Category: Features

Still deadly after all these years: Deadly Apples open for Manson, Zombie

By MIKE CHAIKEN EDITIONS EDITOR Business success temporarily derailed the musical success of Canadian-band Deadly Apples. But the music chemistry and friendship between the group’s founders Alex Martel and Antoine Lamothe ensured the group didn’t become just a memory. The…

Still deadly after all these years: Deadly Apples open for Manson, Zombie

By MIKE CHAIKEN EDITIONS EDITOR Business success temporarily derailed the musical success of Canadian-band Deadly Apples. But the music chemistry and friendship between the group’s founders Alex Martel and Antoine Lamothe ensured the group didn’t become just a memory. The…

‘The Lion King’ isn’t your typical fare from ‘The Mouse’ but it’s great all the same

by MIKE CHAIKEN EDITIONS EDITOR When one thinks of entertainment from Disney, thoughts tend to veer toward the cartoonish, cuddly, and mainstream. You don’t typically think of cutting edge art. So “The Lion King” is an anomaly in the Disney…

Camila Cabello: A star is born at the Mohegan Sun Arena

Pop singer Camilla Cabello gave every indication at her July 31 show at the Mohegan Sun Arena that she is poised on the edge of being a star. The former member of Fifth Harmony headlined her first ever arena event, packing the house in Uncasville. The Connecticut gig was a side trip from her current stint as opener for megastar Taylor Swift. The audience of primarily girls in their mid-teens cheered and screamed as Cabello performed hits like “Never Be the Same” and the encore “Havana.” The singer proved to be a well-rounded performer with an impressive voice and just as impressive dance moves.

PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN

 

 

 

#DateFail = #ComedySuccess

By MIKE CHAIKEN EDITIONS EDITOR Comedian Kate Quigley’s story of arrested development means laughter for comedy club audiences and podcast aficionados. Quigley comes to Comix at Mohegan Sun starting next Thursday for four performances. One of Quigley’s current projects is…

Real country with Reba

by MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

You put a country star in a concert hall in the middle of a casino, you shouldn’t be surprised if there were a lot of rhinestones, glitter, and Las Vegas-style cheesiness on stage.

And if you take a country star who crossed over to pop success during the big shoulder pads and big hair days of the 1980s, you would expect a dose of nostalgia and no steel guitar or fiddle.

Finally, if you take a country star who made it big in television, you’d expect a lot of medleys that briefly touch upon the hits and a lot of reminders that they were a multi-media success.

So, Reba McEntire’s performance at the Grand Theater at Foxwoods was not what one would expect.

Yes, there was a reminder about her stint on the sitcom, “Reba” and her role in the horror film “Tremors,” she didn’t belabor the points. And there were a couple of medleys (but they were seamless and seemed more an artistic choice rather than an effort to squeeze in as much music they can so they can get on the tour bus).

But mostly, McEntire presented a night of good, classic-style country music and gospel music. It was more early Loretta Lynn than Elvis in Vegas, more Grand Ol’ Opry than the 2018 Grammys.

McEntire reminded the audience with her fabulous performance that the best country music puts the focus on a story, rather than a clever catch phrase. Her songwriters told little short stories in verse and chorus, and McEntire’s voice provided the superb medium to make these tales come to life.

In songs like “Whoever’s in New England” and “Somebody,” McEntire evoked a context and characters through her voice. Both songs made me a little misty-eyed as I followed the travails of the protagonists.

I must confess, my knowledge of McEntire’s catalogue is entirely lacking. Except for the brief moment of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” in an early medley and her version of the powerful “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” I didn’t recognize anything I heard.

But at no point in the evening was I bored because the music was unknown to me. After hearing her performances, I wanted to hear more Reba McEntire’s catalogue.

That’s the sign of a strong concert.

The power of McEntire was that her performance made me interested in the song, her voice drew me in. And she was ably abetted by a wonderful band.

McEntire also helped her cause at the Grand Theater June 30 with the way she connected to the audience. A couple of times, she took the time to talk about her family and her career. And her approach was so intimate it felt as if each of us in the audience was engaged with her in one-on-one conversation over coffee.

Country music labels have put their cash and energy into artists that are new. And there’s nothing wrong with bringing in fresh talent.

But there’s something to say about listening to country artists who have lived, who have honed their craft, and acknowledged and represent the genre’s heritage.

Reba McEntire is a veteran act who clearly loves country music and loves performing.

And the packed house at the Grand Theater clearly appreciated where McEntire has been and where she’s still going.

I give Reba McEntire’s June 30 concert at the Grand Theater at Foxwoods four out of four stars.

PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN