Everything you've ever wanted to know about Chandler Center for the Arts

Interview

Plugged In: Run 2 Cover

What do you get when you blend together Rock, Metal, Punk & Pop? A group called Run 2 Cover. Run 2 Cover is one of our six acts being featured during Saturday’s Plugged-In performance. The band members of Run 2 Cover sat down with us for an interview and here’s what we discovered.

In late 2010, Christian and Brandon Iverson (brothers) and their neighborhood friend, Colin Shaw, formed Run 2 Cover. Christian is lead vocalist and bassist (and older brother). Brandon, the younger brother, can be found on the drums. And Colin is the sole guitarist for the band. The three band members may look “punk”, but don’t let that fool you. Each band members is kind, genuine, and excited to be on this musical journey.

All three of the boys have grown up with music as their main focus. Starting at the age of 12, Colin began playing the electric guitar and Christian started playing the bass guitar. Brandon began piano lessons when he was 5 years old and later took an interest in drums at age 11. The boys have worked hard creating their sound, songs, and vibe. None of the boys attend public school so they have more time to devote to the band and music.

When we asked them where they practiced we were not surprised when they told us they practice at home. Although, not the garage, the band fills the Iverson’s home with their loud Rock music. We naturally had to ask if the neighbor’s ever complained of noise. The three chuckled and responded with a resounding “Yes!”

The band has encountered minor challenges along the way. There are times when the band will bump heads, but the next day they have moved on and are ready to get back to work. When asked if they have had their “big break” yet, all three said no. They continue to work hard to gain more exposure for the band and have even toyed with the idea of changing the band name. Although they haven’t had their “big break,” the quality of the band is well on its’ way to making it big.

Run 2 Cover recently launched their  EP (Extened Play) “Turn the Page” on iTunes this month. Preview the songs here. The band is definitely one to watch live in concert and one to watch as they journey to making it “big.”

We are looking forward to welcoming Run 2 Cover to our stage this Saturday, August 24 at 7:30pm for our On The House free summer concert “Plugged In.” No tickets required, the show is FREE. All seating is first come, first served. Doors open at 6:30pm, and seating starts at 7pm. Suggested donations: $5/child, $10/adult, $15/family. Your financial support is appreciated.


Jazzed Up for Dmitri Matheny Group

Celebrated for his warm tone, soaring lyricism and masterful technique, American musician, Dmitri Matheny will perform at the Center during our FREE summer concert series on August 16th at 7:30pm. Completely fascinated by Dmitri’s history and his love of the unique flugelhorn instrument, we couldn’t help but interview him to learn more.

CHANDLER CENTER FOR THE ARTS (CCA): When did you start playing the flugelhorn?

DMITRI MATHENY: I started on piano at age 5, switched to trumpet at age 9, and began playing flugelhorn in my teens.

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Dmitri Matheny, age 17, playing trumpet at Interlochen Arts Academy, Michigan

I credit my father and his hip record collection for kindling my childhood interest in music. There was great music on our turntable all the time, from Rachmaninoff to Ray Charles.

After awhile I started to notice that many of my favorite musicians — people like Miles Davis, Chet Baker and Art Farmer (who later became my teacher) — were trumpet and flugelhorn players.

I especially loved the flugel for its warm, lyrical sound.

CCA: How many instruments do you play?

MATHENY: As a composer, I’ve learned to play several instruments just a little, but the only instrument I play professionally is the flugelhorn. That’s my voice.

CCA: For our audience, who may not be familiar with this type of Jazz, what can they expect to experience at the concert?

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San Francisco vocalist, Clairdee

MATHENY: This is going to be a very special concert.

We’re featuring Clairdee, a wonderful vocalist from San Francisco who sings the Great American Songbook in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.

Our concert will showcase the golden era of the American movie musical and the leading songwriters of Broadway.

The program will be a hit parade of American popular songs as seen and heard in some of the most beloved films and shows ever made. The very best of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, and more.

The audience will witness some exciting improvised solos, of course. They’ll tap their feet and feel the rhythm. But it’s the familiar melodies that will seduce and delight them.

CCA: We noted you have traveled to 19 countries. Do you have any fun “on the road” stories?

MATHENY: So many memories! In Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea, people spread caviar on their toast at breakfast like it’s no big deal. I brought home a peanut butter-sized jar of Beluga! Barbados is home to flying fish, spectacular sunsets and some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. The Netherlands is a tiny country (less than twice the size of New Jersey), but there are dozens upon dozens of music venues. Nearly every village has a beautiful theater or jazz club in which to perform.

CCA: As an advocate for jazz, what is the best way to keep jazz alive for our future generations?

MATHENY: For musicians, mentorship is key. Although formal jazz education is thriving at colleges and conservatories, there are many things about this art form that can only be learned one-on-one from a master musician.

For music lovers, nothing compares to the thrill of attending a live performance. Why stay home and watch amateurs audition on TV shows like American Idol, when you can go out and be entertained by seasoned professionals in your own community?

Keep supporting live music!

CCA: Anything else you may want our Chandler audience to know?

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Photo by Tom Kwas

MATHENY: As performing musicians, we make our living on the road, playing all kinds of venues, from intimate nightclubs to elegant recital halls to big, outdoor festivals.

The Chandler Center for the Arts rivals the best of these in terms of sound, sight-lines and ambience. The acoustics are stellar — every bit as good as they are at Carnegie Hall.

As a Chandler resident, I’m proud to have a theater of this caliber where I live, and I’m delighted to be performing there with such a terrific band.

This show offers residents and visitors to the area the opportunity to experience the Great American Songbook — live — in a world class concert hall, right here in the Valley of the Sun.

And you sure can’t beat the ticket price!

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See Dmitri Matheny Group featuring Clairdee live at Chandler Center for the Arts on Friday, August 16, 2013 at 7:30pm.  No tickets required, the show is FREE. All seating is first come, first served. Doors open at 6:30pm, and seating starts at 7pm. Suggested donations: $5/person, $10/family. Your financial support is appreciated.


Interview with Shaping Sound’s Alexa Anderson

Alexa_Anderson_096Today we had the great privilege to interview Alexa Anderson, a cast member of  Shaping Sound. Not only is she incredibly talented, but she is also incredibly sweet! Her bubbly personality drew us in as she shared insight into her dance journey.

Chandler Center for the Arts [CCA]: We first have to ask you, since you are a native to the Chandler area, where did you go to high school?

Alexa Anderson: I went to school at Arizona School for the Arts and then I went to Hamilton High.

CCA: How does it feel to return back to Chandler with a National Touring group?

Alexa: It feels really good. I have so many friends and family coming to see the show. Most haven’t seen me dance live in years.

CCA: How did you get your start in dance?

Alexa: I was born premature. I had a brain hemorrhage which caused a right side weakness. My mom put me in dance to balance out the weakness. The dance classes were not easy. I worked really hard to overcome this weakness.

CCA: How did you get your break in the business?

Alexa: I moved to LA when I was 18. I worked a couple of gigs, but pretty much just rolled with the punches. I continued to go to auditions.

CCA: So there wasn’t really a “big break” moment?

Alexa: Not really. It is always a work in progress.

CCA: Did you ever imagine dance would be your career?

Alexa: I really didn’t until I was 16, well more like 17. I wanted to go to college and get a degree. But, then at age 17, I stepped back and realized I was training so hard in dance. I knew I would kick myself if I didn’t given dance a shot.

CCA: Why did you want to be a part of Shaping Sound?

Alexa: Teddy (Forance) is my favorite dancer. At age 15 I started working with Travis (Wall) and Nick (Lazzarini). It was just a natural thing to dance along side them.

CCA: Rumor has it everyone had to audition for Shaping Sound, even the friends. Was this the case for you?

Alexa: Yes. Everybody had to audition, even me. They had to be fair in how they chose the cast.

CCA: What is the best advice you would give an aspiring dancer?

Alexa: Seize every opportunity. It is scary to be a dancer. So take in everything you can.

CCA: Is the business side of dance what you expected?

Alexa: Dancing is a difficult lifestyle. You make your own schedule every day. Some days there may be nothing to do, whereas other days you have worked so hard you don’t even know how you are still standing. The key is finding a balance.

CCA: How would your life be different without dance?

Alexa: I always get asked this question and I don’t even know. Being a dancer has helped me become aware of my body. Dance is hard work, but it is my passion. Dance is something I get excited about everyday.

CCA: Some of our reader’s tweeted in and want to know what choreographers influence you?

Alexa: Travis (Wall), Teddy (Forance), Nick (Lazzarini) and Kyle (Robinson). Wade Robson certainly has – he is brilliant.

CCA: Another reader tweeted in, what was the best part about So You Think You Can Dance?

Alexa: I made a lot of lifetime friends during the show. The show allowed me to see what I was made of.  It pushed me to my limits.

CCA: Anything else you want to share with our readers?

Alexa: No, I do think so. We are excited to be coming out to Phoenix. We can’t wait for the show.

It was such a pleasure to speak with Alexa. We were astonished at the trials she overcame and her determination. Alexa is proof  that dreams are achievable through hard work and persistence.

Come see Alexa and the rest of the Shaping Sound crew perform here at Chandler Center for the Arts on June 7. You will be swept away on a visually stunning showcase of movement, speed, physical strength, and pure passion.

To learn more about Shaping Sound or to purchase tickets click here.


Transend Through Water – Interview with Lisa Starry

We had the lucky privilege to speak with Lisa Starry the Artistic Director for Scorpius Dance Theatre and creator of their upcoming show, Dreaming In Water. The performance showcases water in an all inclusive sensory experience. All we can say is forget everything you thought you knew about modern dance, this show takes everything to a new level of excitement.

Scorpius Dance-1CHANDLER CENTER FOR THE ARTS (CCA): Where did the idea for Dreaming In Water come from?

LISA STARRY: This is a remastered production of my first original water-themed production “Water Dreams.” 12 years ago I put on an outdoor water safety show to create awareness. However, the show was put on during the summer and it was just too hot to enjoy. This inspired me to take the show indoors, which lead to a more artistic message.

Today’s show is centered around a little boy with a big imagination. He dreams of water and the creatures that exist within (such as fish and jellyfish). During the performance there will be short video clips featuring his underwater adventure.

CCA: How many lights does it take to create the water effect on stage?

STARRY: We will use all of the lights Chandler Center for the Arts uses, plus a dozen of our own intelligent lights. The intelligent lights create the illusion of water moving. We also use fabric to create the water effect.

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Photo by Rose Tores

CCA: How long does it take for the dancer to be strapped into the aerial apparatus?

STARRY: The Bungee apparatus we will use for the Jellyfish scene (featured in side photo) takes multiple bungee straps and double point harnesses. This requires a ladder to strap each dancer in. This also takes rope hooks to maneuver each dancer around the stage. It is time consuming.  Immediately after the first act, the aerial crew goes to work. By the end of intermission the dancers are ready to perform.

CCA: Do you have a favorite scene?

STARRY: I am happy with everything. I am most excited about presenting the aerial pieces. I am also excited for the mini pool scene. There is some humor incorporated to make the piece more fun. We also have some athletic pieces. These are incredible scenes and are great to see.

CCA: What form of dance can we expect to see?

STARRY: There is some contemporary modern dance, which includes a lot of techniques and some ballet. There is also the athletic pieces. To finish off the performance there is some Broadway-ish dancing. We bring in a piece that features Singing in the Rain.

Scorpius Dance-2CCA: Anything else a viewer might be interested in knowing?

STARRY: A limited number of people have seen the underwater footage – this is the big secret of the show. The dancers haven’t even seen the footage. They actually won’t see the footage until we have our dress rehearsal at Chandler Center for the Arts. It is a beautiful water section.

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This is the public’s opportunity to taste in the magic of Dreaming In Water and all the hard work they have put forth.  Dreaming in Water will premiere at Chandler Center for Arts this Saturday, April 13 at 8pm with new choreography by Lisa Starry, original underwater filming by Josh Kasselman, Music Composition by Kristopher Hill and Ryan Breen and lighting design by Mike Eddy. Get your tickets here!


Joe Bourne Takes Us Back

I’ve mentioned it several times, but I grew up with music that was made by people before my parents were born. Frank Sinatra was my lullaby. My girlhood crush was Buddy Holly. My glasses even look like his did. I remember listening to Nat King Cole when I did my homework, just loud enough so I could hear it, but not too loud so my Mom wouldn’t come in and bust me.

Next weekend starts out with an old-school-but-totally-cool vibe on Saturday, and we’re keeping it going with “Remembering Mr. Cole: A Tribute to Nat King Cole”, starring Joe Bourne & Trio as our first show in our 3 Evenings With The Arts fundraiser.

Joe has been playing professionally since 1968, and got his start in Cambridge, Mass. He made his way down to Atlanta in 1975 and then made the Netherlands his base for the next 25 years before coming out to Tucson.  During his career, he’s recorded and performed with The Supremes, Dionne Warwick, and Ms. Natalie Cole herself.

It’s safe to say, the man knows his music.

Joe keeps his music simple, like the crooners of the 40s, with a piano, bass and guitar. That’s actually what helped him come up with the idea of “Remembering Mr. Cole, A Tribute to Nat King Cole.”

“I met a piano player who had studied the instrumental side of Nat King Cole, and we decided to put together a tribute to him about 6 years ago,” said Joe. It’s been going strong ever since. All the members of his trio have degrees in music and a deep understanding and appreciation of the musicianship that is required to pull off a 40’s soul song.

So what is it about Nat King Cole that first drew Joe to him and his music?

“I’ve always loved him, and his music,” Joe said. “I really like it all, Nat King Cole, Motown, even Disco.” From the sound to the stories that the songs tell, Joe says it’s like telling a history of a person.

It’s that combination of history and music that audiences find so appealing. Joe said that where ever he goes, he always finds an appreciative audience, even some repeat concert goers.

“In Arizona, people are from everywhere, so sometimes I’ll do a show in Arizona and then a show in the Midwest, and I’ll see some familiar faces. No matter where I go, people like the same kind of music, even if they don’t realize it yet,” he said.

When you come see Joe next weekend, you’ll be in for a treat.

“I hope people leave with a big smile on their faces, from music they remember from their younger days, or music that they remember from listening to their families,” Joe said. “It’s music they can remember, and lyrics they can understand.”

I wholeheartedly agree, Joe.  If this is your first experience with 1940’s and 50’s crooners, it’ll make for an Unforgettable experience that will make you fall in love with his music.

You can get tickets to the entire 3 Evenings With The Arts fundraiser series, or just to Joe’s show here. He takes the stage on Saturday, July 28 at 8pm, but only after a live auction, a silent auction, a raffle, wine tasting and so much more.


Come Back Buddy comes to the Center

I didn’t grow up listening to Buddy Holly’s music when it was first released, but I did grow up with his music (and his glasses). There is something about his music that is timeless and fun, that everyone can relate to. And it’s a quality that isn’t found in Buddy alone, but in much of the music of the 1950s, like Elvis, Marty Robbins, Ricky Nelsen and Bobby Darrin (I have a really funny story about him). It’s something that Mike Randall of Come Back Buddy knows all about.

“1950s music is the most fun music to play. It’s a lot of rock & roll that is really up beat, and has turned a lot of people into big fans.”

Mike started Come Back Buddy with his wife, Janine, about 12 years ago and decided to start a group showcasing Buddy Holly because they already had some experience playing Buddy’s songs. It didn’t take long for them to branch out into other areas of classic 50’s rock and roll.

“We started with Buddy Holly, but now we play more 1950’s review, like Elvis, Ricky Nelsen, we like to mix it up a lot,” said Mike. “It was the first time young people had their own music.”

Mike told me that their shows aren’t just for people who heard Buddy play before his death, but for everyone.

” For some people, this is music they haven’t heard in a while and it brings back all these wonderful memories. It’s for people who had parents who listened to Buddy Holly and now they want to share it, and for people who haven’t heard anything like this music,” he said.

When Come Back Buddy plays, it’s not just a show that you come, watch and leave. It’s what happens when a meet up meets a dance party.

“People really get into our shows, they dress up in 50’s clothes with poodle skirts and white sport coats, and they meet up with other people who have that same connection to the music,” said Mike. That includes the 59ers, a group from Mason City High School who saw Buddy Holly’s last concert before his death and a group from Lubbock, Texas, where Buddy’s plane crashed.

But you don’t need to have a special connection to the music to enjoy it. 1950s music is something that everyone can get into because it has been a base for so much of the music that is played today, from Goyte to Pitbull to Black Keys. If you’re not sure about Come Back Buddy, or 50’s music in general, I suggest you take a look at their documentary, Come Back Buddy for free online.

What ever your music tastes are, Mike is sure that you’ll have a good time at Come Back Buddy.

“We just hope they (the audience) have a lot of fun. Our goal is to get people up and out of their seats and dancing. We play music that works for all ages, and nothing offensive.”*

Want to see Come Back Buddy? They’re playing here at CCA on July 27 at 7:30 to kick off our Free Summer Concert Series. And yes, it is free, but if you want to throw a couple of bucks our way, we’d be very appreciative. And I’ll give you a high-five.

*Please, the only thing offensive about Buddy was the crush I had on him as a kid. Talk about scary.

 


Artsy Fartsy Foodies: AJ’s Cafe

Downtown Chandler isn’t what it used to be, and if you ask Darlene, VP of Sales & Marketing for AJ’s at the San Marcos Golf Resort, that’s a wonderful thing.

Downtown Chandler isn’t what it used to be, and if you ask Darlene, VP of Sales & Marketing for AJ’s at the San Marcos Golf Resort, that’s a wonderful thing. Since Downtown Chandler’s (The DC’s) revival, the hotel and AJ’s Café has been and continues to be a great draw for The DC.

“We have the arts, restaurants and a variety of entertainment all within walking distance of the hotel,” said Darlene. “Guests are able to combine several activities and make their Downtown experience last for the whole evening or even the weekend.”

San Marcos has been working on connecting the arts and the hotel by bringing in artists to perform at the hotel and by sponsoring CCA’s national performing artists by giving them a wonderful place to stay and relax before and after their performances.

For Jim Aikin ( Executive Director of Catering and Conference Services ), joining food and art together is a natural fit. “Food is art, the meal service is a performance itself. We want to please and entertain our guests just like the arts center,” said Jim.

We couldn’t agree more. Nothing beats a great dinner and a show for a night out on the town.

At AJ’s Cafe, the doors are open and everyone is welcome, even if they aren’t a guest at the hotel. They invite anyone looking for a great food experience in a relaxed atmosphere to try AJ’s new menu, which is a reflection of both the new approach AJ’s has taken, and the new identity that can be found in Downtown Chandler. Eat Your Art Out diners are encouraged to make reservations at AJ’s Cafe from 6:00am to 9:00pm on February 28th. 2012. To make a reservation for Eat Your Art Out, please call 480-812-0900 or visit their restaurant page.


Artsy Fartsy Foodies: Pittsburgh Willy’s

I live four minutes from the Center, and that’s if I catch all the red lights along the way. Right in the middle sits Pittsburgh Willy’s where you walk in and you’re not in Chandler anymore.

Pittsburgh Willy’s owner Randy Walters is a Pittsburgh native who followed his highschool sweetheart to Arizona after time spent in the Navy, and didn’t start off serving hotdogs. He always wanted a restaurant like Pittsburgh Willy’s, but didn’t have the opportunity until 2005 when he lost his job at Chandler Regional Hospital.

“I bought a hotdog cart and worked that, learned the business and in 2008 I opened this place (the restaurant), with no business experience, no restaurant experience. Just a desire and a dream,” he said.

Whether you’re looking to try a new hot dog (all of which Randy created) or looking for a twist on a Pittsburgh staple like chipped ham, Pittsburgh Willy’s has the food you’re looking for.

“Pittsburgh food is comfort food. We don’t count carbs, don’t count calories, and we use real ingredients, like real cream and real butter. It’s the food the way grandma used to make it,” said Randy.

Because the community chose to support Randy, Randy is doing what he can to give back to that community.

“I’m blessed to be one of the people who is living their passion,” he said. “My success is dependent on public support. They trust me enough to come in here and spend their money, so I give back to that community,” including the community arts center.

“Each family is responsible for their home, and each home is responsible for their community, and to support that community. In a perfect world, everyone would do that and it would be a much better place,” he said.

I couldn’t agree more, even though I’m not a Steelers fan.

You can give Pittsburgh Willy’s a visit either in person, on their website or Faceboook.

And try the chipped ham. That just sounds awesome.


Monday Mashup: Rachel Eckroth

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Phoenix native Rachel Eckroth has an interest in many forms of music, but her true love is, and has been, jazz.

“I’ve been drawn to jazz because it’s music you could create on the spot,” she said. Coming from a musical family, Rachel was surrounded by different types of music and instruments and was singing and playing piano by age 6. When she was 14, she started playing jazz and was drawn to artists such as Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald.

Rachel got her start in Phoenix, but her talents soon took her to Las Vegas and New York. Now she spends her time between Phoenix and New York, and her music has taken a turn back to her roots.

“Now, we’re going to be doing a mix of jazz, plus some singer/songwriter stuff,” she said, the “we” referring to drummer and bassist who will be joining her for Friday night’s show. 

“On Friday, the audience can expect my energy with some jazz songs, a couple of tunes we’ll covering. Just a bunch of great music with some bass and drum solos,” she said, adding that people may recognize a Burt Bacharach song or two.

“Basically, we’re looking to create something on stage with the band that people can connect to. We don’t always plan it out, we just go with it,” she said.

If you want to catch Rachel live and see for yourself how great she sounds, you can catch her FREE show this Friday night at 7:30 at CCA.


Weekend Preview, part 1

Kevin Spencer loves what he does. I spoke with him yesterday and he was talking a million miles an hour right out of the gate (good thing my j-school skills taught me how to keep up). Sometimes, interviewees can be nervous, but not Kevin. Good thing, because his job isn’t something that can be done while hiding behind a desk.

“I was 5 years old when I told my mom I wanted to be a magician,” he said, and he hasn’t looked back since. But it isn’t enough to just perform magic, Kevin wanted to add a new element to the time-honored tradition.

“Magic was never presented in a theatrical environment, which is the perfect place for a magician. So we take great magic, wrap it in great theatre and totally engage the audience,” he said. To the Spencers, which is made up of Kevin and his wife Cindy, engaging the audience is more than just asking one or two people to come up on stage.

“There is one trick we perform where we ask everyone in the audience to do something and everyone can leave the show saying that they participated in the show,” he said, adding that when a magician uses people who audience members know, they know that it wasn’t a set up.

But for Spencers, it isn’t just about the tricks. With their Healing of Magic and Hocus Focus programs, they help patients going through physical therapy and those with learning disorders, respectively.

“It’s much easier to engage in therapy when that therapy is fun,” said Kevin. He would know, having gone through therapy himself a few years ago.

“We have 40-50 simple magic tricks that help patients reach specific therapy goals, and they’re done with all the same moves that traditional practices have,” he said. This program has been put in place at over 2500 hospitals and rehab centers, as well as at the University of Alabama where Kevin is an assistant occupational therapy professor.

How many times have you seen a magician who teaches at a university? Come over on Sunday and you can say you have!