<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Real Estate, Photo Galleries, Homes, and Apartments]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/the-scene/events http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:22:49 -0800 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:22:49 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Single-Day BottleRock Tickets Set to Go On Sale]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:02:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bottlerocknapaballoons.jpg

General admission single-day tickets for the third annual BottleRock Music Festival music, food, wine and brew festival (May 29-31, 2015) go on sale Wednesday, Jan. 28 at BottleRockNapaValley.com and Eventbrite.com.

A limited quantity of single day tickets will be available at $99 per person.

Imagine Dragons, who will release their newest album Smoke + Mirrors on February 17, will kick-off the festival on Friday, May 29, followed by Robert Plant on Saturday, May 30 and No Doubt who will close out the three-day event on Sunday, May 31.

The BottleRock Napa Valley daily lineup, to date, includes:

Friday, May 29: Imagine Dragons, Foster The People, Cage The Elephant, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Public Enemy, Los Lobos, Xavier Rudd & The United Nations, AER, The Mowgli’s, Courtney Barnett, Kopecky, Big Talk, Vacationer, Zella Day, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, The London Souls, Afrolicious, Wildlife Control, Ryan Sims Band, The Iron Heart, The Bad Jones, The Deadlies, Pion 2 Zion

Saturday, May 30: Robert Plant, The Avett Brothers, Passion Pit, Young The Giant, Capital Cities, Portugal. The Man, ZZ Ward, Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts, Lettuce, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Brothers Comatose, Knox Hamilton, Finish Ticket, Grizfolk, Black English, Wild Ones, The Record Company, Con Brio, Transfer, The Trims, Mother Mother, Fritz Montana, Doe Eye, Jessica Malone, Napa Crossroads LIVE Featuring David Pack of Ambrosia, John Elefante of Kansas, Bill Champlin formerly of Chicago, and Jim Peterik founding member of Survivor

Sunday, May 31: No Doubt, Snoop Dogg, Gipsy Kings, AWOLNATION, American Authors, Trampled By Turtles, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Echosmith, Brett Dennen, Los Amigos Invisibles, JJ Grey & Mofro, Tristan Prettyman, People Under The Stairs, The Last Internationale, Battle Tapes, Moonalice, Kawehi, Emily Wolfe, Sneakout, The Frail, Eagle Wolf Snake, Silverado Pickups, Matt Moon, grass child, Walsh

Show times will be released prior to the event.

<![CDATA[Julie Brown Brings "Homecoming" Show to SF Sketchfest]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:31:15 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/julie-brown.jpg

Social media is all a flutter this week since “Weird Al” Yankovic announced a world tour, but you can see the queen of ’80s comedy music Saturday night as part of SF Sketchfest.

Julie Brown is bringing her successful “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Musical” to the Brava Theater, 2781 24th St., at 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24. The stage comedy is based on her hit 1984 tune, “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun.”

Turning a school shooting-related song into a full-blown musical came with its challenges, the subject matter being the main one, Brown said.

“We sort of padded the shooting on the parade float with more deaths,” she said. “It’s not like there’s one horrible moment. There are several.”

“We made it sort of an ’80s horror satire,” Brown added.
The song sees Julie’s best pal, Debbie, taking out the cheerleaders and glee club with a machine gun, done in the style of a weepy ’50s teen tune.

“The homecoming queen is played by Drew Droege. He’s just genius. So the homecoming queen is a guy playing a girl. There are so many layers of non-reality in it,” Brown said.

Brown wrote the show with Kurt Koehler who directed and cast it with clearly non-high-school-aged actors and comedians and cast herself as the lead, of course!

“I made my character the star. Her name is Julie. It’s the same as the song, as it’s kind of through my eyes, through my point of view,” Brown said. “The character is a little Valley Girl-ish.”

The Van Nuys native who belted out “Cause I’m a Blond” actually helped bring the Valley Girl character to the mainstream, thanks to her comedy albums “Goddess in Progress” and “Trapped in the Body of a White Girl,” her meta MTV show, “Just Say Julie,” and the movie she wrote, “Earth Girls Are Easy.”

That flick, with its bubbly theme song and colorful extraterrestrials, seems ripe for the stage, and Brown agrees.

“Kurt and I had been working on that, but I got a job on a show, and he started casting ‘The Middle.’ So we had to stop. It bums me out. If it was up to me, this is all I would do,” Brown said. “It is coming eventually.”

Like her contemporary, Yankovic, Brown has continued to pen and record humorous ditties. Her Madonna documentary spoof, “Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful,” has a rabid cult following, and she updated her Medusa parodies on the recent album, “Smell the Glamour.”

Brown’s debut at SF Sketchfest was last year when she reprised her starring role of Judy in a live read of Bobcat Goldthwait’s red-nose epic “Shakes the Clown.” Brown assured that her cast from “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Musical” will be more practiced than Goldthwait’s troupe was in 2014.

“We didn’t really rehearse. Bobcat didn’t give us the scripts until like the day before. Bobcat was the worst!” she laughed. “It did have that quality of we’re just up there goofing around. … That is so Bobcat’s style.”

Brown got permission from MTV to edit and release episodes of “Just Say Julie,” which are available on DVD via her website at juliebrown.com. Visit sfsketchest.com for ticket info for all their shows. The three-week festival kicks off on Thursday, Jan. 22.

<![CDATA[Grateful Dead Announces "Last-Ever" Performance]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:49:30 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/219*120/gratefuldead.jpg

Believe it or not, the Grateful Dead is coming back to Soldier Field.

The four living members of the Grateful Dead have announced plans for a celebratory performance at Soldier Field for the band’s 50th anniversary, a star-studded show that is set to be the original members' “last-ever performance together.”

The “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” performance will see Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir reunite at Soldier Field, nearly 20 years to the day of the band’s final performance, which took place at the venue roughly one month before Jerry Garcia’s death in August 1995.

The three-night event is scheduled for July 3-5 with each night seeing two sets of music.

The band will be joined by Phish's Trey Anastasio on guitar, Jeff Chimenti on keyboard and Bruce Hornsby on piano.

Tickets will be available via a first come first serve mail order system beginning Jan. 20, followed by an online pre-sale through Dead Online Ticketing Feb. 12 and will open to the general public Feb. 14 on Ticketmaster, according to dead50.net.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Burning Man Pre-Sale Tickets Available... For $800]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 06:26:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BURNING-MAN-VO---00000618.jpg

It's only January, but the August playa is on peoples' minds.

As is money.

A limited amount of Burning Man tickets are on sale this week for the bargain price of $800, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The famous desert-based arts and you-name-it festival sold out last year, with over 60,000 people crowding the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada for a week.

Normal tickets are $390 for the weeklong event, which is under size restrictions from federal authorities, who oversee the Bureau of Land Management-maintained land where the festival takes place.

Unless they sell out, of course.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Club Suspended After Chris Brown Concert Shooting]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 06:25:27 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/fiesta-nightclub.jpg

San Jose police have suspended the license of the nightclub where five people were shot while Chris Brown performed over the weekend.

The owner of Fiesta nightclub accepted a 60-day suspension of his entertainment permit and will also get a 60-day suspension from Alcohol Beverage Control, authorities said. That means a concert scheduled at the venue this Friday is now canceled. Both suspensions run through March 16.

The owner also agreed to ABC's decision to place the nightclub on probation for two years.

All five people who were shot survived.

No arrests have been made.

The ABC investigation “revealed that the licensee did not have adequate security measures in place for the January 11, 2015 event,” the department said in a press release. “Over 80 officers responded to the scene, along with fire, and medical units.”

The Grammy-award winning singer was in the middle of performing "Loyal" around 1 a.m. Sunday morning when gunshots rang out.

According to event promo materials, Brown was at the nightclub for a "Capricorn Bash" party, where ticket prices were going for anywhere between $50 and $2,500.

Cell phone video posted on social media by those attending the event, including Chris Brown himself, captured the moments leading up to the shooting and the aftermath.

Lt. James Hunt of SJPD said officers found shell casings inside the club at 3840 Monterey Highway and outside in the parking lot. Hunt said, when police arrived, some of the shooting victims were found inside the club and some were found outside.

Video footage shows nightclub guests panicking and running for cover as shots ring out. Brown himself appears to wince as the shots are fired, and is then led away by members of his entourage.

Police will continue to collaborate with ABC and city code enforcement officials on issues concerning the club and the city attorney's office will address any violations,  police spokeswoman Sgt. Heather Randol said.

The department's administrative vice unit had warned the club owner prior to Brown's party that the venue needed to take extra security measures in light of a shooting that wounded three at a party Brown emceed in West Hollywood on Aug. 24, "and they did not do that," Randol said.

A spokesperson for ABC said Thursday the nightclub had a history of other violent incidents over the past year.

The Fiesta has operated under a liquor license issued to Miguel Sandoval, president of the company LG Group, Inc., since July 26, 1991, according to ABC records.

Sandoval's annually renewed license is due to expire this coming Feb. 28, according to the ABC.

In 2014, the club was the site of an assault with a deadly weapon resulting in a head injury on Jan. 13; an assault and battery by a patron against another on March 13; a gunshot on July 13 that prompted police to clear 500 people from the club and its parking lot, and an assault by a patron who clubbed a person with bottle on Aug. 21, ABC spokesperson John Carr said.

The incidents together "were all used in this report by the ABC to determine what the penalty should be" against Sandoval, Carr said.

"It's a stiff penalty," he said

The two-year probation period means that the Fiesta's liquor license could be revoked if similar violations occur during that period, he said.

City business license records list Sandoval's LG Group as the licensee of the Fiesta Nightclub/Cowtown from August 1, 1991 to last August 15.

The next licensee is listed as Katia Reyes, as of Jan. 7, three days before the Brown party started at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Reyes is also listed as of Jan 7. as the holder of the county's five-year fictitious firm name certificate for the business as Fiesta Cajun House.

According to city planning records, in 2007, the San Jose Planning Commission turned down Sandoval's request for a conditional use permit asking to use a plexiglass wall to separate the nightclub for adults aged at least 21 years from a family restaurant allowing minors.

While the planning staff recommended approving a permit, San Jose police raised objections about a lack of police resources in the area, the possibility that minors would loiter and use alcohol and past infractions and non-compliance with permit requirements by the club.

Police Lt. David Hober opposed splitting the nightclub and restaurant because minors might commingle with adults and drink alcohol and said that the Fiesta had a history of underage persons served alcohol.

The club's representative at the meeting was George Shirakawa, Jr., who said the owner wanted under-aged patrons to share in the enjoyment of the music, that alcohol would not be served in the restaurant after 9 p.m. and security officers would prevent alcohol brought in from the bar side.

With the application, the Fiesta submitted a proposed security plan, including at least 12 security guards on the property on Saturday and Sunday nights, when to 250 to 500 people attend.

The commission voted down the use permit request by a 4-2 vote.

Also Thursday, a judge revoked Brown's probation but allowed him to remain free for now after the R&B singer traveled without approval for a concert and failed to complete community service on time.

Brown is scheduled to return to San Jose for a concert at the SAP Center on March 6.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Jefferson Airplane Manager Dead at 70]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 16:52:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/famoushomes526.JPG

Bill Thompson, the longtime manager of the Jefferson Airplane — and further iterations Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna — died Monday of a heart attack at 70 at his Mill Valley home.

No mere businessman, he was responsible for much of the band's identity, the Marin Independent Journal reported.

Thompson took over management of the band in 1968 from legendary concert promoter Bill Graham.

In addition to running the band's logistics, Thompson secured the legendary 20-room Victorian home near Golden Gate Park on Fulton Street that became the "Black Mansion," the newspaper reported.

Musicians and band members said that Thompson was a vital and reliable "anchor" during a "wild and woolly" era that, through the LSD-fueled surreality of the Haight-Ashbury, created what's still known as the "San Francisco sound."

<![CDATA[Dave Matthews Band Coming to Shoreline]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 12:49:23 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/Dave+Matthews+Band+Sleep+Train+9.5.14+%2839%29.jpg

Dave Matthews Band will be making a stop in the Bay Area this fall.

DMB will be at  Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on Friday, Sept. 11, for one-night only.

The 2015 North American tour will kick off on May 13 in Austin, Texas, and each show with have two full sets, according to a news release from Live Nation.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 13, but they will go on sale online this Thursday at 10 a.m. for members of the DMB Warehouse Fan Association.

Citi card members will have access to presale tickets beginning February 9. 

Dave Matthews Band has only one other California date scheduled this year, Sept. 12 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine.

The tour ends Sept. 13 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Photo Credit: Alex Matthews]]>
<![CDATA["Batkid Begins" Doc Lures Famous Poster Artist Out of Retirement]]> Fri, 09 Jan 2015 16:06:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/batkid-poster-crop.png

The same artist behind classic movie posters for more than 150 films, including the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series, has come out of retirement to create the poster for an upcoming documentary on Miles Scott, aka Batkid.

Artist Drew Struzan was so impressed by the story of the little California boy with leukemia who transformed San Francisco into Gotham City for a day in 2013 he designed the poster for “Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World” pro bono, according to the film’s producers.

The documentary helmed by filmmaker Dana Nachman premieres Jan. 24 at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Nachman, a New York native who lives in the Bay Area, raised cash through the fundraising site Indiegogo to pay for post-production costs to finish the film.

Nachman and her "teeny, tiny crew," which includes NBC Bay Area producer Liza Meak, went behind-the-scenes with Miles' family in Tulelake, Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border. There, the team spent a weekend with the Scott family, including Miles' parents, Nick and Natalie, who describe in the upcoming film how, when Miles was first diagnosed with leukemia, he felt a deep connection to Batman.

But his mom, Natalie, said this dream is emblematic of her son’s battle with leukemia.

“He likes to be a superhero,” she said. “He is one. He beat an awful disease.”

The Make-A-Wish Foundation partnered with the city of San Francisco to take Miles on a crime-fighting spree through the city, defeating the Penguin and the Riddler, and rescuing a damsel in distress. As thanks for his service, Mayor Ed Lee presented him with the key to the city.

Miles, now 6, is doing well. His leukemia is in remission and his parents say he’s a “healthy, happy boy.”

NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World
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<![CDATA[Bay Area Movie Theaters to Show "The Interview"]]> Tue, 23 Dec 2014 23:30:33 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/berkeley-interview-3.jpg

Several Bay Area movie theaters will be showing "The Interview" when it begins its limited theatrical release on Christmas Day.

Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley was among the first area theater to sell tickets for Dec. 25 screenings of the movie on Tuesday afternoon. A call to the theater's box office confirmed the theater's plans to screen the film.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the theater's website listed three screenings a day for a week beginning on Dec. 25.

Sony Pictures Entertainment confirmed earlier in the day that the film will have a limited theatrical release across the United States beginning Thursday.

"We have never given up on releasing 'The Interview' and we're excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day," Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment, said in a statement. "At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience."

With Sony's blessing, other independent theater chains around the country and the Bay Area were expected to add the movie to their schedules. Some Cinema West theaters planned to show the film, including the chain's Livermore location, which also began selling tickets on Tuesday. The Camera 3 in San Jose also confirmed plans to show the film beginning Christmas Day at 3 and 8:30 p.m.

The Alamo Drafthouse in Texas and Atlanta's Plaza Theater said they would begin showing "The Interview" prior to Sony's confirmation.

Mike Whalen, who teaches film at Santa Clara University, said Sony's decision and its plan to put it in independent theatres gives a big boost to the little guy.

"This is a major coup for independent theatres known for niche films,” Whalen said. “This is an opportunity to get a wide release."

Even President Barack Obama praised the decision. He said in a statement that he applauds Sony's decision to authorize screenings of the film, saying, “We are a country of free speech and artistic expression."

Sony announced last week it had called off the scheduled Christmas release of the North Korea satire which depicts the assassination of dictator Kim Jong Un following hacker threats of violence against theaters showing the film.

A group of writers including Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman and Tony Kushner, meanwhile, signed a PEN American Center petition urging Sony Pictures to make "The Interview" widely available.

The FBI has said the attacks on Sony came from North Korea.

NBC Bay Area's Scott Budman contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Grumpy Cat to Visit San Francisco]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:44:16 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/477158783.jpg

Can Grumpy Cat save the holidays?

Or, more accurately: can Grumpy Cat save us?

Help may be on the way, when the Internet's beloved "cranky kitty" pays a visit to San Francisco Friday.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports Grumpy Cat will be on hand at 5 p.m. at Union Square for the unveiling of the holiday pet adoption window at Macy's.

Grumpy Cat will also be promoting her movie. Yes, she has a movie, and "Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever" premieres on Lifetime on Nov. 29. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images for SXSW
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<![CDATA[Former Grateful Dead Manager Dies at 73 ]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:28:16 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/rock-scully.jpg

Rock Scully has passed on.

The former manager of the Grateful Dead died Tuesday at 73 near his home in Monterey, according to the Monterey Herald. He had been battling lung cancer.

Scully managed the band for 20 years, from when he first heard the band at a Ken Kesey acid test, those infamous happenings in which attendees received a dose of LSD as well as a dose of music, until 1985.

Scully had a "mischievous sense of adventure" and was "full of wonder and curiousity," attributes that served him well as the man in charge of an outfit as weird, wild and woolly as the Dead, according to guitarist Bob Weir.

He also "lived 'the hippie ethos' of peace and love every day of his life, like nobody I've ever met before," said David Bean, a Big Sur-based promoter.

A Carmel native, who met current U.S. Congressman Sam Farr in sixth grade at Sunset School, he had studied German literature before deciding to go into music after a ski trip to Squaw Valley, the newspaper reported.

It was Farr to whom Scully announced that he'd be manager of a new band, with a new name. The Grateful Dead. At the time, Farr thought it was "the nuttiest thing I've heard heard," the congressman told the newspaper.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Robin Williams' Former Napa Estate Listed For $25.9 Million]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:40:14 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/robin-williams-home.jpg

Robin Williams' former Napa Valley estate is back on the market.

The 640-acre "Villa of Smiles" is for sale for $25.9 million, 13 percent cheaper than when it hit the market prior to the actor and comedian's death, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The villa is 20,000 square feet and sports five bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a library, a bell tower, a theater and "safe rooms," according to the newspaper.

There's also a 65-foot-long swimming pool, a ranch and "more than 18 acres of vineyards," the newspaper reported.

No word on what grapes are planted.

The villa was built specifically for Williams, who died at his Tiburon home in August.

Photo Credit: Coldwell Banker Previews International]]>
<![CDATA[Mindy Kaling Shoots Sitcom in San Francisco]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 14:03:55 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/kaling-instagram.jpg

Mindy Kaling took a whirlwind tour of San Francisco on Tuesday, shooting scenes for her sitcom "The Mindy Project."

Kaling, who plays an obstetrician/gynecologist on the show, filmed mainly with Chris Messina, her on-screen love interest and fellow OB/GYN. Judging by the stops (and Kaling's Instagram account), the fictional pair planned a romantic and picturesque visit.

The Bold Italic spotted the pair in front of the Painted Ladies Victorian houses on Steiner Street and near the Golden Gate Bridge. Kaling and Messina also shot scenes by a cable car, on the crooked part of Lombard Street and at City Lights bookstore. 

The day culminated with an intimate al fresco dinner scene shot at waterfront restaurant Epic Roasthouse under the lights of the Bay Bridge. 

"They dined on clam chowder, the Epic burger and fries and meatballs," reveals the restaurant's publicist Morgan Moore.

The show airs Tuesdays on Fox.

Photo Credit: @MindyKaling / Instagram
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<![CDATA[Neil Young Announces Starbucks Boycott]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 18:40:40 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/478056495.jpg

Neil Young and Starbucks are officially over.

The classic rocker announced the end of his latte-sipping days after the coffee giant joined up with Monsanto in fighting food labeling regulations, according to reports.

Monsanto is leading the fight against labels for food products that contain genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

And Starbucks is lending a helping hand in Monsanto's fight, which could mean it's all Peet's from here on out for Neil Young.

On his website, Young expressed his disappointment in Starbucks "working with the biggest villain of them all, Monsanto."

Vermont earlier this year passed a law that says all food with GMOs need labels by July 1, 2016.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Superhero Hopefuls Converge on Emeryville]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:51:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/superhero-auditions.jpg

Not rain nor sleet nor Magneto will keep the superheroes away.

Would-be Marvel men and women converged on Emeryville Thursday, strutting their stuff to prove they have what it takes to earn a place on the Marvel Universe Live! stunt show tour.

Men and women with skills in parkour, trick skateboarding, motorcycle riding and various martial arts took to the Athletic Playground in Emeryville in an attempt to earn a 12-month contract as a superhero.

No costumes required – this is all real-life stunts.

Those powerful enough to prove they can be a superhero get to go on tour with the troupe. The tour includes a stop at the SAP Center in San Jose, March 20-22.

<![CDATA[Art of Eleanor Coppola on Display at Sonoma Museum]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 19:26:35 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Eleanor-Coppola-pic.jpg

Eleanor Coppola glided easily through the Sonoma Valley Museum, eyes darting at everything at once, spiky silver hair sparkling above a bright blue jacket. All around her: 50 years of her artwork stared back, part of a new retrospective exhibit of her life in art.

Drawings, photographs, watercolors and installations engulfed the soft-spoken woman as she made her way through the gallery inspecting the placement of each item.  “It’s like imagining going back and looking at your high school essay,” Coppola said.

The public largely knows Coppola as the wife of film director Francis Ford Coppola, and mother of director Sophia Coppola and her brother Roman Coppola. But, those in her circle, also know her as a consummate artisan who is compelled to create.

“The great thing about this amazing woman is that she is also a wonderful artist,” said Kate Eilertsen, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Museum.

Coppola has eked out her art in between the lines of her other lives: wife, mother, filmmaker and director of the family’s Napa Valley winery. Long ago, she figured out how to inject a life-long passion for the arts within the trajectory of her husband’s work, crafting pieces in the confines of hotel rooms and film locations.

“I’ve traveled to all of Francis’ locations,” she said. “And in those occasions I’ve tried to take smaller work and keep working on those things.”

Along on her travels, paper, pencils and other art supplies tucked into suitcases. One offspring of her travels are several large circle drawings defined by intricate lines. She finished one larger piece over two years.

The exhibit also features clothing designs Coppola created for the ODC Dance troupe. A side-room flickers with short videos she created, including one of a close-up of someone peeling a potato. Another shows a San Francisco Victorian house being hauled to a new location on a truck from the Western Addition during the 1970s.

Coppola famously took up a movie camera during her husband’s filming of "Apocalypse Now," creating the behind-the-scenes documentary "Hearts of Darkness."

One of the more elaborate of the exhibition, is an installation borne of the darkest period of her life. Circle of Memory is a large circular room constructed of straw bales and surrounded by dramatic photos of boulders in Ireland. The room is her version of ancient rooms where people would gather to remember the dead. Coppola’s son Gian Carlo Coppola died in a boating accident in 1986. Coppola discovered the type of room’s healing powers while sitting in one with a friend in Ireland, sharing names of people they’d lost.

“Finally at one point I said our son’s name, Gian Carlo Coppola,” she said. “I just had this unusual emotional experience of feeling connected to all the mothers, all the parents in history who had ever lost a child.”

Inside Coppola’s straw room, a steady stream of salt flowed from the ceiling, a symbol of tears and a baisc element that is required for life.

“It’s a place to reflect and commemorate and appreciate people we’ve lost,” Coppola said.

Coppola’s work is infused with the nature she soaked in at her home and studio in Napa Valley, where she and her family relocated decades ago from San Francisco. She said was initially in tears at the move, having left behind a bustling cultural city of art galleries and music. But then she came to discover the art all around her.

“Very shortly, I realized this enormous drama in nature,” Coppola said. “The skies and changing color of the grasses.”

Coppola said her art isn’t a byproduct of life among a famous family - it’s the sparks that’ve lived inside her since she was a child, smelling the oil paints from her father’s art studio.

As she glanced around the gallery, even she seemed surprised at the variety and depth.

“It’s really gratifying,” she said, “to see that i was able to get some work done during this busy life I’ve lived.”

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.
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<![CDATA[Improv Puppet Show Set for San Francisco Run]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 14:14:34 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Puppet-Up-1.jpg

Picture a mash up of “The Muppet Show” and “Whose Line is It Anyway?” and you’ll have an idea of what to expect from “Puppet Up! - Uncensored,” an improv comedy puppet show returning to San Francisco, Nov. 13-23.

“Puppet Up! – Uncensored” was co-created by Chairman of the Jim Henson Company, Brian Henson, who will be puppeteering during this run as well. After years of performing in movies like “Labyrinth,” producing shows such as “Farscape” and directing fan favorites like “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” Henson said he was searching for a new comedic voice for puppets.

“I was quite ambitious. I wanted to find the funniest angle for puppets for a discerning audience,” Henson said.

“The Muppet Show” arrived on the tail of such TV sketch comedy classics as “Laugh In” and “The Carol Burnett Show,” and all three owe something to vaudeville. While much of that humor is timeless, Henson’s ambition had him seeking something a little different.

“I wanted something that had a newer feel to it,” Henson said.

His then-girlfriend-now-wife, Mia Sara, suggested consulting with an improv comedy pro, and former Groundling, Patrick Bristow, came highly regarded. Henson said Bristow wasn’t sure that puppets and improv would be a good mix, as improv comics rely on constant eye-contact with each other to progress a scene, whereas Henson-style puppeteering has performers with their eyes locked to monitors.

Somehow, though, it worked to the surprise of Bristow. He suggested adding an audience, to bring the comedy to the next level. Among the friends and family at the first show were producers from the Aspen Comedy Festival, who insisted the new show have a slot there. It was so successful in Aspen, that the Edinburgh Comedy Festival came calling.

“I said, ‘Patrick, I think we’ve got a show,” Henson recalled. “We came back to L.A. to work the show and make it bigger and more robust.”

The run in San Francisco will feature Bristow interacting with the audience, getting suggestions for scenes and characters, while Henson and his improv puppeteers wait to grab one of 90 puppets and do one-of-a-kind sketch pieces and songs.

“It never goes where you expect,” Henson said. “As a performer, I'll often be off-stage with my puppet, and I’m thinking I’m going to come in as Brooklyn street guy, like a construction worker who’s angry. And, I’ll open the puppet’s mouth and all of a sudden, I’m doing a German mad scientist. I didn’t know I was going to do that.”

Henson said they didn’t intend to do an adults-only puppet show, but improv will go where it wants to go, and sometimes that’s into blue-humor territory.

“I have a dirty sense of humor when I’m in the right mode. I love it,” he said. “Occasionally, some of the performers and even me have gone a little too far, and we’ll talk about it.”

Another treat for longtime fans of Henson puppetry is the addition of two classic Henson company sketches. “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face” goes back nearly 60 years. Jim Henson performed it on early television programs including “The Steve Allen Show.”

“My mother said they performed that more than anything,” Henson said.

The other, “Java,” featuring colorful, tube-like puppets dancing, was originally performed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz.

“I know my dad was a huge fan of doing that one with Frank. I remember they did it for ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ when I was like 7,” Henson said. “I had to do the fire extinguisher at the end, and I remember being just terrified.”

“Puppet Up! – Uncensored” performers include Ted Michaels, Colleen Smith, Peggy Etra, Michael Oosterom, Grant Baciocco, Donna Kimball, Drew Massey and Victor Yerrid.

Visit shnsf.com for tickets and more info about “Puppet Up! - Uncensored.”

Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to coreywrites@yahoo.com or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.

Photo Credit: Puppet Up! - Uncensored]]>
<![CDATA[Carol Channing Serenaded By SF Students]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 14:55:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/channing-Carol-2.jpg

Dozens of Lowell High School students crowded around the star, snapping selfies with her as she glowed on the theater stage.

It wasn’t Ariana Grande they were clamoring over but a Lowell alumna 72 years Grande’s senior, San Francisco native and living legend, Carol Channing.

The Broadway baby who brought Dolly Levi to life was serenaded with “Hello, Carol!” by the Lowell chorus and jazz band (a few audience members joined in, too) when she visited her alma mater and appeared in the Carol Channing Auditorium on Thursday.

Channing is doing a whirlwind tour of her old San Francisco stomping grounds that will culminate in the show “Time Steppin’” at the Curran Theatre at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Channing will be seeing a different view because it was in the audience of the Curran where she fell in love with the theater, saving her pennies to watch Ethel Waters in “As Thousands Cheer.” At the Curran, Channing will share stories of her remarkable show business career with another stage veteran, Tommy Tune.
“I’ve known him since he graduated from high school,” Channing said after her Lowell presentation. “I was performing down south, and he came and said, ‘I want to do just what you’re doing,’and I remembered him every time he would stop by after a show.”

Resurrecting the arts in public schools has been a passion of Channing’s for a long time, and the fruit of her effort was seen in her charges at Lowell. Their lively performances and polite nature—one dropped to a knee to present Channing with a bountiful bouquet—inspired the 93-year-old performer. In fact, she belted out “Before the Parade Passes By” from “Hello, Dolly!” a cappella.

“Acapulco is what Jimmy Durante used to say,” Channing laughed.

“To see those children’s’ eyes light up, it’s wonderful for me. It’s the essence of life,” she said. A theater student shouted a request from the audience, and Channing delivered the Ephraim monologue from “Hello, Dolly!”

Channing spent a good portion of Wednesday at the San Francisco Chronicle, where she visited frequently as a young woman, when her uncle Bill Chandler was the managing editor.

“It was just a joy to be there. He found every excuse to put me in the paper,” Channing said. “I played ‘Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.’ Every time I even stepped on the school auditorium stage, Uncle Bill put it right there on the second page.”

Surely, Channing and Tune will discuss ‘Dolly!’ during the show on Saturday. For 2,844 performances, Channing never missed one.

“I did shows when I had ovarian cancer. The doctor would stand in the wings. You can’t not be there. I never missed a show on the tours. Gee, I sound like I’m bragging about myself. I never meant it that way. I felt like I was trying to come up to an impossible mission,” Channing told me. “The audience, they saved their hard-earned money. They got babysitters. They drove in for God knows how long. They wanted to see the show, and then I’m not there? I can’t do that. So I got there. Every. Single. Performance. I reached to the heavens to get the show out, and that’s your best performance, the one you can hardly get out.”

Visit shnsf.com for more information on “Time Steppin’” at the Curran Theatre.

Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to coreywrites@yahoo.com or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.

Photo Credit: Corey Andrew]]>
<![CDATA[Damon Wayans, App Maven, Slated For Samsung Conference]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 15:23:13 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Damon-Wayans.jpg

Damon Wayans continues to channel “Hey Mon’s!” Mr. Hedley, a West Indian character he played on “In Living Color,” who scoffed at anyone who worked less than two jobs.

“I’m a comedian, writer, producer, father, grandfather and app maker,” Wayans laughed. It’s the former gig that will bring him to Cobb’s Comedy Club in SF Nov. 6-9, and the latter that will see him moderating a panel about global reach for mobile apps at the Samsung Developer Conference this month.

Wayans brought to life such characters as Mr. Hedley, Homey D. Clown, Handi Man and Head Detective on the ‘90s Fox sketch show “In Living Color,” and he’s been on the stand-up stage for more than 30 years. When trying to take a version of “In Living Color” online back in 2008, Wayans’ creative side took a blow.

“I went to my first convention, and they were talking about entertainment and how they were going to monetize content donations. They’re viewing what I do as a donation, and they’re going to make money off it,” he said. “That made me sick to my stomach. I needed to create tools to help create the content, because creating the content has little value.”

Wayans calls his app Diddeo a “pocket studio” where users can give their videos a professional makeover. With Smart phones able to produce hi-res video, Wayans calls Diddeo the “Rolls Royce of video creation.” In fact, he’s looking to launch a sketch comedy show using Diddeo, possibly with his son, Damon Wayans Jr., who’s having a great year with a starring role in the hit film “Let’s Be Cops.”

“It would me against the world, challenging the online community to do a sketch or music video parody,” Wayans said.

He’s also got FlickDat, an app to replace the paper business card.

“You can change all your contacts into business cards. You can add take a photo, make that your background, add a photo on top of that and add video to your business card,” Wayans said.

Wayans also spent a season on “Saturday Night Live.” He thinks when Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele of Comedy Central’s hit sketch show “Key and Peele” hit, they’re really funny. But, he said since Dave Chappelle left his show, the void has yet to be filled.

“We’ve almost gone backward, if you think about Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor and the doors they knocked down. Those doors have been put back up,” he said. “You can’t talk about race. You can’t talk about homosexuals. You can’t talk about politics. What can you talk about? There was a time when this country would laugh at itself.”

Wayans would love for his brother, Keenan Ivory, and Fox to work out the details to resurrect the groundbreaking “In Living Color,” if even for a one-off special.

“There’s still so much comedy in the world to be had,” he said. “We need to hold up a mirror.”

Visit cobbscomedyclub.com for more info on Damon Wayans shows.

Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to coreywrites@yahoo.com or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.

<![CDATA[Cameron Esposito Haunts SF Night After Halloween]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 14:35:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CameronEsposito_By-Mandee-Johnson.red_.jpg

Poor Cameron Esposito has been so bogged down with her plethora of podcasts, releasing a hit comedy album (“Same Sex Symbol”) and packing houses on the road, that she didn’t have time to assemble a Halloween costume this year.

However, the comedian did give this column the exclusive scoop that she will host a costume contest on the stage of The Independent at 628 Divisadero in San Francisco, on Sunday, November 1, to close out the big holiday weekend. (She may also provide saltines and soda water for those who stuffed down too much candy corn with tequila chasers.)

“Maybe I’ll just bring some of those little, weird pumpkins that are also like candy corn. Those are the best, because, what is that even?” Esposito said. “The problem with my life is I haven’t done anything cool for multiple Halloweens now because I’ve been in a hotel room by myself.”

Esposito does fondly recall dressing in ill-fitting Charlie Chaplin garb as a child. Gender-bending at Halloween was a toe-in-the-pool toward coming out.

“I talked to my fiancée, Rhea [Butcher], about this and we compared costumes when we were children. ‘For a while, I was a pirate.’ ‘And I was Garfield.’ It’s all falling in this realm of testing our boundaries of our femininity,” Esposito said. “Not that Garfield is very feminine. He does love lasagna and sleeping, and that sounds just like a woman!”

While it’s adorable to see little tykes trick or treating during the hours of 6 to 8, it can be obnoxious when high school-age-and-beyond young adults come beating on your door for Reese’s at 10 p.m. Esposito has a unique way of looking at that holiday annoyance.

“First of all, I’m proud of those 22-year-olds for not having any amount of shame,” she said. “If you get a high school-age trick-or-treater at the door, just know that they’re not trying to break into an abandoned swimming pool or drink 27 40s. Love them because they’re trying to do the right thing.”

Esposito hosts “Wham Bam Pow,” a sci-fi/action movie-themed podcast with panelists Butcher and Ricky Carmona. Just because it’s the season of the witch, don’t expect her to be discussing any horror flicks on there.

“No. Forget it. It’s disgusting. I really like horror movies as a concept. I like the idea. That stuff fascinates me, but I’m just terrified of everything,” she said. Esposito added that while she’s not watching the current smash show “American Horror Story,” she does keep up with online synopses and photos.

“It’s a very strange tightrope that I walk between fascination with the macabre and being completely unable to see it,” she said.

Visit cameronesposito.com or theindependentsf.com for more info on the Nov. 2 show.

Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to coreywrites@yahoo.com or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.

Photo Credit: Mandee Johnson Photography | CleftClips]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Ice Rink Open for Business]]> Wed, 06 Nov 2013 14:13:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/skating_rink.jpg

Halloween decorations are still up in most Bay Area neighborhoods, but there is one spot that has already jumped to the next holiday season.

San Francisco's Union Square ice rink opened for business Tuesday.

The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink, presented by Alaska Airlines, hosted a "ice breaking" event to get things started.

It was a balmy 68 degrees for the party. 

The ice rink will stay open through Jan.  20.

Ticket prices are $11 for adults and $7 for children eight years old and under. Skate rentals will cost you another $5.

The hours are 10 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. every day of the week.

A portion of ticket proceeds benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[$100,000 "Ultimate Box Set" Sold and Delivered]]> Tue, 22 Oct 2013 18:52:24 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/188*120/UBS+Deliver-005.jpg

In December of 2012, avant-garde music/film/multimedia/performance group The Residents, from San Francisco, announced the availability of an “Ultimate Box Set” with a video of singer Randy Rose showing off a refrigerator filled with over 150 Residents products.

Included in the offering were first pressings and first releases of every major album, single, video, DVD, and much more, with the crown jewel being a genuine eyeball mask from the iconic group.  

Price tag?  $100,000. 

PHOTOS: The Residents' Ultimate Box Set

Last September, Cryptic Corporation Vice President Homer Flynn announced the sale of the first Ultimate Box Set to a man named Tripmonster from Bloomington, Ind.  In a video press release, Flynn also said the delivery would be shot as part of a documentary called, “Theory of Obscurity,” about the 40+ year history of The Residents.  (Full disclosure: I am a producer on that film, but didn’t make the trip for the UBS shoot.) 

Acting as the managers for The Residents, The Cryptic Corporation has handled all press, business dealings and public interactions during the majority of the group’s career, providing the members of The Residents with an impressive level of anonymity.

"For The Residents, the delivery of their Ultimate Box Set was both a profound and satisfying experience," Flynn said. "The expression of joy on the face of Tripmonster, as he held Mr. Green, the eyeball mask from his UBS, was worth every minute of their 40-year existence."

“This past weekend we captured a phenomenal event for our film Theory of Obscurity," documentary director Don Hardy said. "The Residents' Ultimate Box Set is a living testament to the amazing creative output that these one-of-a-kind artists have had over the past 40 years. Seeing all of their creations in one place was fantastic and so was meeting the proud owners of what has to be the coolest refrigerator ever made.”

Before leaving San Francisco, Flynn and fellow Cryptic Corporation Vice President Hardy Fox gathered the materials for the UBS, which ended up being 154 items, plus the eyeball mask. 

The Residents, with the help of the Cryptic Corporation, have kept archival copies of everything they’ve done over the years, and while Flynn was preparing the material for shipping, he said, “I think anytime you deal with nostalgia and are confronted with a whole lot of your past in a short amount of time, there’s mixed emotions that go along with it.”

En route to Indiana, Flynn stopped in Shreveport, La., to speak at Unscene Shreveport about “going to high school with The Residents, and meeting legendary performers like James Brown, Bo Diddley and Otis Redding,” according to the Theory of Obscurity Facebook page.

While thumbing through the items before the trip, Flynn said, “To be honest, as you get older, there’s a point where you realize most of your life is in the past, it’s not in the future. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a future, and it’s not that you don’t feel positive about it, but still, you know you’re never going to live as much of a life again as what you’ve already lived.”

Photo Credit: Theory of Obscurity ]]>
<![CDATA[The Residents' Ultimate Box Set #1]]> Tue, 22 Oct 2013 17:26:22 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/182*120/UBS+Deliver-003.jpg A peak inside the $100,000 Ultimate Box Set from The Residents.

Photo Credit: Theory of Obscurity: a film about The Residents]]>
<![CDATA[Publishing Legend Ron Turner Roast Kept Everyone Laughing]]> Mon, 21 Oct 2013 10:46:57 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Ron+Turner+Roast2.JPG

Local icon and institution Ron Turner and his Last Gasp Publishing house got roasted by the Litquake organization and received their prestigious Barbary Coast Award for a lifetime of literary achievements this week.
Ron Turner is an almost mythological local character, and Wednesday night's roast did little to dispel that larger-than-life status.
Among the evenings revelations: He knew both Charles Manson and the Reverend Jim Jones of the People's Temple. He once smoked a joint with Lee Harvey Oswald. And he's on a first name basis with both Norman Schwarzkopf and Timothy Leary.
Back in the nineties he helped throw one of the most scandalous parties in American history. It was attended by all the local politicians who were forced to witness a satanic performance artist get a pentagram cut into his back with a knife before being sodomized with a strap-on Jack Daniels bottle.
Over the years this party has taken on a mythic status and led to an urban folk legend that the Forty Niners will never win a Super Bowl again as a result of this profane ritual. It's known as the "Curse of The Forty Niners."
The stories told over the evening seemed to keep lurching from the surreal to the scandalously hilarious. But many of the roasters, such as Burning Man co-founder John Law, kept bringing the focus back to the books Last Gasp has published.
Over his decades as a publisher, Ron Turner has created some of the most outrageous books in print: Horny Biker Slut Comics, Amputee Love, Virgin Sperm Dancer, the list of titles just goes on and on.
But Turner is also responsible for some of the most lovely art books one will ever see. Mark Ryden's Fushigi Circus and the three Hi-Fructose Anthologies are like perfect art objects of breath-taking beauty.
A long list of friends and cohorts lined up to take part in the roast, including such luminaries as author Susie Bright, painter Robert Williams and gossip columnist Leah Garchik. Bucky Sinister was the perfect roast host and he kept the hilarious barbs coming fast and furiously.
Comic artist Jay Kinney talked about Ron's role as one of the main underground comics publishers of the sixties, seventies and beyond. Charlie Winton, of Publishers Group West and Soft Skull Press, described their adventures in publishing.
One of the funniest parts of the evening was the Last Gasp Chorus where a group of current and former employees related some sidesplittingly hilarious personal reminiscences.
Michelle Schlachta told a series of stories involving a nude photo of Ron, a comic called Crack Whore, and a wild party at the Mitchell Brothers that was so funny it left me gasping for breath.
Even Ron's son Colin Turner raked him over the coals with comments like: "I think Ron is my dad."
Though the event was a roast, it wasn't particularly mean spirited. Almost every embarrassing personal reminiscence or barb was usually followed by a protestation of love and respect.
In fact, at times it seemed like more of a love fest than a roast, with some in attendance complaining to roasters, like iconic Dead Kennedys artist Winston Smith, that they were too kind. This is not really surprising because underneath his bizarre eccentricities Ron's really a nice guy, and no one can deny his truly great achievements as a publisher.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[The Tech Brings "Star Wars" to Silicon Valley]]> Tue, 15 Oct 2013 18:47:52 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/budman4.jpg

Attention fellow geeks: The 'droids we're looking for are about to be revealed.

"Star Wars," the exhibit, is about to open at San Jose's Tech Museum of Innovation.

October 19 is the official opening date.

The Tech is promising an event where "science meets imagination."

We're hoping to see some cool stuff from the movies.

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes of Star Wars at The Tech

In fact, follow the link above for some preview pics from a behind-the-scenes, early "hard hat" look at what's coming.

The Tech, along with the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, is giving us an early sneak peek at how The Tech will handle The Force.

The exhibit fills 10,000-square-feet  and includes a thrill ride based on the Millennium Falcon, the spaceship featured in the first "Star Wars" movie released in 1977.

We'll see you on the 19th.

WATCH: Announcement of the Exhibit, Featuring Appearance by Billy Dee Williams

The display was created by the Museum of Science, Boston, featuring props and displays used in the Star Wars films, and presented by the Bose Corporation.

It opened in Boston in 2005 and began traveling around the country ever since.

The final stop is at the Tech in San Jose, where the exhibit will run from Oct. 19 to Feb. 23, 2014. Check The Tech's website for ticket info.

On Twitter, Scott Budman is: @scottbudman

<![CDATA[Remembering Man Who Brought Music to Tenderloin]]> Fri, 13 Sep 2013 17:26:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/kathylooper.jpg

They called Leroy Looper the father of the Tenderloin.

The title stuck with him more than thirty years after he took up residence in the gritty neighborhood, transforming the forlorn Cadillac Hotel into the first residential hotel for the poor.

In Looper's world, his children were the poor souls who crowded the Tenderloin sidewalks seeking for food and shelter. Like any father, Looper wanted to see his children climb the ladder – but he realized they’d first need a ladder to climb.

“Leroy never believed people needed a hand,” said his widow, Kathy Looper. “He just felt they needed the opportunity to move up.”

So Looper and his wife bought a Sizzler restaurant and put people to work. He gave them jobs in the hotel, and helped create neighborhood job training programs.

But Looper believed people needed something besides a roof and a job -- they also needed music. “I feel music is the soul of people,” Looper said in an interview before his death in 2011.

Several years ago, the Cadillac Hotel received a donation of a rare 1884 Steinway piano from Lee Walkup in tribute to his sister Patricia Walkup, a Tenderloin activist who had recently died.

The Cadillac began holding free weekly concerts in the lobby – with the piano taking center stage.

Looper liked seeing the poor of the neighborhood serenaded on such a prestigious instrument. “He wanted people to feel that this was a neighborhood - a livable neighborhood,” said Kathy Looper. “Not just a neighborhood for people that was cheap.”

Looper died on September 11, 2011 at the age of 86.

Kathy saw that the regular concerts in the lobby continued. On Friday, the hotel held a concert to mark the second anniversary of Looper's death. Pianist Jeffrey Chin and his quartet serenaded a roomful of Tenderloin residents with jazzy renditions of pop tunes.

“One of his great passions was music,” said Chin, who like all other performers at the Cadillac, donates his time. “He wanted the people of this community to be able to experience the music that basically they don’t have access to.”

The audience ranged from hotel residents, to neighbors to the homeless -- the crystal clear chimes of the piano bouncing throughout the historic lobby.

“It gives people a chance they wouldn’t have otherwise,” said Gayle Wood, who has lived at the Cadillac since 2006, “some exposure to some really good music and some really good artists.”

Kathy Looper said in a way, the concerts are symbolic of her husband’s life – his desire to leave people a little better than he found them. “I think what makes it even more special is when people leave they have a smile on their face,” she said. “They feel uplifted.”

Photo Credit: Kathy Looper]]>
<![CDATA[Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Returns for Lucky 13th Edition]]> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 14:39:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/5E8C905C-BFEB-47B8-A4FB-C76D58E8A001.jpeg

Warren is gone, but the music lives on.

The lucky 13th edition of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival kicks off with MC Hammer and the middle school program on Friday -- and heats up from there.

Up to 800,000 people are expected to flock to Golden Gate Park for the free music festival Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which runs Friday through Sunday, Oct. 4-6.

The complete schedule can be found here.

It includes: Bonnie Raitt, Chris Isaak, Boz Scaggs, Conor Oberst and The String Cheese Incident (not all at the same time, though we may pay to see that).

Guess who else will be there?

Jimmie Dale Gilmore, of "Lebowski" fame, (that's him, Smokey) will play with the Flatlanders.

It's a long list. Feel free to sift through it below, or go to the festival Web page to see for yourself.

Della Mae, Poor Man's Whiskey (Friday morning middle school program), Richard Thompson, Martha Wainwright, Mike Scott & Steve Wickham of The Waterboys, Los Lobos Disconnected, Dave Alvin with Greg Leisz, The String Cheese Incident, Sturgill Simpson, Allah-Las, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, Kat Edmonson, Low, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Joy Kills Sorrow, Ryan Bingham, Boz Scaggs, Elvin Bishop, Seldom Scene, Robert Ellis, Trampled By Turtles, Spirit Family Reunion, Loudon Wainwright III, Tumbleweed Wanderers, The Handsome Family, The Brothers Comatose, Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band featuring Yungchen Lhamo, Conor Brings Friends For Friday Featuring: Whispertown, The Cave Singers, The Felice Brothers, The Evens, First Aid Kit, Conor Oberst, MC Hammer (Friday morning middle school program), Natalie Maines, Bettye LaVette, Paul Kelly, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Calexico, The Wood Brothers, Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Mike Farris & The Roseland Rhythm Revue, G. Love & Special Sauce, The Devil Makes Three, The Flatlanders featuring Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock, Tift Merritt, Pieta Brown, The Jerry Douglas Band, LP, Gogol Bordello, Manchester Orchestra, Father John Misty, The Forest Rangers with Katey Sagal, Moonalice, Billy Bragg, Bonnie Raitt, Patty Griffin, The Go To Hell Man Clan, Shovels & Rope, Tim O'Brien & Darrell Scott, Kate McGarrigle Tribute with Martha & Sloan Wainwright & Special Guests, Nick Lowe, The Deep Dark Woods, Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands, Buddy Miller, Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale, Holler Down the Hollow: A Hardly Strictly Salute to the Masters, Evolfo Doofeht, Chris Isaak, Jesse DeNatale, Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch & Fats Kaplin, Robert Earl Keen, Sonny & The Sunsets, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Jon Langford & Skull Orchard acoustic / FREAKONS, The Warren Hood Band, Justin Townes Earle, Freakwater, Tim O'Brien with Bryan Sutton & Mike Bub, Alison Brown, The Time Jumpers featuring Brad Albin, Larry Franklin, Paul Franklin, Vince Gill, "Ranger Doug" Green, Andy Reiss, Dawn Sears, Kenny Sears, Joe Spivey, Jeff Taylor & Billy Thomas, Supermule, Mark Lanegan, Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys, Jesse Dee

Photo Credit: Stephanie Chuang]]>
<![CDATA[Kathleen Madigan Telling Jokes at Yoshi’s SF]]> Tue, 17 Sep 2013 22:47:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/9-6-2013-Kathleen-Madigan.jpg

Kathleen Madigan is often called the funniest person in the room—typically by fellow comics like Lewis Black and Ron White—and she will aim to keep that distinction at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on Sat., Sept. 14.

It’s the first time Madigan will perform at the venue after a quarter century of telling jokes.

“There’s a resurgence in the type of place my parents would have called ‘the supper club,’” Madigan said of the classy joint. It’s more relaxed than a comedy club, more intimate than a theater and offers better food and drink options than both.

“And you’re not with a bunch of college kids or a bachelorette party like at the Funny Bone,” she laughed.

St. Louis Native Madigan spent the first decade of her career paying her dues, and now that she’s been consistently headlining at theaters and clubs across the globe, some people—even her agents—expect her to take that next step: wacky neighbor on a sitcom or talk show co-host.

But, for Madigan, there is no next step.

“I want to do a one-time seminar called something along the lines of Drop Your Goals. I don’t know what type of freak started it—Oprah probably—vision boards and dream catchers. Why can’t you just enjoy your life?” she said.

In other words, she’s living the dream. Madigan’s goal from that first open-mic night was to tell jokes to paying customers—and that’s it. Not a stepping stone from comedian to rock star or comedian to sitcom maven. Just comedian.

“This is the goal. Now, not only am I having fun, but I’m making money at it,” she said. She likes the fact that you can’t spot her spewing watered-down lines on a show like “The Talk” every weekday.

“Here’s the thing, I’m like a leprechaun. I bop around, and you can find me if you want to find me,” Madigan said. “And you can feel better if you do, because you caught the leprechaun.”

You can also catch the leprechaun in her new stand-up special, “Madigan Again,” which will exclusively be available on Netflix beginning Wed., Sept. 11. It was taped in Detroit, a tenacious locale where she feels at home.

“I love that they’re still there. Seriously, guys, at what point are you giving up on this dream? There are wild dogs downtown. Wild dogs. They’re digging their heels in, you know. I’ve always had good crowds there.

“It’s a mirror city to St. Louis—just a different industry. We’ve got beer and dog food, and they had cars, but it’s the same type of people—same Midwest mentality,” Madigan said. “In Detroit, no matter where we are at any moment, things could get weird.”
Madigan likes when it gets weird, which is why she doesn’t mind hustling to places like Billings, Montana; Gillette, Wyoming; Valentine, Nebraska or Kiawah Island, South Carolina. It was in SC where she just hit the links with Lewis Black.

“It’s crazy on the golf course. It’s on a swamp! But I’m the freak who loves that. There’s alligators everywhere, and it’s on purpose. They keep it like that,” she said. “I thought, ‘That’s the biggest house cat I’ve ever seen,’ and then I’m like, ‘Holy s***, that’s a bobcat!’ The golf courses are spectacular, though.”

Kathleen Madigan will perform at 8 and 10 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 14, at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. Visit www.yoshis.com for more information.

Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to coreywrites@yahoo.com or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.

Photo Credit: Luzena Adams ]]>
<![CDATA[Burning of The Man]]> Sun, 08 Sep 2013 22:25:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/BM+2013+Burn-006.JPG The Man burned Saturday night, capping off Burning Man 2013, a week which will surely be remembered as having perfect weather, day and night, incredible art cars and art, including two beautiful churches (complete with midnight mass burns), and a Man Base that blew all others before it away.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[Melissa Etheridge Returning to Mountain Winery]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/9-3-2013-melissa-etheridge.jpg

Rock ‘n’ roll stalwart Melissa Etheridge is not just whistlin’ Dixie when she says that Mountain Winery in Saratoga is one of her favorite venues to perform.

“It truly is,” Etheridge says. “I will go back a couple set lists and check the songs I did there because there are people who come back every year, and I want to make sure I’m not playing the same songs. We have files of set lists. So I make sure the next show is not too similar to the last show.”

That is refreshing for a regular concert-goer who does not particularly want to hear the same songs over and over. Etheridge has been kicking off her shows as of late with a kick-you-in-the-pants tune, “Shout Out,” from her latest album, “4th Street Feeling.”

“I swear I write my albums because I’m trying to write the perfect set list,” she laughed. Her albums always seem to have one or two “boom” songs designed to ignite a crowd.

“I do that because there’s no energy through the whole show that is like that first moment—especially at one of my shows,” Etheridge said. “I usually try to use that new song that’s rocking because I want them all up.”

While there are going to be tracks from “4th Street Feeling” sprinkled through the night, Etheridge knows there are fans who come for the hits; so expect to hear thousands of folks singing along to “Come to My Window,” “Bring Me Some Water” and “I’m the Only One,” too. She knows that some fans are more familiar with her catalog than others are.

“There are the people that are coming with their friends that are like, ‘Oh, I know some of the songs,’ the big hits. They end up knowing more than they thought they did. Then there is the sort of person who hasn’t bought maybe my last three albums, but they’re very deep into some of the older material; so I’ll dig deep into the albums. Then there are the people who are listening to every single note I put out,” she said. “I also want to show people going in that this is the new music, and it’s still vibrant. It’s rocking. I’m playing better than ever. I’m a better musician than I’ve ever been, and I’m very excited about that.”

Etheridge, a native Midwesterner and proud of it, said she found herself looking back a lot on this album and on the stage, thinking about and talking about aging—and still loving rock ‘n’ roll. This brought up talk about concert etiquette, specifically audience members who want to stand up, dance and rock out versus those who want to remain calm and seated.

“I got to tell you it’s one of the hardest struggles for me as an artist,” Etheridge said. “I want people to just enjoy themselves. I understand some people, they love to jump up and scream and holler. Of course, I love that. That always gives me more energy, and I would love it if the whole audience was standing all the time. That’s an ideal audience.

“At a concert, I like to sit down. I’ve gotten a ‘little lazy legs.’ I completely understand both, but if I’m at a concert and someone is standing up in front of me, I’m not going to make them sit down. I don’t think that’s fair.”

Melissa Etheridge will perform on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at Mountain Winery in Saratoga. Visit www.mountainwinery.com/concerts for more information.

Photo Credit: James Minchin III]]>
<![CDATA[80s-Themed Regeneration Tour Visits Mountain Winery]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*150/AndyBell_headshot.jpg

With celebrity deejays collecting million-dollar Vegas paydays to spit remixed cuts, wouldn’t you rather see some electronic dance music pioneers actually perform live?

While EDM is having a moment, let’s not forget that the synth pop pioneers of the Regeneration Tour have been making this kind of music for decades.

Erasure Lead Singer Andy Bell, Howard Jones, Information Society and Men Without Hats—all revered pop stalwarts with loads of ’80s hits—are still making new music, but it will be the classics fans will be bouncing to on Saturday, August 31, at Mountain Winery in Saratoga.

Andy Bell and I Skyped the morning after Britain legalized gay marriage, so congratulations were in order.

“It’s fantastic. I had my civil partnership this year,” Bell said.

He performed at several stateside gay pride festivals before the Regeneration Tour began this month. “Warm-up gigs,” Bell called them.

Fans should expect high-energy takes on Erasure hits like “A Little Respect” and “Stop,” with a keyboard player, percussion and two back-up dancers, angling to keep up with Bell.

“I sing around the house doing warm-up exercises and stuff. I haven’t been to the gym in ages,” Bell said. “I did just move into a new house and have moved boxes all over. That’s been my work out!”

Bell added that recording a new Christmas album with Vince Clarke—the other half of Erasure—has also kept up his vocal chops.

“When I was 14 or so, my friends and I would go around to other people’s houses and sing Christmas carols at their doors,” he said. “We would make so much money! Recording these carols reminded me of that time.”

Bell said the album, due in November, would be half Erasure original holiday songs and half traditional hymns.

“The Erasure ones are like sound-scapes. The carols that we are doing are more filmic. It really reminds me of Cocteau Twins style than traditional carols,” he said. “It’s quite funny because America seems more religious, but in the UK we sing the hymns more.”

Bell said he was looking forward to performing on the same stage with Howard Jones again. “I was a fan when I was a teenager, before I moved to London,” he said.

Jones is getting some great accolades online from his recent live sets.

He is expected to perform synth pop hits such as “Pearl in the Shell,” “What is Love” and “Things Can Only Get Better.”

Perhaps he’ll surprise fans with a new song (aside from his ’80s tune, “New Song”). Jones is expected to release a new dance album in 2014.

“What's really great is having been part of the ’80s, which seems to be such a recurrent theme in music,” Andy Bell said.

Visit mountainwinery.com/concerts for more information on the Regeneration Tour at Mountain Winery. Show time is 6:30 p.m. to fit in all four acts (and to get us home at a decent hour).

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Reach NYC]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco's Famed Wax Museum Shuts Doors]]> Wed, 14 Aug 2013 18:29:20 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/elvira2.JPG

Marilyn Monroe stretched out her arms lustily. Donald Trump’s comb-over was perfectly coifed. President Obama looked stately and Charlie Chaplin seemed befuddled.

Rodney Fong strolled deliberately past the famous crowd, making a beeline to a bustily accurate Elvira wax figure.

“I don’t think I’ve met anyone else who’s grown up in a wax museum,” Fong said of himself as he strolled past Elvira into the House of Horrors.

The 350 strange wax figures of movie stars, political leaders and random celebrities are part of Fong’s birthright; his grandfather Thomas Fong founded the San Francisco Wax Museum in a warehouse on Fisherman’s Wharf in 1963. Fong’s father ran it, and eventually the baton got passed to Rodney.

Fong used to play in the museum as a child, eventually learning to create wax figures before moving on to operations.

His mother did the hair for every wax figure in the place. Of course, it all made for odd introductions.

“Good and bad for first dates,” said Fong. “Bringing someone to your work in the wax museum.”

This year marked the museum’s 50th anniversary. And it’s last.

On Thursday, Fong and his family are shutting the doors for good and stepping away from the business. Fong, who serves as president of San Francisco’s Planning Commission said it’s just time to do something else.

“It’s been part of our family, part of Fisherman’s Wharf, part of San Francisco and we’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” Fong said. The closure doesn’t mean the end to kitschy wax figures on Fisherman’s Wharf. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum chain will take over the building, performing a $35 million dollar renovation and adding a dungeon.

The new museum is set to open in nine months.

The workshop where artists once crafted wax Mel Gibson or Michael Jackson, was now filled with giant rolls of bubble wrap in anticipation of the closure. Crews will wrap up all 350 figures and props for the big move.

Fong said he is working with a potential buyer to sell all the figures together. “In a very strange way we’re a family business, but all the 350 wax figures are part of our family,” said Fong. “Who knows what happens here at night. Maybe they end up talking and dancing, so we want to keep the wax family together.”

On Wednesday, former employee David Finnerty came by for a last look around. He remembered working for Fong’s grandfather, and the eerily quiet mornings when Finnerty would walk around cleaning.

“When you went through in the morning with no lights or anything,” said Finnerty said of the figures, “it went in the back of your mind, are they going to move?”

Fong estimated 12 million visitors have been through the museum since it first opened. But rather than wax poetic about the past, he was hopeful for its future under new operators. As he watched a group of visitors gaping at a creepy Frankenstein, he pondered the role the museum has played in the lives of countless tourists.

“To be scared a little bit, to be entertained to be shocked,” Fong mused, “to take them out of their own space for 45 minutes or an hour is something we all need.”

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[Cheech and Chong Bring "Musical Comedy" to America's Cup Pavilion]]> Sat, 10 Aug 2013 13:16:14 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/209*120/8-5-2013-cheech-chong.jpg

Cheech and Chong have been cracking each other and audiences up for more than 40 years. So which of them is aging better?

“Oh, I am by far,” Tommy Chong was quick to say in an interview last week. “I’ve got a wife who’s a health nut. She’s got me on a diet and has me going to the plastic surgeon every once in a while for a little filler in my face and a nip and tuck here and there. I’m like her project. I’m like her garden—she takes me to get a haircut when I need it.

“Cheech is the opposite. He’s a macho man; he’s in charge of everything. He’s got no one to tell him not to eat things. He doesn’t listen, so he eats pizza and drinks beer, and it shows.”

The comedy duo will return to the Bay Area on Saturday, August 10, with a concert at the America’s Cup Pavilion. The band War will be a big part of the show. In fact, Chong calls it “a musical comedy.”

Fans of Cheech and Chong’s brand of bong-water-soaked-humor already know that music has been a major part of their act since the beginning. Their early albums were produced by Lou Adler who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year by the duo.

“Cheech likes to have his things scripted,” Chong said about their induction speech. “My job really is to disrupt.”

War’s song, “Low Rider,” kicked off the iconic Cheech and Chong film, “Up in Smoke,” so Chong said it was a natural fit to have the band kick off this new tour with them. Chong’s wife, Shelby, opens the show with a little stand-up before bringing out the guys to do a Q&A with the audience. (Questions about massive joints and Dave’s presence are expected.) Then, Cheech and Chong bring War out for “an audition” to see if they still have the chops to perform in a new C&C movie. War then plays a set before intermission.

The second half sees C&C perform their classic sketches before War comes back out to play with Cheech’s Alice Bowie character. “And that’s the show,” says Chong.

Cheech and Chong are celebrating the 35th anniversary of “Up in Smoke,” arguably the best stoner flick ever. Despite Cheech and Chong parting ways in the ’80s, it’s their movies’ popularity that has helped maintain their longevity, despite only getting back together a few years ago.

“When we got back together, it was like we never left,” Chong said.

“Up in Smoke” features lengthy scenes of the duo just blabbering in a car, and they are still the most-quoted and referenced parts of the flick.

“The funny thing about the car bits is that they were almost all adlibbed. We never had a script,” Chong said.

During their years apart, Chong toured the stand-up comedy circuit with Shelby, and he said that was a lot more challenging than doing these live shows with Cheech.

“We can do it in our sleep. In fact, we have done it in our sleep a few times,” he said about slipping back into character. “It’s an attitude. It comes from miles and miles and miles of doing it. We’ve had people crawl on the stage in the middle of the act. We’ve almost been assaulted. They have thrown bottles at the stage.

“Through it all, we just keep plugging away like two old stoners.”

Cheech and Chong with War will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10 at the America’s Cup Pavilion in San Francisco. Visit www.americascup.com/concert-series for more information.

Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to coreywrites@yahoo.com or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.

Photo Credit: Paul Mobley]]>
<![CDATA[SNL Comic Comes to Cobb's in San Francisco]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Cecily+Strong+on+SNL.jpg

Ever wondered what Lorne Michaels sees during cast auditions for “Saturday Night Live?”

You will get your chance if you check out Cecily Strong and Friends at Cobb’s Comedy Club in SF on Aug. 9 and 10. “SNL” Cast Member Strong will be joined by Second City Alum Sam Richardson and Anthony Veneziale of Freestyle Love Supreme, a hip-hop improv troupe.

Strong knows Richardson from her time with Second City in Chicago, and they will be meeting Veneziale on Friday.

“So, it’s going to be a fresh show!” she laughed.

Strong said she has a handful of sketch comedy pieces planned, and the trio will perform a mix of short and long improvs. She will include some the characters she performed that got her the “SNL” gig last year.

Cecily had a strong debut season for certain. Her “Weekend Update” commentator character, Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party, had audiences and anchor Seth Meyers in stitches. Shame about the character’s name, though; it’s too long to fit on T-shirts.

“The writers were like, ‘You really need to shorten her name,’ and I kept saying, ‘But it’s so her!’ It’s exactly her. If we called her Sally, it wouldn’t work,’” Strong said.

The character is poorly-informed yet self-righteous and constantly fiddling with her cell phone.

“Like, either vote or don’t vote, but take a stand and don’t vote,” the Girl says, while texting. Then when Seth tries to scoot her off the stage, she tosses in something racist like, “Can I do a minstrel show real quick?” “There have been a couple things that have been so ridiculous,”

Strong said about the character. “I love that she said ‘Origami—it’s Spanish for goose.’ Stuff like that always makes me laugh.” Strong had a couple other recurring characters in her first season at “SNL,” including one half of a set of former porn stars who are trying to shill champagne with mispronunciations and bizarre tales from the adult film world. It’s one of those off-the-wall, last-five-minutes-of-‘SNL’ sketches.

“That five-to-one slot is what we call it. It becomes a coveted thing, like ‘Who gets to do their weird thing this week?’” Strong said.

One of my personal favorites is a sketch in which she and Bobby Moynihan play obnoxious McDonald’s employees who think they’re about to be fired, so they take the opportunity to publicly smack down the entire crew.

“Brian, your breath smell like cream corn, and you ain't even eat no cream corn today!”

After a season on the seminal sketch comedy show, Strong said she’s happy to get a chance to keep her improv skills sharp in the Bay Area. She’s due back in New York in mid-September when she and her cronies will put on a weekly, live 90-minute comedy show for millions.

“I’m still pinching myself,” she said. “I tried to do L.A. for seven months and had terrible meetings where agents would say I was too fat. ‘Lose 15 pounds.’ ‘Your face isn’t right for movies. Maybe TV.’ I went through all of that to end up here. It’s bizarre to have your dream come true.”

Cecily Strong and Friends will perform at 8 and 10:15 p.m. on Aug. 9 and at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. on Aug. 10. Visit www.cobbscomedyclub.com for ticket information.

Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to coreywrites@yahoo.com or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.

Photo Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Need Burning Man 2013 Tickets? Hours Left to Sign Up ]]> Thu, 01 Aug 2013 12:00:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BM+Cargo+Tix.JPG

Still looking for a ticket to Burning Man 2013?

Registration for the final “OMG” Last Chance Sale of $380 tickets starts Friday, August 2 at noon, but in order to register for the final sale, you must have a “Burner Profile” already created in the ticket system.

Burner Profiles are quick and easy to set up, and only those who’ve created one for themselves by 6 p.m. Thursday will be able to try to grab one or two tickets in the final sale.

This is the first year Burning Man has had the late summer OMG Sale, presumably designed to thwart off desperate ticketless people considering buying an overpriced ticket from a scalper.

At least 1,000 tickets have been held back for sale, but with Burning Man recently being granted approval to grow Black Rock City to 68,000 people, chances are there will be thousands of tickets available to those who are registered for the OMG Last Chance Sale.

Last year the population cap was right around 60,000, and in the days and weeks leading up to the sold-out event, tickets were going for half-price and even free on websites like Craigslist.

With these thousands of extra tickets for sale this late in the game, you may be sitting pretty if you still need a ticket, or not-so-much if you have some to sell. Click here for BM ticket page.

In typical Burning Man fashion, creating a Burner Profile is just the first step in a three-tiered process for getting tickets.

Registration to be eligible for the OMG Last Chance Sale continues over the weekend, from Friday, August 2 at noon to Monday, August 5 at noon.

Then, the actual sale will be first-come, first-served starting at Wednesday August 7 at noon, with only people pre-registered being granted access to the ticketing site.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[Burning Man Complete Coverage]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/BM+Burn+Night-043.JPG

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[Comedian Paul Mooney Ready for Yoshi's]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:46 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/189*120/Paul_Mooney%282013%29.jpg

With racial tension permeating the country—not to mention the seemingly constant barrage of racist comments flying around on TV and the radio—comedian Paul Mooney is ready to get back to work in the Bay Area.

Mooney has been offering frank and plain speak about race in America for the better part of 40 years—going back to his time writing for Richard Pryor’s acclaimed comedy albums and groundbreaking appearance on the first season of “Saturday Night Live.”

Mooney is often called the Godfather of Comedy, a title he both appreciates and doesn’t like so much.

“I don’t want to be anybody’s godfather or Uncle Paul,” he said. “I am old, but I look good. God has been nice to me. You know black don’t crack.”

Mooney would prefer to be in and speak about the now. He will return to Oakland, a place he loves and his former home, to talk about the craziness of America’s current state. He will perform at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Friday, July 26, at Yoshi’s Oakland.

I asked Mooney if people are more brazen about their racism or if it’s more difficult to hide it today.

“It’s both,” he was quick to reply. “If you believe in conspiracy, when you decode America, it says ‘race.’ It lives on it, feeds on it like some ugly monster. [George] Zimmerman and all these other things—shooting in the back—it’s been a godsend for us. It’s actually psychologically freed us because it’s all a camouflage to freedom of speech.

“We have a lot of work to do. This is all to take away freedom of speech. That’s where the power is.”

The media have been jammed lately with racism accusations, from Paula Deen to “Big Brother” to Rush Limbaugh wanting to use the N-word. Mooney said society writes his act.

“This is an experiment gone wrong. We are actually the aliens. It’s not the Martians with the big eyes. We’re the aliens, and they comes and check on the experiment, and they get out of here real quick!” he said. “They go back, and they talk about us. They say, ‘They’re still fighting each other, and those black ones are just too much. I can’t stand them! They’re still killing each other!’”

Mooney helped get issues of race and social standing on the airwaves in a comedy-variety format as head writer for the canceled-too-soon “Richard Pryor Show,” before writing for another groundbreaking show, “In Living Color” on Fox.

Today’s comedy fans likely know him from his popular segments on “Chappelle’s Show,” “Ask a Black Dude” and “Negrodamus.”

Mooney is not shocked that people still walk out of his no-holds-barred, live shows. “If you get offended, good. It means you’re still human,” he laughed.

Mooney publically tried to quit using the N-word several years ago but not so successfully, he said.

“I didn’t do well at all. At least I admitted it! Human beings have habits, and it was a habit. I kept saying it backward. I kept saying, ‘What up, my reggin!’” Mooney said. “I’m not in denial. You can live in the matrix of denial, but reality is always here waiting for you. I always say reality is a stormy trip because you could always take hallucinogenic drugs and believe you can fly. You can jump off the building, and reality is waiting for you when you hit the ground.

“Reality is the greatest drug, so I’ll stick with reality.”

Tickets for Paul Mooney’s Yoshi’s Oakland shows are available by visiting www.yoshis.com/oakland. 

The shows are produced by Jill Newman Productions in association with PM7 Entertainment.

Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to coreywrites@yahoo.com or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jill Newman Productions]]>
<![CDATA["Fruitvale Station" Premieres in Oakland]]> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 10:39:23 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/fruitvale+-+octavia+spencer.JPG The premiere of the Oscar Grant film "Fruitvale Station" brought out a little bit of Hollywood and family on the red carpet inside the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Ke$ha Upsets Fans of The Residents]]> Wed, 19 Jun 2013 19:38:28 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/Kesha+Residents.JPG

Some fans of SF’s The Residents are up in arms about a video that surfaced after a Shoreline Amphitheater performance on Friday.

The 17-second video shows 22-year-old pop singer Kesha Sebert (Ke$ha) performing her song “Blah Blah Blah” with six backup dancers dressed in The Residents’ iconic imagery of tuxedo wearing eyeball heads, complete with top hats.

The Residents first debuted that look with the release of their Eskimo album in 1979. 

After about two decades, the group retired the outfits for live performances, but still uses the image as a logo of sorts, with merchandising on their recent Wonder of Weird tour leaning heavily on that unmistakable icon.

The video was sent to The Residents’ facebook page by Chris Mathew on Sunday, and has since inspired a spirited debate over Ke$ha’s use of such imagery.

Some fans think it’s an outrage, including Sara Creamcheese Brandau. “I’m not a naturally litigious person but if you can sue her you really should. Unless you guys are, honored by this tribute? Alright, I gotta throw up,” Brandau posted.

Others, like John H. Felix, don’t see a problem. “Fans of a band who have been maniacally appropriating pop culture for their own needs complain about musician appropriating band for her own needs, film at 11,” Felix posted.

Rick Gawel said, “She's using the eyeballs and tuxes, so what? If it were Primus, who are huge Residents fans and have played with them, people would probably be OK with it.”

Chris Mathew, who shot the video, said he thinks Ke$sha is a Residents' fan herself. “If I had to guess, Ke$ha’s secretly a fan of their [The Residents] stuff… the way she introduced everything, it sounded like she was trying to shoehorn eyeballs into the equation.  And then, viola!  Residents dancers,” Mathew said.

“They were so accurate that, for a second, I thought it was really The Residents onstage and this was just their latest stunt.  But then they started moving wayyyy too young-like for that to be the case.”

The Residents recently celebrated 40 years of releasing music, films and multimedia projects, and throughout their storied career, they have remained anonymous, always performing in disguise, and have been known to pull pranks and use misdirection and mistruths to keep the public guessing.

 This isn’t the first time Ke$ha and The Residents were mentioned in the same breath. 

On April 25, The Residents’ facebook page posted a screen shot from Ke$ha’s MTV reality tv show showing the pop star sporting a “Duck Stab!” t-shirt from the group’s 1978 album, with a caption that read, “Let’s get this woman interviewed for the documentary!”

A documentary film called “Theory of Obscurity: a film about The Residents” is in production now about the group (FULL DISCLOSURE:  I am helping to produce and shoot this film), and a better shot of Ke$ha’s song was posted on the film’s facebook page which much more clearly shows the eyeball dancers as seen from the front row of Nikon Theater in New York.

On the Theory of Obscurity facebook page, the debate raged on, with more people suggesting lawsuit.  Mark Favro said, “Devo sued McDonalds for ripping off their Red Hat design that was on a Happy Meal toy so The Residents can and should sue sue sue!”

On the other hand, Neal Burgess countered, “Wow, a lot of holier than thou hate coming from the nerds…  I didn’t realize the Residents had any kind of trademark on their now retired costumes, aren’t they in the process of selling the eyeballs?  Maybe Kesha bought 5 of those Ultimate Boxed Sets.”

Burgess brings up an interesting point.  At Christmas last year, The Residents released a video with their singer, Randy Rose, standing next to a refrigerator full of every release The Residents have put out in the last 40 years.  Included in the deal was one of the original eyeball heads.  They were calling it the “Ultimate Box Set” and a U.B.S. could be yours for $100,000.

However, something I’ve yet to see anyone bring up is the offer at the end of the U.B.S. video, where Randy holds up a “1 of a Kind” item in a small black box covered with question marks.

Perhaps Ke$ha drove up in an armored car and dumped $5,000,000 in Randy’s garage. 

Stranger things have happened in the world of The Residents.

Photo Credit: candicefan2 on Youtube]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Bridge Light Show Will Go On]]> Mon, 17 Jun 2013 17:39:04 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bridge24.jpg

Ben Davis was worried.

After raising millions of dollars, enlisting a top visual artist, and convincing San Francisco and Caltrans to install 25,000 twinkling lights on the Bay Bridge, he was facing catastrophic failure.

“No one wants to see this piece come down,” Davis said Friday with his back to the Bay.

In May, Davis and his team noticed strands of the lights were staying on, while others were shutting off.

The problem seemed to be spreading, with 30-percent of the lights malfunctioning in some areas, marring artist Leo Villareal’s vast moving display.

Technicians walked the bridge, inspecting the strands of lights strapped to the cables, suspecting the wind, salt air and constant vibrations as the culprits.

“In taking in what was going on they figured out there’s a little bit of water was seeping in due to that harsh environment,” said Davis. “That was just enough to cause those problems.”

With the lights failing at a rapid pace, Davis pondered the worst-case scenario; turning off the lights and taking them down.

But instead, his team rallied.

Artist Leo Villareal reprogrammed the lights to work around the malfunctioning strands.

And light manufacturer Philips Color Kinetics agreed to finance repair and replacement of the lights as well as figure out a long-term solution.

“They’ve come in, they’ve helped us assess the problem,” said Davis. “They’ve owned the problem and the solution and they’re being completely responsible.”

Davis said crews would begin replacing some of the broken strands in about ten days. He said the short-term repairs are aimed at keeping the lights working through the America’s Cup Yacht Races and the scheduled opening of the new Eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

“It’ll be a bit of a trench war for us,” said Davis. “People won’t be aware of it but we’ll be replacing some strands over the summer because we think there will be continued failure.”

Davis admits the plans so far are short-term. He said major work will begin in the Fall to redo the entire project, which may include replacing significant portions, if not all the lights.

Davis announced Friday his group had secured a donation of $1.5 million dollars from WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg, which put the project at its full funding goal of $8 million.

Suddenly, Davis says he can see the twinkling lights at the end of the tunnel.

“This thing is going to stay up,” he said, “and it’s going to stay up and shining and look beautiful through the course of the summer.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Les Claypool to Play Benefit for Local Fisherman]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:46 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/Claypool+Duo-001.JPG

Primus front man Les Claypool is presenting a benefit for a local fisherman who lost his boat  earlier this year.

The benefit concert is at the end of the month in Petaluma.

Back in March, Ted Frank was headed back to port with a load of crab when his 36 foot boat "Yardbird" started to take on water.

The vessel capsized just outside Bodega Bay, and while Frank and his mate Kevin Leeman escaped with their lives, they are now unable to work and are facing a pile of bills after an unfortunate lapse of insurance.

Claypool will bring his latest act Duo de Twang to the LaguMiniAmphitheaterette along with Bad Catahoula as well as other “special musical guests to see if we can help Ted Frank get back on his feet and back on the ocean.”

Folks interested in breaking bread before the show can take advantage of a BBQ/pasta feed that starts at 4:20 p.m., with the show starting at 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25 at the Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma.

Tickets went on sale Tuesday at noon and cost $75 for the feed and show, and $50 for show only.

We'll have to see if Claypool will play Primus tune "Last Salmon Man (Fisherman's Chronicles, Part IV)" about a fisherman who "promised to his father he'd do his best to stay in Bodega Bay."

View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[Les Claypool's Duo de Twang 2.0]]> Tue, 11 Jun 2013 12:53:44 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Claypool+Duo-003.JPG Les Claypool's Duo de Twang premiered with Bryan Kehoe at the Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael before touring the US.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: New York City's Spectacular Fireworks Display]]> Sat, 29 Jun 2013 11:50:54 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/AP100704041951.jpg The nation's largest fireworks show lit up the sky in a burst of red, white and blue over the Hudson River straddling New York and New Jersey on Sunday night.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area TV Host Aisha Tyler Performs in SF]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:46 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/AishaTyler+photo+credit++Ben+Mark+Holzberg+FX.jpg

When Aisha Tyler returns to her native San Francisco to perform at Cobb’s Comedy Club on June 7 and 8, will it be her or a comedic clone?

The Bay Area’s Aisha hosts TV shows—“The Talk” and the upcoming return of “Whose Line?”—voice acts on the manic, animated “Archer,” hosts a podcast and is writing her second book. How could one of her possibly squeeze in a weekend to San Francisco to make us guffaw?

“I’m exhausted. I don’t even know who I’m talking to right now,” Aisha joked during a recent interview. “Right now, the world is just shadow and mist…Nothing great was ever done by just relaxing. It’s not like I’m Bill Gates or Julius Caesar! I just don’t like lying around, feeling like, ‘I wish I had done that.’”

Tyler also wears her nerd cred proudly. She loves “Game of Thrones,” Comic-Con, Zachary Quinto, “Star Trek” and “Star Wars,” though she probably won’t be campaigning to be in director J.J. Abrams’ upcoming “Star Wars” sequel.

“I don’t know, will there be a black person in the new ‘Star Wars?’ I guess you could make a female Lando Calrissian,” she said. “It would be neat if there was a Calrissian daughter, but I have no idea what they’re planning. After Lando, the closest thing to a black person is Chewbacca, and I definitely don’t want to play Chewbacca.

I’m tall enough to, though.”

Speaking of her height, Tyler said being tall enough and just masculine enough to be a drag queen are just a couple of the traits that help make her BFFs with the LGBT community. She recently hosted Logo TV’s “New Now Next Awards,” where “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season three champ, Raja, came out on stage dressed as Tyler.

“And said that he did me better than I do myself,” Tyler laughed.

It was the only time Tyler has seen a drag version of herself, but she wouldn’t be surprised now—especially during gay pride season—that some others might be popping up, with drag names like Alicia Taylor or Nyesha Twyler.

“There’s the other Tyra. So there could be the other Aisha. She’s in Atlanta right now doing a suicide drop; I’m sure of it,” she said.

Tyler did make one monumental mistake while surrounded by her drag sisters. She didn’t get any padding tips for her lack of booty. In fact, for her comedy special “Aisha Tyler is Lit: Live at The Fillmore,” she even had a music video about it called “Nowassitall.”

“The irony is—and I’ve really been thinking about this, especially when I was on the red carpet—is that women are always trying to make theirs smaller, and drag queens are always trying to make theirs bigger, and we would all kill for Raja’s body,” Tyler said. “Raja’s waist is so tiny, I want to eat a carrot stick and jump off the ledge. Meanwhile, Raja is like, ‘I’ve got to stuff my underpants with something.’ The grass is always hippier is the moral to that story.”

Aisha Tyler will perform at 8 and 10:15 p.m. on  June 7, and at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. on June 8, at Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco. Visit cobbscomedyclub.com for more info and tickets.

Corey Andrew has been interviewing comedians and writing about comedy for the last decade and a half. He recently published the book, “Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians.” Corey was a writer and performer with Midwest sketch troupe, The NonProphets, before moving to the Bay Area with his family several years ago. If you have ideas for future columns about comedy, you can send them to coreywrites@yahoo.com or follow him at twitter.com/coreywrites.

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg]]>
<![CDATA[Bjork's Bay Area Residency Finishes with Mike Patton]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:46 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*121/Bjork-001.JPG Bjork played three shows in Richmond in the course of a week.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[SF Zoo Introduces Baby Giraffe ]]> Thu, 30 May 2013 11:43:58 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/giraffemain.jpg

The newest member of the San Francisco zoo is only a week old but already stands six feet tall.

On Wednesday May 22, the San Francisco Zoo welcomed a healthy baby giraffe. The zoo released the first photos of the little guy (or girl) Wednesday.

The newborn is a reticulated giraffe, which means that it has a unique geometric pattern on its coat. While reticulated giraffes are not endangered, they are still very rare.

The mother, 11-year-old Kristin, and calf are bonding privately for now at the Osher Family Giraffe Lodge.

Zoo keepers said the mother will nurse her young for a few weeks, until the two are introduced into the African Savanna exhibit, which is open to the public.

“We are very excited about this birth,” said Jim Nappi, Curator of Hoofstock and Marsupials at the San Francisco Zoo said in a release. “Giraffes add a special majesty to our multi-species African Savanna exhibit. Their successful breeding means that our Zoo-wide Wellness Initiative is working as it should be; and when the animals are thriving, we are happy.”

Kristin was born in Busch Gardens in Tampa and has given birth to three other calves in 2006, 2007, and 2009.

The newborn calf’s 11-year-old father, Floyd, was born in Albuquerque and is the zoo’s only male adult giraffe. Just last week, the zoo took in a baby giraffe from Rio Grande Zoo at Albuquerque, in hopes to increase its giraffe herd.

The new giraffe will have to compete for the public's attention with the wildly popular Sumatran tiger cub named Jillian Manus. 

He was born in February and has been wowing the crowds on the weekends for the past several weeks.

It wasn't clear when the new newborn would have its public debut, and for now the zoo is not saying whether it is a he or a she.

Photo Credit: San Francisco Zoo]]>
<![CDATA[Primus Sails the Seas of 5.1 Surround Sound]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:47 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/claypool1.jpg

This week, a reissue of Primus’ Sailing the Seas of Cheese, one of 1991’s best alternative rock albums, gets a rerelease with a newly remixed stereo version as well as a deluxe 5.1 surround sound edit, complete with Blu-ray visual elements that vary with repeated viewings.

Primus singer/bassist Les Claypool and guitarist Larry LaLonde say they had been mulling over the idea of re-mixing their sophomore studio album for a few years now, but first had to figure out where the material was to start the process.

At a special listening party and moderated discussion between Claypool, LaLonde and Mike Etchart, Claypool explained how the original floppy discs that carried the mixing information from 1991 had gone missing.

As a result, once they dove into the process, they basically had to remix the entire album from scratch.

They enhanced what was there, but tried to keep the sound relatively the same, with a few tweaks, “You have to stay true, as close as possible, to the real thing,” said Claypool.  “We did back off some of [that] cheesy reverb of the day.”

“You won’t miss the reverb, I promise” added LaLonde.

The original album was mixed at Different Fur Studios on 19th Street in the Mission District, still an operating studio that has been around since 1968.

The end result is two incredible new listening experiences:  a new stereo mix, available on CD, vinyl or download, and a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound upgrade.

The stereo mix comes with much richer sounds, filling the room with an even, heavy second take on the original material.

The new 5.1 surround sound version comes on a DVD or Blu-ray disc where sounds travel around the room with intention, while the listener is treated to a video display reminiscent of their live shows, done by in-house video guru Agent O.

“We wanted to approach it like people are sitting there in their living room to watch this and experience the effects [of the sound and imagery],” Claypool said.  “There’s a lot more fireworks to this than most of these.”

To celebrate the release, Universal Music and Tamalpais Research Institute (TRI Studios) hosted a party at Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir’s studio in Marin with a live webcast of the moderated discussion with Claypool and LaLonde. A brief listening of the new material, compete with bank-and-forth comparison to the 1991 mix, let attendees see and hear the results from all the hard work.

Songs like “Fish On” were highlighted. You can hear the epic battle between bass, guitar and drums, rolling around the room, much like a fish on a hook swimming from this side to that as an angler tries to reel in “a hundred pound sturgeon on a twenty-pound test.”

The 30 or so in attendance at the shindig all seemed pleased with the results.  After the webcast, there was a wine and cheese party, complete with Claypool Cellars’ Fancy Pachyderm Rhone-style blend of red wine, which gave people a chance to chat up Claypool and pose for photos.

A few days after the party, Primus headed out on tour, with a stop at the first full-day of the Bottle Rock Festival in Napa, and then up the coast to Eureka, Calif. where the group delighted fans living behind the Redwood Curtain with their 3D show.

Fun Fact: Claypool explained the concept for the title for the album: “We were this under the radar, underground band and here we were, about to be the second release of Interscope Records with Gerardo’s ‘Rico Suave’ as their first release. The whole notion of ‘Sailing the Seas of Cheese’ was that we were either going to sink or swim.” I think we all know the outcome of that one.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>