Thursday, October 31, 2013

“Left Wing, Right Wing, Chicken Wing - it’s All the Same to Me”

That’s part of a Woody Gurthrie quote and the rest is “...I sing my songs wherever I can sing ‘em”.   "Hard Travelin’ with Woody" is a tribute show performed and written by Randy Noojin.  It will be at The Edge Center in Bigfork in November.  The show is all about times in this country during the depression and dust bowl. Woody Guthrie lived in it, wrote and sang about it and became a leading social activist concerning it. This show helps explain those times and a man who tried to help the people. On stage Saturday, November 9th 7PM. $10 adults. $5 children.

Randy Noojin  (above) and "Hard Travelin’ with Woody" has thrilled audiences around the country since 2011. If you are old enough to remember the hard times, you will appreciate the honesty, and, if you are too young, you can get a small taste of what it might feel like back then.

Woody Guthrie's (above) reputation as “saint of the working man and poet of the people” came about because of his experiences and work during those hard times. "Hard Travelin' with Woody " is a solo performance with music. Randy Noojin is a playwright as well as a performer.  His play "You Can’t Trust a Male" is included in Applause Books’ Best American Short Plays ’91 ’92.  The film version of his play "Unbeatable Harold"  premiered on Showtime starring Dylan McDermott, Phyllis Diller, Charles Durning, and Gladys Knight. Randy has acted in hundreds of plays in New York plus has numerous film projects to his credit. He is a very talented professional and your trip to Bigfork to see Randy will certainly be worth the effort.

This show covers real events with songs and monologues about the people and challenges they faced when a whole way of life failed. Woody Guthrie is an iconic figure in entertainment and Randy Noojin took on a monumental task in portraying him. Randy wrote the show in 2011 and has toured with it across the country. Randy says that he "...was impressed by his reputation as ‘saint-of-the-working-man and poet-of-the-people’ and used a pinch of 'Grapes of Wrath' and 'Odets' Waiting for Lefty' to forge my structure and content.  I wanted to find things that Woody said back then that I want to say to America today.”

Controversy followed Guthrie (above and below) like a magnet. During WWII he was very anti-Fascist.  He joined the Merchant Marine and shipped out three times.  Once his ship hit a mine and once it was torpedoed.  He lost two of the three ships he was on before the FBI pulled his seaman papers because of something he wrote for a Communist paper in 1944. A witness named him as a communist in 1952 for the Un-American Activities committee. His second wife, Marjorie, claimed that was not true, because he was not welcome there due to not following the party line.  He was finally taken off of the FBI and Un-Americans watch list because of his illness.  He suffered from Huntington’s disease and died in 1967. His hometown,  Okemah, OK, rejected a Woody Guthrie day when he died, its library had to sneak books in about him, and it took four decades before a Guthrie portrait hangs next to Will Rogers in the Oklahoma capitol.

This certainly contrasts with Guthrie’s professional life.  Rolling Stone magazine calls him the most important American Folk musician of all time. In 1988 he was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of fame, and received a Life-Time Achievement Grammy award.

Bob Dylan (above in 1963) considers Guthrie his personal hero and met him in 1961. Guthrie was the primary influence in Dylan’s career and has said “I was a servant to sing his songs.  That’s all I did.  I was a Woody Guthrie jukebox.”  Above information from:

Here are some more “Woodyisms”:

“Life has got a habit of not standing hitched. You got to ride it like you find it. You got to change with it. If a day goes by that don't change some of your old notions for new ones, that is just about like trying to milk a dead cow”

“I made ever thing but money and lost ever thing except my debts. I ain’t communist necessarily, but I have been in the red all my life”

“If you play more than two chords you’re showing off.”

Above from:

Below is a wall mural painted in Woody Guthrie's hometown.

Come to Bigfork on November 9th and, if you get the feeling that you've been transported to a labor rally in 1940, that is OK, it is the setting for part of the show.  The show even covers Guthrie’s temptation to seek fame and fortune…see what happens to that...on stage at The Edge. From the program below a final “Woodyism” “If you can’t be great, belong.”  Woody’s son Arlo says he heard his dad say that and wondered what it meant.  This is what this show is all about.  Being stronger as part of a group facing corporations and their "anything for a profit" way of doing business.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Elvis Sighting at The Edge In Bigfork

Well, actually it is an Elvis impersonator, and he won’t be in an Elvis costume, but he is obsessed with The King, and so are most of the characters in All the King’s Women. It is a comedy showing on stage in Bigfork this weekend. Decades after his death, Elvis Presley’s music and personality still affect our culture. This comedy examines how chance encounters with the “King” affected 17 women’s lives. Through various monologues this play might also give you a difference perspective of the man.  You might even want a picture with one of the “The King’s” life size cutouts.  And there will be other surprises.  All the King’s Women by the EdgeWild Players at The Edge Center in Bigfork, November 1-3.  Friday and Saturday 7PM. Sunday 2PM. Price $12 adults $5 children.

Starting with the shop owner where his mom bought Elvis his first guitar for $12.95, there are 3 monologues and 5 scenes, which might give you a different perspective of the man and those obsessed with him.

Elvis sightings in the play include:
- Elvis and his Mother coming in to buy Elvis' 11th birthday gift, his 1st guitar.
- Steve Allen Show discussions about Elvis' hound dogs and pelvic movement.
- How a supermarket encounter at 3 am changes a women’s life.
- Gushing White House secretaries over a visitor at the gate for Pres. Nixon.
- Andy Warhol's Pop Art Elvis exhibition discussions
- Who gets to sell Elvis his next Cadillac.
- Graceland security very secure about the King’s kindness
- Graceland souvenir shop’s recent ex-employee, her obsessed boyfriend, souvenirs, Elvis, and life.

According to Patricia Feld, Artistic Director of The Edge Center (with two of the actors above), “You’ll leave this play smiling, happy, and remembering Elvis in your own past…depending on your age.  Many of the 17 encounters will make you laugh, and the impact Elvis made on some of the characters’ lives will make you think about our American cult of fame.  We’re making the theatre into a party with life-size, Elvis cut-outs to take your picture with, decorations, and other surprises. Please do come and enjoy the very talented local ensemble’s performance of this funny tribute to the King.”

Above is the cast and stage crew during rehearsal. The cast,made up of a variety of local talent, with many appearing in past Edge performances and even a first timer.  In no particular order the cast includes: Allissa Corrow, Erin McKinney, Greg Anselmo, Greta Drewlow, Melisa Newman, Paula Taylor, Regina Bloch, Sandy Lyytinen, Val Conner, Randy Peterson, and Valerie Sobrack. The stage crew includes: Christen Anderson, Srormy Riley, and Gay Reese.

The play’s author, Luigi Jannuzzi (above), born in 1952, is a contemporary American comedic playwright and educator from New Jersey.  His work has won awards in the UK, three National Endowments for the Humanities, Goshen peace prize and others. He is a University Of Notre Dame graduate and a member of the Dramatist and Author’s Guild and has 27 plays published by Samuel French. This play is produced by special arrangement by Samual French, Inc.

Here is what some critics have said about All The Kings Women:

"Perfect Monologues" Outer Critics Circle

"Jannuzzi has a good ear for the periods and for his characters, allowing his actors to show range. The point is perhaps not so much about Elvis per se, but instead these scenes reveal snapshots of an American culture, people, and place."

"His plays unfold in such an intimate and genuine way. He writes about Elvis Presley fans with educated and unconventional twists."

"In a nearly chronological order, the stand-alone scenes take place between the 1940's and the present day. Each scene is listed in the program with a date and location, driving home the point that these characters and situations are best understood within the context of their period."

Read more at:

You don’t have to be an Elvis fan going into this family comedy play to leave it with an appreciation of the man and his influence on us…then and now.  The EdgeWild players will give you laughs, smiles, and something to think about.

 Come and see All the King’s Women and bring a camera just in case you want a memory with the man who changed our music and culture plus affected many he met during his too short life. Performances Friday and Saturday 7PM, Sunday 2PM

Friday, October 4, 2013

Native American Art and Dance Provides “Powwow Perspectives” in Bigfork

October will be a very colorful month at The Edge Center in Bigfork this year.  Featuring both Native American dance on stage October 11th and a Native American art gallery exhibit during the whole month, “Powwow Perspectives” showcase talent and art as unique as it is beautiful.  The art exhibit, which runs all month, offers photographs, painting, beadwork, and regalia. It includes an artists’ reception after which “The Great Anishinaabe Nation Drum & Dance Group” will perform a variety of Native American dances in the theatre. The artists’ reception is October 11, 5PM – 7PM, with the dance performance beginning at 7PM. Because of a generous grant from the Blandin Foundation, the dance event is free.  The Gallery exhibit from October 10 – November 2 can be visited during normal Gallery hours free of charge.

Delina White (purple dress dancer above) is the Manager and Artistic Director of The Great Anishinaabe Nation Drum & Dance Group. She says, “The drum and dance group has been traveling to local festivals and schools providing educational performances for all ages and audiences since 2001.  The pride of the Native American and First Nations people is displayed by color combinations of boldly designed traditional and contemporary dance outfits; uniquely designed for an individual inspired by dreams and visions…The dancers and singers provide an education of Anishinaabe / Ojibwe traditional values and beliefs by sharing a part of their cultural heritage through music and dance.”

The dances and performers from Northern Minnesota include:
Jingle Dress & Traditional (Crow) Dancer: Lavender Hunt, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, MN (Crow traditional dress not shown in the photos)
Grass Dancer:  Alexis Charging Horse Copenace, White Fish Bay, Ontario Canada
Traditional Woodland Dancer:  Ningozis “Gozy” White, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, MN
Fancy Shawl Dancer:  Sage Davis, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, MN
Singer & Drummer:  Sheldon Smith, Red Lake Nation, MN

The gallery exhibit, open all month, provides visitors a close look at the powwow experience with photography, beadwork, and paintings.  George Earth (above), an elder from the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, will formally introduce the “Powwow Perspectives” program during the Artists’ Reception. 

The photo of George Earth by Ivy Vaino (above) will be on display in the art exhibit. Two events in Ivy Vaino’s life shaped her life’s work.  The first was when she attended her first powwow with her mother as a senior in high school.  Ms. Vaino is a member of the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwe.  She says, “I remember it very well…I was in awe knowing that this was part of my culture.”  The second was a chance to use a camera that same school year. “The one time I experienced working with cameras was when I took a photography class…I was fascinated by developing the film in the darkroom, but never really thought I’d want to do this as a hobby or a career.” Ivy started recording her culture and that of others, with a camera given to her by her husband.  “When I take photographs of cultural events, be it American Indian powwows, African American celebrations or Hmong New Year events, I feel that I am helping to document these events and helping to preserve the cultures.”

Steve Premo is an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. His work can be seen in public spaces like the Mille Lacs and Hinkley Casinos, the Hinckley Fire Museum, and the Government and Health Care Centers.  He is a graphic designer for the Corporate Commission that runs the casinos.  He also creates fabric and carpet designs. Steve has been an important mentor to The Edge Center as it moves into the area of Native Artists.  Steve Premo’s work often includes dark, rich, colorful scenic views using light and shadow reminiscent of Rembrandt’s paintings.  He first saw Rembrandt’s work at the age of six, and it had a lasting impression. He studied art at the University of Minnesota, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and taught art at the Heart of the Earth Survival School, an American Indian Movement charter school.  The Minneapolis Public Schools’ Indian Education Department recruited Premo to be its graphics artist.

Delina White, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, is a traditional Anishinaabe / Ojibwe Woodland floral design beadwork artist, as well as the above mentioned dancer and choreographer.  She combines beads and fabric to make traditional attire and accessories. She learned how to make color coordinated patterns into beaded handbags from her grandmother Maggie King from Onigum, starting at age six. Her beadwork and appliqué designs are representative of the beautiful surroundings of the Great Lakes region.  Delina is a 2010 Bush Foundation Artist Fellow, and lives in the traditional village of Inger (Chachabaaning) on the Leech Lake Reservation.  Delina is also an old-style, Jingle-dress dancer. She has combined her experience and knowledge of Native American / First Nations dancing and singing in the powwow arena with her business sense and is the  manager and artistic director for the Great Anishinaabe Nation Drum & Dance group.

Ivy Vainio Photographs

Delina White Bead Work

Steve Premo Paintings Sketches

One of Steve Premo’s murals is at the Hinckley Fire Museum. It commemorates the great Hinckley Fire of 1894, which produced a firestorm that incinerated hundreds of square miles and killed more than 400 people. The mural shows the rescue of a family by a young Ojibwe woman. The rescuer was a Mille Lacs Band member and her full name was Mahkahdaygwon. Her English name was Katherine Wadena McDonnell.

Using her canoe, Mahkahdaygwon rescued the women and two children from the lake, sheltered, and fed them at her home and even made them moccasins because they lost their shoes. The rescue was during the day, but it was dark and smoky with fire threatening. One of the children was Frank Patrick who often told the story of the fire and his rescue at the Hinckley Fire Museum.  The cinder burned blanket is part of the museum collection. Read more at:

About that project, Steve Premo says, “There's a lot of misunderstanding between the two cultures. What interested me was trying to reach out from a band-member standpoint and give something to the community. One of the questions I keep asking is: ‘Why does great adversity have to show itself before two cultures come together?’ It shouldn't take a Hinckley Fire.”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

16 Movies, 9 Musicals, 3 Radios Dramas, 12 TV Dramas, and 27 “Others”

That’s how many adaptations the 1847 novel Jane Eyre has inspired to date.  One of the most memorable was the 1944 movie starring Orson Wells, Joan Fontaine, and Elizabeth Taylor as Helen, who befriends young Jane with tragic results.  How could the novel Jane Eyre inspire so many performances? And is it justified?  You can make your own judgement at the next Classic Movie on October 10th in Bigfork.  This 20th Century Fox movie was one of the most successfully produced of the Hollywood system of “owning” stars and movie theaters. Bigfork’s resident movie authority, Jack Nachbar, will show the movie along with a cartoon from the same period and provide informative commentary.  All this on October 10th at 7PM. Admission is free along with appropriate goodies during intermission.

Jane Eyre is a fictional 19th century novel by Charlotte Brontë, an intense work that changed the face of fiction forever. Charlotte Brontë has been called “…the 'first historian of the private consciousness' and the literary ancestor of writers like Joyce and Proust.”  It has everything the reader of the period found fascinating. As an intense tour of a women’s life, it included a strong sense of morality, social criticism, and a great love story.  It was published in 1847 in London and released in America the following year. It was beyond its time and changed the face of fiction with a story that probably will inspire more versions in the future. Reference:

When 20th Century Fox produced the movie in 1944, it had been “packaged” by David O. Selznick. The production became famous for its recreation of the dark brooding environment of the Yorkshire Moors.

The long shadows and the enveloping, rolling fog (Jane Fontaine above) are said to be the creation of Orson Wells, who was offered a producer’s credit and declined.  The first choice for the music composer was Igor Stravinsky, but it was Bernard Herrman whose score was used. He was already writing his only opera “Wuthering Heights,” and some of the music in “Jane Eyre” is reminiscent of that opera. The hunting scene music was written by Igor Stravinsky before Herrman’s involvement. Reference:

Elizabeth Taylor (above) has a minor part in the movie, but even at such a young age, she provides an impressive presence.

And of course there is Orson Welles (above).  It is said that when he enters the movie, the whole perspective changes.

Jane Fontaine (above) also provides a remarkable performance.

An influential reviewer of the time, Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, characterized the movie as follows: “The dark, malignant side of Charlotte Brontë which flashes fiercely through the pages of her Jane Eyre, sets the tone for the moody film version of this great novel, which came to the Music Hall yesterday…” Reference

This is a great movie and will leave you with a sense of how life was portrayed in 19th century England: the religion, morals, class system, and love’s challenges.  What a great choice for the Classic Movie Series at The Edge Center in Bigfork. Come and experience the intensity of a story that has so captivated people since the novel’s release. And don’t forget the lighter side of the evening with a cartoon from the 1940’s.  All this on October 10th, at 7PM. Admission is free and there are appropriate goodies during intermission.