Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at the Beachland Ballroom 12.13.2008

The Beachland was almost filled to capacity last Saturday night as Grace Potter and the Nocturnals took the stage in support of their second album Nothing But Water. The Vermont based band has a good buzz about them right now, appearing on most of the late night TV shows and an hour long feature on PBS, and they attracted a diverse crowd made up of hard core fans, jam rock fans, and music fans out looking for a fresh quality sound.
Even with the catchy name, the band is about Grace Potter. She does most of the writing, sings lead on every song, and also plays a very good keyboard and guitar. Her fifteen song set included selections from both of her albums, as well as several covers of classic rock standards. Amongst the highlights were "Ain't No Time" and "Big White Gate" from her first album This Is Somewhere; the title track from her second album which was she closed the show with; and a solid version of Neil Young's "Down By the River."
She was backed by a small band of guitar, bass, and drums. The band was occasionally augmented by members of the night's opening act Blues and Thunder to fill out the sound.
I think most of the fans got what they came for. The hard-core fans swayed and sang along to most songs, and the jam band fans got into the guitar lead jams that stretched most of the songs. The music fans unfamiliar with her but out for a night of fresh music probably saw a work in progress, a talented young lady who is still evolving as an artist. For more on Grace Potter and her music visit
As always the Beachland has a lot of great stuff coming up, including a Jason and the Scorchers reunion show on New Year's Eve, Robert Gordon and Chris Spedding on January 10, and Jonathon Edwards on January 30. For more information go to

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Christmas Carol at the Ohio Theater 28 Nov 2008

As a teacher, patron, and reviewer I have seen at least a third of the twenty different stagings of A Christmas Carol that the Great Lakes Theater Festival has done. It is the Romeo and Juliet of Christmas plays. Everyone knows the characters, everyone knows the conflicts, and everyone knows the ending, but if it is done well those things just don't matter.
The current production now being performed at the Ohio Theater is done well. Very good casting, great costumes and scenery, an added story within a story that allows for some festive holiday singing, all make it an enjoyable night of theater. If you want to be picky, there are some criticisms, for example there is more machine generated smoke than at a Journey concert. But all in all it is another fine production of Dickens' classic.
Direct by Victoria Bussert, the show features long time Great Lakes veteran Aled Davies as Scrooge, and he does a great job with it. Almost stealing the show from Davies is seven-year-old Shannon Kelley who plays Tiny Tim.
A Christmas Carol is often watered down, but this current production keeps loyal to Dickens' original text, including his references to British folk tales and mythology. It's doesn't get too heavy, and the dramatic effects do not get in the way of the story.
The opening night audience was filled with many well-dressed and well-behaved children, enjoying a night out with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
A Christmas Carol will be presented at the Ohio Theater until December 23, including matinees on the weekends. For more information or to purchase tickets visit or call 216.241.6000.