Music, Shakespeare, Books, Art & Nature at Festivall This Weekend!

West Virginians have an exciting weekend of arts-related events this weekend thanks to Charleston’s Festivall. We at Muruch will happily attend the following:

Friday, 7pm: Hamlet by The American Shakespeare Co.
The Scottish Rites Center, Capitol Street
Tickets: $20 adults, $15 seniors, $10 students.
Buy tickets in advance at Taylor Books or at the door

Friday & Saturday, 7:30pm: Romeo & Juliet by The Charleston Ballet
The Civic Center Little Theater
Tickets: Adults $20 in advance, $25 at door; students $15 in advance, $20 at door.Group rates also available.
Buy tickets online, Civic Ctr box office or at the door

Saturday, 8am-5pm: Library Used Book Sale
The Civic Center Little Theater
Free Admittance, books 50¢-$2

Sunday, 1-4pm: Nature Walk w/ Live Music & Art
Sunrise Carriage Trail
Free!

Sunday, 7pm: Kate Miller-Heidke, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Janiva Magness & Storyman at Mountain Stage
Culture Center Theater
Tickets: $15 advance, $20 at the door
Buy tickets online, at Taylor Books or at door


Crystal Good: Boom Boom

Crystal Good is West Virginia’s (and possibly America’s) coolest poet. I’ve talked about her poetry to everyone I know offline and mentioned her a few times on Muruch’s Twitter, but just realized I’ve neglected to post about her here on Muruch until now. Here’s my fave Crystal Good poem/spoken word performance, “Boom Boom.”

Crystal Good Official Site

Buy Crystal Good’s Poetry @ Amazon


Local Event: CYAC Production of Our Town in Charleston, WV Tonight!

“We like the sun comin’ up over the mountain in the morning
and we all notice a good deal about the birds”

“Some people just ain’t cut out for small town life

“This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying
and in our living and in our dying”

Those three lines sum up why every West Virginian should see Contemporary Youth Arts Company‘s production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town tonight.

While anyone anywhere can relate to the allegory for mortality brilliantly woven into the story, Appalachia is one of the few regions in America who can still see their reflection in Grover’s Corners.

In Our Town, Wilder masterfully captured the heart of small town life — its bitter and its sweet, its bliss and its grief.

And CYAC gracefully capture the heart of Our Town, humbly and beautifully staying true to Wilder’s sparse setting and subtle delivery so as to allow the play’s inherent genius to shine through.

Every cast member does a superb job and the cast, as a whole, have a uniquely natural chemistry on stage. The actresses who portray Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Gibb were the main scene stealers. Mrs. Gibbs in particular is incredibly authentic and moving.

Local high school student Mariah Plante positively glows as the play’s central character, Emily Webb. Plante successfully elicited smiles from the audience during Emily’s innocent happiness and tears from even the crowd’s most sullen teenagers during her final heartbreaking scene.

My only complaint is the play’s climactic, most famous line “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?” was inexplicably left out. Whether due to director’s design or actor’s error, I don’t know. But despite that glaring omission, it was an otherwise excellent and heartfelt production.

I actually hadn’t intended to review this play when I bought my ticket. I wanted to be able to fully enjoy it if it was good and I wanted to avoid the inevitable battle between honesty and kindness if it wasn’t. After a decade of disillusionment with local theatrical productions, I stopped bothering to attend them let alone review them. But a writer can rarely resist the spark of inspiration born of great art. Such was the case last night. Since I missed the Charleston Gazette’s deadline, you Muruch readers get this spontaneous review instead.

Do yourself a favor and attend CYAC’s final performance of Our Town tonight. You won’t regret it.

Info: CYAC Production of Our Town
Time: Tonight, 8:00 p.m.
Place: WVSU Capitol Center, 123 Summers Street, Charleston, WV
Price: $8.00 Student/Senior, $15.00 Adult
Buy tickets at the show or call 304-342-6522 for reservations and group rates.

Old Crow Medicine Show: Live at The Clay Center, 5/24/13

Old Crow Medicine Show has long been one of our favorite bands here at Muruch, so I was thrilled to see them in concert at The Clay Center tonight.

The stage was lit with what appeared to be vintage glass baubles hanging from the ceiling and a ghostly mist rolled through as opening act Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys took the stage. They gave a peppy, old-fashioned set. I loved their retro Spaghetti Western vibe and harmonies. Mead’s croons and yodels are from another era. They elicited a standing ovation from the crowd with a twisted song about The Andy Griffith show featuring a pot smokin’, moonshine drinkin’ Opie.

Old Crow Medicine Show then took the stage, launching into the title track from their 2012 album, Carry Me Back. From the opening notes they had members of the audience on their feet dancing in the aisles.

They ripped through “Alabama High Test” with flashing lights and roadies switching out guitars for harmonicas mid-lyric.

Lead singer Ketch Secor threw out a lot of love to “the Charleston skyline,” “the Mountaineer state,” “the KRT bus terminal,” “the Kanawha Valley” and “where hillbilly music comes home to roost, West-by-God Virginia,” which earned him a lot of love in return from the exuberant local crowd. It also helped they have local boy Chance McCoy in the band.

There’s no greater musical sight to this country gal than a string band huddled together jammin’. And it must be said Secor plays his fiddle like Eddie Van Halen plays his electric guitar.

The concert was comprised of newer material from the Carry Me Back album as well as some gems from their earlier works.

Most notable was the rousing fan favorite “Wagon Wheel” from their debut, O.C.M.S..The song was written with a co-authoring deal with Bob Dylan, and it is by far OCMS’ best known, beloved and oft covered tune. The entire audience was on their feet cheering and singing along for the duration of the song and the band seemed to pause after it to stare, soak in and appreciate the adoration of the crowd.

Despite my disappointment with 2008’s Tennessee Pusher album, Old Crow’s “Methamphetamine” was one of the most powerful live performances I’ve witnessed.

I had hoped to hear more from 2006’s brilliant Big Iron World (#2 on my Best of the Decade list and one of my all-time favorite albums), but they did play “Cocaine Habit,” “Union Maid” and a soul-stirring, harmonious mashup of “I Hear Them All” and “This Land is Your Land.”

Other highlights were “Mississippi Saturday Night,” “Humdinger,” “CC Rider” and “Big Time in the Jungle,” but it was really a fantastic concert from beginning to end. One of the best I’ve ever attended.

Old Crow Medicine Show have a rare mix of chemistry, energy and artistry. They masterfully bridge the gap between the downhome bluegrass (and blues) past and rowdy rocked up modern Americana. They built the multi-instrumental, multi-genre stage groups like The Low Anthem, The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons now play upon.

OCMS’ sweet backwoods harmonies and barn burning instrumentation made for a very lively, impressive and thoroughly entertaining show.

Though it must be said the true star of the show was the Grassy Knoll Boy I believe Mead called “Reverend Dan,” who popped back on stage to “buck dance” during Old Crow’s set. That dude had pizazz.

Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys joined Old Crow on stage for encore duets of Mead’s old BR549 hit “Cherokee Boogie” and a concluding cover of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

Free Music from WV’s The 1937 Flood

By: Brendan

The 1937 Flood call themselves an eclectic string band. They recently released a gorgeous version of “The Rose” featuring friend of the band Kathy Castner. You can stream the song here, or subscribe to their podcast for a downloadable version. The band will perform a free outdoor concert on Friday May 24th at Pricketts Fort State Park.

Buy The 1937 Flood’s Music @ Amazon