ECLECTIC ARTS

Thursday, April 30, 2020

FAMOUS ENCOUNTERS - Part II 4/30/2020

(Issue #3 of Eclectic Arts)


Here we go in no particular order:


CONTINUING WITH BANDS (non Eclectic Arts stuff)

*Cannibal Corpse (circa 2003 or so)

The first time I saw CC was in 2001 down in Portland. I then saw them in 2002 up here in Seattle WA at the Graceland (El Corazon). The lot due south of the club was a boarded up former business that hadn't been open in months. My friend parked his car there. When we came out after the show it had been towed. The beat up old tow company signs had an address so we hoofed it over to the east side of the Space Needle only to find out the company had moved to West Seattle (?!). We got a cab and got his car back.

The next time CC was in town, at the same club, we stayed afterward to meet the guys. Paul (drummer) was inside the club and I thanked him after he signed my CD booklet. He then said, "no, thank YOU".

I distinctly remember waiting around with some other fans for Corpsegrinder (vocals) outside. He said, "give me ten minutes and I swear I'll be back out". He headed onto the tour bus and true to his word - a few minutes later he came back out and kicked it with the fans. I told him that the last time my friend and I saw CC it cost us $300. He said, "whaaaat"? I then explained the tow situation and he made a disgusted face and said something like, "those fuckers - that fuckin blows". I got a photo with him (pre cell phone days) and so did my friend.

I looked around and saw Alex (bass) talking shop with fans about gear and such by the door. I went over and said a few things to him and he signed my booklet as well.

Jack (guitar) was roaming around outside and I had run into him during one of the openers sets. He signed my booklet and we talked a bit about guitar. Pat had friends he went to meet up with (having lived here before) so I never did meet him.

CC has a rabid following and one of the reasons besides the music are the guys. They could not be more down to earth. They are fans just like the rest of us and it shows.

I did a lengthy phone interview with Alex and it was over an hour long. We just talked shop after awhile and it was great. The transcription of that interview is on the Eclectic Arts blog.


*Thin Lizzy (2001 I believe - I still had hair hah)

The band was playing the Showbox (at The Market) as a tribute to Phil Lynott. John Sykes (guitar/vocals), Scott Gorham (guitar), Marco Mendoza (bass), and Tommy Aldridge (drums).

My friend and I waited outside by the tour bus with some other fans. Marco stopped and talked with fans. I honestly don't remember seeing Scott at all. He may have snuck onto the bus directly after the gig or maybe he was somewhere else. Eventually John Sykes came out. He was answering questions at random when I asked if I could get a photo. He had his black Les Paul with him, which was kind of odd but still cool. Right when my friend took the picture some fan asked John a question so he looked that way. Thus the photo I have isn't the best. John was alright.

Tommy Aldridge was a butt. People wanted to talk with him, get an autograph, but he scowled at the fans and walked straight onto the bus. Now maybe he was having a bad night - who knows? But I've read other encounters with him and none have been pleasant, including Lips from Anvil had some choice words about him in their documentary.


*Vixen (1988 or so)

Vixen were scheduled to do an in store signing at the Lynnwood Fred Meyer Music Market. Instead of bringing my CD insert, I wanted to track down a poster. So, I went looking all over my usual haunts in the U-District and other parts of Seattle. Eventually I found one with all four-band members from their debut album.

When I got to Fred Meyer, I don't remember how long the line was - I don't think it was very long but I could be wrong. All I remember was that two of the members were there - Share (bass) and Jan (founder/guitarist). And they had a stack of posters to sign too (for purchase) - the exact same one I looked all over Seattle for earlier. Aargh! lol Both ladies were very friendly and they asked if I was going to the show that night (opening for Bad Company at the Paramount). I said no I wasn't but I hoped to see them at a future show as a headliner.

I remember random customers walking by, especially guys, asking who is that and many making disparaging remarks about their looks which was really uncalled for.


*Barry Manilow (2001/2002 or so)

This public signing was in the afternoon before Barry's show at the Paramount in support of his album, "Here At The Mayflower" which I had tickets to go to. My mom and I were on the fence about going to this signing - knowing we'd have to wait in a long line, etc. I learned a great lesson from this event.

The signing was at the Ballard Fred Meyer. We decided to get there like 15 minutes early figuring if we meet him, cool, if we don't, no biggie. The line was long as expected. After waiting in the line for a good hour the manager came out and cut off the line - only a few people in front of us. He said if you want to get a photo of him from afar you could go inside. They had him set up at an elevated table to the right when you walked in the store. It was kind of dark back there but we could see him but we never met him.

From that point forward I told myself either go to these events plenty early or don't go at all. I still adhere to that to this day.


*Robert Cray (1987 in-store signing at Tower Records Bellevue)

I had been to Bumbershoot the day before (Labor Day weekend) and saw Robert play at the coliseum (Key Arena). They mentioned after the show that he would be doing a signing at the Tower Records in Bellevue. The first day of my senior year of high school was also the same day. I remember I left school a little early to get over to Tower Records on 8th not knowing how long the line would/could be.

I had never been to an in-store signing if I remember correctly. I figured there'd be a line like what I had seen on TV or on video. I got there and there was one woman standing outside. I went inside to ask where the line was for the signing. The worker pointed to the lady outside. So I went and stood there behind her - number two in line. She was odd, nerdy, and probably in her late 20's. I was trying to keep to myself - that's how I was back then. The workers had some used promo posters and gave one to each of us for waiting which was nice of them. Eventually a few more people showed up - like maybe 12 of us. Yeah, that was it.

The lady in front wanted me to take photos of her getting her stuff signed. Not a photo with the band, just the goings on as she went through the line.

All four guys showed up and walked over to the table. The lady went and got her stuff signed. I went next. I think I said something - maybe not - who knows. I got my album, poster, and t-shirt signed (I have all three still).

The guys were in good spirits but Robert looked uncomfortable. Turns out he's a pretty shy guy - compared to Richard Cousins who's super extroverted.

When I went outside the lady wanted to get my information so she could bring copies of the photos to my high school. I said no. She was weird and she kind of creeped me out to be honest.

Overall a good memory and experience with the band - minus the picture lady.


*Vienna Teng (Bumbershoot - 2009)

The first time I saw Vienna perform was at Bumbershoot. There was a fan wedding proposal on stage and I was just floored with her performance. There was an artist signing after the show so I waited around. Eventually she and her two band mates came out. Alex was eating tortilla chips or something and Vienna was as nice as could be. Incredibly intellectual but never in a snobby kind of way, I've mentioned before that she made me feel stupid when I interviewed her just because she's so intelligent. And again - it's not on purpose - she as gracious as they come - but some bulbs are just brighter than others.


*Anvil (Bumbershoot - 2009)

The very next night I went back to Bumbershoot to see Anvil. They were riding a new found high after the release of their documentary and the crowd that turned up confirmed it. The band did an artist signing after and all three guys were there. Rob was cool until I mentioned him about doing a drum solo then he clammed up. Lips was Lips - loud and appreciative. Glenn their then bassist was cool, too. I have a photo with those guys around here somewhere.



AUTHORS


*Clive Barker (author, director, screenwriter, artist - best known for Hellraiser - this is circa 1988 or so).

I met Clive on two different occasions. The first was at a signing at Tower Books in Seattle (off of Mercer across from the Seattle Center - not the old, old location). I remember when I got there the line was literally around the entire inside of the store - all along the walls. Where I was in the line was not far from the employee room. I had never been to a book signing before so I was excited.

When it started Clive came out of the employee room and he was like a few fans away from me. People clapped and cheered much like at a concert. What I loved about the set up was that they had it where each fan got there moment with Clive. As you neared the table there was a cut off. An employee let one fan up at a time. I got like 5 things signed too, which is kind of unheard of these days. I got two books and three comic books signed. When it was my turn, I walked up to his table, shook his hand, mumbled some nerd loving shit to him about Hellraiser, and he asked me questions, which I thought was cool. Once done, I left beaming. It was a great experience.

The second time I met him was at Golden Age Collectibles in Pike Place Market. Back then I never traveled downtown - ever. So, I remember getting lost trying to get to the place and not knowing where to park. I don't remember much about the second signing other than there were less fans there but I got two things signed - my Hellraiser one-sheet movie poster which still hangs on my wall and my Lord Of Illusions laserdisc - which I still own.

Clive was great both times and he was definitely an influence on my own writing.


*Andrew Vachss (author, lawyer, child rights advocate - circa 1995 or so)

Speaking of author signings - Andrew Vachss also did a signing at the same Tower Books in Seattle. I had purchased his book, "Another Chance To Get It Right" which was a children's book about abuse. I saw him interviewed on Oprah and I went out and bought the book. I had used it in my classroom (I used to be a teacher) a few times so I was going to mention that to him at the signing.

The line of fans wasn't too long if memory serves. What I do remember is that the fan directly in front of me said something to Andrew that pissed him off. The fan wasn't trying to upset him but I think he was name dropping, asking Andrew if he knew so and so and what he thought of him/her. I remember after trying to be nice to the fan, Andrew got fed up and said something like, "look - so and so is a jerk, alright?". The fan looked taken aback and walked away.

I was thinking, "great - now Andrew's in a bad mood", because I was next in line. I got up there and shook his hand. I told him about being a teacher and using the book in my classroom. He closed his eyes as he said, "yes!" - and he was really glad that a teacher was using his book as a tool - which is what he had hoped for. He thanked me and signed another book I had and a few comic books he had written. Thankfully my experience was better than the guy in front of me. And I still have that book, too.


*Walt Morey (author of Gentle Ben - circa 1980 give or take)

I really remember nothing about this other than Walt Morey came to my elementary school and talked with us at an assembly. I had read "Gentle Ben" so I brought my copy to get it signed. As he was walking out or something, I went up to him to get his signature. I still have that signed book, too.

Even at an early age I had the fan boy disease apparently. I blame my mother's side as both she and my uncle (her brother) are the same way.


*James O'Barr (creator of The Crow - early 90's)

I met James on several different occasions back in the early 90's. I was a HUGE fan of the comic book and eventually the first film when it was released. But I became a fan of The Crow back in 1989.

The one memory that sticks out was in 1993 or early 94 - before the first film was released. James did a signing in the U-District at a comic store - Xanadu Comics I believe it was. They had an old TV/VCR combo that was playing a promo interview with film clips of the upcoming film. This was before the internet kids so I was just fucking glued to that TV screen waiting for my turn to meet James and get my comics signed. I couldn't believe I was watching actual advance footage of the film. James was low key and very appreciative of the support. He seemed surprised that I had bought the first issue off the stands and had been keeping up on his work ever since.

When I was done, I talked to the shop about getting a copy of that videotape. I just HAD to have it. They told me no, it was a promotional tape from Kitchen Sink (I think) and it wasn't for sale. I asked them again and they said no.

Undeterred I wrote to Kitchen Sink themselves about the tape, etc. etc. etc. End of the story - I still have an official copy of that promo tape to this day. HAH!



SPORTS

*Sui Fei Fei (Sacramento Monarchs - WNBA)

Like I mentioned in Part I of this series, I was a season ticket holder for the Seattle Storm (WNBA) from 2004 to around 2014. 4th row courtside (the courtside has four rows - first being the most expensive of course so we bought our seats in the 4th row, almost dead center court).

One luxury of having courtside seats is that you have a separate entrance from the other fans and you can also walk on the perimeter of the court to get to your seats. If I had a guest with me that had never been to a game, I always made sure to give them the whole treatment - so we would go down the stairs and walk around the perimeter of the court to get to our seats - usually when the team was doing shoot-around.

Now there are many things I could write here but the one memory that sticks out isn't about a Storm player. It was about a Monarchs player (Sacramento's team). There was a lot of buzz about a player that the Monarchs had signed - Sui Fei Fei - a Chinese small forward that many in her home country called the Michael Jordan of China. She was massively popular in her home country so the buzz traveled over here to the US. It was similar to when the Mariners signed Ichiro - just on a much smaller scale.

There were Chinese fans from local groups that came to that game just to see her play. I already knew she wasn't suited up to play that night but many did not. So, I wasn't sure she had traveled with the team or not. I just hoped she had.

I used my courtside entrance privilege to "sneak" inside Key Arena early. What this really meant was that back then they had a buffet/dinner club before games. I had access to that club as did other fans I think as long as they made a reservation. But courtside fans always had access to it.

Anyway, if you had to use the bathroom from that club, you either had to or could go to the public bathroom just outside the club. I figured I could act like I'm going to eat dinner but instead go look at the court and see if the teams were warming up or not. The teams always warmed up before they headed back to the locker room. Then when the doors were open to Key Arena, they would come back out to warm up again in front of the fans around 7:30 or so (for an 8pm tip off).

I went downstairs to the club area - snuck over to the tunnel to look at the court. I could see the Monarch players warming up but I didn't see Fei Fei anywhere. I thought there was a real possibility that she didn't travel with the team up to Seattle since she wasn't going to play. This was common practice for the WNBA - unlike the NBA that has tons of money to accommodate every player, whether suited up or not, to travel.

I eventually went to my seat when it was "ok" to be down there sitting. No Fei Fei. I was bummed as it looked like I was going to strike out. My last hope was that when the teams took to the floor for their public warm-ups, she would come out.

Well, the team came out at 7:30pm and then I saw her walking in street clothes behind them. I was elated.

Now, this is where in hindsight things were really lax at those game - security wise. I walked over to her as she was standing near the hoop (underneath). Her and Erin Buscher. I said who I was and that I was a big fan. I had a card and something else I bought I remember. I gave that to her. I asked if I could get a photo and keep in mind I had no idea how good or bad her English was. She may not have understood anything I had just said. When I asked for the photo she called out to Erin to come take it. That answered my question about her English.

At some point - either this same meeting or a future one - she signed a Monarchs jersey for me I had bought from their site. And yes - I still have the jersey.

She never did catch on over here and only spent the one season in the WNBA.

Now, why I was able to go right up to her, unescorted, as she stood there during warm ups was really good for me - but in hindsight really bad for the players. What if I was some nut job that was obsessed with her or something. I could of walked right up to her with no one stopping me until it was too late. They never did change this policy. There was always a few cops on hand but they just protected the tunnels that the teams came out from.

On a separate note my mom was able to do something similar by walking up to Lauren Jackson (LJ) after a game (she wasn't playing) and have her sign something. Granted, my mom doesn't look like a threat but still - no fan should be able to do that ever. Maybe the WNBA has changed their policy in recent years. They really should if they haven't for the players protection. You never know when a bald headed Asian might fan boy around a player.

TBC

Missed Part I?  Read it HERE!

Best,
Mark
Eclectic Arts

Connect with EA here:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Are You Ready To Rage? LADY RAGE Interview! 4/29/2020

Greetings,

One of the silver linings (if there is one) of this current crisis is that it has forced Eclectic Arts to get creative with our content.  What this means is that I have gone back to my roots and have focused on old school interviews.  It has been both nostalgic and a positive way to continue bringing new content to the readers out there during this trying time.  

Lady Rage is a band I've been following since their inception.  Hailing from the UK, they are set to release their new single on May 2nd (see video link below).  Check out the brand new interview with lead vocalist Siren Sycho and let me know what you think!

Cheers,
Mark
EA

(Photography:  (c) Sam Stones)


Eclectic Arts: Hi Siren Sycho! How are things over in London right now? What can you tell me about the state of the pandemic in the UK?

Siren Sycho: Argh!!! is my first reaction. It sucks. It’s taken over life and Lady Rage as we had to cancel all upcoming gigs. It’s really frustrating having to stick to the lockdown. I miss going to band practice plus we were finishing recording a load of tracks so that's been put on hold, too. I just hope it gets under control soon so music can return to normal and the band can get back on track. Also so people stop getting sick and the NHS can recover.


EA: I first heard your music from your previous band. Not to dwell on it too much but what happened to that band? It seemed like you were picking up steam when you left the band.

SS: Death Koolaid had been going over 3 years when I left and that was due to a few things. I think it had run its course and we weren’t really getting anywhere. I just didn’t have the love or dedication I did when I first joined so I decided it was time for a change and I think the rest of the band felt the same way.


(Photography:  (c) Rupert Hitchcox Music)


EA: Tell me about your background please. What you were like growing up, how you got into music, what are some of your favorite bands, etc.

SS: Growing up I went from pre-teen innocence to full blown teenage grunger which then switched to emo later on. I was a typical school-hating, rule-breaking adolescent. I remember getting most of my secondary school to go on strike for a couple of days when they changed the rules on piercings not being allowed, that was fun.

I got into music mainly due to my dad. He owned a few bars which played alternative music. He took me to my first proper gig which was The Offspring and used to take me to festivals, too.

Some of my favourite bands over the years were/are - Ministry, Amen, Days and Daze, Slaves, The Prodigy, Aphex Twin, ATR, Star Fucking Hipsters, Left Over Crack, The Runaways, Bikini Kill, Motley Crue, RATM, Green Day, The Offspring, Marilyn Manson, Tekashi 6ix 9ine, Lil Pump, Eminem, Caspa, Deadmau5, Tiesto, Dusty Kid, Foreign Beggars, Plastician, Portishead, Skream, and others.

I like anything that’s angry or real sounding or has a good beat and I like the sound of. I mainly like alternative music but also rap/hip hop and went through a pretty big Dub Step and minimal phase, too.


EA: How did Lady Rage come to be? Tell me about the early days of getting the band together please.

SS: Lady Rage got to together May of last year, so we’re coming up to a year together. So the early days weren’t that long ago. Unfortunately, finding musicians these days relies heavily on advertising online. Most of the musicians I already knew were all already in bands so online was the only way. I put up adverts via some online sites and found the original line up either by them replying to my adverts or me finding them advertising themselves. We all got together for a practice and that was the start of the band. At the end of last year our bassist left so we found our new bassist, Quinn, through our drummer Kimono Slicer.


(Photography:  (c) Neil Anderson)


EA: What is the goal of Lady Rage? What kind of band did you want to present to the world?

SS: After Death Koolaid I didn’t want to wait for a band to come to me and in the past after leaving my other bands I’d had some quite big gaps before finding another so this time I was like, I want to be in a badass all chick punk band! A few months later that's what I’d found and got together. I don’t want it to sound like it's my band. I may have initially got us all together but it's the rest of the girls that make the band and they all play a vital and huge role in what Lady Rage is. So we all wanted the band to be an all chick punk/rock band that looked good and sounded even better.


EA: What is the writing and recording process like for Lady Rage? Do you work on music together or do you work on things individually and then come together to complete songs?

SS: Usually Abomb, our guitarist, will bring riffs she’s written to practice then Kimono Slicer, our drummer, will fit beats around them, then Quinn, our bassist will write the bass line around them. Or Quinn will come up with a bass line and Abomb will workout a guitar riff to that then Kimono Slicer will work out a beat that way around. Either way I wait for the song to be mostly written with a structure sorted before I write and fit lyrics to it.


EA: How important is image to Lady Rage? Does the band discuss how you're going to present yourselves on stage or your online presence?

SS: Image is pretty important, especially for me as I’m the one standing up front on stage with no instruments to hide me (laughs). I think we all want to look cool and want our image to definitely stand out from others. At the end of the day we are chicks so we often do discuss what we’ll be wearing for gigs or before we did our photoshoot. At the same time we want our music to also be a huge factor in the way people see us.




EA: Are you involved with any other musical projects outside of Lady Rage? Do you have other creative outlets (writing, painting, dancing, etc)?

SS: I have one other possible musical project that’s in very early stages but due to the current situation it’s been put on hold, that’s all I can say about that right now.

My other creative outlet, well, it’s what I do for a living is that I’m a video editor. I edit all the Lady Rage videos; our vlogs, lyric videos, live stuff and all our promo videos, anything we want out there really. Outside of the band I edit music videos, lyric videos, live videos, documentaries, live events, festivals, club nights, trailers for films, on the road tour videos, adverts, weddings and again anything you want editing. If anyone reading this needs anything edited then get in contact. 


EA:  Are you self taught as a videographer or did you take some classes?

SS:  At uni I studied Communication Design BA HONS which helped me develop my skills but I mainly taught myself with the help of the odd YouTube tutorial (laughs).




EA: If you had to describe the other members of the band, what would you say about each of them?

SS: Abomb (guitarist) - She’d probably hate me saying this but we’ve just nominated her as band mum as she’s the most responsible, she’s a great friend, has a very dark sense of humour (that I respond to very well), and a geek like spirit that makes her as unique as they come but in the best way possible.

Quinn (bassist) - I haven’t known Quinn for as long but she’s quickly become a vital part of the band. At times she’s like a stand up comedian so brings us a lot of laughs. She says what she thinks about things and has a very distinctive quirky personality.

Kimono Slicer (drummer) - She’s very giving and I’ll never forget all the times she drove me to and from practice, we got in a lot of one on one times driving around so we got to know each other pretty well quite quickly. She has a similar sense of humour to me so we get each other’s sarcastic jokes and we both love a bit of gossip, which always goes down well. She produces and records all our songs so is very dedicated to the band making her another perfect member.


EA: Where do you see Lady Rage in, say, five years from now?

SS: Hopefully not on lockdown and out touring the world. Playing festivals and getting our music out there to the masses. Would be good to find a manager and a PR agency to promote us properly.




EA: What future projects can the fans expect from Lady Rage?

SS: We have a new single “Not Joan Jett” coming out May 2nd, along with a lyric video.

When the lockdown is over we’ll be making a music video for a future single we’ll be releasing.

We’ve been bringing out online vlogs so watch out for them, either via our YouTube channel or our Facebook page.


EA: Thank you for taking the time to do the interview Siren!

Contact Eclectic Arts:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com


"Not Joan Jett" Promo Video:


Lady Rage
"Not Joan Jett" Promo Video on YouTube!


Find everything Lady Rage related here (click the links):







Off The Rig Productions (Siren's video company):




(Photography:  (c) Alan Wells)

Sunday, April 26, 2020

JENN SAKURA INTERVIEW! 4/27/2020

Greetings,

It was six years ago when I was looking through YouTube and discovered a talented singer/musician named Jenn Sakura.  I conducted an interview with Jenn soon after (you can re-read that interview here).

A lot has changed in those six years, both for Jenn and for Eclectic Arts. Here is a long overdue follow up interview!

Cheers!
Mark
EA


(All Photos:  Jenn Sakura (c) - unless otherwise noted)

Eclectic Arts: Hi Jenn! What an unprecedented time we are living in right now. How are things down in California for you? What are you doing to keep yourself busy/sane?

Jenn Sakura: Hi Mark! Yes, we are certainly living in an uncertain and strange time right now … I think I’m pretty fortunate compared to those who are having a much harder time, especially many of my musician friends who depended on performing in live shows and touring, so I’m grateful for that. At the same time, I’m trying to help others as best I can, including continuing to create uplifting content for people to momentarily get their minds off of all the craziness happening. I think a lot of people are spending more time exploring hobbies, watching movies and shows, playing games, and the Internet has taken on a bigger, even more vital role in their lives than before. So working on music to share with others has been a big part of my quarantine life, as well as taking the opportunity to play games I hadn’t had enough time for before!




EA: When we last spoke, you were getting ready for college (?!). If you can - tell me about your college experience. What was it like? Good and bad things? What did you graduate with?

JS: Yeah, so I was actually transferring after my third year at another university. Wow, Berklee … It was definitely a mixed bag of experiences. The best thing I got out of it, I think, was all of the friendships I built and amazing people I got to know there. It was a concentrated hub of talent and passion. At the same time, that kind of environment can foster unhealthy competition and suck the fire out of an artist’s soul, which unfortunately did happen to me at one point, and does happen to many students there. But I’m really grateful for the friends and connections I made there, as well as the wealth of knowledge and inspiration I was able to gain.




EA: You were based on the east coast but now you're on the west coast. What prompted the move?

JS: I started a new job at Twitch back in September! An opportunity came up through a friend, and I jumped at the chance to work at one of the most prominent video game related companies. I’ve been enjoying it a lot so far. It’s been so cool to be surrounded by people who are fellow video game nerds, it definitely makes for a very fun work environment. It’s also been interesting to see how a company like Twitch works from the inside and getting more insight into what makes it so successful. Other than that, I’m loving the weather in California, the greenery, the food, the beaches … No complaints here.




EA: I first discovered you on YouTube - via a Nightwish cover of, "Dead Boys Poem". Is that video still online? How, if anything, have things changed when you do your covers now in 2020 vs back in the day?

JS: I believe so (note - it’s no longer online - MS). I think the way I create my videos is constantly evolving. I’m pretty critical of myself, which at times can be detrimental to my motivation and creativity, but at other times helps me continue to improve and get even better, whether it’s the video editing, lighting, or vocal skill.So I would say a lot has changed. I’ve upgraded my equipment, I’ve used everything I learned at Berklee in terms of music production and vocal technique, and my video editing style has changed a lot. The cover of “Dead Boys Poem” was a bit of an outlier, I filmed the video for that outside in the forest, when the majority of my videos were done in a “studio” setting indoors. I probably wouldn’t do something like that again unless it was for an original song maybe.




EA: I'm still not a gamer (sorry) - but I know you are. You’re on Twitch. Can you explain what that is and what goes on?

JS: So Twitch is a website and streaming platform where people can livestream themselves doing a variety of things, from playing video games (the most prolific category) to cooking and music/art. It’s been growing and becoming more popular, especially now when people are looking for ways to entertain themselves and socialize/interact with others online. I think what makes Twitch stand out is its emphasis on community.The site has many fun ways for you to chat and interact in different channels, and I’ve made many friends through it.Lately, I’ve been trying to get all my musician friends onto Twitch, because another aspect of Twitch is the ability to monetize your stream, which is especially helpful for artists. Twitch makes it really easy for people to support their favorite streamers and artists through paid subscriptions and donations. 




EA: What are your future plans - say the next five years?

JS: I’m not exactly sure haha… I don’t have specific plans, other than to keep pushing myself, evolving my art, and growing my channel so that I can share music with more people. I guess one main goal I have is to be a vocalist on a major video game soundtrack, that would be so cool.



EA: What music are you enjoying these days that is new to you?

JS: I have a really bad habit of not listening to new music and just replaying my favorites on repeat. So I can’t really think of any newer music I’ve been super into. What I listen to most often are video game soundtracks. One of my favorites are the ones from the Monster Hunter games. I literally tear up while listening to so many of the songs from there, but then again, I get pretty emotional about (good) music haha.




EA: In more than one of your music videos, you cosplay as the character from the game (film/band) that inspired the tune. Would you consider yourself a cosplayer? If so - what goes into your creations?

JS: I would not consider myself a cosplayer. I just try to find clothes and makeup looks that mesh and harmonize the elements of the music and visuals together. I would call my looks “inspired” by the video game, but yeah, definitely not cosplay. That’s another level of artistry that I haven’t attempted yet.There are truly talented and committed people to that craft it’d be almost disrespectful for me to put myself in the same box as them haha. 


(Photo credit:  Josh Parra)


EA: Your following on socials has grown over the years. How important is it to you to maintain your social media presence? Do you see a time when you’ll close down your accounts?

JS: I’ve never thought about it, and I don’t think that’s something most content creators think about. It’s hard to predict what the future holds for social media and Youtube, so for now, I’m just taking advantage of the space it allows for me to create and express myself. I think part of what motivates me to keep up my online presence is because as an artist it brings me more opportunities and revenue to sustain my art creation (it’s also part of what helped me get my job at Twitch haha). Having online presence can be a very powerful tool if used well, and I think it’s almost vital for any artist nowadays.


(Photo credit:  EmVision)


EA: Have you had any negative encounters online from "fans" harassing you, being negative, etc?

JS: Of course! On a daily basis. It’s something I’ve just gotten used to because it’s something I’ve had to deal with since I first started making videos. There will always be keyboard warriors and it’s just a part of the Internet. I think one good thing I’ve gotten out of it though is more resilience to criticisms and insults, especially those targeted at my artistry, which tend to cut a bit deeper. At this point though, I’ve learned to just ignore the dumb comments and kind of just laugh at them (and share them in the #exposed channel on my Discord server, along with creepy, cringeworthy privates messages I get sent). It’s all in a days work of being a female content creator online. But I’m lucky that 99% of people have been nothing but overwhelmingly kind and supportive, and they’re much more worthy of a shoutout ;)

EA:  Thank you Jenn for taking the time to do this follow up interview.  Stay safe out there!

Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Contact Eclectic Arts Here:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

Thursday, April 23, 2020

FAMOUS ENCOUNTERS - Part I 4/23/2020



I spent last night reading through some posts about fans encounters with famous people. Anyone from actors to musicians to athletes, it was interesting to see whose name popped up again and again in a positive light and vice versa.

I've been fortunate to meet some celebrities if you will through Eclectic Arts. But, I've also met people through conventions as a fan, public appearances, and a few times by mere chance out in public. So, I thought it would be a fun way to pass the time writing about a few of those memories that are not EA specific (with a few exceptions). These are clearly not verbatim as my memory continues to fail me on a daily basis.

Here we go in no particular order:

*Lenny Wilkens (NBA Player and Sonics Head Coach)

I was buying movie tickets with my mom at a Bellevue Theatre (the one that you had to take the escalator up to - where Tower Music moved to). Walking not too far from us, leaving the theatre outside, was Coach. I said something to the effect to my mom, "hey there's Lenny Wilkens or there's Coach Lenny". He clearly overheard me and did a closed mouthed smile and a one finger point and shoot toward me. I thought that was the coolest thing. This was maybe early 90's…. not real sure on the date.

*Eddie Jackson (Queensryche)

My family used to frequent Mia Roma in Kenmore. We were there sometime in the 90's I want to say and over to my right was a couple eating dinner. I looked at the guy again and realized it was Eddie. I didn't want to bother him while he was eating but thought it was cool to see him about 6 feet away from me at a place I liked to eat (miss that place btw).

*Ann Wilson (Heart)

One of the big festivals during the summer - which I believe was Bumbershoot - Ann was walking with one or two people taking in the sights and sounds. No one seemed to be bothering her and I thought that was cool to see her out and about. This was either late 80's or early 90's.

*Efren Herrera (kicker for the Seahawks)

This was probably the first celebrity I remember seeing in public. We were at a movie theatre in Bellevue - north of where Bellevue Square is now. I believe we were seeing one of the Pink Panther movies. Efren was there and I don't remember if people applauded him as he left or as he came, I just know there was commotion that he was at the theater with the rest of us watching the film. I think this was the late 70's.

*Queensryche (three members)

I was at Easy Street Records with my mom and I had already purchased the Queensryche EP earlier in the year. There were three guys standing at the counter with leather jackets on and jeans. To this day I believe it was Geoff, Chris, and Michael but I'm not positive. I knew what they looked like from the back of the EP (well half of their faces due to the shadows - hah). All I remember is that I was looking through records to buy and one of the guys kept staring at me like, "don't you know who we are" kind of vibe. I did know who they were but I was too shy to say anything to them. This was the early 80's.

That's all I have for now regarding public run ins with celebs. I may remember more. Next up are 


Public Appearances (unpaid - public can get something signed for free).

*Freddy Garcia (Mariner's starting pitcher)

The Mariners were doing monthly signings at Macy's downtown. I decided to go down and wait in line to get Freddy's autograph on a baseball. When I got down there the line was around the block! I don't remember how long I waited but I did manage to get up there, take a photo of him signing stuff, got my ball signed, and then left. It was free so it was worth the wait. This was either 2001 or 2002.

*Felix Hernandez (Mariners starting pitcher)

Another Mariners sponsored signing - this time at the Ballard Fred Meyer. I knew from before to get there early so I did. I must have been about 60th in line or so. I had brought a jersey for him to sign (and hopefully personalize - I was big into that). When I got up to his table, I asked if he could sign my jersey, "To Mark" which he was happy to do (knowing that I wasn't going to re-sell it - ahhhhh - yes, a tip to you that get autographs). I then asked if he mind writing, "King" Felix Hernandez - the whole King thing was just starting up. There was no Kings Court or any of that yet. He laughed and embarrassingly said, "no no - I can't do that" and laughed some more. I good-naturedly said, "but you’re the king" and he laughed some more. Still have that jersey. This was maybe his second year as a starter or so.

*Betty Lennox and Lauren (LJ) Jackson, LJ, and LJ (Seattle Storm)

I was just getting into the Storm and I saw that in 2004 Betty and LJ were doing a signing at a QFC in Bellevue. I got there and there was a small line. I didn't quite understand where they would be signing in the store. When I got closer - I saw that they had them in the produce section. Yeah, the produce section. One of the sponsors was milk and when I got to the table Betty asked me if I drank milk. I said, "sometimes" which was true. I don't remember what she said back to me but it was something like, "it makes you strong like me" …I don't even remember what I said to LJ or if she said anything to me. She was definitely the quieter of the two. Still pleasant but quiet. Why they had those two star athletes by the damn produce is beyond me.

There was another signing at the same QFC but with just LJ there. I think Starbucks sponsored it. So logically they had her table by the Starbucks café. I got a picture with LJ but it was one where she was leaning over the table. Still pleasant. Still quiet.

Lastly, I waited at a newsstand/book place in the U District to meet LJ again. The big photo book had just come out of Australian Olympic athletes in the nude (some showing parts of their bodies, others were implied). I felt weird getting the book signed but I had her sign the introductory page photo where she had on clothes.

*Sue Bird, LJ, and Diana Taurasi (Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury)

The three stars of the WNBA were at Nike Town doing a signing. I remember they had a drawing and I won a signed Diana t-shirt (I never win anything) - which I still have. I remember our family got a photo with (the late) coach Anne Donovan - she's like 6'10" and it shows. I also remember that one of the police officers there working security said I looked familiar to him. I said is that a good thing or a bad thing? He laughed and as we got to talking, he may have run across me as he patrolled the east side where I grew up.

I've met the Seattle Storm on numerous occasions, as I was a season ticket holder for years. Once a season they would have a courtside only party so I could comment on those gatherings but they were too numerous to mention. Maybe for another post.

*Kane (WWE)

I went to a public signing at a now defunct K- Mart in Shoreline to meet Kane. He was there before the wrestling event that night at Key Arena.

I learned from my Barry Manilow mishap to either get to these signings early or don't go at all. So, I was there early but the line was already formed outside the door. It seemed like I waited over an hour before he showed up to sign.

I don’t remember much about getting my promo photo signed other than he shook my hand, I asked him something (I usually have a question in mind) that I don't remember right now, and that he spoke very well. He personalized my photo and then it was over.


Next up - paid public appearances (for charity or conventions)

*Seattle Mariners - Dave Valle charity signings

I went to a handful of these signings with my mom at Bellevue Square. They would do two sessions - four players per session - different players each session and some of the money went to Dave's charity. You paid for each session you wanted. We would get there really early to stand in line. This started around 2002 and we went every year until they stopped.

I don't remember all of the players but I do remember getting my photo personalized by Edgar Martinez - something they said the players wouldn't do. I asked him anyway and he was happy to do it (again most celebs like it when you get your item personalized because there's much less of a chance of you trying to resell the autograph). He was the class act we've come to know and love.

I met Mike Cameron, Mark McLemore (kind of a jerk), Joel Piniero, Willy Bloomquist, Freddy Garcia (again), Dan Wilson, and several others.

Dave Valle would usually go through the line of people waiting and shake hands, say hello, sign something for free if you wanted, sometimes gave out photos, etc. Super nice guy.

I met Rick Rizzs at one of the signings. He was exactly the way he is on the radio. He asked me my name, we talked about contracts for on air talent, the state of the team, everything. I got a photo with him and Valle - its somewhere around here. A total gentleman.

*Brett Boone (Seattle Mariners)

Boone was doing a signing at a hitting complex in Redmond. It was on a Sunday after they had played an early game. I remember getting up there he asked how I was doing, I asked how he was doing and he just kind of groaned. I said, "hey at least you got the W" and he did that classic Boone smirk - looked right at me - nodded his head and said, "yeah!" and smiled.

*Mad Monster 2014 (Bellevue, WA)

I attended this convention purely as a fan. Here are my memories:

*Peter Criss (KISS)

Peter was the main reason for attending - although there was a great list of celebs at the event. Being a big KISS fan in the early days, this was my chance to finally meet him. And his prices were reasonable (I think it was like $50 or something for an autograph - I figured it would have been higher). He had his own separate room away from the main room where the other guests were. They had everything down to a science - single person line, items you could buy, his wife taking the money, and one by one you got your few seconds with Peter for a photo with your camera (phone) or an autograph or both (I got both).

I remember talking to him and my "strategy" was that until they tell me to move along, I was going to keep talking to him. He hugged me; we talked about 1979 (the show I saw) - what he remembered about that tour (not much due to his excesses) and some other random Kiss things. He hugged me AGAIN then I got the photo taken. One of my best fan experiences as a paying fan.

*Heidi Sorenson (former Playmate and actress)

This was Heidi's first (and maybe only) convention. They got the entire living cast from one of my favorite horror films together, "Fright Night". Heidi had a small part in it as one of the victims.

Most every other actor had people talking to him or her at their tables, autographs, photos, and the usual. Heidi didn't so I went and talked with her for a while. She talked about her breast cancer scare, her work for breast cancer awareness, other things she had been doing career wise, etc. I told her I felt kind of bad buying something now after hearing about her breast cancer work but she quickly told me that she doesn't regret her Playboy appearance, etc. I've never met a Playmate before (or since) and she had photos for purchase and also "her" issue of Playboy she was in. I thought she meant facsimiles of her issue but I later found out, no, she had actual copies. Missed opportunity. Anyway, I bought a photo instead and got a selfie with her. Super sweet lady.

*Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein (Misfits)

One thing that was different about Mad Monster is that they had music guests alongside the genre guests. I knew who Doyle was from his Misfits work. I thought it would be cool to buy a shirt and get a photo with him. When I pulled out my phone for the photo, he said he had the exact same Otter Box case (but with a different photo on the back) - mine had this picture of tall grass on the backside of it. He said he was going to get the same one as mine but he said if you drop it in the grass - (he then gestured with his arms in a "I don't know" gesture - like you wouldn't be able to find it). I laughed and he thanked me. He was very cool the first time I met him.

*Marky Ramone (The Ramones)

I got a selfie with Marky. I do remember asking him something but I don't remember what it was. He was cool and approachable.

*Rowdy Roddy Piper (WWE Hall Of Famer)

I was on the fence about paying for a selfie with Hot Rod. I knew he was a legend but I was running out of money. (I think it was only $10 - autographs were a lot more) But then I decided shit who knows when I'll get the chance again. Thank goodness that side of me won out.

He could not have been more gracious. He came right up to me, shook my hand, asked me where I was from, shook my brother and sister in laws hands who were standing off to the side, and was completely "present" with me.

When we went to take the photo(s) - he was saying under his breath things like, "damn you Andre the Giant" and "I'm going to kill you Hulkster" and all sorts of other wrestling things which made me laugh. All three photos I'm smiling in them because he was making me laugh while he posed like a tough guy for at least one of them - all while saying that stuff to me under his breath. What a fantastic experience with Hot Rod. RIP.

I was out of money so I didn't get anything from the main cast members of, "Fright Night". I do remember standing around listening a bit to Amanda Bearse, William Ragsdale, and others while they chatted with fans.

WWE Fan Axxess (prior to Wrestlemania 19 - 2003)

*Night One (Thursday)

I was way into WWE at this point and had saved what I could to attend at least one Fan Axxess (ended up attending two) before the Wrestlemania 19 on Sunday and RAW on Monday. They did 5 Fan Axxess sessions back then - one on Thursday, two on Friday, and two on Saturday (I think - may be wrong on that)

Your ticket only guaranteed you entry. You didn’t know which wrestlers would be there, who would be doing what, etc. My hope was that between the two sessions I paid for, that I would meet either Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit (before his atrocities obviously), Kurt Angle, or Brock Lesnar. The Rock and Stone Cold would be awesome too but I figured their lines would be ridiculous - ditto Undertakers.

They had a merch booth inside but only typical items. There was nothing like the promo photos WWE used so I had taken a chance and bought a range of promo photos online ahead of time. Brought all of them with me and hoped I'd get at least one of them signed by one of my favorite wrestlers.

Autograph signings were free. Professional photos were like $15 additional but it was for charity.

They had a wrestling ring in side where different wrestlers would talk and do Q/A's. I got super lucky as The Rock came out and talked. I was about 10 feet from him. Stone Cold did an autograph signing but I can't remember if it was TH or FRI. Anyway, his line was understandably stupid long so I didn't bother waiting in it. Just watched him sign stuff for a bit and then walked around.

The Hurricane was the first doing the charity photos so I got one of those. Then they said Eddie and Chavo would be doing the next round. Both guys asked me how I was doing, what match I was looking forward to (Angle VS Lesnar I told them which they both gave me shit about - for fun - saying what about their tag team match). SO glad I got that photo. RIP Eddie.

I got one autograph that night which was Torrie Wilson - she was super sweet. With every fan she took her time - as did almost every wrestler. They knew. This was a paid WWE event so they were all "on their game" so to speak. Taker showed up to sign but understandably his line was worse than Stone Cold's….

*Night Two (Friday - Second Session)

The second session was Friday at night. As the first session fans were leaving everyone was asking them who was in there, who signed during the session, etc. It was HHH and I believe Benoit. So I was bummed but still hopeful.

Once inside it was much, much louder due to more fans than Thursday night. I managed to buy a book at the merch booth (as I didn't have promo photos of either guy) and get Matt and Jeff Hardy to sign it. Matt was very cool - I told him his gimmick of Matt V 2.0 should evolve into Matt V PIE (pie symbol) which he laughed about. Jeff was super shy and awkward but still shook my hand and thanked me.

Lita was in the ring talking and answering questions.

For the autograph sessions, I got super lucky as both Brock AND Kurt were there signing. I was in line for Brock first. A few people in front of me was a kid in a wheelchair. When the kid was next to meet Brock, I still remember this. Brock got up from the table, came off the stage, and got eye level with the kid. He shook his hand, asked him how he was, who was his favorite wrestler (Brock the kid said), and he signed something for the kid. Like I mentioned earlier, the wrestlers knew this was a paid WWE event but man did Brock go above and beyond.

When I got up to meet him he shook my hand (crushed my hand is more like it), I told him his match with Kurt was what I was looking most forward to on the card which he was happy about and that he was going to walk out of there the champ), and then he thanked me again.

I got in Kurt's line next and when I got up there you could tell his neck was bothering him. He was rubbing it, and trying to not move it too much. But, he was still out there, signing everything for the fans. When I got up there I told him the same thing I told Brock and he said thanks man. Brocks going down and its true - its damn true lol. He shook my hand and that was that. Both wrestlers were awesome!

As a side note - I think it was actually on Thursday - they had a roped off area where wrestlers would speak about their workout routines. John Cena came out and was talking to a few fans about his workout routine. I watched for a bit and then moved on. Keep in mind this was 2003 and John wasn't "John Cena" you know? He was still the guy that was trying to find his gimmick. At Wrestlemania he did that awesome dis rap before the show went live around the world which really got him on the path to becoming the John Cena we know today.

Bands

*Nightwish - 2005

The "Once" tour came to Seattle at El Corazon. It was more like a promo tour as they only played like ten shows or so. The album wasn't even out in the US yet. After the gig, I waited outside with a lot of fans.

Time passed and some fans left.

Eventually, from the side door (a place I had never seen bands come out from), I saw a guy with a hat on walk past every fan, on his way to the tour bus which was just behind me. He had his head down but I suspected that was Tuomas. I said his name; he lifted his head and grinned at me. I asked him if he could sign my CD booklet which he obliged and we chatted a little bit. By this point other fans saw him and then he was stuck. Sorry Tuomas.

The other band members came out so I talked with Jukka (drummer) quite a bit. Then Emppu (guitarist). I just needed Marco and Tarja. Well, over by the door I saw Marco so I got his signature. I don't remember saying much to him. Then Tarja came out. She was super pleasant. There were stories floating around that she was aloof and wouldn't sign or take photos with fans but she was the complete opposite in Seattle. I thanked her and mentioned how much I loved the new album. She was very polite and thankful.

I was glad I waited as long as I did considering that was her only appearance in Seattle as the vocalist of Nightwish.

To Be Continued...

Best,
Mark
EA

Connect with EA here:
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Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

SEATTLE OPERA MORNINGS ON KING FM! Begins Saturday April 25th!



Enjoy SEATTLE OPERA Mornings on KING FM!

(Christina Poulitsi (Queen of the Night) - The Magic Flute. Philip Newton photo)


Amid stay-home order, two companies team up to keep opera vibrant in the Pacific Northwest!


SEATTLE—While McCaw Hall’s stage may be dark, opera music continues to reverberate in the Pacific Northwest and beyond: Starting every Saturday on April 25, enjoy Seattle Opera Mornings on King FM. Classical KING FM 98.1 will broadcast recordings of previous Seattle Opera performances including Tosca, La traviata, The Magic Flute, and Madame Butterfly. Broadcasts will be available on the radio and at  king.org every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.


Christina Scheppelmann, General Director of Seattle Opera, explained that the broadcasts are made possible through a special agreement with the singers’ and musicians’ unions: the American Guild of Musical Artists and the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Organization.


“Seattle Opera and KING FM are thrilled to be able to bring beautiful music and storytelling to our audiences’ ears,” Scheppelmann said. “Many thanks go to all the artists who make Seattle Opera what it is, and who have allowed us to share their talent with the airwaves during these unprecedented times.”


In addition to being able to listen at king.org/listen, the public can explore plot synopses, productions photos, videos, blog posts and more at https://www.seattleopera.org/kingfm


April 25: Aida (2018) Alexandra LoBianco and Alfred Walker

May 2: La bohème (2013) Francesco Demuro, Elizabeth Caballero
May 9: The Flying Dutchman (2016) Greer Grimsley
May 16: The Magic Flute (2017) John Moore
May 23: Il trovatore (2019) Angela Meade
May 30: Tosca (2015) Mary Elizabeth Williams, Greer Grimsley

June 6: The Marriage of Figaro (2016) Nuccia Focile
June 13: The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (2019) John Moore
June 20: Don Giovanni (2014) Lawrence Brownlee
June 27: La traviata (2017) Corinne Winters
July 11: Madama Butterfly (2017) Yasko Sato
July 18: Così fan tutte (2018) Marjukka Tepponen
July 25: Rigoletto (2019) Soraya Mafi


“It’s thrilling to have a chance to share these magnificent Seattle Opera performances with the public once again,” said Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean. “I can personally attest to the power of opera on the radio—I grew up listening to the Metropolitan Opera’s weekly broadcasts, and became a dedicated opera fan because of it. When all you have is an opera’s music, your imagination is forced into high gear; your creativity is stimulated. Plus, these performances feature some of the greatest singing Seattle heard in the last decade.”



Alexandra LoBianco (Aida) with cast members of Seattle Opera's Aida. Philip Newton photo




Best,
Mark
EA


Connect with EA here:
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Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com

Sunday, April 19, 2020

BIG SONIA Film Review 4/19/2020



"Big Sonia"
2017 Release
5 / 5 Stars








As I write this, there are citizens protesting the shutdown orders in various cities all around the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including right here in Olympia, WA. After watching the heartfelt documentary, "Big Sonia" last night, I realize even more just how far apart some of us are in how we view the world.


Sonia Warshawski works in a ghost town of a mall, maintaining her late husband's tailoring business. She is a fixture for the regular customers that have been coming to the shop for years. She is also a Holocaust survivor. This film is her story.


"Big Sonia" goes between a live radio interview, friend and family interviews, day to day life at the shop, as well as speaking engagements in both schools and a correctional facility. Sonia stands big at 4'8". Not due to her physical size but due to her story, her willingness to share her vivid recollections of life in the death camps of Nazi Germany, and how she has chosen love over hate.


There is more to her story but I'll leave that to you to learn about as you watch the film.


"Big Sonia" was the last film for me to review out of four films over three days. In all honesty, I wasn't even asked to review it. But, I became aware of the film due to the Seattle Jewish Film Festival, which was to have held its 25th Anniversary this year. I was invited to cover the festival for the first time until the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down around the globe.


I found the film incredibly emotionally intense at times particularly when Sonia was describing her memories of the three death camps she was assigned to. The "left" gas chamber line VS the "right" go back to work line memories were just beyond comprehension to me. Horrible can't even begin to describe what that must of felt like for her and every other person, every other human being, held captive in those camps of unbelievable atrocity.


The film also delves into the children of Holocaust survivors, something I knew next to nothing about. The closest thing for me would be the experiences of my own family members that were sent to the Japanese Internment camps during WWII.


There are absolutely moments of levity - mainly surrounding the shop. But even that has its own story that I won't go into detail about here.


The producer and co-director Leah Warshawski is Sonia's granddaughter. Todd Soliday is also co-director of the film. They along with their team have crafted a well thought out film based on source material, Sonia herself, which cannot be denied. After you see the film, you will most certainly start thinking about things in your own life, the state of the world we are currently living in, and the ridiculous things from the past that are sadly still here with us in the present day.


I can't recommend this film enough. As a former educator, I recommend this to all of my educational brethren, and for everyone else that wants a reminder of the human spirit. "Big Sonia" delivers in spades.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com



BIG SONIA TRAILER








UNION BRIDGE Film Review 4/19/2020



"Union Bridge"
VOD Release - May 19th, 2020
3.5 / 5 Stars






I watched the trailer for the upcoming film, "Union Bridge" by Brian Levin and was intrigued. Moody, with a thriller-esque tone to it, I was looking forward to reviewing the entire film.


A former resident of Union Bridge, Maryland returns to his hometown only to discover dark truths about his family and the town he grew up in. Scott Friend (as Will Shipe) leads the cast through this stylistic endeavor.


Also starring Emma Duncan (as Mary Burke), Alex Breaux (as Nick Taylor), and Elisabeth Noone (as Jeanie Shipe), "Union Bridge" showed a lot of unrealized potential. The DOP did an amazing job shooting this film in such a way to bring the viewer firmly into this desolate world.


The tone throughout the film coupled with the acting performances really worked on many levels. I would have liked less non-dialogue scenes as the movie progressed. It's fine for a while to tell a story using images instead of words but at some point, the story needs to be told with dialogue in my opinion.


Scott Friend and Emma Duncan's characters worked very well. The on screen chemistry moved the story forward and kept up my interest in what was going to be revealed at the end of the film.


I believe this is director Brian Levin's first feature length film. He shows a distinct vision in his work with room to grow and expand with his future projects.


"Union Bridge" will be released on VOD on May 19th. Check it out.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com



UNION BRIDGE TEASER TRAILER









Friday, April 17, 2020

PENANCE LANE Film Review 4/17/2020



Penance Lane

VOD Release - April 21st, 2020

Rating 4 (out of 5)





In such a strange time with the pandemic creating more questions than answers, I find myself thinking back to the first time I met Tyler Mane and Renae Geerlings. Eclectic Arts was not what it is today, much like the state of the world.



The year was 2013 and I was covering my second Crypticon Seattle convention, ever. I attended the, "Compound Fracture" panel and was intrigued enough to purchase a ticket to the screening a few days later at the Varsity Theater in the U-District of Seattle. I enjoyed the movie very much and bought it when it came out on DVD as well.



Since then, Eclectic Arts has grown to include concert coverage (photography, reviews, and interviews), Broadway touring musicals (reviews and interviews), several local theatre productions (reviews and interviews), the Pacific Northwest Ballet (reviews and interviews), as well as the Seattle Opera (reviews) among other arts events.



Also, since then, I've been waiting for the next project from Mane Entertainment, which was called, "Penance Lane". An Indiegogo campaign was launched and then it seemed to stall. Several years passed and I never knew what happened to the film. Until recently. Then I saw that it was getting released on April 21st via VOD platforms and I was excited to review the film.



So, with much anticipation, I sat down in the privacy of my quarantined stay at home - home - and pressed play.



"Penance Lane" stars Tyler Mane (RZ's Halloween I and II, X-Men, Troy, Compound Fracture) as Crimson Matthews, an ex-con looking for work in a small any-town USA. He finds work at a house on Penance Lane where things are not what they seem.



I never like to give away plot points in any of my reviews. I prefer the viewer to go (or in this case sit) and watch the film for themselves.



The film also stars John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard, Smallville) as Father John, Scout Taylor-Compton (RZ's Halloween I and II, The Runaways) as Sherry, Daniel Roebuck as Captain Denny Wilson, Renae Geerlings (RZ Halloween II, Compound Fracture) as Precious, wrestling legends Booker (T) Huffman as Shooter, and Dallas Page as Hyson.



"Penance Lane" starts off with a flashback sequence that sets the wheels in motion. Booker Huffman (known as Booker T in the wrestling world) commands his scenes as most of the top talent does in the professional wrestling business. He is charismatic and his presence is felt for sure. The opening sequence plants the "what's going on" seeds early and often.



The next scenes are present day, introducing the main characters, and take their time to set up the story.  Then once we're introduced inside the house on Penance Lane, things start to take a turn about a third to half way though the film. The action, pacing, and horror all go up a notch or three and really never let up until the film is over.



I liked that "Penance Lane" was not a typical horror film - similar in that respect to, "Compound Fracture". There are layers to the story - some may seem familiar - but overall the film is interesting. There are questions that came to mind early on in the film. Some of them were answered, some were not. It is more of a horror film than a thriller but it never lost my interest.



I honestly never noticed Scout's acting until this film. I know she's done a ton of independent work. I would love to see someone cast her in a serious, dramatic role. I think she has the acting chops for it and it would elevate her career.



Another stand out for me was the character of Precious. The mask worked, the movements worked. The sympathy card for the character worked as well. I would like to see a back-story spin off film of Precious.  Kudos to Renae Geerlings for making this character compelling.



Tyler showed again that he not only can handle physical acting, but emotive acting as well. I think he would make a great choice for a "My Bodyguard" type of character - the sympathetic big man. Get on it Hollywood.



The stand out performance was definitely John Schneider. His against type turn as Father John was just a pure joy to watch. In the basement scenes, he really got into character and made his scenes shine.



There were small things that needed work, too. The drums (in the score) when the characters in the house first appear, that didn't work for me. There was also an editing issue when Precious hands "something" to Crimson - the screen went black and then we saw what the "something" was (again I'm trying to not give away plot points). It was a weird, clunky, transition. Again, just small quibbles, really.



"Penance Lane" has been a long time coming. If you haven't burned out on watching movies on your TV during this pandemic, pre order the film on iTunes now or watch it on any of your favorite streaming sites, and get ready for a worthwhile ride on April 21st.



Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com








PENANCE LANE TRAILER



Sunday, April 5, 2020

BLEACHBEAR "Deep Sea Baby" EP Review 4/5/2020

Bleachbear

"Deep Sea Baby"





The pandemic that we are all living through right now had a small silver lining for me. Every live event was paused for the foreseeable future. My usual monthly schedule of concerts, theatre, musicals, ballet, and opera shrank to zero.  Many of us found ourselves with extra time on our hands. In my case, since I rarely stream anything, the extra time gave me an opportunity to go back and listen to some music that I meant to review. This release is one such case.



Released in 2019, "Deep Sea Baby" is the newest EP of material from Seattle's Bleachbear. I actually listened to the songs back in the fall but needed to listen to them again - which didn't happen until last night. Yeah, I suck.



The title track is a strong song from the band. It has all the trademarks of Bleachbear - dream pop melodies that are very pleasing to the ear. The difference is that the band members are in that "sweet spot" of life - college years. The writing reflects this. It is impossible to not grow during those 18-25 years of age. If you listen to all three releases from the band, you can hear the growth as artists and as people.  This is arguably their strongest song to date.



"Daisy", "Eighteen", and "Body Full of Sunflowers" are vastly different from the title track. Less layered but still dream pop oriented, the other three tracks sound more like songs from a solo album than from Bleachbear as a band. Having said that, any of these songs could of fit on an earlier release, though.



The band is active when schedules afford collaboration. Other priorities are in place - such as education - and rightfully so. I wondered what would happen to the band once they left for their respective colleges.



It's nice to know the music is still there, maybe not on the front burner, but still there in its glorious dream pop form. The band has been reuniting in the summer for shows. With this current situation in the world, it's anybody's guess if that can happen in 2020 or not. In the meantime, give "Deep Sea Baby" a listen or three.



Stay safe,
Mark
Eclectic Arts
EA on FB
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com