Perry play gives people more than just a laugh

Austin welcomed Tyler Perry with open arms Jan. 17 as he presented his play The Haves and the Have Nots at the Long Center.  Before the show, the audience sat in anticipation expecting a good laugh. After all, Perry is known for his colorful, over-the-top characters and his sometimes iffy story lines. But as the curtains went up and the play started, the audience soon realized that laughter was not the only thing being served. What the audience got was a well performed, heartfelt story filled with honesty, brutal realities, powerful music and, of course, comedy. The play focused on two families — one with wealth and one without. Grandma Haitie is the matriarch of the second family. She has let her daughter Rose, son-in-law Frank and grandson Wallie come and live with her. The opening scene starts with depressing news that their house is currently being foreclosed, and within three days they will be out on the streets. Frank is currently unemployed, and Rose works as a maid. Things start to look up when Rose’s boss, Louis, offers Frank a job to help him get on his feet. The scene is changed to the mansion of newlyweds Louis and Diane. He is a rich businessman, and she is a spoiled gold-digger who manipulates and lies to get what she wants. Rose has been Louis’ maid for six years, but things become complicated when Frank starts working for the wealthy couple. The lady of the house, Diane, starts making advances to her new employee and makes it her personal mission to break up his marriage. Meanwhile, the teenage son of Rose and Frank, Wallie, feels that it is his responsibility to raise the money to save their house from foreclosure.  He starts dealing drugs and finds himself in jail. As the story unfolds, audience’s hearts ache for the characters facing their own personal trials and tribulations. Frank, the husband, is overwhelmed with guilt because he cannot provide for his family. Rose, a wife and mother, who has always put her trust in God, is now faced with news of her husband’s alleged indiscretions and her son’s run-in with the law. Louis, a man rich with money and power, has to come to the harsh reality that money may buy a young, beautiful wife, but it cannot buy happiness. And finally, Diane, the seductive adulteress battles her own demons. Two characters soften the blow of the seriousness of the tough issues addressed. Haitie is the encouraging elder who has much advice to give and many stories to tell, while Floyd is a friend to everyone. He knows all, sees all,...

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Band is aiming for the big time
Jan24

Band is aiming for the big time

A band by the name of Hedley Grange is taking the Central Texas music scene by storm. Both KVET 98.1 out of Austin and The Ranch 95.9 out of Dallas currently play the band’s popular song “Church Signs.” The success for the quintet is quickly rising with appearances all over the state. They will be playing at Bum’s Sports Grill at midnight Jan. 27. The group members consist of lead vocalist and guitarist Kody Yeager, pot and pans player Charlie Lucko, lead guitarist Tyler Ralston, rhythm guitar and harmonica player Will Janke and bass player Will Gilley. The band’s name comes from a recording studio in Headley, England. Yeager, a former UMHB student, said the band simply began when he realized both he and a fellow co-worker had a common taste for music. “The band itself has been around for about a year and a half. I and the guitarist were working together at the same restaurant and in passing we found out that we both like music. We got together and started hanging out, and sure enough we hit it off pretty good,” he said. The band has not always had five members; two more people have joined since last year. “We just added Will Gilley and Charlie Lucko a few months ago. So the band with all five of us is new, and it has been about three months that we have all been together,” Yeager said. Music has been a part of Janke’s life for quite some time. Prior to the band, he played such instruments as the guitar, bass and harmonica. He said, “I have been a part of the band for one year. I was chosen after about a year of playing opening acoustic for them.” Janke also credits his mother and two sisters for introducing him to different genres of music. He is inspired by Bob Dylan, Reckless Kelly and The Band. When people come to attend his performances, he hopes the audience will leave with this message. He said, “If you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life.” For Janke, being in a band and juggling his everyday life may not be easy, but he does not mind since he is doing something he loves. Gilley caught the music bug early in life, and it is his passion. He enjoys all the success the band has acquired lately and looks forward to the future. “Everyone is very supportive thus far. As long as we keep our heads down and work hard, I believe the sky is the limit for Hedley Grange,” he said. “Hedley...

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Second ‘Highways’ rocks Hughes
Nov15

Second ‘Highways’ rocks Hughes

By Terryn Kelly The Schade Tree band, featuring art department Chair Hershall Seals, kicked off the Highways and Byways concert, performing an array of unique songs accompanied by soulful voices and acoustics. This was the second show in the concert series, which took place in Hughes Recital Hall Nov. 12. The concerts allow people from all walks of life to come together and experience different genres of music. Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Ted Barnes said, “What we would like to do is try and bring traditional music to the campus in all kinds of various forms.” There was a small but enthusiastic crowd filled with older faces. Some clapped along to the music while others sang aloud. Barnes said, “The community in general has been a pretty good turnout. We certainly want more student participation. The reaction to the concert series campus wide has not been as big a turnout as we would like. We would like to give back a little more and give something for the students to do.” Barnes added that considering students’ budgets are often tight, the concert would be a fun campus event for them to attend for free and learn about traditional United States music locally. When searching for talent to bring to the school, Director of the Conservatory of Music Jonathan Gary uses different avenues to accomplish the task at hand. He said, “I will do my best to attend different venues especially in the Austin area, and I also do a lot of research online listening to recordings of performers. I get recommendations for other booking agencies, and we try to choose performers that can offer a variety of styles throughout the year.” Darcy Deville is a solo performer and a member of the Austin Lounge Lizards, a well-known group in Texas. She is also a part of Woody Says, which is a musical that tells the story of Woody Gutherie’s life and music. She just returned from touring in England with the Woody Says group, and they are up for a prestigious award in England similar to the Grammy Awards  in America. Deville performed many songs she wrote during the concert, and afterwards she shared which songs were featured on her CD. The crowd was informed of the history of the small guitar she played, whose fingerboard was originally made for Mick Jagger. Another artist appeared onstage alongside Deville named Jane Gillman. The two have worked in the music circuit for  over 15 years. Gillman’s favorite song of the night that she performed was titled “Elsa’s Tune.” She said, “The song was inspired by my...

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Coldplay is back on the pop/rock music scene
Nov15

Coldplay is back on the pop/rock music scene

With Mylo Xyloto reaching the number one spot on the charts in 30 countries, Coldplay has once again proved  they can construct an album people that love. Though its lyrics and melodies are catchy, the album is still typical Coldplay – except with a slight turn toward pop. Band members said they wanted this album to be more acoustic than their previous one. Tracks like “Us Against the World” and “U.F.O.” give off a stripped-down feel as Chris Martin’s voice is accompanied by few instruments. Other songs like “Hurts Like Heaven” and “Charlie Brown” give a fuller sound and could not be considered acoustic by the most liberal standards. Whether the album is acoustic or not, it works. Breaking their own record of highest first-week album sales on iTunes, Coldplay sold more than 500,000 copies upon release. Mylo Xyloto is supposed to tell the story of two lovers living out their relationship in the urban future.  The tracks progress along, carrying the listeners through the narrative of the lovers, Mylo and Xyloto. It’s an album that almost demands a tapping of the foot or a bobbing of the head while listening. Where the album strays most from the band’s classic sound is on the track “Princess of China.” It’s a pop song featuring Rihanna with distinct beats but still maintaining Coldplay’s catchy “Oh” segments thrown in. For those who don’t like Rihanna, though, the song is a bust. The middle of the song is dominated by her singing about fighting in a relationship in typical pop song fashion, leaving listeners wondering why Rihanna is disturbing the flow of the album. When the single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” was released months before the album, it was clear that Coldplay was going to offer another crowd-pleaser. They delivered, perhaps with the song “Paradise” leading the way as a favorite track of the album. Its orchestral backdrop combined with heavy bass and easy-to-follow melodies for the lyrics draws listeners to the story of a young girl dreaming of a perfect place. The music video for the song might confuse fans as it features a person in an elephant costume traveling across England by bicycle and unicycle and ending in an African desert setting playing instruments with other friends dressed the same way. What that has to do with a young girl’s vision of paradise is still unclear. Though the album lacks much variation from what the band has always done, Coldplay fans will be pleased with the new album as their chart-topping ratings are already proving....

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Be in control of your holiday entertainment this Christmas
Nov15

Be in control of your holiday entertainment this Christmas

Hollywood likes to use the Christmas season as a time to pump out a lot of big-name movies back to back. Producers know people love any excuse to get their visiting family members to shut up for an hour and a half. This year we are seeing big budget releases like the Sherlock Holmes sequel, Twilight Saga: Is It Over Yet? and Harold and Kumar Do Drugs and Meet Neil Patrick Harris, just to name a few. Granted, the titles may be off, but the plot is covered well enough. But if you are anything like me, you aren’t really planning to see any of these movies this season because you have no money, no one to see them with and are really lazy. But there is good news. Hollywood offers a metric ton of classic Christmas movies you can marathon during the school break, as long as you don’t mind admitting to yourself you’re a shut-in. One great movie is Scrooged, starring Bill Murray. Released in 1988, the film is a meant to be a modern, comedic retelling of the classic story A Christmas Carol. Murray plays Frank Cross, a TV executive who is a real Scrooge (ba dum, tiss!) to his family and employees. Through a series of wacky mishaps, the determination of three spirits and one very awkward scene with a frozen homeless guy, Murray learns the true meaning of-oh geez-I can’t even finish that sentence. Regardless, it’s a fun movie. A personal favorite of mine is The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack Skellington, a literal skeleton and king of Halloweentown,  becomes bored with the repetition of scaring children. Upon finding a magical portal to Christmastown, Jack tries his best to celebrate the season in his own unique way. Once you get past the Danny Elfman of it all, it’s highly entertaining. Plus, it’s a singing skeleton. A third choice would be the Chevy Chase classic Christmas Vacation. This film tells the tried-and-true tale of how letting more than one side of the family into your house at the same time will always end in a highly volatile standoff with the police. The good news is, the movie has Chevy Chase and Randy Quaid. The bad news is, it has everyone else, too. But, honestly, Randy Quaid should be enough to make anyone watch this movie. And finally, there is It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s not a comedy like the other three, but it is an absolute must-see despite that fatal flaw. Released in 1946, the movie stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a terminally depressed individual with a heart of gold. When George is on the...

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Hollywood remakes: Flukes and fakes

This years national film attendance has dropped about five percent. It is easy to blame the economy, but statistically recessions do not affect cinema attendance. The decline in cinema-goers is caused by customer dissatisfaction. Average movie-goers may have enjoyed Red Dawn when they first saw it, but they will probably not be too pleased when they see trailers for the movie again. Every year Hollywood dispenses remakes, reboots and rip-offs at an alarming rate. The Mechanic, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Don’t be Afraid of the Dark are only a few of the examples of remakes produced in 2011. They were not successful in the box office and did not receive critical acclaim. Remakes often ruin classic films. An example of this is Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho which was remade by director Gus Van Sant in 1998 and stared Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates. After DaVinci finished the Mona Lisa, Rembrandt did not paint his own version. He produced original work. It is not too much for Hollywood directors to show some creativity. If producers are not out spoiling a good film, they are rooting through the refuse pile of old, washed up  and terrible movies. One of the worst films remade was Rollerball. First filmed in 1975, the movie was about a dystopian future where the most popular sport was the violent Rollerball, a bizarre sport that added a motorcycle and the outrageous antics of professional wrestling to a Roller Derby. The film was a complete failure. By some fluke a remake was produced in 2002, and to no surprise the movie tanked. Even video games are being remade. Classic Nintendo 64 game, Golden Eye, was remade for the Wii, and The Legend of Zelda was remade for the Nintendo 3DS. It is cheaper for video game companies to do remakes because much of the groundwork regarding the story is done, and in some cases game play and graphics remain the same. Film companies must also buy into the notion that remakes are economical, but the current trends show that most remakes rarely break even, and most don’t make their budget. The propensity to recycle material found in the entertainment industry is an attempt to be economical. Fans do not want a reprocessed script shot with the newest acting sensation. Their desire is to be more than entertained. The Oscar-winning film The Departed is a remake of a Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, and cult classic The Magnificent Seven is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. These movies are not complete remakes but adaptations. The bottom line in Hollywood is sales. If producers can be...

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