While I spend a lot of time with Portland’s cocktail and micro-distillery world for DrinkSpirits.com, I can’t help but be drawn to all the amazing wine and beer festivals and events that take place in Portland year round. One event which has always been on my radar screen is the Portland Indie Wine & Food Festival. Now in its sixth year, this home-grown event has blossomed into one of Portland’s more notable culinary expos.
The festival features 40 of the top wines selected from a pool of Oregon craft wineries which produce no more than 2,500 cases or more. This year they’ve added a special section to spotlight top scoring reds under $25 and whites under $15. Judges for the 2010 festival include Claud Mann of TBS’ Dinner and a Movie, journalist and author Alice Feiring, James Beard nominated Chef Cathy Whims of Nostrana, and Bernie Sun, Corporate Beverage Director at Jean-Georges Management, LLC. Portland’s top chefs will join the selected 40 craft producers and serve up sophisticated wine-friendly bites.
The 2010 Portland Indie Wine & Food Festival will take place at the Bison Building (19 NE 10th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232) on Saturday, May 8th from 2 – 6 p.m. Tickets are $75/person and include one tasting glass, festival passport and access to pours from all wineries and food from all the featured restaurants.
It’s refreshing, from time to time, to treat yourself to a night of entertainment that is simply fun and lighthearted. This is what you can expect from Legally Blonde The Musical. The 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon has been adapted for the stage, infused with music and dance, and is touring February 16-21 here in Portland as part of the Broadway Across America series.
The premise is simple: college sorority president and blonde bombshell Elle Woods has everything going for her – perfect clothes, perfect friends, perfect boyfriend/future husband Warner Huntington III, until said boyfriend heads to Harvard Law and dumps Elle for someone more “serious”, Vivienne Kensington. Determined to get her man, Elle manages to get herself into Harvard and sets a plan into action to get Warner back. It never occurs to her that she could fail, that no one will take her seriously, or that she might fall for someone else.
The role of Elle Woods is played, for the majority of the Portland run, by Becky Gulsvig. She keeps up with the high energy demands of the role and has a striking resemblance to Reese Witherspoon. For those of you planning to see the show later in the run, I would shoot for one of the performances on February 20 and 21 to see Portland native and Tigard High grad Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone in the role of Elle. I wish I could have seen a show with her to see some local talent.
Most of the rest of the cast are what you would expect from a traveling show. The vocals vary, some performances are stronger than others, and they double and triple up on actors playing multiple roles (not my favorite). When it comes down to it, however, this is a musical based on a fairly silly romantic comedy, so you have to keep that in mind and just enjoy the spectacle. The show does have some very funny and cute moments, like the first time Elle’s chihuahua, Bruiser, runs on stage and delivers “lines”, the marching band and cheerleaders at Elle’s admissions interview at Harvard, the “Take It Like a Man” number during which Elle’s law school friend, Emmett Forrest (played by D.B. Bonds) changes clothes on stage behind a tiny changing room door, and the courtroom scene with the entire ensemble singing “Is He Gay or European”.
An upbeat, spirited production, and dizzying number of pink costumes, Legally Blonde The Musical is entertainment that lets you just turn off your brain and enjoy.
There are many different ways the Star Wars franchise could have presented on the road. I shudder to think of the rejected ideas: Star Wars The Musical, Star Wars on Ice, or maybe even Star Wars The 3D Experience. Of all the possible shows I am extremely pleased that they landed on Star Wars in Concert. Capturing the heart and soul of Star Wars, this two hour celebration is the equivalent of a legendary rock group reunion tour where all the best songs and moments are recaptured and relived.
Everything about Star Wars in Concert is done on an epic scale. An 86 piece orchestra is combined with a huge choir and backed by a 100-foot LED high-def screen, which is one of the largest, clearest high-def screens I’ve ever seen. The massive screen is surrounded by three other textured screens which envelope the entire back of the stage. This all is combined with a dizzying array of lighting and special effects which include full stadium lasers, smoke, huge fire and steam jets, providing some explosive exclamation points to the music.
The show opened appropriately enough with “Star Wars (Main Theme)”, the iconic piece which filled the Rose Garden with a palpable excitement. The crowd roared and cheered throughout the song. It was an amazing experience to hear a stadium full of people respond so enthusiastically to a piece of orchestral music. This is part of the magic of Star Wars in Concert, behind all the flash of all the staging, the real star of the evening was John Williams’s legendary score.
As the orchestra played, montages of clips from the Star Wars Saga were projected on the huge screens behind them. I’ve never seen these films look better; the crisp clarity, the deep color, even footage from the original series is literally jaw dropping. Seeing the films presented this way really accentuated the fact that the Star Wars Saga still isn’t available in Blu-Ray. I really hope that Lucasfilm will piggy back the excitement of this tour with a high-def release. The film montages combined clips from all six Star Wars movies (including original character concept drawings), often interspersing segments from the original series with the three prequels. The occasional clip had the sound from the film, usually featuring one of the many legendary quotes.
For the hardcore Star Wars fan I’m sad to report that the footage from the original Star Wars trilogy is the revised footage from the special edition releases (including things like the new approach to Mos Eisley Cantina). Also you’ll probably cringe when you see Han Solo and Greedo in their cantina duel and realize that Lucas is standing strong with Greedo now shooting first (for more on this see Han Shot First). But these minute details are easily forgiven, contexted in the absolute Star Wars love fest that is Star Wars in Concert.
After the theme song came to an end and the crowd finished their uproarious applause, Anthony Daniels (who played C3PO) was introduced. Daniels immediately began narrating the over-arching story of Star Wars, not as if it were some fairytale or fiction, but as if it were a real story with real people. Daniels was the perfect choice for this role, as his humor and enthusiasm provided the connecting point between the audience, the orchestra and the clips from the movie. While Daniels’s narration is infused with the occasional quip, it never droned on too long and was never cheesy.
STARWARS: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back key art onscreen during StarWars™: In Concert.
Each number of the evening was accompanied by a themed segment looking at each aspect of the Star Wars Saga including the story of Anakin and his transformation into Darth Vader, Pod Racing, Droids, Luke and Leia, Yoda, The Death Star, The Rebel Alliance triumph over the Empire, and Vader’s redemption. I really enjoyed how each segment focused on a specific aspect of the saga. Pulling some of these themes out of the context of the individual films enables them to be viewed from a new perspective. I especially enjoyed the segment on Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. It’s a really nice portrait of their relationship across the original trilogy films and seeing their relationship chronicled in this way really gave me a new appreciation for it. The biggest benefactors of this style of presentation are the three prequels. Divorced from some of their baggage they really shine. I found a real sense of fondness for the core story from the prequels, which was both a surprise and a delight.
With so much to experience on the gigantic high-def screen, it’s easy to overlook the phenomenal performance of the orchestra and conductor Dirk Brosse, who tackles the monstrous task of performing music so ingrained in the audience’s mind that even the slightest deviance would be noted. Brosse does an exceptional job conducting a pitch perfect orchestra with an extraordinary level of comfort and ease. Brosse was never showy and seemed dedicated to presenting the orchestration that really honored John Williams’s score. His work was a real partnership with the video segments and Daniels’s narration and the three elements worked in perfect harmony, a real credit to Brosse’s talent.
I really can’t imagine a better tribute to the Star Wars Saga than Star Wars in Concert. It’s an event which can be equally enjoyed by fans of the series both old and young. The fact that it can draw so many people to come together to celebrate and enjoy classical orchestral music is simply amazing. The Star Wars series and John Williams’s score both deserve to be celebrated and Star Wars in Concert is the most profound celebration possible. I highly recommend the Star Wars in Concert tour and hope that it will return to Portland again in the future, because I would absolutely go see it again.
Here is the formal Star Wars in Concert Set list:
Star Wars (Main Title)
Duel of the Fates
The Flag Parade
Across the Stars
Battle of the Heroes
The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)
The Asteroid Field
Princess Leia’s Theme
Tales of a Jedi Knight
TIE Fighter Attack
Luke and Leia
The Forest Battle
Light of the Force
Throne Room/End titles
Encore: The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)
In addition to the main show, Star Wars in Concert features a number of costumes and models from the Star Wars Series. If you go to the show be sure to allow extra time prior to enjoy these displays. They were swarmed by people at the Rose Garden and so picture taking was very difficult.
It’s unnecessary to exalt the virtues of Star Wars, it exists as one of the most influential series of films of the 20th century (well at least the original trilogy). One of the things which helps make the Star Wars franchise so amazing is John Williams’ legendary score.
Almost anyone who hears just a few notes of any of John Williams’ music from the series should be able to easily identify it as Star Wars.
Now, the music from all six films have been combined with a multimedia spectacular into a live show that will surely thrill even the most casual Star Wars Fan (if there is such thing as a casual Star Wars Fan).
Star Wars In Concert arrives at the Rose Garden on Wednesday October 14th and On Portland is giving away 4 pairs of tickets to this once in a lifetime event. This two-hour musical event that features scenes from the movies projected on massive high-def screens, a full symphonic orchestra with choir, and live narration by Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO.
In addition, audiences will be able to view an exhibition of STAR WARS original memorabilia, props, costumes and artwork from all six films from the Lucasfilm Archives.
Enter for your chance to win one of 4 pairs of tickets we’re giving away. Enterting is simple, just post your favorite Star Wars line, quote, memory or ancedote in the comments and you’re entered. Winners will be picked at the end of the day on Monday October 12th.
It takes a lot of guts to be a professional bull rider. Over a season with 30+ stops a bull rider takes a tremendous amount of physical damage (including broken bones, dislocated shoulders and a ton of bashes and bruises). Somehow these bull riders pick themselves up and hop back on those bulls for another ride.
On Portland had the opportunity to speak with Ross Coleman, a 12 year vet of the sport, from Molalla Oregon who is set to ride this weekend as Professional Bull Riding comes to Portland in the Professional Bull Riders Godaddy.com Invitational (Friday Oct. 2nd & Saturday Oct 3rd).
Ross gives some insight into what it’s like being a bull rider and what it takes to tame some of those monstrous beasts.
Watch our interview:
If you needed other enticement, Go Daddy Girl, Erin Kalin will be singing the National Anthem at the event. Tickets start as low as $10.
For more info on Professional Bull Riding in Oregon:
TAfter the massively disappointing Meg Stuart show, I had a pretty large unfulfilled craving for good modern dance. That craving was more than met with locust, whose energetically explosive performance ‘crushed’ swept me up and left me waiting more. Locust mixes many styles and mediums to bring together a collection of non-narrative dance segments that connect through patterns of movement and theme. Accompanied by a beat boxer, music (both live and recorded) and video, locust blends classical and modern moves with explosive energy.
What struck me the most about locus and their piece ‘crushed’ was just how talented all the dancers in the company are. The dancers seamlessly transition between pirouettes and Michael Jackson crotch grab and then back to full balletic spins. This talent is combined with great group chemistry which results in ensemble dance numbers that are in equal balance to the individual ones. Video, when used wrong, can be quite a distraction from a modern dance piece, but locust has a strong sense of its place and the opportunity it can provide. My favorite use of video came mid way through the piece with a static shot down a long dim hall. The dancers use this video to create an environment on stage and then build on it. Shadowy video dancers mimic the movements on stage, sometimes in time, sometimes out of time, creating a fantastic bending of time and expectations. The piece toys with the concept of live and recorded with so much explosively live energy it stands as an exclamation point on any sentence exalting live performance.
I enjoyed locust’s crushed so much I’d not only recommend it, I’d definitely consider seeing it again.
After the massively disappointing Meg Stuart show, I had a pretty large unfulfilled craving for good modern dance. That craving was more than met with locust, whose energetically explosive performance ‘crushed’ swept me up and left me wanting more. Locust mixes many styles and mediums to bring together a collection of non-narrative dance segments that connect through patterns of movement and theme. Accompanied by a beat boxer, music (both live and recorded) and video, locust blends classical and modern moves with explosive energy.
What struck me the most about locust and their piece ‘crushed’ was just how talented all the dancers in the company are. The dancers seamlessly transition between pirouettes and Michael Jackson crotch grabs, and then back to full balletic spins. This talent is combined with great group chemistry which results in ensemble dance numbers that are in equal balance to the individual ones. Video, when used wrong, can be quite a distraction from a modern dance piece, but locust has a strong sense of its place and the opportunity it can provide. My favorite use of video came midway through the piece with a static shot down a long dim hall. The dancers use this video to create an environment on stage and then build on it. Shadowy video dancers mimic the movements on stage, sometimes in time, sometimes out of time, creating a fantastic bending of time and expectations. The piece toys with the concept of live and recorded with so much explosively live energy it stands as an exclamation point on any sentence, exalting live performance.
I enjoyed locust’s ‘crushed’ so much I’d not only recommend it, I’d definitely consider seeing it again.
Going over this year’s TBA:09 (Time Based Art) Festival catalog I was struck by just how many of the events at Portland’s premiere arts festival are free.
In addition to the free events, there are also a number of options that provide pretty hefty bang for the buck.
Top of that list is the Works Pass. For $75 ($50 for PICA members) you get access to all the late night programming at the Works (Washington High School – 531 SE 14th Ave) running from September 3rd – September 10th. In all 16 shows!
Back to Back Theater “Small Metal Objects” (our TOP PICK) – Wed. Sept 9 @ 6:30, Thurs. Sept 10 @ 12:30 and 6:30pm, Fri. Sept 11 @ 12:30 and 6:30pm, Sat. Sept 12 @ 12:30 and 6:30pm. We recommend the 12:30 shows as actors are interspersed with the regular crowds in the area. This show is not to be missed! $20 Members/$25 General
I’ve lived in Portland for seventeen years, and of all the events, activities and festivals I’ve attended in the city, one of my absolute favorite is Sunday Parkways. The event is extraordinarily simple: several miles of urban roads are closed to cars and become the playground for bikes, pedestrians, strollers, roller bladers, unicyclists, anything BUT motorized vehicles. This year the Portland Office of Transportation in conjunction with ORBike and Metro have set three Sunday Parkways in three different neighborhoods of Portland. I missed the first one on June 21st in North Portland (and am now kicking myself for missing it), but did manage to attend the one on July 19th in North East Portland and it was exceptional.
In addition to over 7 miles of closed streets the Sunday Parkways also features mini park fests along the way with food, entertainment, activities and free bike servicing. The third and final Sunday Parkways of the year takes place in Southeast Portland on Sunday August 16th from 9am to 4pm. Unlike other cycling events in Portland (like Providence Bridge Pedal) the Sunday Parkways event is completely free.
The Southeast route is by far the best of the three parkways with a 9 mile closed course which includes a “5 mile relatively flat loop through portions of the Buckman, Kerns, Laurelhurst, Richmond, Sunnyside neighborhoods.” and it connects to a ” second, more challenging, 4-mile Mt Tabor loop will be optional to summit the only volcano in the City limits. The route will also cross the SE Hawthorne, Division and Belmont business areas”
Not only is this event free, it features a ton of goods and services which are offered free, including: Bike Empowered complimentary bike safety checks and repairs, BTA/Safe Route To Schools kids bike fitting and training (both at Colonel Summers Park), REI free climbing Wall and Portland Wheelman flat tire repair classes (at Laurelhurst Park).
I’m hard pressed to come up with a better example of an event that illustrates why Portland is such an amazing city, it’s absolutely not to be missed. So do yourself a favor and make your way on Sunday to this amazing event.
The 8th installment of American Idol Live makes its first stop at The Rose Garden on July 5th. On Portland had the opportunity to sit down and talk to the top 10 American Idol performers (in batches of two).
Reporters were given just 5 mins to ask questions and with two idols to cover it was tough to try to fit a lot in. Meeting the Idols in person I was struck by how closely they mirrored their ‘personas’ on the screen. What you saw on TV is pretty much what you see when you talk to them in person. Of the group I enjoyed Allison Iraheta’s rambunctious humor, Adam Lambert’s ultimate humility and Anoop Desai who seemed to have the best take on the event.
The biggest surprise was Megan Joy who talked about the challenges she faced during the show. She was a much more grounded and down to earth person than I had expected and her playfullness with Matt Giraud was fun to watch.
The thing that stuck me the most was how exhausted the Idols seemed. It was clear that they’ve been working extremely hard to prepare the tour and I’ll be interested to see the results of all that effort.
Some of the best stuff going on in Portland this weekend could easily be under most people’s radar screen… but not ours!
Friday 11/21: Twilight Prom – Dance under the stars at the View Point Inn and pretend you and your date are Edward and Bella. This kicks off what will sure to be an absolute frenzy over all things Twilight. (The Viewpoint Inn is located at 40301 East Larch Mountain Road in Corbett, Oregon.)
Melissa Ferrick (8pm @ Wonder Ballroom -128 NE Russell) if improv isn’t your thing, don’t miss the extraordinarily talented Melissa Ferrick. Indie inspired acoustic folk, Ferrick falls soundly between Ani DiFranco and Patty Griffin. Check out her cover of Bush’s Glycerine and you’ll understand why she’s on our radar screen.