royalty back on the Broadway stage. However, reviews all point out Davis’ fantastic performance as the supporting wife. Expect to hear her name called out at the Tonys and deservedly so. The show runs through mid summer.
There aren’t a ton of great new works out this summer. In the past, summer has introduced us to some great pop and hip-hop classics. Love them or hate them, these are the songs that still make your foot tap and your head sway when they come on. Think “I kissed a girl,” “American Boy,” or “Crazy in Love” which were all summer classics. This summer, I would advocate that you check out some new or emerging artists that deserve your respect. The first one that I would recommend would have to be Janelle Monae. Her album “The ArchAndroid” came out earlier this year to fantastic reviews. Think female “Outkast” and you’ll start to appreciate what Monae is trying to do. She effortlessly blends R&B, Hip-hop, Jazz, old school blues, and musical theatre theatrics. It’s a great album with wonderful dance music.
Also check out Punch Brothers. They’re a young bluegrass/acoustic band that are redefining the genre and introducing bluegrass to a whole new audience. Led by former members of Nickle Creek, their brand of music is a great addition to a summer patio night. It also fills the void that I have while waiting for the new Ryan Bingham disc.
Television & Books
I can lump these two categories together because of their dominance by Josh Kilmer-Purcell. The former advertising consultant/drag queen came to great fame in 2006 with his debut book “I am not myself these Days.” That title plus his follow up “Candy everybody wants” became New York Times best sellers. Kilmer-Purcell blends his fantastic stories of living dual lives with humor, charm, and even sadness. However his newest project is “The Bucolic Plague” which details the story of how he and his partner resurrected an upstate New York farm and invested their life savings into creating a truly green enterprise. Besides the humor of two city-dwellers taking over a farm, it also speaks to anyone who is in a relationship, starting a business, or sharing a love of food, farming, and crafting. Kilmer-Purcell retells the story with humor and grace. This also coincides with the new PlanetGreen show “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” which follows the two guys around as they try to resurrect the farm (Beekman Farm) and start a lifestyle brand (Beekman 1802). It is a must read and a must watch.
Wayne Bell is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. He moved to Fayetteville in 2003 for his Master’s Degree and you can almost always catch him at Little Bread Co. or Hammontree’s. For more of Wayne’s contributions, visit his author page.