By David Goe
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
With Christmas in the review mirror, it’s time to wind down and focus on what really matters: your New Year’s Eve plans.
If you’re like me you probably need a vacation from your Christmas vacation. It’s exhausting work making Christmas cookies, out doing the neighbors with your light display, decorating the tree… You love the holidays, it’s your favorite time of year, but it’s a lot of work.
Let’s face it; you deserve a party. For the last month you’ve been scouring stores and beating away other shoppers for the perfect gifts, doing your best to wrap them nicely, and you probably did your fair share of stressing over budgets and finding a hideous Christmas sweater for the office holiday party.
It’s time to shed all that work and worry, and celebrate the end of something great and the start of something new. This New Year’s Eve there are plenty of reasons to hit the town for dancing and drinks. A number of the area’s favorite musicians are gearing up for one last hooray and you are cordially invited.
If you don’t mind a little walking or you just want to attend all the New Year’s Eve parties you can then Downtown Grand Junction is the place for you. From Charlie Dwellingtons on the far end of Main Street to Baron’s on Colorado, there are a number of parties and drink specials to take advantage of.
The place I suggest you start is Barons for the “Tight Gun Thump Down New Year’s Bash”. First off, the bar is huge so it’s unlikely that you’ll be completely packed in like sardines. There’s plenty of room to spread out, talk to your friends, and dance, dance, dance the night away. Second, what better way to celebrate New Year’s Eve than with two of Grand Junction’s most celebrated bands: Shotgun Hodown and Tight Thump.
I don’t know about you but I want my New Year’s Eve party to be unpredictable. As it just so happens, both these bands are predicated on unpredictability. Oh, there will surely be some odd moments at this party. You’ll probably question your own sanity, maybe experience moments of delirium, but when you loose it to their funky bluesy, booty shaking music, all that holiday stress will be long forgotten.
A block up from Barons at Sabrosa, DJ Phoenix and VJ Coltrain will be spinning dance tunes leading up to the midnight hour. If pumping bass and non stop dancing is your preferred way to send out the year (it’s also a great way to sober up if you’ve hit the sauce too hard, too fast), Sabrosa is your spot.
If you’re looking to spend New Year’s Eve sipping on tasty drinks and snacking on delicious appetizers, then the far end of the Grand Valley at Palisade’s Peach Street Distillers is the place to be. One of Grand Junction’s favorite bands, Jack n Jill, is playing all night long and Grand Junction’s best restaurant, Bin 707, is providing appetizers for the evening. Keep in mind, if you commit to this event you’ll be anchored there all night. Distillery drinks are devilishly good, so make sure to have a designated driver lined up.
Wednesday may seem like an odd day to go out for a party, but if you’re lucky you get Thursday off to recover and Friday is going to be a total waste of a workday anyway, so you’ve basically got a four-day weekend coming up. Be selfish and cut loose this New Year’s Eve. You worked hard in 2014 so treat yourself.
By David Goe
Friday, December 12, 2014
Olga Preobrazhenskaya as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Nikolai Legat as Prince Coqueluche in the original production of "The Nutcracker." Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, c. 1900.
As ubiquitous as eggnog and Christmas trees, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famous score to “The Nutcracker” symbolizes the return of the holiday season as much as anything.
Act II’s “Waltz of the Flowers,” for example, is a seasonal staple that feels just as cozy as Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas.”
“Waltz of the Flowers,” “Trepak” and “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” are so instantly recognizable, memorable and enjoyable, it is easy to see why “The Nutcracker” has become such a popular holiday treat.
In fact, the entire score is so good it’s uninteresting to discuss. It’s an absolute masterpiece, end of story.
However, how “The Nutcracker” came to be one of the most well–known ballets of all time is an interesting tale. From adaptations by legendary authors and composers, to what is now a time-honored tradition, “The Nutcracker” is an unlikely success.
When most people remember “The Nutcracker,” scenes with the Sugar Plum Fairy, dancing toys, mischievous mice, waltzing flowers and sparkling snowflakes dance through their heads.
But what is often forgotten is the odd and twisted source material from the original story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and the wild, century-long transformation the story went through to make it stage worthy.
Written in 1816 during the German Romantic period, Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” is a tale on par with the original Grimm Fairy Tales, the gruesome ones full of death, torture and general misery, not the Disney-fied versions.
In Hoffmann’s story, a young girl named Marie escapes into an imaginative dream world to shed herself of her overbearing family. There’s a seven-headed mouse king, the execution of a number of children, transfiguration curses and love between Marie and a nutcracker.
“The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” is a strange tale, but underneath the dread is a whimsical story that appealed to a number of influential artists.
One such artist was French playwright and novelist Alexandre Dumas. It wasn’t until Dumas, author of “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers,” adapted Hoffmann’s tale in 1844 and stripped out many of the darker elements that “The Nutcracker” we now know started to take shape.
Forty-eight years later, using both Hoffmann’s and Dumas’ stories as reference, Tchaikovsky, Russian choreographer Lev Ivanov and French choreographer Marius Petipa delivered the modern “The Nutcracker.” Debuting in St. Petersburg in 1892, Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” was whittled to a two-act ballet maintaining a fluffed up version of the original story line.
Considering Tchaikovsky’s incredible body of work at the time — he already had composed the masterpieces “Swan Lake” in 1876 and “Sleeping Beauty” in 1889 — “The Nutcracker” was initially considered something of a flop. It was the staging of the ballet, not Tchaikovsky’s music, that received most of the criticism.
“The Nutcracker” was shown off and on during the early 1900s and it wasn’t until the San Francisco Ballet performed the show on Christmas Eve in 1944 that it became associated with the holidays. It was another 15 years before the entire United States embraced “The Nutcracker” and performed it annually around the time of the holidays.
Interestingly enough, in the early 1980s children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (“Where The Wild Things Are”) led the Pacific Northwest Ballet in a production of “The Nutcracker” true to Hoffmann’s original story arch. Sendak even went so far as to create sets and even illustrate a children’s book featuring Hoffmann’s tale.
Enjoy the music and artistry next time you sit down to watch “The Nutcracker,” but don’t forget how the story came to be. Considering its global journey and the legends involved, it’s an absolute wonder the ballet exists and thrives for our holiday enjoyment.
By David Goe
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Last night, NBC aired its annual Christmas broadcast. It featured a number of 'live' performances including one from Mariah Carey. Here is Carey singing her famous Christmas tune, "All I Want For Christmas Is You," on the broadcast, with the music, any backing tracks, and her backup singers vocals stripped away. It's Carey's isolated vocals, and yikes, they are not to hot.
Anytime a pop singer performers anything 'live' on TV, take it with a grain of salt. When they're not straight up lip-singing, this is more-or-less what they sound like. This performance is not as bad as it sounds but let's not kid ourselves, it's not good either. Blame it on the cold weather or maybe even Nick Cannon, but this is what passes as a 'live' performance now.