Tag Archives: Pop Bitez

Pop Shots- Blue October, Phoenix, AZ 5/12/17

Blue October

Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, AZ 5/12/17

Band Members: Jeremy Furstenfeld, Ryan Delahoussaye, Justin Furstenfeld, Matt Noveskey, Matthew Ostrander  

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Sedona Film Festival Winners 2017

 

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 JOHN PAUL DEJORIA DOCUMENTARY, “GOOD FORTUNE,” CAPTURES BEST OF FEST AUDIENCE AWARD AT 23rd ANNUAL SEDONA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
“A Plastic Ocean” Adds Audience Choice to Director’s Choice Award

SEDONA, Ariz. (Feb. 26, 2017): Good Fortune, the rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-rich es story of one of the world’s most celebrated entrepreneurs, John Paul DeJoria – founder of Paul Mitchell Professional Hair Products and Patron tequila – won the Best of Fest Award at the 23rd annual Sedona International Film Festival.
Good Fortune, the Audience Choice Award for both Best of Fest and Best Documentary, tells the story of DeJoria, the son of Greek immigrants and a pioneer of “conscious capitalism” who uses his business to make the world a better place. DeJoria also received the Sedona International Film Festival Global Humanitarian and Philanthropist Award.
A Plastic Ocean, a full-length documentary exploring the fragile state of our oceans and the alarming truth about plastic pollution, which was named the Director’s Choice for Best Documentary Film, also won the Audience Award for Best Environmental film.
Blood & Glory, an inspired-by-real-events narrative feature about a South African man whose character exceeds his imagination, and Wild Prairie Rose, the story of a woman who returns to her rural hometown to care for her ailing mother and falls in love with a deaf man, tied for Best Feature Drama.
Grand Unified Theory, a Canadian narrative feature about a brilliant astrophysicist’s family whose meltdown sets in motion a hilarious series of events that mirror his radical theories of the behavior of the universe, was named Best Feature Comedy.
Slipaway, a narrative feature that tells the story of an eclectic elder with good intentions but extreme measures, received the Heart of the Festival Award.
Also during the festival, Cloris Leachman received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other Audience Choice Award winners were:
• Best Foreign Film: Under the Same Sun
• Animated Film: Wabooz
• Student Short: A Children’s Song
• Short Film – Drama: All The Marbles
• Short Film – Comedy: Rated
• Documentary Short: Edges
The full list of Director’s Choice and Audience Choice Awards includes:
2017 AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS
Best of Fest: Good Fortune
Best Feature Comedy: Grand Unified Theory
Best Feature Drama: (TIE) Blood & Glory and Wild Prairie Rose
Best Foreign Film: Under the Same Sun
Animated Film: Wabooz
Student Short: A Children’s Song
Short Film – Drama: All The Marbles
Short Film – Comedy: Rated
Environmental: A Plastic Ocean
Documentary: Good Fortune
Documentary Short: Edges
Heart of the Festival Award: Slipaway

2017 SPECIAL FESTIVAL AWARDS
Lifetime Achievement: Cloris Leachman
Global Humanitarian and Philanthropist: John Paul DeJoria

2017 DIRECTORS’ CHOICE AWARDS
Best Animated Film: Curpigeon
Best Short Film: The Train
Best Student Short Film: Icarus
Best Documentary Feature: A Plastic Ocean
Best Short Documentary: Joshua Tree: Threatened Wonderland
Best Environmental Film: Death By Design
Best Foreign Film: Frantz
Best Feature DRAMA: The Sandbox
Best Feature COMEDY: Burn Burn Burn
Best Humanitarian Film (narrative): Under the Same Sun
Best Humanitarian Film (documentary): No Limits
Best Independent Spirit (narrative): Halfway to Zen
Best Independent Spirit (documentary): Perfume War
Best Independent Spirit (short): Bardo
Bill Muller Excellence in Screenwriting Award: 29+1
Marion Herrman Excellence in Filmmaking: SCORE: A Film Music Documentary
For more information, visit http://www.sedonafilmfestival.com.

The 2015 Phoenix Comicon

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Well, wasn’t THAT a party! The 2015 Phoenix Comicon is a sweet memory now, but it’s definitely one we won’t be forgetting anytime soon!

At the time of this writing this year’s attendance count hasn’t been officially released but, guaranteed, it’s going to be the biggest yet.

I suppose the most impressive aspect of the Phoenix Comicon is that, no matter how big it gets, the organizers and crew are super heroes when it comes to making the event as smooth and stress free as possible for it’s attendees. This year in particular was a huge improvement over last year’s event as far as crowd management is concerned. In spite of record breaking numbers of geeks, freaks and nerds, the human gridlock was almost non existent this time around.

While I wasn’t able to make it to any panels this year,  word is they were epic. I did however get to spend a considerable amount of time on the main floor, collecting Cosplay photos, ( and, of course, falling in love several times over in the process.)

Every year the Comicons around the country have a character, movie or television show that seems to dominate. Personally, I will forever be remembering the 2015 Phoenix Comicon as the year of Harley Quinn & Deadpool, with a healthy amount of Guardians of the Galaxy in the mix.

Unlike the guys dressed in very similar Deadpool costumes, the Harley Quinns were actually all kind of amazing in the fact that I don’t believe I saw two that were alike, the sheer creativity and variety was as astounding as it was impressive. In fact, as far as all the cosplay was concerned, this year, more than any other, the guys were definitely owned by the ladies. Sure, the guys had the obligatory Jokers and Spidermen, (and one ridiculously perfect Thor) in the mix but the girls won the weekend thinking a little farther out of the box than the boys this time around, without question the muscle of female empowerment could be seen everywhere you looked this year, with many women opting for creative interpretations of previously known male characters, a trend I hope never ends. 

Rather than ramble on any longer, it’s time you just take a look for yourself. Enjoy! See you at the Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest, 12/4-6! (can’t wait!) 

First up, a sampling of just a few of the Harley Quinn girls

The Rest of the Fest

Album Review: Sway- Blue October

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♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ (out of a possible 5)

 

 

The more I listen to the new Blue October album Sway, the more I’m convinced this one is a personal best for the Austin based rockers, which is no small feat when you consider this is the 7th album in the band’s catalog.

At a time when many of their contemporaries have either disbanded or resigned themselves to regurgitating past glories, Blue October have raised their bar and all but reinvented themselves. It’s extremely rare for a band that has been around for as long as these guys have to sound anywhere near this fresh, but they truly do, with the kind of enthusiasm, passion and energy usually reserved for an up and coming indie act charging out of the garage and onto the charts.

One could argue, as a follow up to their brilliant but emotionally draining album Any Man in America, in order for the band, (as well as lead singer and songwriter Justin Furstenfeld ), to realistically survive, they were going to need to lighten up a bit, deny the darkness, embrace the beauty of their world and just “Sway“. The result is an album that is almost a spiritual revelation, an awakening of purpose and a celebration of the healing power of great rock and roll. My first thought as I listened to the new album was, “Holy shit, these guys are going to love touring in support of this one!”

The album opens with the short hymn-like, “Breathe, It’s Over“, which wouldn’t sound out of place on Pink Floyd’s The Wall– just after the wall comes down. It’s a perfect opener, and quietly announces a new journey down a healthier, happier road. Forget Green Day’s American Idiot on Broadway, personally I’d love to see a rock musical with Any Man in America serving as Act One and Sway as the uplifting and redemptive Second Act, (just putting it out there guys, do with it what you will, ha!). In many ways the two albums combined both contradict and compliment each other very well.

After the quiet opening the album launches into the radio friendly title track, “Sway“, which plays like a deep sigh of relief that comes after holding ones breath for far too long. “C’mon, dance with me…“, Furstenfeld beckons, with a new attitude that almost says, “you know what? Fuck it, we’re all going to be O.K., let’s enjoy the night“.

The album continues that vibe with “Angels in Everything“, a solid uptempo love song, as celebratory as it is earnestly thankful and “Bleed Out“, the first single released from the album, a driving and strong musical declaration of empowerment that should be put on constant rotation in your “work-out mix” for the gym.

The album takes a surprisingly sexy and groovy turn with the next track, “Debris“, (currently my favorite on the album). Furstenfeld’s strong dramatic vocals, combined with some of the sweetest bass work Matt Noveskey has ever committed to tape and the expert production work from Furstenfeld, David Castell and Tim Palmer makes this one a keeper for the ages, an instant classic in the band’s ever growing catalog of great songs. Coming in at over six minutes, it’s the longest track on the album but you’d never know it, it moves like a cool midnight breeze over the lake and almost demands an immediate repeat listen, (which I’ve been doing a lot in the past week).

In lesser hands the message contained in the album’s next track, “Fear“, would sound like it was ripped from the pages of a self help book, but Furstenfeld’s skilled songwriting expertly avoids this trap and features one of the most memorable melodies on the album. ” Fear in itself, will break you down and use you up, like you were never enough, I used to fall, now I get back up“. The reason the lyrics work so well is that you know the singer has been there and done that, the sincerity is impossible to deny and, while cynics may roll their eyes, I have no doubt the tune will help many a person facing a difficult situation in the future, the singer and this critic included.

Next up is the warm and hopeful, (how often have you seen those two words together in a Blue October review?), “Things We Don’t Know About“, a love song for a child from a parent, which Furstenfeld co-wrote with longtime band member/ bass player, Matt Noveskey. It’s all about growing up, both for the kid and the Dad, and is accentuated nicely by drummer Jeremy Furstenfeld’s accomplished percussion and some beautiful string work from the band’s multi- instrumentalist Ryan Delahoussaye.

The structure of an album isn’t often discussed or acknowledged in a review despite the fact that the creative teams often take great pains to line up the tracks in the best possible order, I feel obligated at this point to mention, these guys nailed it, (as they most often do). I honestly can’t imagine these tracks in any other order, (which, come to think of it, is why I might have been considering it in a stage musical/ concept album structure earlier).

Two of the albums strongest rockers come next, “Hard Candy” and “Put It In“, proving the band hasn’t lost it’s playfulness or sense of humor. In fact, “Put It In“, may be the most playful I’ve ever heard them. The tune rocks and the lyrics are occasionally laugh old loud, it’s a strong indication Furstenfeld doesn’t feel as obliged to take it all as painfully “serious” as he seemingly once did.

Light you Up” is definitely a track for those who loved the band’s platinum selling album, Foiled, and would have easily fit as comfortably on that album as it does on Sway, it’s a solid return to form and one I can already hear the extremely loyal fan base shouting-along with on tour, like most of this album, it’s going to play live very well. The same can also be said for the excellent anthemic rocker, “Things We Do At Night“, yes, the chanting with fists in the air are all but guaranteed, (I could lie and tell you I haven’t already done this but why bother, honesty is always the best policy).

The final song on this album, “Not Broken Anymore“, is- in my opinion- the best ballad from ANY band in 2013 and may actually be the best Justin Furstenfeld has ever written, it’s that great. The best thing I can say about Furstenfeld’s songwriting is that he has never been afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and put it out there, which, if you’re asking me, is the first rule in any art form and, as the songwriter matures and his well of experience gets deeper, the audience is rewarded as much as the artist himself. I should also mention this track, with it’s dreamy and haunting cello, is as perfectly produced as any record I’ve heard this year. Heads up Hollywood, if you don’t get this tune on a soundtrack ASAP you will have totally dropped the ball hard, (again).

The album closes with the gorgeous instrumental, “To Be“, a contemplative epilogue that encourages the listener to take a few minutes and reflect on the journey of hope and self discovery that you just experienced by way of Blue October’s Sway.

Though I will never deny the brilliance that was Any Man in America, it was a dark and painful journey. That being said, it was most definitely a road that needed to be traveled, if for no other reason, than to lead us- and the band- to the beautifully cathartic destination that is Sway.

I am as stunned to write this final statement as you will be to read it, you won’t find another album that will make you feel better this year than Blue October’s Sway. Wow guys, to quote one of your classics, “Congratulations“.

One final thought; This album was funded almost entirely by friends and fans who were generous enough to donate by way of the PledgeMusic website, you don’t get more “independent” than that. Please show your support for independent music and buy this one, save the file sharing for another day.

For more info on Blue October, including all the tour dates, check out blueoctober.com