Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

Posts made in: January, 2015 (44) Currently Viewing: 11 - 20 of 44

January 7, 2015 at 12:31pm

Nerd Alert! Gotham and They Might Be Giants Dial-A-Song!

All hail the Penguin!


Ah, the day that nerds the world over have been craving for far too long has at last arrived! They Might Be Giants' Dial-A-Song has come back? Yes, but I'll get to that in a moment. First, some sarcastic praise for the Baby Batman show we never knew we wanted: Got Ham. Er, I mean, Gotham.

Yes, those long winter months of missing Lil' Bruce Wayne and his crybaby antics is back, and even more overstuffed with on-the-nose references to future villains. Ever wonder what Edward Nygma was like before he became the Riddler? Well, Gotham is here to let us know that he talks in riddles constantly and drinks coffee out of a mug with a question mark on it. What about Poison Ivy? Turns out she's a girl who loves plants and is now literally named Ivy, which does a lot to take the guesswork out of her eventually coming up with her villainous moniker.

There's a lot to like about Gotham (one word: Penguin), but there's exponentially more to enjoy loudly with friends while you get drunk and wonder how such a rich concept could have gone so laughably wrong. Granted, I do look forward to at least a decade more of Gotham, so we can finally get to the point where the Neophyte Knight actually dons his cowl. Until then, at least we have Robin Taylor knocking it out of the park every week with his psychotic take on the Penguin. And speaking of "Robins," we have also been assured the Boy Wonder will not appear in any other form than possibly as a fetus. Chris O'Donnell already broke our hearts once. No more.


Now, for a real cause for celebration. They Might Be Giants have brought back their legendary Dial-A-Song service. Running from 1983-2006, the band had a hotline you could call to listen to works-in-progress, covers, B-sides and other oddities. A lot of times, you'd get a busy signal and have to call back multiple times in a night, just to hear a scratchy bit of nerdy, musical genius.

With the old hotline, the songs would be updated at the whim of TMBG, meaning that you'd never quite be sure when you'd hear something new. The return of Dial-A-Song comes with the promise that every Tuesday will see the release of a new song, which you can access at DialASong.com or, if you're feeling nostalgic, you can literally dial them up, toll-free, at 844.387.6962 (which, minus the area code, is the exact same number they used to have).

Calling up Dial-A-Song used to be the only constant bit of magic in a dreary world. Now, it's come back to whisper stories of puppet heads and birdhouses to us all.

January 7, 2015 at 3:35pm

2015 South Sound theater preview

Lakewood Playhouse stages "Glengarry Glen Ross" opening Friday, Jan. 9. Art courtesy of Lakewood Playhouse

If, like so many of us, you're making New Year's resolutions, allow me to suggest an addition to your list. I encourage you to see more in the way of live performance. Often people think of theater as a civic duty, an obligation they owe higher culture. Meanwhile, they fill their DVRs with TV dramas and catch everything showing at the multiplex. I'm here to tell you live theater can be every bit as entertaining, stimulating, thought-provoking and just plain awesome as anything on the silver screen. It offers moments no camera can capture, and a sense of community and immediacy that go beyond simply throwing a few bucks at local theater troupes.

With that in mind, I'm highlighting smaller companies in this spring preview - partly because the larger houses don't need my help, mostly because the best shows are often staged by outfits that dare less familiar, more thoughtful material. Consider, for example, Dukesbay Theater in Tacoma, which put up a lovely production of Tea last fall and now hosts the return of a critically lauded one-man show, My Brother Kissed Mark Zuckerberg (opening Jan. 9). Lakewood Playhouse is one of the region's leading community theaters, and that gives director John Munn the freedom to stage David Mamet's tense (and foul-mouthed) drama Glengarry Glen Ross (Jan. 9). Lakewood offers The Miracle Worker (Feb. 19), directed by Pug Bujeaud, and raucous comedy The 39 Steps (think Hitchcock meets Shakespeare Abridged) starting April 17. It concludes its 76th season with Drood (May 29), a musical that completes Dickens's unfinished novel by allowing each night's audience to choose from dozens of possible culprits and denouements.

Tacoma Little Theatre forges ahead under artistic director Chris Serface, beginning with an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby on Jan. 23. (This marks the anniversary of TLT's stellar production of To Kill a Mockingbird last winter.) Steve Martin's thinky Picasso at the Lapin Agile opens March 13, followed by playwright Ken Ludwig's (Lend Me a Tenor) golf comedy, The Fox on the Fairway (April 17). John Munn visits to close TLT's 96th season in grand style by staging the sexy musical Cabaret (May 22), currently killing in Broadway revival. Ooh, la la! Expect pop-up shows as well from upstarts New Muses Theatre Company and Working Class Theater NW.

Meanwhile, Olympia Little Theatre continues its silver-anniversary season with Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Jan. 16), a drama that reunites six members of a James Dean fan club after 20 years. Mid-February brings a readers-theater production of Angels in America at OLT; it's a landmark, six-hour show to be presented over two weekends. On March 27, the company offers Laughing Stock, a Noises Off-style backstage comedy directed by yours truly. Mama Won't Fly (May 8) is a recent comic script, as is OLT's summer show, 4000 Miles (July 10). Olympia Family Theater, now comfortably housed in its warm space on 4th, presents The Monster Under the Bed (Feb. 6), Washington-based pioneer drama Our Only May Amelia (March 20), and Pinocchio (May 15). Local colleges have been slow about announcing their spring calendars, but I'm looking forward to The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at St. Martin's University (April 11). Let's face it, that guy's always been trouble.

Filed under: Theater, Lakewood, Tacoma, Olympia,

January 8, 2015 at 8:02am

5 Things To Do Today: Shared Memory Book Club, Polar Plaza, Tacoma Runners, Andrew Norsworthy ...

Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" will be discussed at King's Books tonight.

THURSDAY, JAN. 8 2014 >>>

1. Turn off reality TV and make real connections, damn it! Take advantage of King's Books new Shared Memory Book Club, a first Thursday meet-up based on intercultural experiences and stories on the formation of identity against the odds, that doesn't involve yelling and slapping. The club will be reading novels, biographies and memoirs about cultural awareness, adaptation and acceptance. January's book is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, which will be discussed beginning at 7 p.m.

2. Bundle up, pinch your cheeks until they glow and strap on a pair of silver skates, Hans Brinker, for a glide across the frozen expanse at Tollefson Plaza. The Franciscan Polar Plaza, located on the corner of Pacific Avenue and South 17th Street, is open from 4-9 p.m.

3. Hop Valley Brewing Co. out of Eugene, Oregon, will head to the house of burgers and brisket - Stuck Junction Saloon in historic downtown Sumner - for brewer's night festivities and HVB beers, including Double D Blonde Ale, Alphadelic IPA, V.I.P (Vanilla Infused Porter) and Festaroo Winter Ale, their winter warmer. HVB rep Rob Brunsman will kick off the craziness at 6 p.m.

4. Forget light and low-carb beers. The Tacoma Runners have a better method for fighting fat: They run then drink beer. They're the classic drinking group with a running problem. They meet at 6:30 p.m. every Thursday at a Pierce County alcohol-slinging joint, run 3 miles and then return to the starting line to celebrate. This week, the group will meet at the Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. for Moon Yard Ales, Dirty Skoogs IPA, Donkey Puncher ESB and elevated heart rates.

5. Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, and now rooted down in Seattle, Andrew Norsworthy has written, recorded, and performed music for more than 20 years. Traveling across the U.S. extensively, and playing in Europe as well, he has had the opportunity to share stages with Kelly Joe Phelps, Josh Rouse, Dan Bern, Michelle Malone, Patrick Sweany, Tim Easton, Sarah Lee Guthrie, and many others. His most recent release is 2012's blues-soaked The Key & The Cross, described by the Seattle Weekly as a showcase for "badass guitar playing" and an "equally strong voice". Catch him at 6:30 p.m. in The Hub in Gig Harbor.

LINK: Thursday, Jan. 8 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

January 9, 2015 at 7:57am

5 Things To Do Today: Chain and the Gang, monster trucks, "Glengarry Glen Ross," Aan ...

Chain and the Gang / photo courtesy of dischord.com

FRIDAY, JAN. 9 2015 >>>

1. After more than 20 years of taking the punk ethos and bending it to the will of a clothes horse and a stylistic maverick, Ian Svenonius has arrived at Chain and the Gang, which similarly takes elements of early soul music and abstracts them to conform to a 2015 attitude. When we first saw Chain and the Gang, Svenonius commanded the stage with a punk version of James Brown, giving high kicks and melodramatic kneels that belied the minimalistic instrumentation that accompanied it. Read Rev. Adam McKinney's full feature on Chain and the Gang in the Music & Culture section, then catch the band with Rocknho, and Vexx at 8 p.m. in Northern.

2. My Brother Kissed Mark Zuckerberg returns to the Dukesbay Theater in Tacoma at 7 p.m.  Written and performed by Peter Serko, this inspiring true story offers a glimpse into the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and ‘90s.  When Mr Serko's younger brother David is diagnosed HIV positive in 1988 he is suddenly drawn into his brother's life.  David's death from the complications of AIDS in 1992 leaves a legacy finally revealed 20 years after his death.

3. Who doesn't like to sit in attendance while junkyard cars get smashed and toppled by massive, petrol-chugging monster trucks? Probably no one. That's like suggesting there's someone out there that doesn't like nacho cheese and back fat. Likely story. ... Anyway, at 7:30 p.m. "the world's biggest and baddest monster trucks battling it out in the ultimate event of intense speed, racing and destruction as the Monster Jamevent rolls into the Tacoma Dome." 

4. David Mamet may have won the Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross back in 1984. But in today's climate of corporate scandal and economic crisis, this emotionally charged black comedy/drama - opening at 8 p.m. in the Lakewood Playhouse - seems eerily relevant. Set in the cutthroat world of real estate investment sales, Glengarry Glen Ross offers a harsh look at human weakness and the moral decay of business. It's a brilliant study in gullibility and greed - a classic piece of theater that makes us squirm in our seats as Mamet exposes the "art of the deal."

5. Portland-based experimental pop maestros Aan are making their return to Olympia for a 8 p.m. show at Deadbeat Olympia, a record store that's quickly making a name for itself with exciting in-store shows. Although Aan opened for the Smashing Pumpkins, there's little of the Pumpkins' melodramatic posturing to be found in Aan's music. Rather, there's a crispness and clarity of vision to accompany their wildly exploratory pop music, ripping apart songwriting crutches and stitching them together again, like Frankenstein's monster, before electrifying them into something wholly new and exciting. Also on the bill are local favorites Fruit Juice and Wild Berries, who stun with glam-rock kaleidoscopes and soulful garage rock, respectively.

LINK: Friday, Jan. 9 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

January 10, 2015 at 8:45am

5 Things To Do Today: Fantastic Animals, Ford F-Series exhibit, Neil Berg, Sol Seed ...

Fantastic Animals perform at The New Frontier Lounge tonight. Photo courtesy of Facebook

SATURDAY, JAN. 10 2015 >>>

1. The rock concept album lives! Tommy told the story of a deaf, dumb and blind kid who became a wizard of some kind. Yoshimi battled some pink robots on a Flaming Lips record. Styx rebelled against a bleak, totalitarian future with rock-n-roll in Kilroy Was Here. And now, the Fantastic Animals' new EP, The Walls Will Speak to Break the Curse,explores the lifetime of a man who grew up at the beginning of the new millennium - a narrative divided into five different segments, each one covering a different period of perspective and experience. OK, not quite as grand in theme as the aforementioned concept albums, but Walls is only 21 minutes long - a short story in comparison to those epic, novel-length LPs. At 9 p.m., the band celebrates Walls' release at The New Frontier, where presumably they'll play the opus in its entirety. Filling out the bill are J. Martin, Bes and Wow, Laura.

2. LeMay - America's Car Museum opens the Ford F-Series: The Truck That Grew Up with America exhibit from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibit highlights the versatility of the Ford F-Series over the years featuring work trucks, hot rods, luxury and off-road vehicles, such as a custom 1956 F-100 in brilliant orange and a 2000 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning, a factory-built, supercharged sport truck with a top speed of 140 mph. The Truck That Grew Up with America exhibit will be on view through June 2015.

3. Neil Berg's Rock-n-Roll Decades travels the annals of rock history. Instead of using lame comic filler to slog from song to song, however, its performers introduce each number with history about the icon who made it famous. We're talking single-named superstars like Elvis, Dylan, Aretha, Janis, Elton, Billy and Bruce. And oh, what singers and musicians Berg assembled to wail these numbers! All six vocalists have toured with national productions, and Sophia Ramos fills Janis's shoes by touring as lead singer for Big Brother and the Holding Company. Read Christian Carvajal's full feature on Neil Berg's Rock-N-Roll Decades in the Music & Culture section, then see the show at 7:30 p.m. in the Washington Center.

4. Tell us something: do you enjoy music? I mean, pretty much any kind of music? Reggae? Electronica? Folk? Funk? Nursery rhymes? Australian didgeridoo? Or unconditional love - do you enjoy that? Do you appreciate lyrical messages of intercultural acceptance and peace? If you said yes to any of that, then we have the band for you. They're from Eugene, Oregon; they make sweet, sensual love to your earholes; and they call themselves Sol Seed. Catch the band with Valley Green at 8 p.m. in Jazzbones.

5. Fingertips perform Motown, funky R&B, and blues at 9 p.m. inside Dawson's Bar & Grill on South Tacoma Way.

LINK: Saturday, Jan. 10 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

January 11, 2015 at 10:06am

5 Things To Do Today: Danny Quintero Quintet, Polar Plaza ends, "The Homesman," Kim Archer Band ...

The Danny Quintero Quintet performs at 5 p.m. in the Marine View Church.

SUNDAY, JAN. 11 2015 >>>

1. The Jazz LIVE at Marine View kicks off its seventh year with dynamic vocalist Danny Quintero. His keen ear for subtle nuances of the "Sinatra School of ‘Bel Canto' singing" - the articulation, phrasing, dynamics and breath control belies his 25 years of age. He personifies a fresh, likeable and personalized approach to the Great American Songbook. For fans of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, this is worth the drive to Northwest Tacoma. Joining Quintero will be Alexey Nikolaev on saxophone, Chris Morton on piano, Nathan Parker on bass and Adam Kessler on drums at 5 p.m. in the Marine View Church.

2. Today is the last day to bundle up, pinch your cheeks until they glow and strap on a pair of silver skates, Hans Brinker, for a glide across the frozen expanse at Tollefson Plaza. The Franciscan Polar Plaza, located on the corner of Pacific Avenue and South 17th Street, ends today. Hit the ice from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

3. Who doesn't like to sit in attendance while junkyard cars get smashed and toppled by massive, petrol-chugging monster trucks? Probably no one. That's like suggesting there's someone out there that doesn't like nacho cheese and back fat. Likely story. ... Anyway, at 2 p.m. "the world's biggest and baddest monster trucks battling it out in the ultimate event of intense speed, racing and destruction as the Monster Jamevent rolls into the Tacoma Dome."

4. The Homesman is a cinematic western that follows a group of women forced to travel across the wild frontier. Hilary Swank plays Marry Bee Cuddy: industrious and unmarried, she drives a mule team and tends a farm on the barren plain. When she happens upon an opportunity to make some cash she goes for it, even if it calls for transporting three local women to an insane asylum in a distant city. Along the way, Mary Bee meets up with Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), who is as desperate for salvation as he is for his next drink. See the film at 5 p.m. in the Capitol Theater.

5. With a timeless vocal delivery only matched by her engaging stage presence, Kim Archer and her band have been pleasing live music fans in our area since 2004. Archer's powerful voice a la Janis Joplin and Chaka Khan gelled nicely with the sonic buzz of the guitar and groove from the backbeat. Archer commands the stage playing her own original songs rooted in old school soul, funk and classic rock, sultry blues and ballads while remaining a master at giving choice cover tunes the "Kim Archer treatment," such as the crowd pleasing "Shaft." Catch the band at 7 p.m. in The Spar in Old Town Tacoma.

LINK: Sunday, Jan. 11 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

January 12, 2015 at 7:18am

5 Things To Do Today: Crazy Texas Gypsies, western shuffle, Kim Archer, Kareem Kandi Band ...

Crazy Texas Gypsies rock The Swiss tonight.

MONDAY, JAN. 12 2015 >>>

1. Since the beginning of time, The Swiss has hosted live blues every Monday. Factor in the free pool on Mondays and now Tuesdays are a black hole for you. The Crazy Texas Gypsies will be in the house at 8 p.m. Founded in 1999 by vocalist and guitarist Kenny Williams and bass player and vocalist Kevin Fraser, this rockin' blues band has opened for ZZ TOP, Ted Nugent, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, The Ford Brothers and many others. With the addition of drummer Doug Mackey and keyboardist Doug Skoog, the band is crazy good.

2. Get out your dancing shoes and join in the whimsy of a country western shuffle dance, hosted by the Evergreen Country Dancers from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Olympia Elks Lodge. What is a shuffle, you say? It's the country western version of polka - the primary difference being that the style of shuffle is less hoppy than the polka. The basic step consists of a triple to the left followed by a triple to the right.  The shuffle is sometimes called double two-step or traveling swing, for it also uses components of two-step and the popular East Coast swing. This makes shuffle a very versatile dance, allowing a mix and match of patterns, which can result in some exciting variations - and there's nothing wrong with that.

3. With a timeless vocal delivery only matched by her engaging stage presence, Kim Archer has been pleasing live music fans in our area since 2004. Archer's powerful voice a la Janis Joplin and Chaka Khan gelled nicely with the sonic buzz of the guitar and groove from the backbeat. She commands the stage playing her own original songs rooted in old school soul, funk and classic rock, sultry blues and ballads while remaining a master at giving choice cover tunes the "Kim Archer treatment," such as the crowd pleasing "Shaft." Catch her at 7:30 p.m. in Smoke + Cedar.

4. Weekly Volcano readers voted the Kareem Kandi Band "Best Jazz Band" in our 2014 Best of Tacoma issue. Catch this amazing jazz band at 8 p.m. in Rhythm & Rye.

5. Rockaraoke at Jazzbones will either be your novel opportunity to act as frontman, or be completely intimidating. Perpetually packed with people, Rockaraoke boasts a unique twist for karaoke in Tacoma: instead of a backing track, you get a three-piece band playing behind you. Check it out at 9 p.m.

LINK: Monday, Jan. 12 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

Filed under: 5 Things To Do, Music, Tacoma, Olympia,

January 12, 2015 at 1:21pm

Nerd Alert! Blackhat, lap dancing, Seven Swords Guild ...

Set within the world of global cybercrime, Legendary’s Blackhat follows a furloughed convict and his American and Chinese partners as they hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta.

Penetrating your firewall, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.


Blackhat, directed by Michael Mann of Miami Vice, Heat, and Collateral fame, stars Thor (I mean Chris Hemsworth) as the hottest computer hacker in world history. When this guy arrives on screen, my wife begins purring. It's unseemly. Hemsworth plays the leader of an international team of cyber-crimefighters - so have at thee, Kim Jong-un!

Now that your spouse is all hot and bothered over a shirtless Australian playing a 1337 hax0r, maybe this'd be a good time to visit Beyond Vertical in Fife. The premier pole-dancing emporium offers a ladies-only workshop on the art of lap dancing for fun and, presumably, profit. The event is called "Fifty Shades of Seduction," so if you break it down, that's a mere half-dollar per shade. Last I checked, a proper lap dance runs about ... Wait. Never mind. I wouldn't know. Forget I said anything. What's a lap dance?

FIFTY SHADES OF SEDUCTION, 6:30 p.m. Friday, 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Beyond Vertical, 2412 Pacific Hwy. E., Fife, $25, 888.549.4166

If, on the other hand, you have kids, you'll be over in the PG-rated wing of the cineplex, glumly schlepping into Paddington. It's the charming, tea-and-crumpetful tale of an Andean bear cub that talks like Colin Firth. Would you believe me if I told you established critics are raving about Paddington? No? Well, I'm serious. Not that it matters - you'd be seeing it anyway. At least this time, your kids won't have awful taste in movies.


Imagine this. Suppose you're walking down a dark alley one night when some goon jumps out and demands your cash and phone. Like most of us, you're an easy target, because you have to nothing to protect yourself other than your questionable wits and two fists that wouldn't intimidate a Jack Russell terrier. Now, imagine whipping around instead as you draw a damn longsword. Yeah. Do I have your full attention now? 'Cause you sure as hell have your assailant's! Muggers think twice before tangling with a meter-long, double-edged blade of steel justice. That's why the Seven Swords Guild in Lakewood isn't just some loose coalition of dudes that geek out over "Historical European Martial Arts." No, sir! They're incredibly badass dudes who belong to the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword! Are you ready to test your mettle against their, uh, metal? Then hie thee to their weekend longsword demonstration and tournament, knave. They provide the mask and blade; you bring the agile wrist of a champion.

BEGINNERS' LONGSWORD TOURNAMENT, 10 a.m. Saturday, Seven Swords Guild, 2321 104th St. Ct. S, Lakewood, free to spectators, 253.278.7550


Now that Neil deGrasse Tyson has settled for a late-night talk show hosting gig on NatGeo, a channel probably some of us get, it behooves us all to learn as much as we can about the vast and amazing solar neighborhood in which we reside. Interplanet Janet retired to the Oort cloud decades ago, so it falls on enthusiastic science geeks like Olympia Family Theater to keep us up to speed. That's why OFT continues its series of morning edutainments for preschoolers by staging a fast-paced (45 min.) episode devoted to the eight major planets. Remember, "trans-Neptunian object" Pluto no longer makes the A-list; like Dr. Tyson, the frigid rock has been relegated to the solar outskirts.

THE SOLAR SYSTEM, 10:30 a.m. Monday (and Saturday, Jan. 24), Olympia Family Theater, 612 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia, $5, 360.570.1638


Speaking of swords and entertainment that gets my wife excited, Saturday the 17th brings the onset of season two of The Musketeers on BBC America. I don't watch the show, but in this incarnation, apparently, they're covered in milk chocolate and filled with rich, fluffy nougat. But what really revs my better half's engine is the start of season six (the final go-round, we're told) of Justified Tuesday. Timothy Olyphant and his huge, swinging Stetson bring the man-candy; Elmore Leonard's the inspiration for much of the dialogue; and Walter Goggins provides the suave Kentucky verbosity of career slicko Boyd Crowder. It truly is an amazing show. Patton Oswalt enjoys it so much he wangled his way into a recurring guest role. I like it so much I'm willing to overlook my wife humping the couch when Timothy Olyphant doffs his chapeau.

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may your opponent forget to use Thibault to cancel your Capo Ferro (unless, of course, you've studied your Agrippa). En garde!

January 13, 2015 at 7:06am

5 Things To Do Today: Classical music and cookies, MLK celebrations, "Pump," Karaoke Party ...

Tacoma Youth Symphony takes over Classical Tuesdays in Old Town Tacoma tonight. Courtesy photo

TUESDAY, JAN. 13 2015 >>>

1. Classical music is not like spinach. Sure, your mom might have insinuated that cultivating a taste for both was good for you, but the goal of Classical Tuesday in Old Town Artistic Director Pamela Ryker is to get you to see that, unlike the somewhat slimy green stuff that left a funny feeling on your teeth, the musical dish she serves up is spicy, peppy fun. They'll be plenty of moms in the Slavonion Hall at 7 p.m. when Ryker hosts the Tacoma Youth Symphony chamber music ensembles. The glue-eating kid won't be there. The night will feature the best of the best: of the hundreds of students in the Tacoma Youth Symphony orchestras, the top instrumentalists will be showcased in small groups of woodwinds, brass and strings. Expect cocoa, coffee and cookies.

2. Two Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations happen today. A Living Voices performance will serve as the featured entertainment at Bates Technical College's Martin Luther King Jr. celebration from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the college's South Campus Auditorium. The performance, titled "The Right to Dream," follows a young African American student growing up in small-town Mississippi, where the American Civil Rights movement is on the horizon. Audience members will watch as the animated performer brings life to civil rights-era issues. At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the I Corps Equal Opportunity Office will sponsor a celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from 1-2:30 p.m. at French Theater on Pendleton Boulevard, Lewis Main.

3. The Grand Cinema screens Pump at 1:50 and 6:40 p.m. as part of its Tuesday Film Series. The film examines why Americans are so lacking in options at the gas station, what that means about the future of transportation and environmental health, and why the oil-driven American Dream must die - why it is dying.

4. If hearing the sound of your own cackling voice echoing off the walls of your shower stall has you craving the sound of something a bit more harmonious, check out the local songbirds at Victory Music Open Mic in the Antique Sandwich Co. from 7-10 p.m. It's guaranteed to be jam-packed with gorgeous sounds and humbling verses, as the South Sound's greatest up-and-coming acoustic musicians bare their souls impromptu-style.

5. Karaoke is a uniquely egalitarian way for people to live out minor fantasies while also blowing off steam. Teddy hosts a Karaoke Party at 9 p.m. in The New Frontier Lounge

LINK: Tuesday, Jan. 13 arts and entertainment events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

January 13, 2015 at 3:04pm

Strawberry Fields Forever: Reuniting the Fab Four in Tacoma

Yup, the Four are still Fab and tribute shows abound. But Rain has the edge, including a multimedia presentation that incorporates original footage. Press photo

I had the great privilege of seeing Paul McCartney live in Kansas City back in 1993. I traveled there from Oklahoma with my good friend Shawn and his mother, and all three of us enjoyed the show immensely. As we were creeping out of the parking lot, Shawn's mom remarked, "He was a lot better this time than the last time I saw him." Excuse me? Come to find out, she had seen the Beatles live on their 1964 American tour. She said the sound was bad. They played a dozen songs and could barely be heard over ten thousand shrieking teenagers.

In some ways, modern audiences have it better. We can listen to the Fab Four in stunning remastered stereo and mono editions. We know all the words and get to sing along with every "na" in "Hey Jude," and no one can tell us to pipe down. There will never be another Beatles. It's been 50 years now, and no one's come close. Having said that, it's still possible to recreate the experience of seeing them live. I can vouch for a group called 1964, having caught them in Arizona, and you can test the impersonation skills of Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles this Wednesday, Jan. 21.

The show features a rotating cast of musicians in a multimedia spectacular that carry the band from its jangly, Liverpudlian roots to the grand psychedelic finale of Abbey Road (in my opinion, the greatest pop disc ever recorded) and Let It Be. Since the cover band's inception in 1975, its members have played everywhere from Broadway to the Today show. Dick Clark (who'd know better?) was so impressed by their vocal talents that he engaged Rain for the soundtrack of his 1979 film The Birth of the Beatles, directed by Richard Marquand (Return of the Jedi). Expect full-scale productions of such classics as "Come Together" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." In other words, anticipate greatness.

One of the things I love about writing promotional pieces like this is I come across interesting trivia about the artists in question. Sometimes they fit into the article; sometimes not. This factoid isn't all that relevant, but it is so juicy so I have no choice but to throw it in anyway. (It's my Volcano preview; I can do what I want. Consider it my contribution to the font of public knowledge.) Back in 1977, Dr. Carl Sagan and his then partner, later wife, Ann Druyan, hit on the idea of attaching a golden LP record to the Voyager spacecraft. With only six weeks to complete the task, the NASA team was understandably frantic. Among the pieces of music they sought to include was "Here Comes the Sun." The Beatles themselves were all for it. Their label, EMI, unfortunately, owned the rights and nixed the idea on grounds of copyright infringement. Sorry, V'ger. No Beatles for you.

RAIN: A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, $29-$85, 253.591.5890

Filed under: Music, Tacoma,

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