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Tim Van Schmidt | New SCENE
Dynamic, kinetic, textured — and excellent.
I expected the March 5 Lincoln Center show by Naghash Ensemble at the UCA’s fine Organ Recital Hall to be interesting, but I didn’t expect it to be all of those things. That’s the reward for checking out the unfamiliar.
And Naghash is playing in unfamiliar territory. That is, music based on writings by medieval Armenian mystic Mkrtich Naghash.
However, the Naghash Ensemble’s music sounds fresh thanks to the melding of the past and present by Armenian-American composer, director, and pianist John Hodian.
The rest of the ensemble includes master Armenian musicians trained in their homeland. But the “crown jewels” of the group are three female vocalists who sing like angels with perfect harmonies and otherworldly voices.
The performance was “truly transfixing”, as my concert companion said.
That 1 Guy: Upbeat, funny, and funky, That 1 Guy brought his one-man techno show to the Aggie Theatre on March 17 and by the hearty response the crowd gave every time he let loose with his distinctive party howl — “awooooooo!” — they knew what was in store.
That would be his funky butt-rocking music, stacking up layers of looping while slapping his signature instrument, the Magic Pipe.
That 1 Guy did play a wired-for-sound skateboard, sang through a sock puppet, and even performed a card trick, but otherwise, it was all about the Magic Pipe and his madcap onstage persona…and the three video screens behind him…and laser lights.
Another one-man act, Hyzenborg, opened with a set that was big, dramatic, and plenty heavy, featuring not only pounding electronic music and lots of laser lights but also a mysterious, otherworldly costume with its own crazy array of lasers.
BalletX: It’s not enough to say that the BalletX performance at the Lincoln Center on March 28 underscored the joy of movement. The solo dancers did plenty, but things got much more interesting when the interaction between dancers was involved, making the show’s success just as much about relationships as it is about what a body can do.
And that was BalletX’s strongest suit on the Lincoln Center stage, when dancers connected, twisted together, and folded over each other while individually doing great things with their bodies.
Let’s add that while all of this was going, another element at work was the lighting – and often the resultant shadows – which went a long way towards giving BalletX a special environment to express that physical joy and those relationships.
Finally, BalletX, from Philadelphia, wound up the evening with an invigorating group piece supported by upbeat house music — loud, proud, and certainly joyful.
Joan Osborne: She sang it — “One of Us”, her best-known tune — but there was so much more to Joan Osborne’s show at The Armory on March 30. Like deep, gutsy blues. Like The Grateful Dead’s “Stella Blue”. Like choice “deep cuts” like “Little Wild One”. Like brand new tunes no one has heard live yet – except in Fort Collins.
Osborne also engaged with the moment in between songs and talked of her pandemic experiences and those of raising a teenager.
This sold-out show had been rescheduled from last August and Osborne, thankful to be playing before live audiences again, came through with a varied set – including a rousing version of Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”. Supported by keyboards and guitar, Osborne also included “Pensacola” and the gripping “St. Theresa” from her breakthrough album, “Relish”. My favorite, though, was “Stella Blue”, such a wistful and tender tune.
Visit “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt” on YouTube.