Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. As a singer, songwriter, supermodel, author and actress, Grace Jones’ impact on the music, film, literature and fashion world has been seismic. Director Sophia Fiennes spent several years documenting Grace’s never boring life and captures it wonderfully in this new doc. We see Grace in the studio with long time collaborators Sly & Robbie, on stage and backstage at several stops during her world tour, scouting out and trying on the outrageous clothes that have become her trademark and much more. There’s also the personal side of Grace Jones as a lover, mother, businesswoman and daughter – the latter of which is captured during a breathtaking trip back to her native Jamaica. Outspoken, outgoing and always outrageous, this is Grace Jones in all of her unfiltered glory with Fiennes employing a narrative that captures exactly how Grace’s mind – and world – works. Here’s Grace! Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami opens this weekend. You can also go to www.kinolorber.com for more information.
Elvis Presley: The Searcher. There’s a ton of books, specials and documentaries that dealt with Elvis as a cultural and musical phenomenon. But in this new two-part 3 hour HBO doc, it aims to set the record straight that despite all of the hype, aura and glitz, Elvis never stopped quenching his thirst for gospel, blues, R&B and, of course, rock n roll. Directed by Thom Zimmy (who helmed the HBO documentaries on Bruce Springsteen) and with the full cooperation of the Presley estate, it includes never before seen photos and footage from private collections to show how the music of the South played a pivotal role in turning a boy from Tupelo, Mississippi into one of the most beloved entertainers of all time. It also features 20 new interviews with his former wife Priscilla, long time friends Scotty Moore and Red West, Bruce Springsteen, Emmylou Harris, Robbie Robertson, Tom Petty (in one of his last extended interviews before his death last year), producers and session players discussing how Elvis’ artistic journey produced music that set new standards on the pop culture landscape. It’s Elvis the artist front and center, re-affirming why he’s one of the universally loved singers of all time. Elvis Presley: The Searcher premieres Saturday, April 14th at 8pm Eastern on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas. This new late night docu-series has former Daily Show correspondent and writer Wyatt Cenac going to such areas as suburban Minneapolis, downtown Cincinnati and rural Texas seeking to find ‘questionable solutions to unquestionable problems’ plaguing our nation. As we have seen with his work on The Daily Show, expect to see Cenac’s dry, droll brand of humor to up front and center in the midst of the madness. A promising new entry into the late night canon. Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas premieres April 13th at 11:30pm Eastern on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. An experience as much as it is a festival, Coachella – now spread out over two weekends – is now an industry benchmark. For those who could not or got shut out of making the trek to the desert, the Sunday, April 15th show – which will be headlined by Eminem and featuring sets by A Perfect Circle, Cardi B, Kamasi Washington and Benjamin Clementine, among others – will be streamed on YouTube. The return of Eminem and A Perfect Circle should be stellar, but don’t be surprised if Cardi B, who just dropped her eagerly awaited debut album and has several hit singles/collaborations under her belt, becomes the talk of the festival. A great chance to get out to the desert without leaving the comfort of your own home. Go to www.coachella.com for a complete run down of performers, set times and more information.
Johnny Cash: Forever Words. Family, friends, associates and musical fans of The Man In Black came together to make a musical companion to the posthumous 2016 best-selling book. Using Cash’s previously unreleased songs, letters and poems as a launchpad, Rosanne Cash, Carlene Carter, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp, Jewel, Alison Kraus & Union Station, Brad Paisley, Kacey Musgraves, Robert Glasper, Ruston Kelly and, one of his final vocal performances, Chris Cornell, breathe new life into Cash’s prose. Country, bluegrass, gospel, blues, and jazz-infused R&B are all featured throughout, making this a fitting elegy for an all-time great. Johnny Cash: Forever Words is available now through Amazon, Itunes, and all major music outlets.
Chicago: VI Decades Live (This Is What We Do). Throughout all of its various incarnations, Chicago was first and foremost a band that craved to perform live. This new 4-CD, 1 DVD set covers over 45 years of live material recorded from all corners of the globe. A blistering 1970 Isle Of Wight performance dominates two discs, showing the band at the height of its ascendency and serves a fitting tribute to their late (and sadly missed) guitarist Terry Kath. The DVD contains a 1977 show that was originally broadcast on German TV. Whether you are a fan of their early progressive rock period or their recent run of hit ballads, this set showcases the band at its best. Chicago: VI Decades Live (This Is What We Do) is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers.
New York City. The Tribeca Film Festival. Created to help revitalize Tribeca in the wake of 9/11, The Tribeca Film Festival is now the premier place to showcase upcoming feature films, documentaries and short films. Highlights will include Love, Gilda, Lisa D’Apolito’s comprehensive look at the life and legacy of Gilda Radner; Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s McQueen, which looks back at the life and career of fashion designer Alexander McQueen; Horses: Patti Smith & Her Band, chronicling the final shows on Smith’s 40th Anniversary tour of her seminal album; and the 25th Anniversary screening of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning Schindler’s List with a post-screening panel featuring Spielberg, Liam Neeson, and Ben Kingsley. There will also be a slew of panels, live post-screening performances (including one by Patti Smith), and much more. A must see event for any lover of cinema. The Tribeca Film Festival runs April 18th through the 29th. You can also go to www.tribecafilm.com for a complete list of events, tickets and more information.
New York City: Refraction: New Photography Of Africa and Its Diaspora. The latest exhibit at the Steven Kasher Gallery takes photographic artists of African descent from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, to show how the continent and those within it have influenced and informed their art. Images range from Black bodies in cultural mediation; the revival of traditional African rites; and the merging of the past, present and future. Using self-portraits, collages, montages and digital maninipulations it gives you a perceptive of the Mother continent in a way that will stay with you long after you have left the exhibit. Refraction: Photography Of Africa and Its Diaspora will be at The Steven Kasher Gallery April 19th through June 2nd. You can also go to www.stevenkasher.com for more information.