Tiny Telephone was opened in September of 1997 to provide affordable hi-fi recording to San Francisco’s independent music community. We have three wonderful studios to work in. My name is John Vanderslice, I’m a songwriter, touring musician, and producer. I own and manage the studios and am happy to help guide anyone through the confusing (and thrilling) process of record making.
Antonia Bennett was the first act of the night. As the daughter of Tony Bennett, Ms. Bennett’s stage presence is captivating. The way she moves to whatever song she is singing draws you in like a fish towards a shiny lure. There is that Bennett influence to be sure, but she has her own swagger and style that is more sultry and alluring. Before you know it, you’re hooked, and then she hits you with a long, smooth, powerful note. It was a special treat to see her perform before her father.
Next up was Tony Bennett. He strode onto stage and the place went wild… I mean, berserk. His arms outstretched, his hair perfect, his gleaming suit with the red pocket square; immaculate. It was Tony Bennett! He hadn’t even started singing yet, but we all knew, this is a star. The grand scale of the Davies Symphony Hall seemed to shrink down to the size of a small jazz club in North Beach back in the day. The whole stage was lit up, but Mr. Bennett shone like a beacon, dimming the rest of the room.
I am writing this review while the event is still going on (June 23, 2017). My overall review is that you should definitely go see it! (June 30 and July 1, 2017)
First of all, I’m impressed with how many people got dressed up in period costume for this event. Well done. I don’t have 1800’s clothes, but I wore a tuxedo with a long coat and a nice black and white striped tie. You don’t have to get up in your getup, but it was nice that there were many people who did. I will admit, that now, I want an 1800’s outfit for sure. [Historical Emporium]
I have a car and I drove myself to the event. Traffic getting from San Francisco to Alameda was minimal. It took me 35 minutes. There is a HUGE parking lot right in front of the tent. You will see the tent. It is also huge.
The location is not the greatest. I think if it had been in Golden Gate Park or something a little less influenced by the 20th century, it may have leant more to the illusion. Those Naval airstrips were not there in the 1800’s. They are old, but they’re not that old. The old saloon outside is a nice touch. If they had come out to serve us drinks in it, that would have been superb. I’m sure that is because of liquor laws or some other city ordinance. I sat on a chair on the porch when I arrived and talked to some very nice guests. Everyone was in the mood to see an interesting show, that is not in dispute. The anticipation was palpable. We had no idea what to expect. I actually expected it to suck. Boy, was I wrong!
The tent is impressive. I have no idea how tall it is, but it is tall. There is a whole world inside. Around the inner walls are art galleries with fantastic painting and photography for sale. There are little seating areas where one may lounge. The bar is located back there as well. Clockwise from the entrance was a platform with a bandstand, the stage, and a building with doors along the top floor that made up the brothel known as The Soiled Dove.
The first band, Cosa Nostra, plays on the stage until people get their drinks from the bar in the back and get settled into their seats. You can choose to sit anywhere and the servers help you find a good spot. The servers are also the performers and they are all in character.
The next band, Jazz Mafia is phenomenal. I appreciate good jazz and those guys are tight as a tick. And I mean that in a good way. If you believe Jelly Roll Morton who is quoted as the inventor of Jazz in 1902, the periodness is sort of weird at first, but you get over it. The original score to the entire show lends itself to jazz and jazz is related to Dixieland and Dixieland is related to Ragtime and Ragtime was definitely a thing during the Gold Rush, so let’s let it slide for the sake of a really entertaining and rollicking good time. The Lady Gaga, Bad Romance cover was very Westworld-esc. I’m not sure, but I think I was actually craving some actual ragtime. A creative interpretation of the Entertainer might not have hurt. The keyboardist could definitely handle that.
The circus-type acts in the show are like watching America’s Got Talent on Steroids, with a San Francisco Gold Rush theme IN San Francisco. Sorry, Simon. Maybe if you see AGT in person, it makes all the difference. At The Soiled Dove, watching someone fall from 100 feet above your head, end-over-end, suspended only by a piece of fabric is much more impressive in person than it is watching it on TV in the comfort of your living room. If they go “splat”, they will do it live in front of you. And they perform all around you. They are not just on the stage. They are on the sides and suspended in the air. Events take place at the bar behind you. Cowboy Girl the sharpshooter deserves a special mention, as do all the people she shot at (or at balloons that were in close proximity).
If I had not been sitting at the table, I would have missed out on the meal. And oh, what a meal it was. I’m a carnivore, so I had the beef. Emma Nation (get it?) comes out and describes each course in the dinner is not joking around when she describes how they must have cooked that meat for a very long time, because it was delicious. The salad and desert were excellent as well. Work of Art catering did an amazing job.
Monarch did an excellent job of keeping bar. At these types of events, the bar is pretty crucial. The drinks are pre-mixed by the bar and they are all fantastic. I sampled a few. They have beer too, of which I did not partake.
I won’t go into too much detail on the acts. I already talked about the band; phenomenal. The acrobats were amazing. The synchronicity between the dancers, acrobats, and aerialists was perfection itself. The strength, poise, grace, beauty, musicality, and shear athleticism of the aerialists and dancers was a sight to behold; male or female. As they spun above my head, the aerialists looked like they were having the time of their lives and it was infectious. They looked as if they would sprout wings and fly right out of the tent.
I would not want to mess with any of the women on that stage. They are strong!
Oh, and Mz. K. That’s all I gotta say. You have to go see her for yourself to know what I’m talking about.
The costumes are incredible. And there are so many costumes! If you like period costumes, that alone is a reason to go see The Soiled Dove. The sets are also amazing, solid, and accurate to the period.
The actors are always in character. Both Happy Jack (the first main character) and Vegas Trip (the main EmCee) do an excellent job of narrating and keeping the story moving along. Happy Jack is apparently based on a historical figure from the Barbary Coast; Happy Jack Harrington. Pretty much everything that happens to him in the show happened in real life, so pay attention.
All of the actors’ banter (written and improvised) was on constant display. The show is also musical and the actors can also sing. Every little micro-interaction (and they are going on all around, all the time) is captivating. So much fun to watch!
With any live performance, something always goes wrong. Katy Stephan’s microphone didn’t work at first, but the excellent crew resolved it in a matter of minutes and she carried on. I will say that Katy’s piano could have been mic’ed. It was a little hard to hear. Ahhh… Mz. K.
Speaking of Mz K, I was curious how, in this day and age, they would handle the debauchery. There was nothing weird or awkward about any of it. The people performing are beautiful (as I have already said), but they are real. They are right there in front of you. You can talk to them. If you want to eat or drink, you HAVE to talk to them. They are not objects. And they are talented. So the audience expressed such a high level of respect toward the performers that obliterated any weird creepy feelings that may otherwise have been exhibited. It was fun! Go see it!
All Photos by Jon Bauer
Vau de Vire Society presents … A circus-infused dinner theatre set in a reincarnation of Barbary Coast’s red light district.
From the co-creators of the world renowned Edwardian Ball, Phantasm Halloween, Lagunitas Beer Circus, New Bohemia NYE and a decade of San Francisco’s most creatively outrageous nightlife events, comes an immersive, circus-infused, dinner-theater experience that will titillate your every sense. After the first and second runs of sold out shows in 2014, 2015 & 2016, The Soiled Dove returns on June 9th (with shows every Friday and Saturday through July 1st) to the shore on the bay at The Point Alameda … under the Big Top Tent – a massive 12,000 sq. ft. circus tent acquired from the countryside of Tortona, Italy.
Live musical accompaniment and arrangements will be provided by the famed Jazz Mafia, the sounds of Cosa Nostra Strings featuring Shaina Evoniuk on violin plus solo pianist Katy Stephan.
article by Meaghan Alfonso for ArtsEarth
The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts is a non-profit organization that tries to create social and civic impact using multimedia arts. The artists design and create projects to benefit society using digital tools. In hosting events, such as the Gray Area Festival, international artists attempt to understand the world and try to educate us through different platforms.
The exhibition opening showed us a collection of interactive pieces that exercised the brain. Through each interactive experience, you were taken into a digital world that augmented your senses. Each experience was different, but greatly impacting. In this fast-paced world with virtual reality taking off like a rocket, these artists manipulated the 3D world using the VR platform as an educational structure.
Hyphen Labs’ NSAF showed us a virtual reality world that, explores “alternative content through tangible products, new worlds and 3D landscapes, and scientific research, in order to inform and change the way we depict black women in society, culture, and the future.” Most of us have all seen how virtual reality works. You put on these goggles that close off any perspective of the outside world and it “teleports” you into a new dimension. Through this VR space, seeing the 3D world from the goggles, as opposed to watching someone play from the television screen, is a whole other ball game. You start out sitting on a chair, as you are in the outside world, and you are some-what familiar with the environment. You see a chair, a mirror, and a woman—you are in a salon. She starts talking to you and then suddenly you are drawn into the 3D world. The environment changes, taking you to a dream-like world full of gigantic architectural structures. Overall, Hyphen Labs takes you on a journey that provides a unique thinking of future involvements in our society.
What is interesting about the digital world is that you can create anything you desire, whether it’s to help society’s future or society’s present, in terms of social interaction. There are social dating sites and ways to find a significant other through technology. There are also social clubs, where people of similar interests converse through social media. But in Angela Washko’s dating simulator called “The Game”, she experiments through a different perspective that raises the discussion of feminism in everyday situations. This use of a game simulation grows awareness among society about how women are literally treated as objects. I find this project is an ingenious way for people to explore the social behaviors while being pressed into complicated situations. The game’s tone and color creates a mood that is slightly dark and uncomfortable, but I feel that it’s essential.
Inspiration was greatly spread throughout the exhibit and knowledge was taken. Experimenting with sound, media, and virtually through any technological platform is necessary to better understand the world we live in. All of these artists have created interactive pieces, so that we can subconsciously absorb how they view certain pieces of life. Even if it is abstract as Memo Akten’s Equilibrium. How to play? “Touch the screen, disturb the balance, and watch the system fall into chaos. Then wait for it to settle and reconfigure, self-organize to form a new arrangement, while it searches for a new balance, a new harmony, a new temporary equilibrium.” As my finger swiped to disturb this balance and cultivate chaos my mind eventually wanted to stop it and find some sort of peace, then I watched the lights slowly relax. This concept can apply to various things such as politics, climate, or social development. Akten’s hypnotizing piece is an effective way to show how life isn’t always stable. There is eventually going to be chaos, but life’s events can always change it back and find balance.
Overall, the artists provided us with insight on how the brain can work in certain situations. In comparison, one may have been more abstract than the other yet they all had a purpose. Whether it was Hyphen Lab’s digital world called NSAF or Memo Akten’s Equilibrium, they all created an equal involvement in educating society. I cannot wait what next year’s artists have in store!
article by Meaghan Alfonso for ArtsEarth
“GLAS Animation (GLobal Animation Syndicate) is a non-profit organization run by animators for animators.” The festival takes place every year in Berkeley, California and unites the animation community around the Bay Area. At this weekend long festival, there are many showings and events you can attend. They have animated shorts competitions, workshops, and meet-and-greets. Big-named studios, such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, join the festival as well. It is a creative, fun-filled weekend full of animation gods and geeks. As an animator myself, I took one look at the festival schedule and I cried a little inside knowing that I wasn’t able to make certain shows. But enough about me! It is a great opportunity to attend if you are an animator, or just an appreciator of art. GLAS also does amazing things for independent animators and artists, such as providing grants! The GLAS festival is ultimately a wonderful place to network and experience different animation genres.
I attended the last day of the festival, which was a Sunday, and caught a couple events. I first watched the artwork of Mathieu Labaye and Camera-etc. Camera-ect is a non-profit Belgian workshop where animation professionals help children, teens, and adults make animated shorts. I was lucky to catch some of Labaye’s reel of animated shorts that were conceptually stunning. “Le Labyrinthe” is one of the shorts that genuinely grabbed my attention. I wasn’t sure if the film caught my eye because it was rotoscoped, or if the sound and creepiness of it all made me feel likably a certain way. There are parts that you can relate to as a person, such as being bored in a room alone. But the film takes place in a jail cell, which would probably make a person go crazy. Labaye shows how a person’s mind might be when you are stuck in a cell for a long period of time. The film starts off with a drawing of a labyrinth that resembles the shape of a brain. It then cuts to the main character (a man), who is stuck in this cell. The film is rendered in black and white, which added a more dramatic feel than it already had. This film also displays the feeling of where the mind drifts when it is bored. I feel that most of Labaye’s films get you sucked into this hypnosis, and transports you into his mind. There is a great deal of meaning and story behind his work.
After the remarkable work of Mathieu Labaye came Brad Bird, who joined The GLAS Animation Festival for a Q&A. Some people may know Bird as a screenwriter, animator, or producer. To most, he is known as the director to highly acclaimed animated films such as ‘The Iron Giant’ and ‘Ratatouille’. And, if you didn’t already know, he was the voice actor for Edna Mode in ‘The Incredibles’(another movie he also directed, by the way). But if he isn’t incredible himself already, you will scream when you find out that Brad started training as an animator at 14 years old under Milt Kahl, one of Disney’s Nine Old Men. If you ever get to meet Brad Bird in person, he will not disappoint you. He is as entertaining as his movies, and that’s a fact. His humorous personality just goes to show that he is perfect for animation and film, and I would be sad if he didn’t do anything but. Bird made the audience laugh so many times that I thought I was watching a comedy stand up, but he is not all just laughs and giggles. He is a successful director who makes great movies that we all love and appreciate.
From Mathieu Labaye’s work to meeting Brad Bird, It was an honor to have been in such a creative atmosphere. Every year the GLAS Animation Festival has a great amount of different events to attend. You won’t want to miss it next year, in 2018!
article by Connor Behrens for ArtsEarth
Director Bill Condon’s latest film is a romantic fantasy musical film based on the 1991 animated classic, “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Beauty and the Beast” retells the classic story of Belle, an insightful, intelligent and strong young woman who is captured by the monstrous Beast and held captive in his intimidating castle. Despite Belle’s initial fears, she slowly helps and becomes friends with the castle’s cursed staff and learns to look past the Beast’s appearance to discover the soul and emotion that dwells deep within his buried heart.
“Beauty and the Beast” continues Disney’s latest trend of releasing live-action remakes of their animated classics. The film follows in the footsteps of last year’s “The Jungle Book” and 2015’s “Cinderella.” For the most part, “Beauty and the Beast” is a fine retelling of the animated film that spawned a Broadway musical and numerous awards.
The film’s chief asset is its faithfulness to the 1991 original. “Beauty and the Beast” succeeds because it realizes the strengths of the original and plays off those strengths. Director Bill Condon revitalizes the iconic musical numbers and spellbinding visuals from the animated original and focuses on the alluring nature of the story.
The story in this modern retelling is not changed dramatically for its live-action medium. Belle discovers the true nature of the Beast, falls in love and lives happily ever after. The film’s enjoyment is not due to the nature of the story, but the road travelled. Condon makes sure to overtly convey the film’s tone and themes in a lighthearted nature with a magical lens.
What helps the dreamlike nature of “Beauty and the Beast” is the cast. Emma Watson naturally fits the independent role of Belle. Watson takes what she’s learned since her early days from the “Harry Potter” franchise and creates a performance that’s wide-eyed and innocent. She portrays the character’s heart with finesse and makes the audience care about her feelings for the Beast by the epic finale.
Speaking of the Beast, Dan Stevens has a hard job of delivering his character mostly through visual effects. Stevens is featured in the beginning and ending, but the majority of his performance is through a CGI creation. Stevens manages to create an emphatic and ultimately charming representation of the Beast. Watson and Stevens are fine together, creating an adequate and lovable duo by the film’s third act.
For all the spectacle and faithfulness to the original, “Beauty and the Beast” does faintly feel safe in terms of implementation. Yes, changes are made to the story (LaFou is made gay), but the film’s story still feels traditional. Likewise, audiences witnessed groundbreaking motion capture in last year’s “The Jungle Book.” And while Stevens’ motion capture is convincing, it’s nothing that exceedingly strives to be innovative in its execution.
Overall, “Beauty and the Beast” is a more than satisfactory retelling of the animated classic that mixes mythical visuals with a charismatic tone that’s sure to delight fans. The film will certainly continue Disney’s trend of live-action remakes. “The Little Mermaid” should be interesting.
article & photos by Meaghan Alfonso for ArtsEarth
One of Japan’s greatest animation directors, Hayao Miyazaki, has been an international inspiration. As Co-Founder of Studio Ghibli, his career has spanned for over five decades as this masterful storyteller. From “Kiki’s Delivery Service” to “Spirited Away”, his movies have touched so many hearts. He is what they call, the “Japanese” Walt Disney.
I have visited the Spoke Art Gallery in San Francisco a few times, because my younger sister’s dorm was right next to it. When I found out that Spoke Art is having a tribute to Miyazaki and his films, I was super excited! Might I say though, I did not expect what was going to happen the day of opening reception. Underestimating how many fans would be there, let alone on a Saturday night, I wasn’t able to see the show. The number of people lined up to see the artwork was mind-blowing. The line literally went around the entire block! It would have taken hours until I would finally get to see the show. So sadly, I had to wait until Tuesday when they were opened up again. But, it was well worth the wait!
Spoke Art has over fifty artists from around the world that are contributing to the show. They had paintings, sculptures, and prints of each artist’ interpretation of Miyazaki’s stories and characters. I loved all of the different styles that contributed, especially the adorable vinyl toys by Zard Apuya. Every single “munny” doll was a tribute to one of Miyazaki’s films. The collection of all the Miyazaki inspired Japanese food that he placed in this “bento box” was so creative! The little sculptures were simple, yet together they all looked deliciously good enough to eat. My favorite: The “Miya-zuki Buns & Matcha Shaved Iced”. I now wish they had a restaurant that sold these cleverly named treats. Another exciting part of the show was the Susuwatari dressed walls, which ran across the door hinges and corners.
I don’t want to spoil the rest of the show for you, but the event is a definite must see! All of the pieces will definitely make you smile and feel nostalgic. There was a great amount of talent on the walls, and leaving the gallery made me want to watch all of Miyazaki’s films.