Just last week I had the chance to capture Shawn Colvin performing, and to be able to shoot her at One World Theatre was such a wonderful experience. Among the dripping curtains and colorful lights, Colvin walked out onto the stage with nothing but her guitar and her smile. And she completely rocked the audience! Along with David Garza by her side, Colvin played a myriad of songs from old classics to tunes off her new record. She and Garza, old friends, played off of each other’s humour and guitar riffs all evening, leading me to capture her delightfully devilish grin. It was a fabulous performance that I felt very lucky to be a part of. Here are a few of my favorite moments from the night…
A special guest article by Erin Barkkume Photography by Sophie Pearson
One World is well known for presenting exceptional shows and performers, but there is something else folks may not realize One World presents – Summer Camp! For the 7th time, One World has partnered with Missoula Children’s Theatre to put on a fun filled full summer theatre camp. I’m still amazed that the directors from Missoula Children’s theatre are able to hold auditions, assign parts and get these kids polished up and ready for a full theatre production complete with musical numbers, make-up and colorful costumes in five days! The show on Saturday is performed live onstage inside beautiful One World Theatre, with professional sound and lights, just like any other professional theatre production, so the kids really get the total experience of being in a professional musical. This year’s production was a rendition of the classic story The Tortoise and the Hare, with a modern twist and the kids were fabulous.
A wonderful aspect of camp is there is something for all ages. The older kids tend to spend the majority of their time in rehearsals; and the younger ones, while not rehearsing, get to do crafts and other fun musical activities. We had local musician CJ Menge bring in his steel drums and perform for the kiddos, and Sevilla Del Mazo, percussionist for the Austin band Acoustic Jungle, showed the kids some percussion techniques and then entertained them by letting them all drum with drumsticks on overturned buckets. The acoustics are great in the Celebration Hall, and boy was it was loud! The kids created their own shaker instruments and played them along with CJ and Sevylla.
The kids also got crafty on Puppet Day by creating their own sock puppets, then writing and performing their own puppet show! They were also entertained by local puppeteer Joan Klasson, who put on a fun and interactive puppet show for the kids.
Another day, in keeping with the Tortoise and Hare race theme, the wee ones made bunny ears and competed in the “Bunny Olympics”, which was crazy silly fun but also helped to prepare them for Saturday’s show by following directions and getting in and out of costumes. It was a week of non-stop good times!
One World has been privileged to work with many military families over the years, and thanks to local company LifeSize Communications, the last 2 years we were able to stream live to soldiers in Iraq so they could watch their children as they performed in the show. Afterwards the families were able to go into private rooms and chat with their overseas loved ones on big high definition TV’s. Needless to say, it was touching for everyone involved and the soldiers were so happy to have been able to participate in their children’s big day (and we felt blessed to be able to do something for our troops!). This year, with support from Polycom and the city of Austin cultural affairs division, our production manager set up Skype with TV for the audience to see the deployed dad in Kuwait, and he got to watch his child perform live in the Tortoise and the Hare. Our wonderful tech guys had her miked throughout the show so he could hear her, and we were even blessed to have him speak with us before the show.
As part of One World’s community outreach, we have enjoyed hosting kids from various non-profits such as the Settlement Home and Wonders and Worries, providing them with full camp scholarships for a week at camp and also tickets to the show. It was wonderful to have them here, and it was a marvelous experience for them too. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again next year for another Camp One World!
With the snap of a switch a burst of lights flash on, illuminating the glossy surface of the stage. The velvety curtains are extended to the floor, with a splash of turquoise, magenta and purple. Production crew runs around, making sure every microphone is set in its proper place and all sound amplification is perfection. The masses start to file in, buzzing with obvious excitement in anticipation for the show to begin. With the announcement of the overhead speaker, the first taps on the stair tread can be heard. A dark shadow comes into the light, as everyone jumps into a screaming applause for the one, the only, Ruben Studdard.
While he may be known as the “Velvet Teddy Bear,” Ruben Studdard is one force to be reckoned with. Filled with soul and charisma, Studdard first amazed the American public with his pipes and bravado on the second season of American Idol as the underdog from Birmingham, Alabama. While he started off from humble beginnings, Ruben blew everyone away week after week and ended up taking the crown championship of American Idol winner.
He has since followed the win with five successful albums of gospel and R & B music (produced by Babyface, Ne-Yo, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to name a few), a grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, and many, many tours under his belt. Studdard has also branched out into acting, appearing on TV shows such as 8 Simple Rules and being a part of the musical revival, Ain’t Misbehavin’.
On May 7th, Austin got a real treat when Ruben Studdard was featured at the One World Theatre. Walking in with a cool confidence and a twinkle in his eye, this soulful artist got the crowd going with an array of songs, including some of his classic tracks, new music and even a few well-known covers like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” Like any seasoned artist, Ruben also connected with the audience, stopping to tell stories behind the music and tales of childhood and growing up in the South. Throughout the set, his incredible voice and booming presence knocked patrons to their feet, while his joyful attitude and great sense of humor kept everyone laughing; a perfect combination for the evening.
It was absolutely mind-blowing that I, or any audience member for that matter, would be able to see this true and present star in such an up-close experience. It was so personal, so superb that I actually forgot where I was, as all surroundings melted away and my eyes were only glued to Studdard and the glow from the spotlight above. It was more than a treat to see this artist in a venue of only 300 seats, and actually feel his sound wash over you and infiltrate your ears like no large venue could ever provide. Whether you want to see an incredible R & B talent like Ruben Studdard, Jazz, Country, Alternative or even stand-up, One World will always be able to provide that one-of-a-kind experience for any audience member and their favorite musical star.
“Amie, what you wanna do? I think I could stay with you…for a while, maybe longer if I do…” If you were born anytime after the mid 1950’s, these words and music have been ingrained into your psyche as a true insight into American culture and pastime. As the warm, melodic strum of fingers hits the guitar and the country-tinged sound flows down the ear canals, this classic song immediately takes the mind back to a time when rock n’ roll was king, life was simpler in so many ways, and there was nothing better than hanging out with friends and listening to great music.
It’s 2012, but here at the One World Theatre, Pure Prairie League (PPL) were out to prove that they still rock. Forming in the late 1960’s, these rock n’ roll country boys of Columbus and Cincinnati finally burst onto the scene in 1974, when their little-known album, “Bustin’ Out,” produced the single “Amie,” that shot them to fame. While the group had struggled in the beginning before finding any notoriety, their unique myriad of musical styles soon had audiences captivated. Dueling guitars nearly shredded during a performance combined with a touch of country and a contributing piano, made this group of musical substance stand out among the rest.
While Pure Prairie League enjoyed great success in both the 1970’s and 80’s, they released their last album of nearly twenty years, “Mementos,” in 1987. While the group continued to evolve their sound, band members and tours throughout the next few decades, in 2002 they went back into the studio, and in 2005 released their long awaited album, “All in Good Time,” to great commercial and critical success.
Back on tour, the community of Austin couldn’t wait to hear this group ascend the stage again. Performing to a sold-out show at One World Theatre, these boys had everyone captivated from the moment they hit their first note. Playing faster than a cricket on a cool Summer night, this musical group charmed the audience with their lightning skills on the guitar and bass and smooth musical notes. In between songs, the band proved they had a great sense of humor, even making fun of themselves for waiting 18 years to release a new album. Among the new songs and old hits, the excitement and joy of the night was capped off with PPL’s modern rendition of “Amie,” which was the perfect way to end such a great night of music.
While One World Theatre always seems to feature fantastic artists from such a wide genre, it was remarkable to see such an act and piece of musical history just steps away from where I sat. One World never ceases to amaze in its intimacy and incredibly warm feeling when seeing any artist perform in its theatre. Being able to see a favorite musician perform live is great, but having the chance to view their show so up-close and personal in Austin is what makes this venue stand out from the rest. If you haven’t had a chance, come by to experience your favorite artist in such an extraordinary way!
The late 1990’s was a collision course in music. While the entertainment culture overflowed with a myriad of teenage pop bands, Latin dance explosion and alternative punk, there were a few musicians that stood out with a true musical talent and integrity; Paula Cole is one of these artists. With raven hair, lyrically-significant songs and pipes that could make a window burst out of its frame, this ethereal beauty proved that she was a force to be reckoned with, and carved a name for herself with other strong female singers of that time like Sarah McLachlan and Shawn Colvin.
While Cole released her debut album, Harbinger, in 1994, it was her sophomore album, This Fire, in 1997 that gained both commercial and critical success. The radio button couldn’t be turned on without hearing the gritty and haunting message of “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” or “I Don’t Wanna Wait,” which really showed off Cole’s singing capabilities. After touring with large acts like the Lillith Fair, Paula Cole broke off and has been doing her own thing since, creating new albums and touring solo across the world.
While Paula Cole has come to the One World Theatre before, seeing her for the first time was such an unbelievable experience. Coming out onto the stage, she immediately created an overwhelming sense of warmth by talking with the audience, even inviting them to “ask her any question they felt.” Once her voice hit the microphone and her fingers touched the ivory keys of her piano, she completely blew everyone away with her incredible musical talent. It’s rare to find an artist with such a capable range, and she nailed it every time; the lows and highs in her voice had my jaw dropping to the floor several times throughout the performance. Furthermore, it was great to see how involved she was with the One World Theatre patrons. She laced her show with lots of stories and even got the audience involved in creating a snapping percussion during her song “Feelin’ Love.” After the show, Cole stayed to take pictures and talk with the audience members, a true testament to how much she cares about her fans.
While no one can deny Paula Cole’s beauty, being able to see her at One World Theatre only made it radiate more. The dynamic lighting in shades of blues, reds and golds washed over the stage to highlight the band and every move they made. Furthermore, the sound couldn’t have been better. With every note that came out of Cole’s voice, patrons were able to hear her pitch perfect even in the back of this intimate venue. It was truly a treat to see such a talented artist, and to be able to view her show at this theatre was the cherry on top. Like this amazing Paula Cole show, being able to experience any musician at the One World Theatre will only elevate their performance- just one more reason to come by and see for yourself!
When America looked into the electric glow of MTV on the television in 1982, little did they know what kind of impact four Australians and a saxophone rift would have on the music world. Behind an ominous door and in the shadows of a blackened room with only one spotlight, these Men at Work proved that they had the singing chops that would make them famous, and songs like “Who Can It Be Now” that continue to be requested to this very day.
However, out of all these men who came from a land down under, none have had quite the impact as Colin Hay. Starting out as the lead singer of the group, he stood out with his distinctive pipes, mullet haircut and rock-n’-roll attitude. Nearly 30 years later since his first hit, Hay has reinvented himself over as the Scottish-Australian solo singer with a plethora of softer acoustic guitar songs that show off his still-unique voice on a more playful and irreverent platform. While many fans remember him from his Men at Work days, Colin Hay has been able to widen his audience and gain a younger fan base lately through his work on the Garden State soundtrack, and his very humorous cameos with actor Zach Braff on the medical dramedy, Scrubs.
On March 22nd, One World Theatre was able to host this enigmatic musician for a sold-out performance. For over two weeks prior to the show, the excitement built as I heard people over and over again talk about what an amazing performer Colin is. Even on the night of the show, Hartt Stearns introduced Colin Hay as “one of the best shows I have ever seen.” Naturally, the air was thick with anticipation as Hay ascended the stage, where one microphone and several guitars were strategically placed under the glow of an amber spotlight.
I think it’s safe to say, the audience was blown away. Hay accomplished a performance that was compelling, theatrical, hilarious, poignant and just plain good. Similar to a platform like VH1’s “Storytellers,” Hay’s act was half musical performance, half stories that were engaging and delightful. In his interesting Scot/Aussie accent, Hay gave renditions of songs that were both powerful and lovely in their simplicity, all the while peppering his music with a woven tapestry of stories about growing up in Australia, his Dad as his own personal hero and even his first band experiences. There were times when the audience would listen in silence to the musical notes he sang, while other times they were bowled over in laughter from his hysterical antics. It was fantastic to have a musician open up his life and history in such a personal way, enriching the story of his songs and creating meaning and magic to his lyrics.
The icing on the cake was being able to see Colin Hay perform at the One World Theatre. In such a small and intimate venue, any audience member could hear even the most subtle note that hit the microphone, and see every animated face or body movement this dynamic performer made. Hearing his stories in this theatre made it feel as though the whole world melted away and it was only you and Colin exchanging songs. The combination of it all made for one exhilarating night, and a performance that truly couldn’t be missed. The next time Colin Hay performs at the One World Theatre, be sure to catch a great performance by this brilliant and funny musician!
Think about a musical group that has been around for over forty years. A band that combines, rock, jazz, pop and blues into one magical musical experience. Now imagine this same band winning numerous grammys, writing songs that have been the backbone of popular culture, and promoting a world tour every year since they first joined together. While no one could argue that this type of music madness has produced throngs of success and unforgettable times, there has also been a lot of hard work and toil involved. For any group to be successful for over four decades, it takes more than just an average group member, it requires true “Blood, Sweat and Tears.”
Blood, Sweat and Tears is more than just a band. With a history that began in the late 1960’s, this is a veteran group of musicians that has been an integral part of American culture and still remains popular today. They are known best for their billboard and grammy-winning classics like “Spinning Wheel” and “When I Die” and are often compared as the Saturday Night Live of bands due to their vivacious theatrics on stage and audience-based performances. Similarly, BST has also seemed to have “seasons” of musicians that have performed throughout the years like Al Kooper, David Clayton-Thomas and Tom Malone. Now with nine members on vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard, drums and horns, BST has been able to provide one rip-roaring, energetic and mesmerizing show.
In February, One World Theatre was able to host this legendary band within its theatrical walls for a night of incredible sound, lots of laughs and true musical history. The group was lead by new vocalist Jason Paige, who previously performed with artists such as Michael Jackson and Aerosmith, and has been seen in movies and on Broadway. Under Jason’s direction, the room was jumping with energy and applause. Glimmering brass trumpets and saxophones swayed up and down, their tubes exploding with jovial sound. Drumsticks snapped down and vibrated against the hollow percussion, while fingers swept across the black and white of the keys to compliment all other instruments. This was a show that was full of passion, and made audience members want to jump up and dance (and many did.)
While BST has performed in venues from New York to California and everywhere in between, being able to experience their show at the One World Theatre made for one remarkable night. While the band has performed at music halls, festivals and large venues, being able to see all nine members and relive the music of a band that has been playing for decades in such an intimate venue was more than divine. Experiencing your favorite artist in this theatrical jewel will only elevate their music to its full potential, and is just another reason why One World Theatre is one of the best music venues in Austin. Come and enjoy its magic for yourself.