Jon Foreman | Spring and Summer EPs
The Fourth of July week seems to be an appropriate time to to praise a great American songwriter. With his Spring and Summer EPs, Jon Foreman has cemented himself as just that. We should add that the Swithfoot frontman is a brave songwriter, as some of the lyrics on these recordings will land him in Dutch with some of the Christian music community that has made him a star, and an exquisite craftsman.
Like on the first two EPs, Fall and Winter, Foreman is freed from any constraints or obligations the band format holds, and he uses that space to perfectly augment songs with what they need. I do not know if Foreman recorded these six-song sets sequentially, but the last two -- which have just been released on one CD, same as the first pair -- show growth over the intitial efforts.
The closest thing to Switchfoot is Summer's Resurrect Me, which sounds like Switchfoot gone to seed, in a good way -- a great little cacophony of clangy steely guitars over a steady4-4 beat. Seriously, it could slip into a Switchfoot set with no problem.
But there are numerous songs that couldn't, their string and wind accompaniments perfectly accenting the songs, but also making them distinctively Foreman's.
Foreman is also a much more blunt songwriter on his own. The rap on Switchfoot's songs have often been that they are brilliant, but so couched in metaphor and cleverness that the listener could easily miss the point -- and this is a point of concern to some who question Switchfoot's commitment to Christianity.
There is no missing the point here. Some faith-community listeners may wish Foreman was murkier when they hear Instead of a Show, a tune as incendiary as anything Derek Webb has written. In the song, Foreman lambastes the church for putting on shows while ignoring the hurting world around it.
Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stop up my ears when you're singing 'em
I hate all your show
Instead, let there be a flood of justice
Some will be angry with Foreman for saying it. Some will say it needed to be said. Either way, Foreman grows as a challenging songwriter. But lest anyone use Show to question Foreman's faith, these EPs have some of his most spiritual writing to date, such as Spring's Your Love is Strong and Summer's House of God, Forever, an interpretation of Psalm 23 that ranks with 24 as one of the loveliest things Foreman has written.
As far as we know, things are good in the Switchfoot camp. They released a track for the Prince Caspian soundtrack last month, and have a tour in the offing with Third Day and Jars of Clay. But this solo voice Foreman has started using is quite compelling. Let's hear more.
Concert alert: Hawk Nelson is in Winchester at 6 p.m. July 5. We'll have more on Hawk later this week, but click here to buy tickets.
Several of the contributors to our celebrity lists of '80s classics commented on their choices. While the Gutenberg edition of the paper has its space limitations, we're in the blogosphere, baby, where word counts are not an object. So, here are the lists from some of our pickers with a little elaboration. Yes, it goes a while, but let's get you started on '80s movies and see if you're overcome with brevity. After Chuck, we have Anne Deck, Brad Riddell and a list from Top Gun scribe Jack Epps, Jr., whose comments are featured in our '80s movies story.
Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox and the DeLorean in Back to the Future, which apparently has become a classic. Below: Tom Cruise in Top Gun, which reflected a positive attitude toward the military in the 1980s.
Tomorrow: Some Kentuckians with film and/or 80s connections weigh in on their 80s favorites.
It’s fun to have a chance to see a favorite film from our teens at The Kentucky Theatre this week, but it’s also a little jarring for us thirty- and forty-somethings to see our high school years now labeled as “classic.”
But those are the terms under which The Kentucky is showing Back to the Future on Wednesday as part of its Summer Classics series.
Is it really possible that this 23-year-old Michael J. Fox gem has attained a status similar to that of Gone With the Wind and Casablanca?
Shouldn’t we reach early retirement age, at least, before our youth is packed away in this kind of nostalgic box?
“Twenty years is plenty of time to look at something and determine whether it has stood the test of time, still holds up and has resonance today,” says Jack Epps Jr., chair of the Writing for Screen and Television program at the University of Southern California and writer of 1980s hits including Top Gun (1986) and The Secret of My Success (1987).
Montana Miller, assistant professor of popular culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, says that VH1’s I Love the ’80s and ’90s nostalgia series have morphed into I Love the New Millennium.
“They’re reminiscing about the decade before it’s even over,” says Miller, whose specialty is youth culture. “As one colleague commented, ‘There’s no nostalgia like new nostalgia.’ There are now no rules on what can be considered classic.”
So, maybe The Kentucky Theatre’s next move should be to book the 2004 “classic” Spider-Man 2.
But we’re talking ’80s, and as much as it pains my Class of ’86 heart to say it, Epps and Miller are right. Enough time has passed to step back and look at the movies of the 1980s, what they said and what stood up.
For the second consecutive year, Actors Guild of Lexington is presenting Shakespeare at Equus Run Vineyards. We went out June 21, the first night of summer, to soak up some of the flavor of the event. Click play to watch our slide show. There are two performances left this weekend.
For a larger version of this slide show, visit hlphoto.com.
Last weekend, the editors of Entertainment Weekly dropped their annual summer double issue and gave us a good two weeks of debating material.
Is Pulp Fiction really the best film of the last 25 years?
Does Amy Winehouse's year-old debut already deserve Top 10 classic status?
Public Enemy doesn't make the Top 50?
Yes, it's another set of lists. We say that with no derision, because hey, we're going to give you some lists on Sunday. Lists are fun, because they are always a matter of opinion, which means most everyone who reads one will have some modicum of disagreement with it.
EW's new lists are pretty ambitious: The New Classics is 1,000 of the best movies, TV shows, albums, books and other stuff over the past 25 years. My favorite list was actually the final one: Tech, where they named the, "top 25 innovations that changed entertainment."
Even there though, I'd argue against ranking the iPod at No. 4, below the DVD player, Napster and TiVo. Yes, the DVD is a cool advance in home video, but it still was just another method of delivering the videos in some tangible form. The iPod introduced the concept of owning a whole album without leaving your home, or even just picking and choosing the songs you want; singles, but you choose what's a single. It's the most radical change in the distribution of recorded music since the beginning of recorded music. How do you top that?
See, arguing it is almost inescapable.
Pulp Fiction, for me, was a good place to start. I've always considered it a bit overrated, over romanticized. Good movie, snappy dialog and engaging story structure, but not quite all that.
But if you want to argue towering influence, then its No. 1 seems a bit more legit. How many Pulp wannabes have we seen since 1994? Interestingly, Forrest Gump, the movie that beat Pulp Fiction for the Oscar for best picture, isn't even on EW's Top 100. (It's worth noting that EW has always been in love with Pulp.)
There are some nice picks on the movie list, such as Blue Velvet at No. 4, acknowledging the off-kilter brilliance of David Lynch, and giving Merchant Ivory's A Room with a View a nod at No. 24. The Helena Bonham Carter starmaker ushered in the chick-flick-as-literary-costume-drama era we're still in today.
The music list had several nice visionary choices, such as Madonna's self-titled 1983 album at No. 5, OutKast's Stankonia at No. 12, and R.E.M.'s Life's Rich Pageant at No. 32. All were great albums, and all set the stage for the artists' subsequent chart toppers -- Like a Virgin, Speakerboxx/The Love Below and Document, respectively. But then, somehow, Nirvana's Nevermind is left off in favor of MTV Unplugged. ?!
See, debating is sooooo easy. And fun.
I will also give EW props for trying to limit the number of entries from any one artist to one or two. I seem to remember years ago when Rolling Stone dropped a list of the best rock albums ever, and half the Top 10 was by The Beatles. But then, that list also gave this young rock fan a lot of listening to go do.
And this list from Entertainment Weekly seems to come at a perfect time, right before the laziest days of summer. I'd write more, but I've got some watching and listening to do.
P.S.: A very cool thing about the Top 50 stage list is that four of the shows -- Angels in America (No. 1), Elaine Stritch at Liberty (17), Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk (24) and Topdog/Underdog (49) were all directed by Frankfort's own George C. Wolf. People, we don't revere this guy enough.
Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristen Chenoweth as Glinda perform Defying Gravity, the green witch's anthem from Wicked, at the 2004 Tony Awards.
For 64 years, we knew how to take The Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West: She was the green-skinned meanie who wanted to kill sweet Dorothy, and her little dog, too. She commanded the Flying Monkeys and an iconic cackle. And she looked remarkably like mean old Elmira Gulch, who tried to take little Toto away from Dorothy, before the Kansas girl rode her tornado to Oz.
We hated the Wicked Witch of the West, and a remarkable performance by Margaret Hamilton only enhanced our loathing (ding).
What was that -- "loa-thing, pure and un-adulterated loa-thing."
It's that contempt anthem from Wicked, the hit Broadway musical that turned the whole Wizard of Oz story on its head.
Was the green witch actually wicked? Or was she merely suppressed by a conformist regime led by the Wizard himself? Were she and Glinda actually good friends whose bond was strained by the "good" witch's inability to break away from the establishment? Were they in fact in cahoots to stage the Wizard's banishment from Oz so Glinda could take over and Elphaba could escape with her true love, Fiyero, aka The Scarecrow?
Kinda casts a whole new light on the whole "Wicked" witch deal, eh?
Well, whether you adhere to the original story in L. Frank Baum's novel or the new take, based on Gregory Maguire's 1996 novel, there's no denying the 1939 film of The Wizard of Oz is a bona fide classic and well-worth seeing on a big screen. The transformation from black-and-white Kansas to color Oz is particularly stunning shown floor to ceiling, as it will be at 1:30 and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Kentucky Theatre. The Wizard is this week's entry in the Kentucky's Summer Classics series. Admission is $3.
Emma's rendition of Serious with Richard Blake, who plays Warner in Legally Blonde -- The Musical.
When Legally Blonde The Musical -- The Search for Elle Woods (aka, the most insanely long reality show title ever) began, Emma and Cassie S. were the two competitors that seemed to have the deepest convictions that they belonged in the race to succeed Laura Bell Bundy.
Emma claimed a Broadway bloodline of parents who met in the original Grease and went on to Broadway careers. Cassie's sense of entitlement came from . . . um . . .
Well, tonight, we found out why one was right and one was, well, delusional.
Emma was not having a good week. An advancing case of bronchitis gave her a horrid cough and was draining her energy. By the time she got to the vocal rehearsal, she couldn't get through a song without hacking. But, when Seth Rudestsky advised her to see a doctor, she'd already made the appointment. She got seen -- presumably got a prescription of some sorts, and was able to have the comeback audition of the week. Rhiannon was the judges' darling, but Emma, whose campaign had been foundering, was on with her timing and even her singing, all of which impressed the judges, who were aware of her condition.
Cassie S., on the other hand, had another clunky audition, but when she was put in the bottom three, again, she told the confessional camera, "This is ridiculous. I busted my ass the entire night. Come on, give me credit. I've never even seen the material before. Doesn't that say something for me."
Cassie, no one had seen the material, and at least four of your competitors gave auditions the judges loved. Frankly, I think they dragged Autumn into the casting office to scare her, sort of like they did with Emma last week. Maybe Autumn will respond similarly.
Anyway, in the casting office, when the judges suggested Cassie could be a swing or understudy, she protested she wanted to be the star. Well, she's not going to be on Legally Blonde, because the judges sent Cassie and her little 19-going-on-12 attitude packing.
Tonight actually had a twin killing -- the math of a July 21 finale told you this had to happen, sometime -- with Celina also being eliminated.
"Maybe Elle Woods isn't my part," she said, before entering the casting office.
Ah, self awareness. How refreshing.
George Carlin's legacy will be as a counter-culture figure who pushed boundaries along with folks like Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor, ushering in an era of topical humor that now finds a home in living rooms across the country with works like The Daily Show.
His essence though, was in tamer skits such as the comparison of football and baseball (the following from Baseball Almanac):
In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.
In baseball the
object is to go home!
Or, my personal favorites was A Place for My Stuff, where he observed that your stuff is stuff and other people's stuff is crap (sometimes, he used a different word).
In baseball the object is to go home!
That was Carlin's gift. He was an observer. Jerry Seinfeld was as much a inheritor of of his mantle as Jon Stewart or Bill Maher. Observation is one of the most basic elements of comedy. Carlin observed his life. He observed the world. He observed a lot of crap. And he spun all of that observation into routines that were side-splittingly funny, and he didn't worry a whole lot about who he offended along the way.
Carlin crossed the line on purpose.
Maybe most to his credit, he never stopped doing that. Yes, he mellowed with age. His Thomas the Tank Engine character was his loveliest creation. I remember watching it with one of my children and thinking, as many parents probably did, "I'm watching the guy who did the seven words you can't say on television on a kids show."
But he never took his eye off our world, and boiled it down into routines that would crack you up, make you think, maybe even offend you.
Carlin not only made us laugh, he made us observers, and he changed his art form. That's a legacy few people who pick up a microphone to tell jokes can claim.
Superchick | Rock What You Got
Superchick breaks the silence -- as they often do -- of a quiet couple of months for new releases in the Christian rock market with their fourth studio album, Rock What You Got.
If you've read my reviews before, you know I kind of revere album four as a signpost in the career of a band, where it should be settling into a professional act and revealing a mature voice after having made an initial splash and then having to crank out follow-ups in the midst of hardscrabble touring. It's usually the album that indicates where the act is going to go.
On the one hand, Superchick, fronted by Hoosier sisters Tricia and Melissa Brock, has definitely refined its sound. In a genre where a lot of sound-alike bands leave you scratching your head and saying, 'Who's that?' when you listen to the radio, the Brocks' vocals over the scrappy distortion of guitarists Dave Ghazarian and Melissa and buoyant, loopy rhythms of their backers is hard to mistake. But under producer, songwriter and keyboardist Max Hsu, that sound has not stagnated. Remaining distinctive, he has slipped in an orchestrated undercurrent that can be as simple as Breathe or grand as Stand in the Rain. And the band as a whole is tight and intriguing. Bassist Matt Dally had a great moment in Pure on the last album, Beauty from Pain, and everyone has moments such as that here.
But in content, Rock sometimes sounds stagnant. The title track, for instance, while catchy, still feels like a retread of Beauty from Pain's Anthem, or several other empowerment sing-alongs in the 'chick catalog. Not that we don't like the anthems, such as Hey Hey, which wins with its tempo and grit. There are several pain ballads that also sound repetitive, particularly Hold and Breathe in the middle of the album. Superchick mines a lot of despair and defiance for its material, but sometimes seems to have tunnel vision.
This is a band that definitely has identified a group it wants to speak to: teens, particularly girls feeling like outcasts and struggling with peer pressure. That's a worthy mission, but heading into album five, hopefully the group will explore a broader range of topics to address. Superchick has a lot going for it. It would be a shame to see the band founder because it's saying the same things over and over again.
Back on the road: Steven Curtis Chapman is set to resume touring next month, with 15 dates scheduled into September, including a string of August baseball game dates with the Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros. Chapman and his family suffered a tragedy last month when their 5-year-old adopted daughter Maria was killed in an accident at their home outside Nashville. Chapman has canceled all of his international dates.
New Tomlin: You may already be hearing Jesus Messiah, Chris Tomlin's new single, on radio, considering its being touted as the most-added multi-format song in Christian radio history. We now have a release date and title for the whole album: Hello Love drops on Sept. 2, and will include several tracks we heard on the latest Passion album, God of This City, including God of This City and Sing, Sing, Sing.
Live Casting Crowns: If you loved Casting Crowns' recent performances at Rupp Arena or Ichthus, you can take the experience home with The Altar and the Door Live CD and DVD, Aug. 19.
Edmund Desiato in a photo circa 1960. Below: Desiato and Adam Luckey in this year's production of Arcadia at Actors Guild of Lexington. Herald-Leader photo by Charles Bertram. Bottom: Desiato and an unidentified actor in Luv at the Nashville Barn Dinner Theatre in the late 1960s. More photos are on the continuation of this post.
It is one thing to read about Edmund Desiato, but a whole other thing to hear him talk about his career and upcoming production of Barrymore. Click the player below to hear an 8-minute excerpt from our interview with him:
Edmund Desiato will be the first person to tell you he’s no John Barrymore.
“I’m not an idiot,” Desiato says in a gravelly voice deepened by cigarettes and with a lingering New York accent. “There was only one John Barrymore.
“I’m doing what Christopher Plummer did,” Desiato says, referring to the actor who originally played the acting legend in William Luce’s play Barrymore. “Plummer played himself, with the characteristics of John Barrymore. That’s the way I am going to play it.”
Desiato is performing in Balagula Theatre’s production of Barrymore for three nights this week at Natasha’s Bistro. It’s a play that the well-traveled actor says he always has wanted to do. And while Desiato’s career does not have the national, historic status of Barrymore’s, it is one of the more colorful and diverse ones on the Lexington stage.
It started when Desiato, now 71, entered college in New York, and attempts to study classical guitar and violin didn’t work out.
“I was going to Fredonia State Teachers College in New York State,” Desiato says. “I got involved in a theater group because my faculty adviser was Jo Oatfield, who once upon a time had been an actor on the West End of London and in New York in the ’20s and ’30s. And she knew Fran Fuller, who was the director of the American Academy in New York.
“So she called me into her office one day and said, ‘Mr. Desiato, you did very well in the play’ — I played Priam in Tiger at the Gates, and she thought that was quite a feat for a young man — ‘and you’re doing rather well in English and in history. However, there are other subjects that you have to master when you are in college, and you’re not mastering them. So, I’ve called your father, and I’ve called Ms. Fuller, and you’re going to audition at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.”
With that decree, Desiato auditioned, and he was accepted.
“My father drives me in for the first day of classes for the new season, drops me off at the corner of 52nd and Broadway, reaches into his pocket, gives me a $100 bill and says, ‘You want to be an actor? Act.’”
And he did.
Tim Russert doing what he did best, interviewing the most powerful figures in American politics. Photo of Russert and President George W. Bush by White House photographer Eric Draper | AP. Below: Russert by Kathy Willens | AP.
I read that Tim Russert died while I was in the midst of covering a severe thunderstorm passing over the Ichthus Festival last Friday, so there was only a minute to take in the shock and the loss before getting back to work.
Over the last week, there's been plenty of time to absorb my own feelings and those of many others. The consensus, which I wholeheartedly agree with, is that we have lost a smart, objective and incisive voice in political journalism. He was instructive and challenging in an era where both pundits and viewers seem more and more inclined to scurry to their ideological corners.
As a self-proclaimed political junkie, I'll miss Russert, and it's a particularly cruel twist of fate to us and him that we lose him in the midst of the most historic Presidential election in most of our lifetimes.
But Russert's passing has also served as a wake-up call to me, and I would guess maybe others.
It's a call I made to my doctor.
Russert suffered from heart disease. No, this isn't the story of a middle-aged, overweight workaholic that didn't take care of himself. By most accounts, including NBC News medical editor Nancy Snyderman on the Today show, he was aware of what ailed him and he was treated for it, exercised and watched what he ate.
But either something was missed, or something was going to happen no matter what.
"This is a very sad statement that underscores the humbleness and the humility of medicine," Snyderman said on Today, "that as much as we want to do right by every patient, there are some things that slip by us, and perhaps this is the reminder to all of us that there's a higher order."
The saddest thing in Russert's passing is not the loss to politics or journalism. It's the loss to a family that by all accounts had a great husband, father and son. Russert had a life of professional accomplishment and family harmony so many of us aspire to, and we want those lives to be complete.
My father died of a heart attack when I was 12, and since then I have missed him more than anyone knows. I missed him at graduations, seeing me get my first job, my wedding, the births of my children, and I have simply missed his presence, love and counsel, though God has blessed me with a great father in-law and brother in-law.
This is not a family history I want to repeat, and reviewing the life of Russert, I know there are things he wanted to see and experience with his family. You think about the future when a little pain swells in your chest or you have a few minutes where a deep breath is out of your reach.
Maybe sometimes we are over reliant on celebrity tragedies as reminders to take care of ourselves when we know, for instance, millions of people die from heart disease every year, and we know what's going on inside ourselves.
But better that than no wake up call. So I am going to talk to my doctor about a few things maybe I have been ignoring too long. There will probably be others that will do the same, taking cues from Russert's passing. ABC News reports doctors are already seeing a Russert effect.
It's the little something we can gain from this tragic loss.
With Back to the Future (1985) set to be the offering at the Kentucky Theatre's Summer Classics series in just under two weeks, we want to ask you something: What other films of the 1980s should be considered classics?
Yes, it is hard for many of us in our late 30s and early 40s to fathom that films we saw in high school are now being regarded as "classic." But if they are, we might as well weigh in on what has stood the test of time.
Is it a big spectacle like E.T. (1982)?
Is it one of those John Hughes movies, like Pretty in Pink (1986)?
Or is it a highly regarded film not necessarily associated with the decade, like The Color Purple (1985)?
Could it be, like the Summer Classics Series shows us, it's a little bit of all those types of films. I want your thoughts, so please e-mail me or comment below and let's get a list going. I'll report back what I hear in a coupla weeks.
Above: Is 1986's Ferris Bueller's Day Off a classic?
Alex McCarty, 16, left and Kimmi Howard, 16, of Richmond, Ky., decided to take advantage of the muddy campsite after heavy rains from Friday night left tents destroyed and the grounds soggy at Ichthus in Wilmore, Ky., on June 14, 2008. Copyrighted photo by Emily Spence | staff.
We're going to close out our Ichthus 2008 coverage here with our third annual Ichthus Festival photo album. It chronicles one of the craziest Ichthus' I ever covered, not so much in the enormity of any individual challenges faced, but in the cumulative roller coaster of the week, from Monday night's severe thunderstorms to a perfect Saturday night for Casting Crowns. The album chronicles that, as we at the Herald-Leader had broader photo coverage of this Ichthus than any of the previous 38 festivals. Enjoy, and if sometime in the deep cold of winter, you want to revive some Wilmore memories, we'll have them here for you.
Also, check out Emily Spence's final Ichthus video, about the mud sliding, along with all of the other Ichthus videos.
And, and, and . . . read the Ichthus diary from Destination 7 and Jenna Youngs.
The first time you see Psycho, it terrifies and shocks you with certain scenes, particularly the iconic shower scene and the unveiling of Norman's mother.
On subsequent screenings, it creeps you out.
It's one of the many masterstrokes of this movie and Alfred Hitchcock's whole career that he made a movie that operates on one level when you first see it and other levels on subsequent showings. The images that resonated with me the first time I saw it were the clotting blood running down the shower drain and Mother's face -- a scene that nearly sent 11-year-old me through the wall when I first watched Psycho on our independent UHF station's regular Saturday night feature.
Now, I think of the scene of Norman eating dinner in the Bates Motel Office with all of the stuffed birds casting shadows on the ceiling. I think of the house on the hill that we don't enter until near the end, and we don't want to. I think of Janet Leigh's lonely, drowsy drive that ends at the Bates Motel.
And I think of this prophetic exchange between Norman and Marion:
Norman: We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?
Marion: Yes. Sometimes just one time can be enough.
Having seen it numerous times on the small screen, I'm anxious to see what the impact of these and other scenes will have in the theater when the Kentucky Theatre shows Psycho at 1:30 p.m. at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday as part of its summer classics series. Admission is $3.
Cassie S.'s Omigod You Guys audition. Was she she good? Did her fellow contestants bail on her?
I hope, hope, hope that if Cassie S. looks at herself on Legally Blonde The Musical -- The Search for Elle Woods in five to seven years, she will be mortified by how she acted on the show. In three episodes, she has emerged as a classic reality show villain -- narcissistic without reason and ready to throw her weight around without inhibition.
Already, the judges have opened themselves up to the question: Did they keep her around, just for the drama? (To be fair, on his wrap-up video, Seth Rudetsky pointed out on his video blog that in the scene where Cassie S. seems to be messing up, she is actually singing the harmony and nailing it.)
But the 18-year-old from L.A. is far from the only contestant to succeed Lexington's Laura Bell Bundy, who is soon leaving her Tony-nominated performance as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde -- The Musical, who has some growing up to do. Even 28-year-year old Selina seems to have come to this competition with a very candy-coated expectation of what Broadway would be like.
She expressed amazement that the contestants would be given something new to learn at the last minute, scoffed at being asked to be in the ensemble (did you miss that cliche about no small parts, just small actors?) and cried about being talked to like a child.
Lauren was "shocked," they would be singing while working out as was Rhiannon, who employed the trademark phrase, "Oh my God," over auditioning while riding stationary bikes.
Once again, this show is giving viewers a good look at what it takes to make it on Broadway and play a role as demanding as Elle Woods. They blanch at riding a stationary bike and singing, but as Elle, they will be executing demanding choreography while being expected to simultaneously belt out a showstopper.
Lauren won the prize of some spa treatment and took along Cassie S. to be nice. All of them could have used the chat with Orfeh, who told them:
~ The need to be ready to, "be rejected 10,000 times."
~ "Grow a thick skin."
~ "Be in great shape."
Interestingly, Lauren ended up in the bottom four and a breath away from elimination, along with Emma (who must check the know-it-all, above-it-all attitude) and Selina (who must check her mocker, rocker vibe). But it was Lindsey, who just didn't seem to be putting forth much effort, who got booted. She actually seemed to have one of the more mature attitudes, admitting in her departure comments she sort of phoned it in, and that wasn't good enough.
Maybe she can rub off on the others from a distance.
Natalie and Autumn are not getting much screen time, but they do seem to be moving through the competition well.
The real Elle, Laura Bell, was on the red carpet at the Tony Awards Sunday night, wearing black. It seemed like a bit of a statement she's moving on from Blonde's hot pink world as she told the Associated Press she wanted to wear, "anything other than pink. ... I was like, `Give me something black!'"
Pretty much immediately after she departs Blonde, Bundy will be back in Lexington with fellow actor and Search for Elle judge Paul Canaan for her Take it from the Top Broadway workshop.
Bundy also talked to the New York Post's Cindy Adams about the end of Blonde and her desire to come home: ""I'm finally done in Legally Blonde -- The Musical in five weeks. With pre-opening rehearsals, I've played Elle Woods in this show eight times a week since 2006. I'm done in. It's hard to keep your energy up. Sometimes I don't utter one word all day until I go onstage. My home's in Kentucky. I haven't seen my family in months. They've been here, but I can't spend meaningful time with them. All I want now is to go home. Go to the beach. Sleep. Let my mother feed me.
"I've lost so much weight my costumes are falling off, but nobody's fixing them because they're making new ones for my replacement next month. One bunny costume is so loose, the butt moves after I do."
Mike Hogan performed with the David Crowder Band Saturday night at the Ichthus Festival. Copyrighted photo by Rich Copley | LexGo. Below: Jonathan Chu performing with Todd Agnew in Mitchell, Neb. Photo from Chu's Myspace page. Bottom: John Porter of Mile7. Photo from Mile7's website.
The numerous Guitar Hero controllers slung at the Ichthus Festival reinforce the six-string's dominance in rock and at Ichthus. But there was a little four-string instrument that also had a subtle, but noteworthy presence in Wilmore this weekend: the violin.
It started with John Porter of Battle of the Bands champion Mile7 pulling out his violin for a few numbers and ended with Casting Crowns' Melodee DeVevo showing her well documented skills with the instrument during Casting Crowns' festival-closing set. In between, we were treated to moments such as the opening of the set by Skillet, one of the hardest rocking bands on the main stage lineup. The band's intro, a countdown of sorts, was teasing the crowd with anticipation of one of Skillet's trademark explosive openings. Instead, we got some virtuoso violin from Jonathan Chu, who has also toured with Todd Agnew. Throughout Skillet's set, he continued to remind us what an important instrument it is in the band's music, esepcially in powerhouses such as Savior.
The David Crowder Band's Mike Hogan was also responsible for key moments in the band's music, such as the searing bridge in You Are My Joy. And then there was DeVevo, coloring most of Casting Crown's hits with her box.
This is not foreign to rock. Boyd Tinsley has been an exciting rock violinist for the Dave Matthews band for years, contributing moments such as an honest-to-goodness violin hero moment to their tune Jimi Things and playing a key role in the intro to Ants Marching. Lisa Germano has been an exciting violinist for numerous rockers, most notably John Mellencamp.
It's great to see this happen more and more in Christian rock. We can get real comfortable with guitar, bass, drums and keyboard and forget a broad palette of sounds available out there. And it gives the audience a chance to hear a really fine instrument that has been around for centuries and takes genuine skill to play. That's not to take anything away from the guitar slingers out there. There was certainly some guitar virtuosity out there. Mile7's mainstage set concluded with a guitar-violin duo that showed both Porter and lead guitarist John Cloninger as masters of their instruments.
But I do daresay there probably aren't many violinists out there playing professionally in classical music, rock or other genres who haven't put in years of study with teachers and in ensembles honing their craft so that even in an non-traditional setting they can blow you away. I always say people innately recognize something genuinely exceptional when they hear it, like the opera singer who astounds you with the national anthem before a baseball game. And we heard quite a bit of it from one little four string box at Ichthus this year.
Here's to hearing more, and even more diversity of sound in years to come.
New video: The foul weather Friday kind of derailed some of our video plans out of Ichthus, but Emily Spence has a new one documenting Day 2 of Ichthus. Watch it here.
Our 2008 Ichthus photo album will post on Wednesday including shots you've seen here and in the Herald-Leader, and many you haven't.
More music: If you didn't get enough music out of Ichthus, or if you didn't get to go and are in the mood for some live Christian rock, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom has an attractive trio Saturday: Rebecca St. James, Superchick and Sanctus Real. BTW, for what it's worth, RSt.J hasn't been to Ichthus in a looooong time.
Chris Huffman makes the quietest returns home. The bassman for Casting Crowns is a Glasgow native who still has family in the Bluegrass State. But he's so quiet back there, plucking away on his Sting Ray bass behind Mark Hall, and CC is so associated with Georgia, it isn't until you see him rockin' his Wildcats T-shirt that you remember, "Oh, yeah. Welcome home."
As we said in the paper today, Casting Crowns isn't the band you go for to close out a festival with a big party, and that's the way Ichthus has closed in recent years. But they are probably the biggest act in Christian rock today, and while they still bear no resemblance to rock stars, it is more amazing that this is basically a youth group worship band than it was two years ago, when CC last played Ichthus. If they stay true to form, they should be back in Georgia leading worship this morning.
But performing on a beautiful night in Wilmore, Kentucky, the band struck just the right chord, particularly considering the weekend. How could you hear Praise You in this Storm and not think back to Jon Weece's keynote address?
And what fun, enjoying moments such as Melodee DeVevo and Juan DeVevo's duel/duet on the Shaker Melody Simple Gifts. Maybe they should take their act to Pleasant Hill. The closers seemed like a great way to go out.
Now, here at le blog, we are going to take the sabbath, and Father's Day, to rest. But watch next week for some additional thoughts and items such as the Copious Notes Ichthus 2008 photo album.
No one but David Crowder, I think, Could follow up a song with banjo with a song played on a Guitar Hero controller -- try that Hawk Nelson.
I always think Crowder should take the "happy Kentucky party," of his I Saw the Light to Renfro Valley. Don't know if they'd dig the keytar and Guitar Hero controller though.
I do know the two little girls dancing and twirling in front of the stage left video screen are digging Dave.
The beared one got in a funny jab at Casting Crowns' frontman, telling all the people in the crowd who had lost their voices they need to, "get that scratchy Mark Hall voice."
We've been offline a little while today working on a big Ichthus piece for tomorrow's paper, which I think you'll really like. Emily Spence took some fantastic pictures of mudsoaked campers, and I understand there may be some video in store next week. I've covered 10 Ichthus Festivals now and this one has to be the biggest roller coaster, from a hot, sweaty, heady opening day to the disappointment of Friday's storms and cancelled concerts to an almost perfect Saturday afternoon. David Crowder is on stage with his beloved keytar under the setting sun. The hillside is filled with people, as are the fields in front of the Edge and Deep End stages. Go back and read the posts from last night and savor the contrasts. It hasn't been the easiest Ichthus, but it's ending on a good note.
Justin Lookadoo was on the main stage talking about being a committed Christian, and drawing an analogy to the commitment of a parachuter.
Suddenly, the speakers cranked up with Tobymac's Extreme Days and a plane that had been flying casual around the festival site went directly over the main stage and a figure jumped out: parachuter J.C. Colclasure who flew a short route around the stage cranking out some colorful smoke along the way, and landing in the middle of the crowd in the front of the stage.
It was a sensational stunt, but Lookadoo was emphasizing a point: "Do you want to have T-shirt Christianity, or do you want this?"
By Jenna Youngs
Day of Fire fan Stephen Cook, 29, found an interesting approach to helping his favorite band raise money to record their next album. Cook, who credits Day of Fire frontman Josh Brown for changing his life and helping him find God, is taking $1 donations in exchange for a bead to be added to his beard. Cook's fiance Christina Seegert, 26, said they raised $5 in a few minutes, so they hope to have a line of beads to the ground by the time Day of Fire plays at 9:20 p.m. Saturday on the Deep End stage.
Cook and Seegert are taking contact information from each person who donates, and each bead has a number written on it to correspond to the person who donated. Eventually, Cook will remove the beads from his beard and one bead will be randomly selected. Whoever paid for chosen bead will receive a personalized drawing by Brown and signed by the band. All the money raised will go to Day of Fire's "fan the fire" campaign to raise money for the album.
"I heard (Brown's) testimonial, and it changed my life," Cook said. "This is a way to help him out."
Unlike 2005, when Friday night's music was also wiped out by severe thunderstorms, this year, most of the campers have stayed put. Our correspondent Jenna Youngs took a swing the campground this morning and found most people rode out the storm.
John Vermilya of Kingdom Building ministries told a crowd gathering for morning worship, "It's good to see you alive and that you survived the monsoon."
Jenna says people in the camp area were mostly running around getting ready for the day.
There are some major differences between 2005 and this year. The storm that hit Ichthus that year was much more destructive, ripping apart tents that ended up in dumpsters around the camp area the next morning. So a lot of campers had no place left to stay. Also, that storm ushered in a cold from that dropped the temperature 30 to 40 degrees, making things really uncomfortable. In fact, part of Ichthus' rationale for moving dates was that it was worse to be cold and wet than just wet, and June removed the cold element.
Backstage, Ichthus volunteer Chuck Vernon told James he was hearing from youth pastors about weathering the storm bringing groups together last night.
"They were saying they saw kids they hadn't seen all week," Vernon said.
The kids were back out this morning. In the maistage area, some volunteers had whipped out the T-shirt cannon, and reportedly, mudsliding is underway -- the revival of another great Ickythus tradition.
Jeff James would love to bring back Tobymac and Kutless for tonight, but they are off to other things. There are some changes being made though. A big one is Justin Lookadoo, last night's scheduled keynote speaker, will be on the mainstage at 2 p.m.
If you bought a Friday-only wristlock for Ichthus, it will be honored today.
Stacy "Coffee" Jones and Teron "Bonafide" Carter, known as the hip hop duo Grits were the last mainstage act on Friday at the Ichthus Festival. A severe thunderstorm closed the festival at the end of their performance, and it never reopened Friday. Copyrighted photo by Rich Copley | LexGo.
It's no use complaining about the weather. We've all heard it. We parents have even said it a few times to children disappointed about that canceled ballgame or trip to the beach.
But it is so easy to complain about the weather, especially when you are missing Tobymac for the second time in four years because thunderstorms scrapped his set at Ichthus. Not to mention missing Stellar Kart, Kutless and Mile7 -- oh my gosh, Mile7, the band that won a mainstage slot in the Battle of the Bands Thursday. They earned a chance to complain about the weather that spoiled their big party.
And then there are all the fans, particularly ones who traveled hundreds of miles at nearly $4 a gallon for Ichthus. There is still Saturday, and Casting Crowns, David Crowder Band and Family Force 5 are great bands. But there were probably few people who made the trip and paid $119 a head for the weekend who weren't anticipating that t-mac late night party.
Still, all of that pales bleach white in comparison to people who have recently lost homes and loved ones to the weather. I'll take losing the concert every time.
No, it's no use complaining about the weather. But sometimes, it makes you feel better.
Just about the time Ichthus officials wanted to get things stared on the festival's main stage, several streaks of lightning bolted across the sky behind the stage.
"I'm not willing to risk it with lightning," festival director Jeff James said.
James said he does hope to, "swim through," the festival on Saturday, noting that he understood the weather was supposed to improve.
The last time Ichthus lost an evening of music was Friday night of 2005's festival. Tobymac was supposed to perform that night too.
Jeff James says music will resume at 9:30 even if it is still raining.
Ichthus director Jeff James say he is hoping to get at least Kutless and Tobymac, maybe some of mainstage speaker Justin Lookadoo, starting around 9 p.m.
"I'm thinking back from midnight, and maybe if we can get Tobymac to do 60 minutes instead of 75 and Kutless to do 45 minutes instead of an hour," James said. First, he said he needs 45 minutes rain free to get ready again.
James said he had only heard of a couple of minor injuries due to the weather, such as a festival goer turning her ankle while evacuating the site.
By Jenna Youngs
Lightning, strong winds and blinding downpours interrupting festival shows is not something Destination 7 front woman Natasha Ponticelli is used to.
Ponticelli said she forced her bandmates to jump in their van and make their way to the safety of the college, which is located near the Ichthus festival grounds.
Ponticelli said she and the other five men from Los Angeles-based Destination 7 were supposed to help with tonight’s worship service, but as of 6:45 p.m. were still making the decision whether to brave the weather and come back.
“It was a really awesome moment of worship and then it got crazy,” she said. “We’re going to keep praying that the festival can keep moving forward.”
As of 7:30 p.m., the rain is still coming down, accompanied by flashes of lightning.
Above: Natalie Ponticelli performed Thursday morning at the Ichthus Battle of the Bands. Copyrighted photo by Rich Copley | LexGo.
By Jenisha Watts
Despite bad weather people were still eager to come see their favorite band. Drenched in water festival-goers crowed the Deep End stage. Some attendees were so wet, they had to change clothes. The sentiment of the festival can be summed up by what Evernett Hobson, 21, of Somerset, Ky., said, “The (weather) was nothing, I’ve seen dead bodies and, things that go boom.”
Jason Shambach of Wilmore, Ky., directs Lindsey Daugherty, 14, of
Wilmore, Ky., who was wondering if she could get in the festival. The festival closed shortly after thunderstorms started. Copyrighted photo by Emily Spence | LexGo.
Nick Covert and Kevin Bonilla were working at the Guitar String Jewlery booth in the Ichthus Festival's large merchandise tent when the first of a wave of thunderstorms blew through Friday afternoon.
They didn't think much of it, except people were running in to take cover.
"The only warning was when the tent pole started wiggling," Covert said. A second later, the pole gave way, bringing the tent ceiling crashing down on vendor tables," sending a few crashing to the floor along with temporary lighting.
People who had initially sought refuge in the tent were now running out, seeking an alternative refuge from the rain and lightning.
Covert says he grabbed two valuable guitars that were part of the jewelry vendor display, wrapped them in a sweatshirt and sprinted to his tent, just outside Gate 1. He said that he went back to see if he could retrieve other items from his kiosk and was not allowed in. He and festival director Jeff James said a crew was working to restore the pole, but Covert said he was nervous about returning to work in the tent that had just collapsed in a storm Monday night.
"We're going to talk to the boss," he said, referring to the owner of the company, who is working at the company's booth at this weekend's Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee. If they deem it not safe, or not worth it, they may leave. The festival is scheduled to continue through Saturday night.
By Jenna Youngs
At 5:35 p.m., sales chairwoman Tanya Garitty announced to crowds gathering by Gate 1, near the Mainstage, that the gate would open in about an hour because of damage to two of the main tents. A pole collapsed within tent two, and there was damage to tent one as well, she said.
"If you don't know, these tents collapsed on Monday," she told the crowd. "They were being held down by railroad spikes and they still came down."
She asked the crowd to keep patient and "keep your inner peace."
Sound checks are taking place on the Mainstage, though Garitty said electricity to the damaged tents have been turned off until they can be fixed.
Elsewhere, three portable toilets were knocked over behind the Deep End stage.
Earlier, while evacuations were still taking place at the Kinlaw Boulevard entrance, 14-year-old Leah Connolly said organizers announced shortly before the storm that a line of rain was approaching and people should either head to their cars or leave for a bit as a safety precaution.
Connolly's friend, Sarah Hout, 14, said because their group of five teenagers didn't have a car, they planned to wait in the tent until the worst blew over then go back to one of their houses in a nearby residential area, however, their tent collapsed and when they almost got hit by a falling display, they took shelter in a bathroom, Hout said.
As of 5 p.m., Ichthus attendees were being allowed to leave through the Kinlaw entrance, however, only volunteers assisting with storm clean-up were allowed back into the campgrounds.
Garitty told people to remember, though concerned about their personal belongings, "it's only stuff, no one here lost their life."
At 5:50 an announcer at the mainstage said another thunderstorm cell was coming through and people should take cover for about an hour. He said the storms should be brief, but similar to the early ones. He said they are working to get Kutless and Tobymac's concerts on later: "We want as much entertainment as possible, but we're not going to endanger your safety."
Ichthus Festival director Jeff James says the festival will reopen at 6:30 p.m. on schedule. James said there were no injuries he was aware of due to the thunderstorm.
Many festivalgoers did leave the grounds by foot and vehicle after the rains let up. The storm has only excited the Cicadas, who are roaring in the trees and on the grounds.
The Ichthus festival site has been evacuated in anticipation of another storm striking the festival site, security guards at Gate 1 said. Vehicles were also prevented from entering the site at the Kinlaw Drive entrance.
At about 4:15 p.m., a fast moving storm struck Ichthusa farm in Wilmore, sending campers scrambling for their cars and bringing down at least one pole in a merchandise tent. Announcements from the stage advised festival goers to evacuate the area and seek shelter in their vehicles, as a performance by Tennessee hip-hop duo grits reached a premature conclusion.
At about 4:15 p.m., a fast moving storm struck Ichthusa farm in Wilmore, sending campers scrambling for their cars and bringing down at least one pole in a merchandise tent. Announcements from the stage advised festival goers to evacuate the area and seek shelter in their vehicles, as a performance by Tennessee hip-hop duo grits reached a premature conclusion.
When you see John Cooper on stage whirling around with his bass, flashpots exploding next to him and playing some of the most intense music in Christian rock, it is hard to picture him relaxing in the padded cabana of a tour bus, next to a small kitchen-away-from-home with a box of Raisin Bran sitting next to him.
But there he was, Thursday, just a few hours before the band's scorching set, chatting about music, fatherhood and speaking to today's teens, even as his life moves on.
Hawk Nelson has become an Ichthus Festival staple with three hit albums including the most recent, Hawk Nelson is my Friend. We caught up with frontman Jason Dunn at his tour bus on Thursday afternoon to chat about Hawk's growing success, and we also picked up one of his first encounters with a cicada. During the band's set, the buggies showed up quite easily on Jason's white shirt.
Without a doubt, one of the monster hits in Christian rock this year is Unbreakable, a grateful and defiant take on the Biblical story of Jesus defending and forgiving the adulterous woman that was huge on Christian radio and even made mainstream noise in promotions for NBC's Bionic Woman. One of the benefits of having a huge record is the band is rolling around the country in an air-conditioned RV this summer.
We caught up with the quintet Thursday on said RV to talk about the song and album Unbreakable, what it's meant to them and hitting the road for the summer.
In two days, Stepahnie Smith has become a pro at performing with cicadas. After her Thursday afternoon set, she talked about that, and about the health problem that kept her from participating in a mission project in Lexington before the Ichthus Festival.
This weekend at Ichthus we are talking to several of the bands out there, getting their thoughts on summer festivals, the state of Christian music and other stuff. Blogging, writing stories for the paper, taking pictures and shooting video, all in 90-degree heat while fighting off cicadas, doesn't really afford us time for editing. (Don't feel sorry for us, because this is a fun gig.) But we thought you might enjoy some raw audio from the interviews.
This clip with Jason Rauch of Red is probably the rawest, as we were in the press tent and Hawk Nelson was starting its set a few hundred yards away. But we thought you'd enjoy what he had to say about Cicadas and the band's mission Christian rock. Enjoy:
Ichthus clocked in with the Battle of the Bands at 9:30 a.m. making this year's opening day seem more like a Friday or Saturday.
But like those years, the audience still had enough gas left in the tank to for a big night, and if any band was got to get folks to rally, it would be Skillet. They had a teasy, but very cool opening with a countdown that made you think they were going to explode onto the stage. Instead, violinist Jonathan Chu took to one of the risers to mesmerize the audience, and through Skillet's set, he continued to make vital contributions. I had never really considered how much violin was in Skillet's music.
It was a solid set with a very coherent John Cooper out front introducing a stream of hits including Last Night, The Older I Get and the grand finale Savior, complete with smoke and pyrotechnics. We'll post this conversation tomorrow, but John talked to us Thursday about how he believes in putting on a show. Skillet sure gave us one, and they weren't even the closers.
We caught a few numbers in what was looking like a solid set but then wandered over to the Edge Stage for Fireflight. As big as Unbreakable has been the past six or nine months, it was a little surprising to see Fireflight on a secondary stage. But it gave an enthusiastic crowd a chance to get up close and personal with the band doing songs such as Forever and that iconic hit. They also got a guest appearance by Day of Fire's Josh Brown.
Josh is, of course, the man we started the day with emceeing the Battle of the Bands and eating a cicada. We'll see if he is as ubiquitous a presence tomorrow, what the skies bring, and if Tobymac will keep us all going with that late starting time.
The cicadas are adding a new song to Ichthus this year, singing from the trees as the festival winds into an evening of worship and teaching before Skillet fires up the nighttime goings on with its explosive show. No word on whether the Memphis band has the pyrotechnics in tow it showed off in Rupp Arena earlier this year.
But this lull is welcome, it's what we need whether we know it or not. A hot afternoon has taken its toll, and even if we have some energy left to rock with the Panheads, Jeremy Camp and Fireflight, it's already a given we will sleep well tonight.
Here are some of our favorite moments thus far today:
~ Buying a Hawk Nelson T-shirt from a mother daughter team so devoted to the band they just showed up, asked if they could help and ended up working the sales table.
~ Seeing Jason Dunn become the latest real rocker to sling a Guitar Hero controller at Ichthus. David Crowder did it last year.
~ Talking to Stephanie Smith about becoming something of a pro at working with cicadas. She also performed at a pre-fest showcase on Wednesday night, and there she learned that you can't be scared of the little monsters and just need to forget about them. The guys in RED also said they had never dealt with anything like that before.
~ RED's scorching set. Those guys knew exactly what they wanted to do with their set and executed it pefectly.
~ Hearing Brenton Brown sing live -- twice! -- my favorite song to play on guitar: Everlasting God.
Brenton is winding down -- saying he, "got lucky in Kentucky," -- some youth groups and workers are winding up teaching and devotion times, and I'm starting to feel that burn on my neck.
In the words of C-3PO, "we've had some problems." Technical glitches have kept three of our posts from living up to their name in verb form.
But right now, it seems we can sum them up in one phrase: It is hot. It is blazing hot out here. Early in the afternoon, an overcast and a blessed breeze settled in. But that's all over now as the appropriately named Red gets ready to hit the stage.
We did get to spend a few minutes with Fireflight in their mercifully air conditioned RV, just a few hundred yards up from the Herald-Leader's Ichthus bureau, and trust me, the guys and gals in the band appreciate getting to spend the summer fest season in the AC transportation. I mean, we're all hot, but we don't have to play a show today. Jason of Hawk Neslon said he likes the length of fest sets, around 45 minutes.
More from both of those acts in a bit, when we get some time to post some sound.
I am wondering if this is the hottest day in Ichthus history, and if tomorrow will challenge it.
My daughter just looked at the 88 temperature reading in the corner of le blog and exclaimed, "How is it only 88?!"
In its 39 previous years, the Ichthus Festival has never coincided with Central Kentucky's every-17-year cicada plague. Day of Fire frontman Josh Brown who was emceeing the Battle of the Bands went Biblical calling the bugs "locusts" -- technically cicadas are not related to locusts, but the analogy worked -- in his between the acts.
"I was afraid one was going to fly into my mouth while I was singing," said Dustin Fenison, frontman for Somerset-based Live Fish, one of the competitors.
Like many of the plagues that befall Ichthus, Fenison was ready to make the best of bugs as were others. He knew from Ichthus having come here many times before with his church.
"It's always been exciting," he says, "It's the hometown festival."
Los Angeles-based Destination 7 came in early to work with Christian Appalachian project before the festival.
"It was awesome to see so much passion in these kids," said lead singer Natasha Ponticelli, "more passion than I had at that age."
The bands were competing for spots on Ichthus stages during the weekend and a possible grand prize of a going to a battle of the bands in Nashville with things like a recording contract up for grabs.
Starting at 9:30 a.m., it was the earliest Ichthus has ever started on its opening day, and despite severe thunderstorms that ravaged the festival site Monday night, it has started.
Above: Dustin Fenison of Live Fish performs at the Battle of the Bands Thursday morning at Ichthus. Photo by Rich Copley.
Steve Leist, Colt Harrington and Stephen Woloschek of JSL Productions set up light rigging at the Edge Stage Wednesday afternoon. The stage used to be covered in a tent that was destroyed in severe storms Monday. Below: Bethany VanValin (left) and Wendell VanValin (right) talk with festival director Jeff James in front of a pile of couches from the youth worker tent, which was destroyed. Photos by Rich Copley.
Walking up to the Ichthus Festival's Edge Stage, I asked Steve Leist of JSL Productions if they were going to put a tent over the stage.
He motioned to a mangled pile of metal pipes stage right.
That was what was left of the old tent that got ripped off in severe thunderstorms Monday night, and a new one wasn't coming. So the Edge will have a more open feel this weekend.
In all, Ichthus Festival executive director Jeff James says that 14 of the festival's 19 tents were either blown down or even destroyed in the late night storm. So Wednesday, with the first notes of the fest scheduled to be played in seven hours, crews were rushing to redo in two days work that had taken two weeks. James had to bow out of a press conference in Lexington, in which the city voiced support for Ichthus' mission and environmental initiatives, saying, "I have one day to turn this around."
The open-air Edge Stage is one of the ways festivalgoers may notice the after effects of the storms, though James says that through the work of the volunteer crews, he hopes the damage will have little lasting effect.
In one of the resurrected merchandise tents, a supervisor gave a steady stream of instructions to volunteers.
Despite all the extra work, James was inclined to count some blessings.
"There was a lot of metal flying around in that storm," James says. "If there had been people out there, there definitely would have been injuries.
As tents popped back up and light rigs were set, a hot late spring sun was baking the ground at Ichthus farm dusty dry again.
There is a chance of thunderstorms Thursday night, and a better chance Friday, when a cold front comes through. That doesn't worry James much.
"As long as it's not massive and severe, rain is fine," he says. "It keeps the dust down."
Gone with the Wind:
No, we don't normally associate the 1939 classic with a good laugh, but screening the movie for the first time in several years brought forth a steady stream of chuckles.
Yes, some of it was over cheese, beginning with the credits: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has the honor of presenting in Technicolor, Margaret Mitchell's story of the old South . . . " Oh, puh-leeze.
But some of it also was due to witty writing by a panel of scribes including Ben Hecht, portrayed penning the script in Actors Guild of Lexington's recent production of Ron Hutchinson's Moonlight and Magnolias.
Many of those great lines went to history maker Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American actor to win an Academy Award, as Mammy, drama queen Scarlett O'Hara's wise attendant:
~ "You know what trouble I's talkin' 'bout. Mr. Ashley be comin' to Atlanta when he gets his leave, and you sittin' there waitin' for him, just like a spider."
~ "You can always tell a lady by the way she eats in front of folks like a bird and I ain't aimin' for you to go to Mr. John Wilkes' and eat like a field hand and gobble like a hog!"
Of course, there was also Scarlett's contentious love, Rhett Butler:
~ "No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how."
~ (After nearly getting hit in the head by Scarlett's thrown vase) "Has the war started?"
~ "Tell me, Scarlett, do you never shrink from marrying men you don't love?"
The beautiful thing about Mammy and Rhett was that they both had queen bee Scarlett's number and weren't afraid to let her know. It was fun and somewhat beautiful. Of course, Scarlett had her lines too.
Fiddle-dee-dee indeed. Catch GWTW at the Kentucky Theatre Classics series at 1:30 and 7:15 p.m. today. Enjoy the drama, the romance, and don't forget to laugh.
The quotes in this post were found at the Internet Movie Database.
Above: Volunteers Dave Hooks and daughter Amy Hooks of Nicholasville carried couch cushions from the Ichthus Festival's youth leader's tent after it was knocked down during an overnight storm. Below: A utility pole at the Ichthus Festival site was snapped in three pieces by Monday night's storms. Copyrighted Lexington Herald-Leader photos by Charles Bertram.
Last night's severe thunderstorms ravaged the Ichthus Festival site, which was essentially ready to go for the start of the festival Thursday.
Festival director Jeff James said he was "mesmerized," looking at the grounds at Ichthus Farm, which he described as, "a disaster area," with tents blown down and torn and tables and chairs tossed about the site.
Ichthus has had a history of bad luck with weather, including the 2005 event that saw a severe thunderstorm on Friday night and snow the next day. That prompted the festival to move from late April to June, to avoid Kentucky's unpredictable early spring weather. Since that move in 2006, the festival has not had any weather-related troubles, until this morning.
UPDATE: Festival operations director Doug Baker says that camping will open at 10 a.m. Wednesday, as scheduled, and the Gotee Records showcase as 7 p.m. is still on.
Read Shawntaye Hopkins' accounts of storm damage at Ichthus and around Central Kentucky.
Watch this site and LexGo.com for more information about the storms' impact on Ichthus.
Cassie O. from Toledo singing So Much Better. The judges liked her voice, but her acting . . . not so much.
"Mean what you say," actor Paul Canaan told Cassie O., who replied with a clueless, "OK."
"I don't feel the intensity of what this needs," writer Heather Hach added.
That the Cassie from Toledo seemed oblivious to a craft called acting during and following her wooden audition made her the obvious first victim in Legally Blonde The Musical -- The Search for Elle Woods, the MTV reality show searching for the actor to replace Laura Bell Bundy in the leading role in the Broadway hit.
Last week, we said that none of these 10 girls appeared to be anywhere close to being ready to star on Broadway, and nothing that happened tonight changed that.
Tonight was acting night -- which alone says this show has gone farther than Grease: You're the One that I Want, which spent next-to-no time looking at acting, in testing at the whole performer.
Legally Blonde -- The Musical associate director Paul Bruni showed up to conduct an acting workshop in which Bailey from South Carolina excelled at, among other things, losing her Southern accent. It probably caused some snickers on the coasts, but checking a strong accent is a real issue for actors from regions such as the Southeast.
Bailey and current BFF Lindsay won quality time with LB actress Nikki Snelson, who plays aerobics instructor Brooke Wyndham. They got to rehearse a scene with Nikki, where Elle and Brooke bond over their Delta Nu-ness, which turned out to be everyone's audition scene with Snelson.
The judges decided to throw the hopefuls a curve, having Snelson drop a line to see how they reacted. Most actors that we were shown at least paused. Some struggled with it. Some struggled with other things. Rhiannon -- parents big Fleetwood Mac fans? -- was shown flubbing a few lines, but she had the right spirit. Autumn had the best save of the ladies we were shown, turning the initial flustered moment into part of the scene.
But Cassie O. had to be saved by Snelson, just part of the affirmation that in a group of actors who don't belong there, she really wasn't ready for Broadway.
Exaggeration watch: This show is already showing a knack for gross exaggerations, such as repeatedly calling Blonde director Jerry Mitchell, "legendary director," several times last week. We love Jerry. But Blonde is his first show directing, and no one becomes a legend on one show.
This week, host Haylie Duff informed us that these would be rigorous auditions like "no one on Broadway has experienced." Maybe not on TV. But having interviewed numerous Broadway actors over the years, I've heard plenty of horror stories about extrapolated, grueling, soul-destroying auditions, and as Canaan pointed out, if you don't make the cut, you usually aren't told why.
Box Office: Variety reports Blonde saw an increase in ticket sales after the reality show debuted.