Stage Manager: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

Posted Posted in #NowPlaying
Now with green-screen capabilities!

This weekend wraps up the 5 week run of “Accidental Death of a Black Motorist”, the timely, tongue-in-cheek play by the Conspirators. Working on this show is one of the most interesting and challenging things I’ve done as a Live Technician; live greenscreen video feed, multiple back-to-back sound cues, and bypassing missed cues are just a few of the things that came up! Once you’ve done a tech-heavy show like this, everything else will seem easy in comparison.


Posted Posted in Live and Local
A still from I’M ALIVE with my logo!

Last year, I got asked to help with a unique project — an underground, live concert streaming service. They would book local bands, and live broadcast on YouTube and Facebook on Sunday nights.

uNreaLconcerts was an idea who’s time had come — what better way to enjoy some live music, than from your own home theater system?

Check out uNreaLconcerts’ YouTube channel here!

I was running sound at The Royal at that time, when I met the mastermind behind it. He tapped me to help run the video. Despite having no video experience, he knew I was a professional and would pick it up in a beat.

I showed up on a Sunday evening. He introduced me to the lighting director, showed me the stage, and sat me down in the separate control room where everything was ran from. I got comfortable with the controls within a few minutes, took a deep breath, and away we went! I learned quickly how to move the cameras, and then switch between them. I even learned how to do ‘roving’ shots (panning the camera) live, which was a novel addition.

We used service to broadcast it live, and I learned a little about the overlays / triggering the titles and the end credits. We even had a sponsor (an ‘essential oil’ seller).

I was only involved for a few weeks, but it was an absolute blast! I think the Iternal Roots show was probably my fave that I got to work on. All in all, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been involved with some brilliant people who worked hard to make this happen!

Uke Madness!

Posted Posted in Announcements, Guilty Pleasures, Uke Madness

“Owen,” I hear you say, “music reviews and recommendations are great and all. But what about your ukulele?!”

It’s an older photo, sir, but it checks out!

Which one? 😜 Just kidding – I’m glad you asked!

I’ve been working hard this year on perfecting my ukulele skills, and have a few things to share! First, I enjoy playing cover songs mostly (all the songs you know and love and can sing along with!), so I’ve mastered playing some Red Hot Chili Peppers, Led Zeppelin, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, and even Incubus, as well as hundreds of standards. See my Uke Songbook for the full collection or book me for a show or open mic!

This summer, my lovely partner Kimberly had the opportunity to go to Prague for a Shakespeare Intensive. Naturally, I tagged along — with my ukulele in hand! In addition to learning a Czech protest song on the ukulele, I was also tapped by Artistic Director Jennifer King to set Midsummer Night’s Dream “Faerie Song” to Ukulele, and teach an actor how to play it. I had about 4-5 different progessions and ideas for the song. As the actor had no previous experience playing, I stripped it down to a very simple tune — which she mastered and expanded on, and executed beautifully! (I’ll likely have another post in the future with more details!)

I’ve been playing ukulele Sunday Nights with my ukulele club, and even made it out to a couple of Open Mics!

Lady Liberty

I took an 8 week private tutor class at Old Town School of Folk Music (which Kim had helped fund as a celebration of being a year smoke free!). I learned a lot through the class and continue to teach myself additional ukulele skills — I’m still working through the Ukulele Aerobics book!

In addition to learning and teaching myself, I’ve compiled some of my resources for teaching ukulele, and I’m actively looking for students.

Finally, I’m working on my DIY ukulele kit… first by painting the Statue of Liberty on it. It’s a work in progress, but can’t wait to have this thing complete!

Songs to Caftan In: Plucky Rosenthal does it again!

Posted Posted in #NowPlaying, Live and Local

Plucky Rosenthal, a local Chicago performer known for her distinct vaudeville style, does it again with her “Songs to Caftan In” set! Composed of humorous songs, she takes us on a journey of relaxation and enjoyment, via telling us stories of her life with the guitar, ukulele (my favorite!), and her Casiotone.

She just finished the Minnesota Fringe Fest, where for a week or two, they set up a festival / fair type environment and performers are given an hour or so each — quite the variety! Now that she’s back, she’s bringing that same energy to Chicago.

“A caftan is a hug”

She began the set with “The Caftan Song” on Guitar. For those who don’t know, a Caftan has two holes, one for your head, and one where everything else goes! She also ended the hour journey with a ukulele song, “A Caftan Is A Hug” (see 3 second clip above).

Stage is set!

The performance took place at Esquina Chicago, a DIY art space located at Western and Wilson. Esquina is a cozy and welcoming space for performers, art shows, poetry, etc. This wasn’t my first time at the space — I had previously attended a vinyl album release party here, and absolutely adore the place.

Plucky’s set had many songs not included here, but some of my favorites included “Mists of Arbor” – a clever song about booze, and “Young Boy”, where she got the audience involved in providing a simple yet fun beat. Check it out:

Audience involvement and the intro to “Young Boy”

Her Casiotone set included the “Closet Song”, where she had a little dance routine for the audience to join in on, as well as the “You have a dog… I don’t like dogs” song.

Not to mention the two on-stage costume changes (her burlesque was showing!), the stories behind each of the songs, and having the audience provide written affirmations which she then pulled from the ‘hat’ and read each of them.

It was a fantastic show and I was glad I was able to see it. I’m looking forward to the next one!

Plucky is a mainstay performer at the Drifter, where you can often catch her. You can follow her on Facebook or see upcoming events directly on her site!

Synthwave Sunday: Kristine

Posted Posted in #NowPlaying, Guilty Pleasures

If you’re a fan of the 80’s, you can’t miss this album. A soft synth sound, with smart and beautiful female vocals. Modern love is a great first track, Summer Long Gone is great for this time of year as we move into fall, and The Deepest Blue has that common minor triad arpeggiated walkdown that is eponymous with the 80s.

I’ve been listening to all sorts of retro synthwave for 5 years now, but just discovered this album, and it’s immediately at the top of the list. It’s from 2015, during the height of the retrowave revival, and I’m truly sad that I only just discovered it.

New Music Friday!

Posted Posted in #NowPlaying, New Music Friday

Pop: The new Death Cab for Cutie EP “The Blue EP” is solid! I absolutely adore “To The Ground” – the first song on the EP. Ben Gibbard’s style these past few years is highly evolved! The last song, shown here, “Blue Bloods”, made it’s way on to our Accidental Death of a Black Motorist playlist!

The Bad Dreamers’ Georgetown will be stuck in my head for days! It’s 80s retrowave-esque while being completely new. Seriously my favorite song of the week! They include an instrumental but I can’t sing falsetto like that; and the 2nd song on the EP (New York Minute) is not nearly as tasty.

Country: At least Chris Knight’s Almost Daylight is a solid track for the weekend! Stylistically, it’s recorded in a way that’s reminiscent of old country — sounds like Hank Williams (the first) or even Bob Dylan with the harp. Salt Lake local musician The Real Doug Lane does it again with his soulful and quiet, acoustic “Hold On” — understated, and perfect for a rainy day. Another local artist Clayton Smalley is a little more upbeat with his “Ride or Die” – perfect for the weekend! And if you don’t like country, we’ll that’s too bad — This Is How We Roll!

Rock: Foals’ single “The Runner” follows on the heels of their recent “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1” with more of the tasty dirty blues-rock overdriven guitar and drums, with synth backing and a haunting voice. The best of current rock! Surprisingly, Editors’ new single Black Gold is a deviation from their previous sound, and is leaning more toward pop-rock instead of the gothic-rock. Maybe the voice is different? It’s a decent song and mostly due to it being almost over-produced.

Metal and Rap: Of Mice & Men’s song is high-energy, but kind of generic with predictable drops and breakdowns; still a solid new track. It’s better than Prophets Of Rage new track. I try so hard to like them as I’m a huge Rage Against the Machines fan, but they are like Greta Van Fleet is to Led Zep. Just sayin’. At least BLACKPINK’s song is legit – even if it is live (and I generally hate that live, screaming fans every 2 seconds, super stadium reverb sound).

What’s on your #NMF Radar? Send me suggestions at Stay in-tuned!

Synthwave Saturday! Chiptune edition

Posted Posted in #NowPlaying, Guilty Pleasures

The past five years or so, I’ve been listening to a lot of synthwave. There’s an entire ‘retro wave’ movement of new music which is stylistically 1980s, with hundreds of artists.

For some reason, I had a dream that I was listening to Anamanaguchi last night… so I thought I’d share it with you. It’s a little “video game-y” (chiptunes) for my taste, but very well done chiptunes, versus, say, a lot of the lo-fi stuff out there. You can of course find them on every chiptunes playlist.

Stay in-tuned!