Jan 21

Gritty Art: THE DEVIL’S MUSIC – THE LIFE AND BLUES OF BESSIE SMITH

 Photo by John Quilty.

Photo by John Quilty.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Angelo Parra
Concept, Musical Staging, and Direction by Joe Brancato

January 9th – February 2nd, 2014
Lowell, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) Do you know the blues?  I mean really know the blues?

I’m not talking about some wannabe pop singer appropriating the blues to make the crowd gasp on American Idol.  I’m not talking about the rock n’ roll hybrid blues that the Rolling Stones used to distance themselves from the Beatles.  I’m talking the unsanitized blues, rife with onion-skin-thin innuendo about graphic sex and domestic violence.  It’s raw and splintered music, the kind where you can taste hunger and oppression and yet you laugh so you don’t cry. Continue reading

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Mar 22

‘Ma Rainey’ Sings the Music of the Soul

Yvette Freeman and Corey Allen in August Wilson’s MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM. March 9 – April 8, 2012 at the BU Theatre. huntingtontheatre.org. Photo: T. Charles Erickson.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson, Huntington Theatre Company, 3/9/12-4/8/12, http://www.huntingtontheatre.org/season/production.aspx?id=10262&src=t.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) Music breathes and pulses as each note is played.  The blues provide a voice for the inexpressible feelings of the human experience.  The blues celebrate the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of life in its entirety; it is neither surprising that the blues came out of the African American spiritual tradition, nor that soul, r&b, and hip-hop were derived from the blues and at the core of the best is the heart and soul of the artist.  What happens when that soul is taken away?  Can the heart survive?

This question permeates the existence of each of the characters in August Wilson’s play Ma Rainey’s Black BottomContinue reading

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