Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic. The new documentary about the comedy legend that debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival premieres on Showtime. It features appearances by Mel Brooks, Robin Williams, Dave Chappell, Paul Mooney and many more. Directed by Marina Zenovich, the doc follows Pryor’s life from his childhood in Peoria, Illinois and follows his career with commentary from his friends and family. “Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic” airs on Showtime, Friday, May 31st at 9pm Eastern.
Spirit in the Room by Tom Jones. The latest re-invention in the long and storied career of Tom Jones finds him, once again, finding songs and styles that fit his robust baritone. This isn’t the Tom Jones wearing open shirts and tight trousers. This is Tom Jones, in the September of his years, mining the lyric for all of its emotional depth. Pairing up again with producer-musician Ethan Johns, Jones turns songs by Leonard Cohen (‘Tower Of Song’), Tom Waits (‘Bad As Me’) into autobiographical confessions. When Jones lights up tracks such as ‘Traveling Shoes’ and ‘The Soul Of A Man’, he also shows that the only difference between Wales and the Mississippi Delta is distance. Using material from an eclectic mix of songwriters (Paul Simon, Joe Henry, Mickey Newbury, Paul McCartney, The Low Anthem and some dude named Dylan), Spirit In The Room is late inning magic from one of music’s most recognizable voices. It’s available now through Amazon, Itunes and all digital music outlets.
Memphis by Boz Scaggs. Boz Scaggs has worn many hats: sideman, bluesman, and most famously, sophisticated pop star with the multi-million selling 1976 classic Silk Degrees. As the title suggests, his latest album was recorded at the late Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios (where Al Green made all of his classics) with a Who’s Who of top session musicians: Willie Weeks, Spooner Oldman, The Memphis Horns, Ray Parker, Jr (yes, THAT Ray Parker, Jr.) and Steve Jordan (who also produced the album). The results are nothing short of sublime. There’s nothing slick, or polished about it. Just a top notch musician teaming up with an A-list band doing classic R&B, blues and soul. It’s as good as it gets. Memphis is in stores now.
Off Camera (offcamera.com). Photographer-musician-director-skateboarder Sam Jones always believed that the best conversations happened off camera. So he started Off Camera, which serves as a magazine, website, TV show and podcast. The premise is simple: He sits down with the artists, actors, musicians, directors, skateboarders, photographers, and writers that he knows or has long admired and (without a publicist in sight) has extended conversations about the creative process or whatever happens to be on their minds. The interviews are filmed for the website, the audio is recorded for the podcast and the interviews and photos are transcribed for the magazine. With a focus on a single guest, this is the perfect forum for those who love the long form interview but don’t have the time or the attention span to go through multiple guests. There’s only 6 episodes/issues out (including one with Aimee Mann), so it’s a perfect time to get caught up.
Miami, Florida: Reggie Watts. The comedian / musician will be bringing his unique blend of entertainment to the Miami Light Project. MLP is a non-profit organization which presents live arts performances to help educate and develop new talent in South Florida. Reggie will be playing 3 shows at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse in Miami, starting on June 6th.
New York City: Howl! Festival. Inspired by the poem by Allen Ginsberg, this 3 day event in New York City’s East Village honors art, dance, poetry and madness. The kicks off Friday, May 31st with a group reading of Ginsberg’s “Howl” and then throughout the weekend there are performances of spoken word, comedy, and music, including the painting of a 900 foot long blank canvas by 140 different artists at Tompkins Square Park. All performances are free. Times and locations vary.
New York City: Federico Garcia Lorca’s Poet In New York at The New York Public Library. June 4, 2013. The poetry and writings of Spanish poet/dramatist Federico Garca Lorca has influenced everyone from Salvador Dali (with whom he collaborated with on several works) to Leonard Cohen. The original manuscript of one of his greatest piece, Poet In New York (which covers his stay at Columbia University from 1929-30) was long thought to have been lost. Thankfully, it has been recovered and it will be on display at The New York Public Library. New York City-based poets who have been influenced and inspired by Lorca’s work – including Patti Smith – will perform selections from Poet In New York along with other works. A Poet In New York will be at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue.
New York City: Here Lies Love @ The Public Theater. This is, by any stretch of the imagination, your typical Off-Broadway musical. Based on the 2010 concept album by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, it documents the rise and fall of the shoe-obsessed former First Lady of the Philippines Imedla Marcos – all in a dance club setting. The audiences is encouraged to wear comfortable shoes, stand and move with the actors, and dance whenever they feel moved to do so. The show has received rave reviews and just received its 3rd extended run of performances. See it now before it blows up on The Great White Way. Here Lies Love will be at The Public Theater through June 30th.
Danbury Connecticut: moe. and Gov’t Mule. This weekend Saturday and Sunday, get a combined ticket for both shows. Summertime starts early in southwestern Connecticut as Ives Concert Park kicks off its celebrity concert series with back-to-back shows on Saturday, June 1, and Sunday, June 2, at the outdoor venue located on the Western Connecticut State University Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave.
Chicago Illinois: Sharon Van Etten. Sharon is performing as part of Downtown Sound, a free concert series over the summer at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. It’s free and all shows start at 6:30. Van Etten was a featured artist on Weathervane Music’s Shaking Through Web Series and has toured with The National in addition to releasing three solo albums. She also opened for Nick Cave earlier this year. Check out this great singer songwriter, for free at the Downtown Sound series on Monday June 3 at 6:30 in Millennium Park.