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Friday, May 30, 2014

Nashville duo Neulore to bring its passionate folk music to Chicago




By ERIC SCHELKOPF
 
One would be hard pressed to find a band of any genre playing with as much passion as modern folk duo Neulore.

The Nashville group, www.neulore.com, comprised of Adam Agin and William T. Cook, later this year will release its full-length debut album, "Animal Evolve," the follow-up to its 2010 EP, "Apples & Eve." 

Neulore will bring that passion and energy to Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, on June 6.

Chicago band Tall Walker also is on the bill. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets are $10, available at www.schubas.com.

I had the chance to talk to Agin about the new album.
 

Q - Great talking to you. How was the Communion tour? Do you think you complemented the other bands on the tour?

The tour was great. Our favorite shows were the last week of the run. Iowa was a wild one! 


Yeah, each night had some variety which I think the crowd enjoyed. Between us, Bootstraps, and Busy Living, we all have our different strengths. And I think people really enjoyed the differences.


Q - Your full length debut, "Animal Evolve," will be released later this year. The first single, "Shadow of a Man," has already been featured on the show "Grey's Anatomy." Has that helped to give the band a buzz even before the album is released?



Yeah, it's been a slow build. Which is a good pace for us, and now there's always a few people singing along at shows, which is a good time for us.

Q - It seems like there should be a story behind the song "Shadow of a Man." Is there? 

We all have had that close friend or loved one that has taken a wrong path in their life. It's about celebrating the good in them even with their new wounds.

Q - For people who enjoyed your "Apples & Eve" EP, what should they expect from the new album? How do you think your sound has evolved since you recorded "Apples & Eve?"

It's aggressive, cinematic, reverent, and heartfelt. We pushed ourselves to get uncomfortable, so we used some new textures for this album that we've never used.  



Q - It took the group 2 1/2 years to make "Animal Evolve." In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you achieved them? 

We wanted to make something bigger than us. We didn't want it to be the same as the last project cause we've grown as men since then, and one can hope that the music would be an example of that. 

It's everything that was inside of us when we  made it. 

Q - I understand that the band's name means "new folklore." How do you think the band's name describes your music?

It actually is defined as "The beginning of a Tradition" or "A new story." We wanted it to show that we value growth and something that lasts.
 

Q - Folk music has been enjoying a resurgence of popularity for the past few years. Why do you think that is? 

Folk music is rooted in a good story. And that's still what people want. No matter the medium, a captivating story is what we all want to experience.
 
Q - After "Animal Evolve" comes out, what are the band's plans for the rest of the year? Does the band have any short-term and long-term goals? 

I'm sure there will be plenty of miles ahead of us. Other than that, we are just gonna ride the wave of where this project wants to go.


There's plenty of goals. We are big dreamers. We work hard and shoot for the stars, so we'll have to see where the record wants to take us.

Chicago blues musician Dave Specter injects heart in new album, will play at SPACE in Evanston


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Chicago blues musician Dave Specter will likely garner even more fans with his latest album, "Message In Blue," released on May 20 on Chicago-based Delmark Records.

The album shows off his versatility, featuring everything from growling Chicago blues to Latin rhythms. Soul legend Otis Clay and other guest stars only add to the album's electricity.

Specter, www.davespecter.com, will perform June 11 at an album release party at SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston. Clay, as well as Brother John Kattke and Bob Corritore, who also appear on the album, are a few of the special guest stars set to appear in the show.

The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are available by going to www.ticketweb.com.

I had the chance to talk to Specter about the new album.


Q - "Message In Blue" was just released. In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you achieved them? 

It's my first studio recording in four years and I wanted to make an album that featured all the styles of music and blues that I love to play. I've been writing quite a bit of new music over the past few years and was glad to record eight original tunes on the album.

I'd like to think this is very much a Chicago music album - from soul to R&B, a touch of jazz and different shades of blues. That's the "message," I guess you could say.


Having Otis Clay as a featured guest on three tunes is a real thrill and I'm really proud of the tracks we cut with him. He was truly inspiring to work with in the studio - so much blues and deep soul power! 

I think that Brother John Kattke is also one of the MVP's on the album. Check out his vocals on "Chicago Style" (co written w/ Bill Brichta) and Same Old Blues - not to mention his stellar keyboard work throughout the album.

Q - How did you hook up with Otis? Did you have him in mind for those three songs from the beginning? 

I probably first met Otis around 25-30 years ago back when he was playing clubs around Chicago. I'll never forget seeing him with the legendary Hi Rhythm Section at B.L.U.E.S on Halsted.

Tad Robinson and I cut one of his tunes, "I Die A Little Each Day" back in the mid-90s on my "Live in Europe" album and I've sat in with Otis a number of times over the years. 

I chose two of the songs on the album, "Got to Find a Way," which Otis first cut back in the 60s, and "I Found a Love," which has always been one of my favorite deep soul cuts. I thought Otis would be perfect covering it.

Otis chose "This Time I'm Gone For Good" and I'm so glad he did as his vocals really capture the soulful intensity of the tune. I've recorded with some great singers, but working with Otis is about as good as it gets. 

Q - "This Time I'm Gone For Good" was recorded as a tribute to the late Bobby Blue Bland. What do you think was his greatest contribution to the music world?



Bobby Bland was simply one of the greatest blues and R&B singers of all time. He produced an amazing body of work with a long list of classic songs and albums.



 
His early Duke sides are my favorites along with "His California Album" and "Dreamer" albums from the '70s.

Q - You are just coming off an extensive European trip. How did that go? I've heard that European audiences are more receptive to the blues than American audiences. How do you find European audiences compared to American audiences? 

Well, we just played 14 shows in eight countries in 17 days - so I think I've finally recovered...

Very cool tour with great audience response.
 
The European fans don't take us for granted. They respect the music and show it.
 
They also buy our albums and often show up to gigs with entire collections of your work wanting autographs. European audiences are generally more reserved and polite than here in America, which can be a bit of an adjustment.
 
Q - I understand you were first introduced to the blues listening to "The Midnight Special" show on WFMT. Was there any artist in particular that got you interested in the blues? 

I grew up in a very musical home here in Chicago where my parents loved listening to WFMT's "Midnight Special" as well as Studs Terkel's radio show - where I first heard Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, Josh White and Mahalia Jackson, who my dad really loved. 

My older brother (who plays harp) also turned me onto the blues of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Junior Wells - as he'd tell me about seeing them perform live when I was just a kid.  

Q - You toured with the likes of Son Seals, Hubert Sumlin and Sam Lay before forming your own band in 1989. What did they teach you? How do you think your playing has evolved over the years?
 
Hubert taught me that developing an original style of playing is what it's all about. Don't copy other players. Be yourself. 


Hubert was also so encouraging as I first toured with him and Sam Lay when I was only in my early 20s. It took me awhile to learn Hubert's lesson and I wish so many of the blues guitarists on today's scene - that seem to make a living copying what other guitarists recorded on Chess Records 50 or 60 years ago - would listen to his advice as well.



The blues world would be a lot more vital, contemporary and interesting if they did.


I learned a great deal from playing and touring with Son Seals for two years - I admired his commanding stage presence, interplay with horn sections and his all for business "no shtick" interaction with his audience. 

 I spent more of 80 percent of those gigs with Son just playing rhythm guitar - which every guitarist should be required to do to become a complete player.


Sam Lay was also very encouraging back when I was in my early 20s - and taught me that the color of one's skin has nothing to do with whether or not you can play the blues.

One of the things that keeps me going in this crazy business is that I feel I'm improving and growing as a guitarist and a musician with age. I'm writing more and more and hopefully developing more of my own sound and style over time. 

Q - What do you think of the Chicago blues scene compared to other blues scenes around the country? What can be done to boost the interest in blues music in general?

Well, Chicago still probably has more places to play and hear blues than anywhere in the world. The tourist element has watered down the scene, but there are still some excellent players here. 

Having come up on the scene in the '80s when you could hear blues like Otis Rush, Buddy and Junior, Lonnie Brooks, Magic Slim, Hubert Sumlin, Sunnyland Slim, Jimmy Rogers and Pinetop Perkins on a weeknight or every weekend, I'd have to say that today's scene doesn't quite measure up.

I think the overall interest in blues music is fairly strong - although it's still, and probably always will be - an alternative musical form.

Another crossover artist like Stevie Ray Vaughan is probably what's needed to garner more attention for the blues today...let the purists cringe - but that's what it will take for the blues to reach a wider audience.

Q - You've played and recorded with so many musicians over the years, including Pinetop Perkins, Otis Rush and Buddy Guy. Do you have any dream projects or collaborations?

Thanks. I feel lucky to have gown up here in Chicago. Other than wishing I could enter a time machine and play behind Muddy - or play a few tunes with B.B. King while he's still with us, I'd love to collaborate on a project bringing musicians from Chicago and New Orleans together. 


Two of my favorite musical places on earth, with very different - yet similar and soulful - musical sounds and styles.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Chicago band The Safes releases scorching "Record Heat" album, will perform at Martyrs'


By ERIC SCHELKOPF
 
The name of The Safes' new album, "Record Heat," only hints at the energy displayed on the album.

To celebrate the release of the new album, Chicago band The Safes - comprised of brothers Frankie, Patrick and Michael O'Malley, www.thesafes.com - will perform May 31 at Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Penthouse Sweets, The Phenoms and The Red Plastic Buddha also are on the bill.

The show starts at 9:30 p.m. and tickets are $8, available at www.martyrslive.com.

"Record Heat," which was released April 29 through Wee Rock Records, www.weerockrecords.com, was recorded by Jim Diamond, known for his work with The White Stripes and The Sonics along with Jason Ward, known for his work with Arcade Fire, as well as Patrick O'Malley.

I had the chance to talk to Frankie O'Malley about the new album.


Q - Great talking to you again. "Record Heat" is even more energetic than your last EP, "Thanks To You." In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them? 

Thank you! Our goal was what is always is, make the best music we can! We are very happy with "Record Heat!"

Q - How did you hook up with Jim Diamond and Jason Ward and what do you think they brought to the table?
 

http://thesafes.bandcamp.com

Jim Diamond came out to see us at SXSW a few years back and asked us to come back to his studio to record and we were happy that he went out of his way to approach us about working together again. 


And Jason saw us play a show he was doing sound for and we talked about recording that night and he was into working with us which was awesome!

Q - The album's first video, "Hopes Up, Guard Down," was directed by Mike Hindert of The Bravery. What was your vision for the video and how did you hook up with Hindert? 


Yes, Mike made that video by myself, he's very talented with video and film in addition to music! Great video!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLkpMZzcIb4https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLkpMZzcIb4

We became friends with Mike on The Bravery's last tour when we played the after party for their concert at The Vic Theatre. That was a fun night!

Mike has released some of our music on his label Merrifield Records and made a video for our single, "She's So Sad."

Q - The band has been touring extensively since the release of the album. Are you looking to widen your fan base with the release of "Record Heat?"

Oh yeah!! Touring is going great and people are loving "Record Heat," really widening the fan base!!! More touring to come!!!

Q - Do you have a favorite track on the album? Is there a meaning behind the album's name?

My favorite track is "Hope Up Guard Down." Such an amazing song, I don't know how Patrick writes his songs, I'm just lucky I get to be in a band with the best songwriter on Earth!

"Record Heat," I think the title says it all.

Q - You've said that the song "Ace For a Face" embodies the entire vibe of "Record Heat." Is the song also a reference to Ace the Face in "Quadrophenia?"

Yes, "Ace For A Face" embodies the entire vibe of the album in my opinion. No reference to "Quadrophenia"  as far as I know,  Patrick wrote "Ace For A Face," I don't really know what it's even about


Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene these days and where do you see the band fitting into it?



I think the Chicago Music Scene is smashing, and that The Safes are a welcome fixture.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Studio Mangiameli show to present new insights into world of flamenco dance


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Chiara Mangiameli, founder of Chicago-based Studio Mangiameli, www.studiomangiameli.com, and female lead in Rick Bayless's acclaimed "Cascabel," will present her annual show at the Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble St., Chicago, from May 30 to June 1.

"Tides" will feature more than 40 dancers, of all ages and from various backgrounds, addressing the events that changed their lives through flamenco dance and song forms with live accompaniment by musicians. More information is available at
http://www.studiomangiameli.com/#!shows/c5k2.

I had the chance to talk to Mangiameli about the upcoming production.
  

Q - "Tides" will open later this month. What was your idea for the show and how have your students taken to it?

The idea for this show (as well as most of the theatrical student showcase productions I've directed so far), was to weave some of the dancers' personal experiences into the various choreographies, in order for them to have an investment in the dances that goes beyond simply memorizing steps. 


http://vimeo.com/87824537

"Tides" is ultimately about moments in our lives, experiences, that have left us reeling in some way, altering the landscape of who we are. It's about transformation, resilience, the ability to surprise oneself by surviving, thriving, adapting and growing.

Q - What are some of the fundamental things that you try to convey to your students?

As far as the actual dance form, I try to convey the idea that flamenco dancers are also musicians. They are a reflection of the dynamics, rhythm and mood of the music at any given time. 



Not just through constant movement, but also through stillness, because that too, is part of the musical landscape. Ultimately to reflect the music you must listen, be receptive and make yourself tender and emotionally available to it. 

Quite possible a life long struggle for any dancer.

I try to convey that personal expression is crucial, not just because it reaches and impacts the audience, but because it's transformational for the performer. It teaches us to invest ourselves fully in what we're doing. Not be a bystander to our own experiences.

Q - "Tides" will also feature original live music from several flamenco and world music players, including Carlo Basile of Las Guitarras De EspaƱa, guitarist Diego Alonso and percussionist Bob Garrett, who will soon to appear in Sting’s new musical, "The Last Ship." Why did you want to work with them and what do you think they bring to the show?

I've worked with the same musicians for years now and I find that with each project, we come closer to understanding, anticipating and finding ways to emphasize our individual aesthetics and strengths. Carlo brings a beautiful classical guitar sensibility and approach to composing music and Diego brings the more syncopated, percussive elements of the flamenco guitar as well as a keen understanding of all flamenco song forms and variations.


Together, these two guitarists bring a wealth of ideas and emotional depth and maturity to the work. Bob is the glue that holds it together with his tremendous knowledge of world percussion.

Q - World-renowned flamenco singer Vicente “El Cartucho” Griego will be the show's special guest. What do you think he brings to the production?

Vicente is a friend and tremendous singer. His voice, much like his personality, is larger than life, warm and soulful. He's also extremely well versed in all flamenco "palos" or songs and brings great authenticity and energy to the stage.

Q - You will again be part of "Cascabel" this summer. What made you want to do the show again? Why do you think it has been such a hit with audiences?

How can I possibly turn down the opportunity to dance with Rick Bayless six days a week, taste his food every day and collaborate once again with the incredible talent that Lookingglass manages to recruit? It also gives me a needed hiatus from my studio to gather inspiration and ideas. 

  

It's a way for me to go back to my acting roots while incorporating flamenco into the mix.... it's coming full circle with my career in some way and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of Chicago's thriving theater community. I think it was successful because it combined an extremely high end dinner experience with phenomenal and very unique talent and acts, and a very romantic tale of lost love. 

The word "magical" was one I heard a lot from audience members...

Q - What do you think of the flamenco music and dance scene in Chicago these days and where do you see it headed in the future?

There is no doubt that the community is growing and that flamenco is getting more recognition in Chicago. As with most art forms I think the dancers, singers and musicians that are most invested in it  will struggle, study and create until they've found their own voice beyond the strict tradition of flamenco and the burden we all sometimes feel in trying to internalize and personalize an art form that is not a part of our culture.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dream Loud show to benefit low-income Chicago students


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Cassie Moran knows how important it is to give students the resources they need so they can achieve their dreams.

Moran, founder of the Chicago-based music management company Moxie Rock, www.moxierockmanagement.com, is teaming up with the nonprofit organization Supplies for Dreams to present the Dream Loud benefit show on May 24 at The Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison St., Chicago.

Supplies for Dreams, www.suppliesfordreams.org, provides Chicago Public Schools students with resources and extra-curricular activities, including basic school supplies and one-on-one mentoring.

Dream Loud will feature bands Jose and Me, Common Shiner, Cellrs, The Dead Hands and The Holy Motors. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door, available at www.ticketweb.com.

I had the chance to talk to Moran about the upcoming show.


Q - Great talking to you. How did the show come together and what are your goals for the show?
 
I became involved with Supplies for Dreams in 2013 when I chaperoned a field trip and was able to interact with the CPS students (Supplies' Award-a-field-trip program). After this, I immediately wanted to become more involved and eventually joined the Associates Board for the organization. 


The board is comprised of young professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Aside from Award-a-field trip, we also provide all of our partner schools with school supplies and provide one-on-one mentoring for the students.



After speaking with several musicians about the organization, it became clear to me that there was an opportunity to put together something that encompassed both my passion for the organization and the local music scene here in Chicago. One of the main goals of the show is to spread the word about this organization to the 20 and 30-somethings in the city and provide information on ways to get involved. 

The second goal of the show is to provide these local bands with an opportunity to support an organization that directly influences the youth in this city.
 
Q - I know that you manage the band Common Shiner. How did the lineup for the show come together? Do you think the bands complement one other?

One thing that was really important to me in putting together this lineup was that these bands were all local and that they were excited about supporting the organization. All of the bands on this lineup have been very enthusiastic about Supplies for Dreams and our goals to expand both awareness and our programs in the next year - when I initially pitched the idea, they immediately wanted to be a part of it and help. 




As with any bill I put together, I spend a lot of time focusing on how the bill builds throughout the night and how the sound transitions between the bands. I think the lineup has depth and accomplishes the build I was looking for.
 
Q - This is a busy month for you. You are also the exclusive talent buyer for The Throne Room in Chicago, which opens this month. How are you able to juggle everything?

With a lot of organization and support! I am lucky and grateful that I have a team in both Supplies For Dreams and The Throne Room that is ready to pitch in and help when needed. 


Photo by Kelly Burke

Both of the owners of The Throne Room have been very supportive of Supplies for Dreams and our mission, and likewise, my fellow Supplies for Dreams board members are very supportive of my position at The Throne Room! 

I won't say I'm not very busy this month! But it's a very good kind of busy! Not everyone gets to spend so much of their time focusing on the things that they love to do.

Q - Can we expect you to organize more benefit shows like this in the future? Are there any particular charities that you would like to work with?

Absolutely. I plan to make Dream Loud an annual staple in Chicago for Supplies for Dreams. 


And I would absolutely like to support some other organizations I feel passionate about as well. Another organization in particular would be Trio Animal Foundation. 

I've had the opportunity to participate in a few of their volunteer days at the shelter they work with. Trio helps rescues and individuals by paying the medical bills of homeless pets in the city. 

The other organization I would like to work with at some point is Rock for Kids, which focuses on providing music education to children in need.

Q - What do you think of the current music scene in Chicago and how do you think it compares with other music scenes around the country?

I think we have a lot of potential to be a really solid and connected scene. Right now, I think we're a bit fragmented in comparison with some other major cities. 


You tend to see a lot of bands get to the next level and then leave Chicago, instead of staying and really solidifying what Chicago music is. In the past year, however, I've really seen a major effort to bring the local scene together (e.g., The Music Summit in 2013). 

We have such a wealth of talent here, so the more we can come together, work with the city and each other, I think the more successful we'll be at defining Chicago music as a whole.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Cold Basement Dramatics presents "The Half-Life of Memory"


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Cold Basement Dramatics in Chicago continues to present thought-provoking productions.

Its latest production, "The Half-Life of Memory," tells the story of a deteriorating former Manhattan Project physicist who has discovered that radioactive material can be extruded from his memory.

Written by local playwright and actor Jason Lindner, "The Half-Life of Memory," will run from June 6 to June 29 at the DCASE Storefront Theatre, 66 E. Randolph St., Chicago. More information is at www.coldbasement.org.

I had the chance to talk to Lindner about "The Half-Life of Memory."


Q - I understand that the character of Salek is loosely based on one of your relatives, Professor Severin Raynor, who worked on the Manhattan Project. Did his stories inspire you to write "The Half-Life of Memory?" 

Many years ago I was introduced to the Radium Girls… in the early days of misunderstood radioactivity they were employed painting radium on the dials of watches – so those dials would glow in the dark… they used very fine brushes to do their work and that meant licking the brushes to make sure they kept their point.

You can only imagine what happened to the poor radium girls with the glow-in-the-dark tonsils. But no one knew what would happen– they didn’t understand the consequences.

That was the dawn of the atomic age and from there knowledge was something that was always the second step. Even as the most brilliant scientists in the world began to build the atomic bomb, the drive was about how to finish and not what would happen when it was done. But then it was done.


Starting from a point of this kind of darkness, mystery, and confusion behind atomic power, I was inspired by the work and tales of my relative to write "The Half-Life of Memory." He was a seriously tough guy – one of those tough guy Jews - more Mickey Cohen and less Woody Allen. 

He helped build the casing for the bomb, he was a renowned professor and in his declining years, fell into dementia. What might that be like, I considered, to be faced with the fact of the bomb, of your integral work, on something that had caused such horror, especially if you had spent your life suppressing it, not thinking about it? 

What might an addled mind exhale into a warped reality to force you to remember? That was where "The Half-Life of Memory" germinated – and, of course, the story is quite a bit different than the real life of Severin Raynor, but it was certainly the impetus, and I looked to his spirit for inspiration and for recrimination if something seemed not quite right.

He was a fascinating guy and a sarcastic son of a bitch. He told me that he moved to the suburbs so as to be out of the blast radius if an atomic bomb landed on Chicago. 

He told me (winking) that paganism was where it’s at – because of the proliferation of nymphs. He told me that if you fight with brass knuckles to try to punch up under the ribs and maybe pop a lung. I was eleven at the time.

He and his wife traveled the world, she was a famous photographer. They together had a power and grace that I still remember and when she was gone, after her own bout with Alzheimer’s, I remember him as a wrecked shell – jagged and hard, but still with a biting wit and lung-popping hilarious dark humor.

Did I mention "Half-Life of Memory" is a comedy? Well, there’s a lot of comedy in it, anyhow.


Q - How long had you been working on the play and is it being staged as you envisioned? 

I originally wrote "The Half-Life of Memory" as my thesis for graduation from the MFA playwriting program at the Yale School of Drama (‘02). It hasn’t exactly sat in a drawer since that time, but I have been careful with it, considering how I would like to revise it for subsequent production.

The amazing folks at Cold Basement were excited enough to give me the space, time, and process I needed to really make the show hum as it does in its present form. It wasn’t exactly as labor intensive as gleaning radioactive material but it does have a certain glow now.

As for staging – though I have a kind of vision, I don’t feel that’s really the realm of the playwright alone. I leave it up to our capable director, Sophie Blumberg, and the actors, and amazing technical folks. It’s a collaborative process that has a beauty to it in all of its composite parts.

I guess all that is to say – "The Half-Life of Memory" is most certainly not being staged as I envisioned it, and that is the most wonderful thing about it – because my vision is limited to just me… and in collaboration, a theatre piece becomes alive as the power of all these wonderful minds are unleashed on it. 

It would be terrible if a play was staged as I envisioned it… how boring is that?

Q - What would you like audiences to take away from "The Half-Life of Memory" when it opens next month? Is the play as timely now as when the Manhattan Project was going on in World War II?

Growing up, I thought that when any family got together for a meal, or for Thanksgiving, or whatever, the topic of conversation would always be WWII. My family was made up of survivors of the holocaust and they left Europe in the 1950s.

For me, WWII then will always be present and as part of a meal or a conversation as a piece of chocolate cake and a cup of coffee. That being said, the fact of the war and the Manhattan project are secondary in the play. 


Of course the play didn’t exist during World War II (it would have been pretty prescient if it did).

However, the backdrop of the building of the atomic bomb is used in "The Half-Life of Memory" as metaphor to tie more specifically to the theme of trying to understand the past and living with guilt or regret. This is a memory play within the context of the Manhattan project, but the war is only one war and the bomb is just another bomb, wars rage and bombs hit their targets in ourselves all the time.

What do we do with the explosions? Where do they go? If the universe is conserved (a preoccupation of mine these days) then memories and present events “happen” simultaneously. What are the implications of that on a scientist who is slowly losing his marbles?

Of course, every audience member will take what they will from this story, but I hope they are affected and have a chance to consider legacy, memory, and have a bit of a laugh through the dark cynicism of it all. 

Severin would have appreciated the laugh.

Q - You've written and performed for Second City. Why do you think Second City is such a launching pad, especially for budding comics?

Second City maintains a kind of raw energy that makes it spectacular – the ions of charged atmosphere bleed from the walls. The fact that as a neophyte I could stand on the same stage and breathe the same particulates that a Belushi or an Ackroyd or Colbert once breathed made for a real charge and as a young comic that makes all possibilities seem vibrant and accessible.



In my first class, the first exercise we ever did involved marching up on stage and announcing “I am an Improv God, so Fuck it!” Everything from there was an attempt to keep up that kind of free expression. It’s a beautiful place.

Q - What are your favorite topics to write about and why? How has it been seeing your work showcased by the likes of Disney and Fox TV?

I’m a dark humor and satire guy – all of my plays live in a kind of morass of comedy, dark and thick as nutella, on pumpernickel. My plays tend to be story based with characters inhabiting a story, rather than the other way round – though I am envious of writers whose characters seem to talk to them in the corners of their living rooms, that’s not really my speed – I like a plot and a story and then the characters live inside there.

There are so many talented people out there it is truly depressing… I mean.. uh inspiring (but also depressing). You consider that you have these gifts to bear and then you go somewhere like Disney and see a bevy of Kings from the Orient with myrrh to spare all piled into a corrugated metal warehouse. 

It’s a tricky thing because out there in the large entertainment conglomerates they are beholden to many masters. There’s perfection that can be achieved in that system, but there’s great restriction too.

Q - Do you have any dream projects?

I am fascinated by the possibilities of technology in theater – I wonder what can be done when the proscenium is atomized and an audience is online as well as in person. What possibilities does that open up?

I recently wrote a play that was performed by an actor in Singapore (the director was in Argentina) for an audience at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. It was rehearsed and performed entirely via Skype. 

That was exciting to me – how can we open up the world like that? Three dimensional projection technology and artificial intelligence are aspects I’d like to weave into future projects too.

Also, interactivity is not a fad, people desire their theatre to give them the option of investing in it as more than an observer. What is the extreme there, how can we move people with what they are able to contribute while still giving them a story and allowing them the chance to be captivated.

How does the theatrical medium stay vital in that context? I’m not sure – but I am excited to find out.

On the other hand.. just give a solid director three blocks and a few top-notch actors and it’s possible to magically perform any play in the world.