Interview: Randy Harrison Talks About His “Tommy” Experience [Berkshire on Stage]

July 18th, 2011, 3:30 pm by Sara
Randy Harrison in the Berkshire Theatre Festival production of "Tommy"

Randy Harrison in the Berkshire Theatre Festival production of "Tommy"

Actor Randy Harrison’s yearly sojourns to the bucolic hills of Western Massachusetts are major events not only for his many fans, but also for the residents of the Berkshires. The spectacular offerings of the region’s four major producing theatres attract legions of live theatre patrons from around the nation each year.

This summer, the Berkshire Theatre Groups superb rendition of the rock opera Tommy had everyone talking. Randy Harrison played the title role with true star power. (Link to my review)

While some poor souls are still fixated on his role as Justin in the Showtime series Queer as Folk, and some even imagine that Brian (Gale Harold) is still in his life, Harrison has moved far beyond that series. He continues to pursue his one and only great love, live theatre. Those who share his passion for it are perhaps the luckiest people around.

Click to read the rest of this story at Berkshire On Stage.


Cool Factor 10: Joe Barna

March 15th, 2011, 1:00 pm by Sara

Joe Barna

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on about Joe Barna, it’s that he’s driven. It’s all in the eyes, especially when he’s behind a drum kit backing up his band Sketches of Influence. I’ve described Barna as a combination of Tony Williams and Animal from “The Muppet Show,” mainly because when Barna’s eyes get Animal-big, you know something highly explosive is about to happen.

That said, how does a drummer whose unofficial motto used to be “This kit goes to 11” put together a disc like “Blowin’ it Out” – with no drum solos?

“Confidence and maturity,” he told me as we sat in the café at Borders in Clifton Park. “I don’t need people to stare at me any more. I don’t have to take my anger out on my musicians any more. The drums are there to create texture and feel. They’re not there to be heard unless someone’s playing something. I wrote it all, what more can I do? I’m a composer, not a drummer.”

It’s kind of a shocking statement coming from someone as closely-associated with a single instrument as Barna is. And the seriousness in his statements definitely belies his past image as someone who was as much about clowning on stage as he was about playing the gig.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cool Factor 10: Jim Barrett, Local Loyalist & Legend (Part 2)

January 13th, 2011, 1:00 pm by Sara

This is Part 2 of our profile and interview of Troy legend Jim Barrett. Click here to read Part 1.

(left) photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk and (right) photo by Al Goldberg

(left) photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk and (right) photo by Al Goldberg

I think you find the good in everything.

Maybe so. I guess I’m patient, and always look for the good in what I’m hearing. If I don’t like a band’s record, I’ll at least try to see them live before I make up my mind.

A lot of local performers in this region owe their careers to you.

That’s a nice thing to say, but to be honest, I’d like to think that I owe my career to them. When these bands or solo acts play my store, it’s still a thrill for me. For instance, recently a young band called the Mysteios. They’re so sincere, driven, great writers and very, very entertaining. I notice things…..I can see it in their eyes that they’re hungry: a certain kind of passion. Locally, live, there’s no one like Super 400… they’re incredible.

My favorite all-time musician – bar none – has always been Johnny Rabb. He’s like a savior to me. When this region was struggling…people playing disco with pink pants on and shiny shoes, Johnny was still playing goofy dive bars with great musicians. He took all the crap and never quit. He is the epitome of why this area is so rich in musical talent.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cool Factor 10: Jim Barrett, Local Loyalist & Legend (Part 1)

January 12th, 2011, 1:00 pm by Sara

Jim Barrett (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

Here’s Part 1 of our profile and interview of Troy legend Jim Barrett. We’ll publish the second half tomorrow.

River Street in Troy is a funky place: Its early 20th century buildings with their unique architecture, clothing and antique shops are the reason why so many filmmakers have used it for location scenes. If there’s a street that can be called ‘artsy,’ this is it. And if you’re hungry for music, there’s one place that’s a must see: The River Street Beat Shop (#197). Stepping into the venue is like being in a time capsule, possibly reminding one of London’s Soho district in the ’60s.

From the street, you’re immediately drawn in by the sights and sounds. On any given day you might hear rarities from Howlin’ Wolf to the Ramones to a new CD by local virtuoso Maria Zemantauski. Visually, there’s the psychedelic bric-a-brac, which is surrounded by stacks of vinyl ranging from the unusual to the unknown. This is augmented with rare original posters of the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Velvet Underground, ? and the Mysterians, the Clash, or behind the counter a rare Elvis or even better yet, AJ Weberman LP. It’s a veritable musical nirvana.

A booming voice bellows: “All vinyl is half price today.” Immediately followed by, “Hey, this just came in. Check it out, have you heard this ’67 bootleg of Cream? It’s unreal.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Cool Factor 10: The Art and Performances of C. Ryder Cooley

October 6th, 2010, 5:00 pm by Sara

Reconstruction. Exit Art, NYC. April 2007

C. Ryder Cooley: Reconstruction. Exit Art, NYC. April 2007

C. Ryder Cooley is a multidisciplary artist who focuses on issues of gender, animals, body and sustainability. Her haunting and ethereal works are reminicent of dreamlike fairy tales, combining the cool aesthetics of modern technology with a delicate, handmade touch.

We caught up with her recently and she graciously agreed to answer some of our questions:

You’re currently finishing up Animalia, an animation and book project with collaborator Bart Woodstrup based on your multimedia performance project. How is that going?

Read the rest of this entry »

Cool Factor 10: The Assemblages of Dennis Herbert

August 18th, 2010, 4:30 pm by Sara

Dennis Herbert: Box Assemblages

Dennis Herbert: Box Assemblages

Dennis Herbert has been making art assemblages from found materials for over 10 years. A self-trained artist, he lives in a church rectory in Hudson and spends his free time creating mysterious, dream-like boxes as well as free standing sculptures. His backyard garden overlooking the Hudson River is filled with wandering pathways that snake through and around large-scale sculptures and found objects.

Last fall, he converted his unused garage into an art gallery to showcase his works, offering them for sale to the public in a quest to free up more storage space. The Folk Art Gallery is open from 1-5pm on most Sundays (call ahead if you’re travelling a long distance) or by appointment.

Do you remember the first box you ever made?

Read the rest of this entry »

Cool Factor 10: The Photography of Sebastien Barre, Part 2

August 3rd, 2010, 4:02 pm by Sara

Moon Glow - Cambridge, NY

Moon Glow - Cambridge, NY

Here’s the second half of our interview with Nippertown photographer Sebastien Barre. (If you missed the first half, it’s here.)

You have a style that mixes strong compositions and a keen color sense with an almost tender approach to the subject. Is this something you consciously work towards?

I’m not sure, but thank you. To be honest I am really new to this and it is the first time somebody tells me I have a style. I do care about old places. We are just visitors, spending a bit of our lives within theirs walls. The buildings carry our memories for some time, and the memories of people before and after us. What’s not to respect? I think I have made progresses in composition but I am still too academic and should take more risks. A lot of photographers can be identified by the physical distance to their subjects. This can be a very conscious and artistic choice, or a consequence of using a specific kind of camera. I’m trying to work on this aspect and fight the urge to put everything in the frame, for example. There is a lot to gain by leaving a bit to the imagination. It is difficult with abandoned buildings because the scale is so large. I’m certainly tempted to show a lot. As far as color is concerned, it can get tricky since, as I mentioned earlier, I am colorblind. I have a good background in color theory and color management though and it helps me keep this minor issue under control. I don’t push the “vibrance” slider to 11 but I do like a healthy dose of contrast.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cool Factor 10: The Photography of Sebastien Barre, Part 1

August 2nd, 2010, 4:01 pm by Sara

Sebastien Barre (photo by Michael Roach)

Sebastien Barre (photo by Michael Roach)

Two years ago, Sebastien Barre decided that he wanted to be a better photographer. He bought a new camera, started shooting everything in sight, and began studying the results.

His studies have born fruit: earlier this summer, he had his first solo show at Uncommon Grounds in Albany, a solo exhibition of his explorations of abandoned urban spaces. Last month, he published “The Unnoticed,” a stunning coffee table book based on that same series of photographs. He’s tracked his photographic progress in Flickr sets and his new photoblog is chock-full of both eye-popping photos and gracious, generous photographic advice.

We caught up with him recently and he kindly agreed to answer our pesky questions. Here’s Part 1 of our interview. We’ll publish Part 2 tomorrow.

How long have you been shooting photos?

Not very long. I started around 2005 with a small Point&Shoot. I had great fun but by 2008 I felt I had outgrown this type of camera. I had a good sense of what I wanted to capture and what kind of gear would allow me to do so. I bought my first semi-pro camera in December that year. I checked its internals a few days ago and it appears I have taken about 32,000 photos with my favorite companion. I guess you can say I am committed at this point.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Cock'N'Bull RestaurantCartoonist John CaldwellCaffe LenaHolly & EvanJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysAdvertise on Nippertown!Artist Charles HaymesCapital District Habitat For Humanity