The Hampton Roads Show

The Last Bison’s Gathering

November 21st, 2014 at 10:52 am by under THRS Live Music

LASTBISONGATHERING

It’s the time of year where family and friends get together for a feast, football and good times.  It’s also the time for what’s becoming a new tradition:  The Last Bison’s Gathering.

Now in it’s third year, The Last Bison will takeover The NorVa Saturday, November 29 for an evening of good music and good will.  Presented by 96X, The Gathering is a musical fundraiser for The Foodbank of Southeastern Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore that will feature The Last Bison along with special guests Esbern Snare and Swear and Shake.  Each concert goer should bring a non-perishable food item for The Foodbank.  You can also make a contribution online at this link.  This is an important cause as The Foodbank provides canned, fresh, frozen goods to thousands of individuals and this time is a time when The Foodbank runs low of items in their pantry.  Recently, The Last Bison held a volunteer night there where the band and fans sorted 4000 lbs of food and packaged over 300 backpacks with food to distribute as part of The Foodbank’s BackPack Program.

The Last Bison just got back from their east coast tour in support of their latest record, VA.  The record is simply superb as well as their current live show.  They have added a drum kit and Amos slaps on the electric bass – where it adds a great dynamic to their folkestral tunes of Quill that  we love.  I saw their show in Philadelphia last month and it was nothing short of excellent.  Bottom Line: Go to the show!

Joining them are Esbern Snare, who appeared on Live Music Friday earlier this year and released their debut record, A Violent Peace.  A great band with an intense sound and song craftsmanship that doesn’t leave your head for awhile.  Also joining the bill is New York Americana band,  Swear and Shake.  This band is another great gem with very catchy tunes.  Check out their video below.

This is going to be a great night of music for a great cause.  Like I said before, go the show! You can get your tickets now by clicking on this link.

 


Candycorn and Pennywheels: A Conversation with Sponge

November 14th, 2014 at 2:53 pm by under THRS Live Music

The year was 1994 and five guys from Detroit took the US of A by storm with their debut record, Rotting Pinata.  Fast forward 20 years later and hits from that record, Plowed and Molly (16 Candles), are still getting radio airplay and the band is hitting the road to celebrate that amazing album.  The band will be in Virginia Beach Sunday at Shaka’s with Solemn Flight, 710 Oil and Revery.  I had the pleasure of talking to lead singer and founding member Vinnie Dombroski as they headed down to Greensboro, NC for the opening night of the tour.  ”We have and always had a bar band mentality, whether it’s playing a club or an arena, we want to interact with the crowd as much as possible and make them feel like they’re part of the band.”  This is exactly what you’ll hear in their latest release, Rotting Alive, which is a live record of Rotting Pinata performed in it’s entirety recorded earlier this year in Detroit.  ”We didn’t go out there intending to record an album but a friend had a mobile recorder and we had him record it and the energy the crowd had the night was so magical that we knew we had to put it out.”

Sunday night’s show at Shaka’s is one you can’t miss – not only because of Sponge – but you’re getting a lineup that has three of the best rock bands this area has and all for $15 ($20 at the door).  Solemn Flight, 710 Oil and Revery, who will be playing tonight at Hoss’ Deli in Newport News.  ”I’m really looking forward to this show.” 10522735_10152462282272957_1643161753532077190_n

 


Awards Season will feel the “Fury”

October 27th, 2014 at 4:51 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for the film FURY.

Fury opened last week but had such buzz — I had to check it out.  And I can see why it does!

The film’s namesake Fury — is the name of a World War II tank and the film tells the story of her crew battling Nazi forces near the end of the war.  This tank and crew has been in service since Africa three years before. Nearly every body in the tank, of course has a war name.   They consist of “Wardaddy” played by Brad Pitt, “Bible” played by Shia Lebeuff, “Gordo” played by Michael Pena, John Bernthall is Grady, and Norman — the new arrival and should-have-been-clerk-typist-now-a-gunner played by Logan Lerman.
They roll through battles and into country side and cities alike, and as they do, we learn what makes the tank tick, it’s limitations and the crews.
The middle of the film is among some of the tense and most true character development I’ve seen in a war film.  They take a break in a German city and Wardaddy takes a bath, enjoys the company of a lady and her cooking… and teaches a few lessons along the way… But this film is as brutal as they come. It’s practically a horror movie.  The realities of war will make you flinch — as they should.  The depiction of the aftermath of surviving a mean battle… makes you feel like you were there.

Brad Pitt as the Colonel is absolutely perfect.  His tension and build, softness and brutality are amazing to watch.  He reminds me a bit of the old school actors in a film that could have been made fifty years ago.  LeBeouf and Pena are stellar as well, and the green Norman played by Lerman gives just the thing we needed to see to make us understand where all these soldiers came from to get to where they are.  Award season will surely feel this FURY.  David Ayers directs with a steady and grim hand.  Nominations are coming for this director and Pitt for sure.

FOUR AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout.

Alive Inside documentary shows at the NARO

October 20th, 2014 at 3:31 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Alive Inside.

That’s right we are lucky that the Tidewater Arts Outreach is bringing this documentary to the NARO this Wednesday night for a special showing.  And I am lucky to have gotten to see it in advance so I could tell you about it.

Alive Inside: the Story of Music and Memory is an award-winning documentary that literally feels like a medical magic show.  As the film points out – five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia — many of them alone in nursing homes.

Over three years filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett follows social worker Dan Cohen capturing on camera the magic that seems to happen when music from a patient’s life is introduced to them via iPods and earphones..

We watch as songs from a patient’s past awaken memories and emotions that have been sleeping in the recesses of their minds for years, decades for some of them. Patients who are withdrawn, never speak or recognize anyone — suddenly — with earphones and a song from their past — look up and have a completely lucid conversation — relaying memories, singing every word of the song.  The film is shot so well.  As a good documentary should, it let’s the people being film breath in their space and cuts together the right scenes at the right times, intermixing memory-esque scenes from the past jarred free by the music we hear and see them react to at the same time.

Is this the answer, the cure? Probably not. Could it lead to something new in the industry and how we treat these patients? Hopefully.

It won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and I can see why.  It’s heart breaking and heart warming all at once.  It’s a commentary on dementia and Alzheimer’s and how we treat it.  If this is something close to you (and even if it’s not),  you’ll want to consider making time to see this remarkable film.

FOUR OUT OF FIVE COOKIES FOR ME

Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory
Special Showing in partnership with Tidewater Arts Outreach
Wednesday Night, October 22nd at 7:15
NARO Cinema – Norfolk
For Tickets & Information, Visit TidewaterArtsOutreach.org

Showing will also include a healthcare panel on arts programs like this in Hampton Roads.


You be THE JUDGE

October 20th, 2014 at 3:21 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for The Judge.

The Judge is another story of a scattered dysfunctional family brought together thanks to a death and the remaining members forced to deal with each other again.  The difference between This Is Where I Leave You — which we talked about a few weeks ago–  and The Judge is that there’s very little comedy and instead a lot of legal drama.

Robert Downey, Jr. stars as Hank, the son who left the small town and his family behind to become a big city lawyer. When his mother dies, he comes home to face the ghosts that have been chasing him in his difficult relationship with his father Judge Palmer (Robert Duvall).  Also in play are the other ghosts chasing Hank —the high school accident that ended the promising baseball career of Hank’s brother Glen (Vincent D’onofrio), the disability of his little brother Dale (jeremy Strong), and his high school girlfriend (Vera Farmiga).

But it’s really all about the father-son relationship.  Ultimately the Judge has to allow his son to defend him with the help of another local lawyer not up to the task (played by Dax Shepard) and against a great local lawyer — played by Billy Bob Thornton.

The screenplay is by Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque and it has so much crammed in you can barely keep it straight. It’s directed (a bit self-indulgently for me) by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers, Change Up and Shanghai Knights).

The acting is what’s worth seeing here.  I really enjoy Downey, Jr. so much better in real, challenging acting like we see in this film as opposed to donning the sarcasm and superhero suits (although he is what made me love Iron Man).  But Robert Duvall’s complete submission and commitment to this role was exceptional.  As a senior facing the loss of his love, his career, and fighting for his life  — he gives a spectacular performance.

It’s too long and there’s too much going on, but you have to be The Judge.

I couldn’t give it FOUR, and THREE seemed unfair to the amazing acting going on here.

THREE AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated R for language including some sexual references. 

Gone Girl stays in theaters

October 20th, 2014 at 3:14 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Gone Girl.
Gone Girl is the latest thriller from Oscar-nominated (Social Network, Curious Case of Benjamin Button)/Emmy-winning (House of Cards) director David Fincher.   It’s a love story gone wrong — a dysfunctional marriage of the highest caliber.

As things unfold we also get the back story of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike, Pride & Prejudice; Jack Reacher)– how they met, Amy’s childhood as the inspiration of her mother’s “Amazing Amy” children’s books, and their move  from New York to the heartland to take care of Nick’s ailing mother. Meanwhile back in the present — police are all over the evidence in Amy’s disappearance, the media is going crazy and with all of that going on — it doesn’t take long for suspicions to turn to Nick.  His own lies start to reveal themselves and paint him as a suspect to Detective Boney, played by Kim Dickens (Footloose, The Blind Side).

Nick and the in-laws turn to the media for help, which backfires on Nick. He becomes — as one news host said — “the most hated man in America”.  Desperate to prove he didn’t do anything, and on the advice of his sister Margo (Carrie Coon), he seeks the help of a star defense attorney named Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) and starts an investigation of his own.  He starts with a visit to old boyfriends of Amy’s — including Desi, played by Neil Patrick Harris.

As the clues to what happened begin to materialize, twists and turns keep coming. We’re getting the narrative from Nick at some points, and from Amy at others.  I’m not giving away the twists, but my mouth was hanging open on some of the turns the film takes.  There are apparently no surprises here if you happened to have read the novel (six million hard copies were sold before paperback!), because Flynn — who adapted it for the screen — stayed meticulously true to the novel, and, in my opinion, to a fault.  Flynn appears to me to have been uninterested in sacrificing parts of the book for the good of the film.

Affleck and Pike have great turns at their characters, but surprisingly to me — Tyler Perry had the performance of the film.  His understated short turn on camera was just what was needed.

Fincher with his dark and moody structure is gripping for 2 hours of the film, but it’s nearly two and a half hours long.  That’s about 20 minutes too long for my taste.  It could have — and should have — ended a bit earlier.

Nevertheless, Gone Girl will certainly be staying in the hunt for award nominations later this year — and given the numbers at the box office… it should be staying in the top ten for awhile.

FOUR OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language.


This Is Where I Leave You leaves much to be desired in a film

October 20th, 2014 at 2:34 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for This is Where I Leave You.

Based on the best-selling novel by Jonathan Tropper, This Is Where I Leave You is a drama/comedy with an all-star cast that seems ready for box office gold. The adult children of this dysfunctional (somewhat Jewish) family come together to bury their atheist father. ..Let the drama and hilarity begin!

Tina Fey is the not-so-happily married sister Wendy.  Judd (Jason Bateman) is the middle brother who found out his wife is cheating on him just before heading to the funeral.  Cory Stoll plays Paul, the brother who runs the family business.  And Adam Driver is Phillip, the baby of the family who still — despite being an adult — hasn’t really grown up yet.  I cannot forget to mention that Jane Fonda plays their mother Hillary – a psychologist who has shared all of their childhood secrets and her best-selling how-to books.  Imagine the surprise when the siblings learn their atheist father’s last wish is for them all to observe the Jewish tradition and sit Shiva.

This Is Where I Leave You is directed by Shawn Levy.  We know him from the Night at the Museum series fame and — then two polar opposites: Date Night — which was great — and The Internship — which was NOT.  The best thing about This Is Where I Leave You is the cast, which works sometimes and sometimes doesn’t.  Tina Fey’s and Justin Bateman’s characters are clearly the best defined, and the actors do a good job with them.  Bateman and Fey really click in their scenes together.

Jane Fonda lobbied for this role and the Oscar-winner even called for an audition.  I didn’t read the book, but I have to believe that the character in the book had to have been better written than the film version of Hillary.  She’s mostly relegated to sitcom-ish lines and, while she delivers for the most part, there are poorly written scenes that she seems to struggle through.

The biggest problem I had was that there are so many storylines running around it just becomes a bit of a mess, before finally working itself out.  It almost feels more like a first draft of a script than a final one.  The novelist Tropper adapted the book for the screen.  His first try at a screenplay.  And for me — it shows.

This Is Where I Leave You is somewhat entertaining while at the same time a bit boring.  I checked the time three times during the film — a film I was really looking forward to seeing.  Sometimes books are better left that way.

THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use.


No Good Deed not very good

October 20th, 2014 at 2:20 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for No Good Deed.

No Good Deed has SO much potential.  In fact, I mentioned it in the fall movie preview we did on Labor Day. With the Academy Award nominated acting talents on Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba — I was really looking forward to this one.

Elba plays Collin — a criminal serving time for manslaughter and suspected of killing five other women.  He escapes and goes looking for the girlfriend he hasn’t heard from while he’s been serving time the last five years. They have a conversation and a little more –that I won’t give away — and before you know it, he is crashing a stolen vehicle on a stormy, rainy night in the Atlanta suberbs.

Meanwhile — Terri (Henson’s character) — a former domestic violence prosecutor turned stay-at-home mom is alone with the kids for the weekend while her husband is on a golf weekend.  She is busy feeding and getting them settled and expecting her friend Meg (Leslie Bibb) for girl’s night. Ultimately she lets him in to wait for a tow truck and things go wrong almost immediately.

Surprisingly, Terri isn’t sensing many warning signs, and the ones she does pick up on she tends to ignore until it’s too late.  Her friend Meg is onto him and that’s not a good thing for her.

Elba uses much of his talent to conjure up this eerie sociopath.  He does a pretty good job despite a very lame script.  His southern accent drifts in and out though and that can be distracting.  Henson holds our attention and makes us very angry when she doesn’t do the things we feel she should be doing — again scripting problems.

Some things really made it feel more like a made-for-TV movie than a major box office thriller with starpower like Henson and Elba — a branch through the window at just the right moment among them. Sam Miller directs — he directed Elba in some episodes of the British TV series Luther.

SONY/ScreenGems canceled press screenings of No Good Deed at the last minute in advance of the release — they said to prevent the exposure of a major plot twist at the end of the film.  Not even the twist saved it for me.  On a sheerly entertaining level — I would give it a few more points, but despite the fact that it made me jump once, this film is a real waste of talent to me.

JUST THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, menace, terror, and for language.


The Last Bison Live In Philadelphia

October 20th, 2014 at 12:26 pm by under THRS Live Music

microphoneMy weekend are usually reserved for family time and time spent to re-energize from the work week – so this weekend I packed the family into the SUV and drove up Rt. 13 up to The City Of Brotherly Love.  Philadelphia is special to me because I lived there for several years in my youth and my love for many things came from that city – sports, music, attitude and soft pretzels – so I couldn’t think of a better city to see one of our favorite bands in.

The Last Bison are in the midst of a tour around the country in support of their new album, “VA” (Virginia), and after spending the last two nights in NYC and Conn., they made the trek down I-95 to Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live.  The cafe is two venues in one; a larger club setting downstairs and a more intimate cafe setting upstairs – where The Last Bison was to perform.

After dinner with the family at Nodding Head Brewery, I walked down Chestnut and across the Schuylkill River to 3025 Walnut St.  I was warmly greeted by Ben as soon as I walked in and he was excited about this evening’s show.  There were only 20 tickets remaining and they were all gone by the time they started.  Norwegian singer Monica Heldal opened the show with accompanying guitarist Oyvind Blomstorm  and set the tone for the night with her sweet bluesy voice and a great harmonic sound between hers and Oyvind’s guitar.

thelastbisonphillyAfter a 15 minute break, The Last Bison hit the stage.  The Philly crowd were eagerly awaiting this moment as it’s been a year since they last met.  The band didn’t disappoint and played 90 minute set consisting of a great mix of VA, Inheritance and Quill.  They even treated us to a couple of tunes that didn’t make ‘VA’ but said they would be on a future release “real soon”.  The ended their set with Every Time and with a healthy crowd participation of the “Ohh Whoa Ohh Whoa Ohh” after the chorus.  As they band exited stage left – the crowd filled the room with that chant to bring them back for an encore.  They closed out the evening with their Switzerland and it just left everyone wanting more.  Simply a fantastic show.

If you’ve never seen them before live then you must make it a priority to see them and if you have seen them before, then you must see them again.  Their sound is more refined then before especially with the added full drum kit and the addition of Amos playing an electric bass.

They will end this leg of the tour in at the NorVa for their annual Gathering Saturday, November 29.  Mark it on you calendar and make sure you get out there.


Nicole’s Notes: Great food, great event, great cause!

October 15th, 2014 at 9:42 pm by under News, Personalities, The Hampton Roads Show, Uncategorized

Another great year of food, fun, and an auction to benefit the March of Dimes. The Signature Chefs event was held Sunday, October 12 at the Founders Inn and Spa in Virginia Beach.

March Of Dimes Signature Chefs' dishes

March Of Dimes Signature Chefs’ dishes

Local chefs whipped up a variety of dishes and donated culinary and travel packages to the live auction.

Chris Reckling emceeing

Chris Reckling emceeing

Nicole and Chris Reckling Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Nicole and Chris Reckling
Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Chris Reckling, co-host of the Hampton Roads Show was the emcee. I’ve emceed this event for the past several years, but attended as a guest with my dad and sister. The March of Dimes did ask me to fulfill a favor and participate by introducing a special honoree.

Nicole introducing Brian Winfield. Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Nicole introducing Brian Winfield.
Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

I was honored to tell the guests about Brian Winfield. With the blessing of his lovely wife of 41 years, Carol, he has worked hard to volunteer and raise money for the organization.

Honoree and longtime volunteer Brian Winfield with family Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Honoree and longtime volunteer Brian Winfield with family
Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Honoree Brian Winfield speaking about his years of volunteering for the March of Dimes Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Honoree Brian Winfield speaking about his years of volunteering for the March of Dimes
Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Over the past three decades, Brian convinced people to participate in walks in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, volunteer and help raise funds for the organization so the research can continue to help premature babies and their mothers.

Honoree Brian Winfield speaking to guests Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

Honoree Brian Winfield speaking to guests
Photo from Wayne Pellenberg

He told the guests his healthy children and grandchildren inspired him to do his part to make sure other children stood a chance. Mr. Winfield’s family was there to cheer him on for this honor.

Guests at the March Of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction

Guests at the March Of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction

Susan Smith from the March of Dimes told me they raised $100,000!  Special recognition to Chef John Maclure from Tradewinds Restaurant in Virginia Beach for “Most Outstanding Presentation” and Chef Melinda Wilkins from Culinary Institute of Virginia won “Best Dessert”.

The food was great, the music was good and there was such a wonderful spirit in the air. It’s an event I always look forward to!

Nicole with Stephanie Cooke, Executive Producer of The Hampton Roads Show

Nicole with Stephanie Cooke, Executive Producer of The Hampton Roads Show

Chris Reckling and Nicole Livas

Chris Reckling and Nicole Livas

If you want to help the March of Dimes, check out their webpage for volunteer opportunities and to donate money.

(Special thanks to  Wayne Pellenberg, Neptune Video Creations LLC for the professional pictures from the night of the event.)