John Steinbeck's words about the Salinas Valley, central coast and Monterey Bay fix in you a place and feeling.
A pending release of Americana folk storytelling puts music to Steinbeck's literature. Characters, stories and settings are set alight by the music of Larry Hosford and the words spoken by biographical dramatist Taelen Thomas.
The Steinbeck Country recording and release is the doing of Dino Airali, who heard Hosford's music many years ago.
Hosford is a Salinas native who's been in the Santa Cruz music scene for decades.Read about him here. His sound is native to this part of California, western country with a honky tonk or roadhouse vibe. His pieces are drawn from the author's pallet. About Salinas, The Red Pony, Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Tortilla Flat, About Ed Ricketts and Fremont's Peak are part of the 21 pieces on the CD.
Gosford's telling and his music plus the dramatic words of Thomas make this a rich and one of a kind release. Thomas interprets with what passes as an authentic take. Link to his bio here.
Airali a veteran music producer and promoter with a rich professional history has a great ear and eye for talent. He wanted to do this project years ago, but legal and estate fights among Thom Steinbeck and his father's wife's heirs was tangled and created roadblocks. Now it moves forward.
Hearing Steinbeck woven into the authentic music of Hosford is special. I wish the team well. If you're interested in knowing more contact Dino Airali at PO Box 213, Cambria, Ca 93428
More than 40 years ago Tom Alvarez was the first "theater person" friend we had. Tom, fresh from anti war politics in Washington and a tour in stage companies, was a television producer and breaking barriers. He was an artistic provocateur as well. His resume is impressive. Full disclosure, Tom was my co-producer on an Emmy Winning and groundbreaking documentary James Dean and Me.
Now, when a lot of boomers are thinking about kicking back, Tom is touting what promises to be an exciting new production, Calder, the Musical.
It was the dominant hit at this summer's Indy Fringe Festival. You can sneak peak and hear from Tom and his production partner here. What is particularly nice in their appeal is that Calder, The Musical, explores the artist's commitment to a world without evil. As Tom and Dustin say
"in a world filled with discord, violence and war-art has the power to inspire peace, hope and harmony."
This is another creative venture that deserves a good break.
Birth of A Nation is a tough film but important as well.
If your history fails you, Nat Turner was a Bible reading young slave boy who grew into a preacher. He will be remembered however as the leader of an 1831 bloody slave insurrection in Virginia. It did not end well, but it is etched in our soiled American history. Director writer Nate Parker's premise is that slave uprising birthed or helped to give rise the abolitionist movement and eventually the black struggle for equality and freedom.
Birth of A Nation won the Audience and the Grand Jury Awards at the Sundance Film festival. It is an upclose look at the brutal reality of slavery and the inexcusable attitude of whites. It was wrong, but it persisted and the ignorance of the white race is apparent and well portrayed. Parker powerfully and charismatically plays the role of Turner, Arnie Hammer is excellent as Turner's master, Samuel Turner. Penelope Ann Miller is brilliant in her portrayal of a sympathetic white woman who saw hope in young Nat but was powerless against the male dominated white slave owners. Gabrielle Union and Aja Naomi King extraordinarily portray abused slave women who none the less maintain dignity and human decency in the face of degenerate white behavior.
Deepwater Horizon is a disaster film, but it is more than than as it also tells history and pays tribute to men and women lost in the 2010 oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
Director Peter Berg is a skilled story teller and he gets a boost from an excellent cast and the truth. Truth first- BP's greed and irresponsibility were behind a series of bad decisions that resulted in the explosion that killed 11 workers and the worst oil spill in history. I thought one of Berg's crowning achievements was the scene where a role call is taken after the rig has been evacuated. Those are the names of the real victims. Then later in the credits, you see those men and women in photographs from their lives.
The cast includes John Malkovich as BP's Donald Vidrine. Kurt Russell as the rig master Jimmy Harrell, Mark Wahlberg as Mike Williams who performed heroically in reality. Kate Hudson is convincing as Williams wife, unsure of his fate. Gina Rodriguez and Dylan O'Brien are very good as crew mates.
The truth underlying this disaster makes it more than just special effects which are overwhelming, especially the sound. There were a couple of times I felt like ducking when bolts were blown loose. The sound effects deserve an Oscar nomination. This is a big budget film and meant to thrill, but it also tells history and portrays what was real valor. People with a technological or engineering interest will also find this film rich.
See you down the trail.