Arts and Culture

Word of Mouth
8:56 am
Wed September 4, 2013

The Supercali-Weird World Of Disney Superfans

Yes, there are Disney cosplayers, too!
Credit kndynt2099 via Flickr Creative Commons

You don’t have to be a geek to know about the San Diego Comic Con, the annual convention that attracts celebrities, industry big-wigs, and fanboys and girls dressed as their favorite comic book superhero or villain.  

In Annaheim, California this August, thousands of costumed super-fans descended on another massive expo… some decked out as superheroes, but more princesses, pirates, mermaids and mice.

The D23 Expo is a bi-annual celebration of all things Disney.  Jordan Zakarin is Entertainment Reporter for Buzzfeed, where we found his exploration of the peculiar brand of obsession that sets Disney super-fans apart. 

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Word of Mouth
2:04 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Musician Gary Burton: Learning To Listen

Credit Via Photobrew

Gary Burton was thirteen when he first heard jazz. By then, he’d been playing the marimba for seven years, and had toured around his home state of Indiana with his siblings. “The Burton Family” band came apart shortly after Gary heard Benny Goodman’s band playing a song called  "After You’ve Gone."

That song helped launch a career that has spanned the globe, the decades, collaborations with musicians from Chick Corea to Stan Getz to Astor Piazolla, and originated what’s called the "Burton Grip," playing the vibraphone holding two mallets in each hand.

Now 70, Gary Burton is a seven-time Grammy award winner. He’s the former Executive Vice-President at Berklee College of Music and has spent the majority of his life playing and teaching jazz. Burton has a new album, called "Guided Tour," and a new autobiography called, Learning to Listen: The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton.

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Word of Mouth
10:58 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Great (And Famous!) Artists Who Kept Their Day Jobs

Poet T.S. Eliot was also a banker!
Credit Courtesy The Poetry Foundation

Minimalist composer Philip Glass is widely acknowledged as one of the late 20th Century’s most influential music-makers.  He’s worked with artists, musicians and filmmakers from David Bowie to Woody Allen, and famously collaborated with theater director Robert Wilson on the landmark opera “Einstein on the Beach” in 1976. Even after “Einstein,” Glass didn’t quit his day job as a New York cabby and some-time plumber…he was once called to install a dishwasher at the SoHo loft of a very shocked Robert Hughes, who was then the art critic for Time.

Here to talk about some other famous artists who stayed in their workaday jobs even after making their mark as an artist. Clay Wirestone, Arts Editor for the Concord Monitor and contributor to Mental Floss.

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Word of Mouth
2:16 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Abigail Washburn

Credit http://www.abigailwashburn.com

Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck are a banjo playing husband and wife duo. Bela,  a fifteen time Grammy winning virtuoso on the instrument plays "Scruggs Style". Abigail  plays "Clawhammer" and sings…together they whip their respective styles into intricate music that sounds big and new. We asked Abigail Washburn about her peculiar journey into music and life on the road with her family. The duo will be at The Music Hall in Portsmouth tomorrow night.

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Word of Mouth
9:35 am
Tue August 27, 2013

The Music Genre 'Americana' Is Predominantly White And Male, But Why?

Wilco at Paradiso in the Netherlands in 2009.
Credit Guus Krol via flickr Creative Commons

Not so long ago, “Americana” was the term for rusty milk jugs, embroidered pillows and souvenir spoon collections found at antique stores. In the mid-1990s, it became the nickname for the rootsy, twangy, weather-beaten music of bands like Uncle Tupelo, Alison Krauss, and a man who embodies rebellion against the country music establishment…Johnny Cash. Americana stalwarts like Wilco, Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch and the big-selling collaboration of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant revived the music of an America that was appealing to boomers and those to the left of the “real” America celebrated by conservatives.

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Word of Mouth
1:37 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Joyce Maynard: "The Word Most Consistently Used Is 'Shameless'"

Credit Courtesy JoyceMaynard.com

Say the name "Joyce Maynard" and you’re likely to get some pretty visceral reactions…from those who’ve admired her career since her time as a reporter for the New York Times and her later syndicated column “Domestic Affairs,” and from her detractors…those who are critical of her relentless self-examination and her revelations about her relationship with J.D. Salinger. Salinger was living as a recluse in Cornish, New Hampshire when he began exchanging letters with Maynard after reading an article she wrote as a freshman at Yale. She dropped out of college and moved in with Salinger. She was eighteen…Salinger was 53.

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Word of Mouth
11:16 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Parma Music Festival Offers Something For Everyone

Credit Eric Schwortz Photography via Flickr Creative Commons

Contemporary music, local and international acts, ten concerts, seven venues and three days of music…that’s the promise of the Parma Music Festival that begins Aug. 14 and runs through the 17 in Portsmouth.  Music fans can hear world musicians, hometown artists, classical, contemporary and chamber music alike; music for film, electronica, SCI panel discussions, a kid’s concert… and many of these events are free!  Dipping into this all you can eat buffet of music is Bob Lord. We guarantee that listeners will have heard his theme for NHPR’s “The Exchange” and his clever covers of thematic songs as leader of Dreadnaught, the house band for our Writers on a New England Stage series.  He now wears his other hat as CEO of Parma, and the keynote speaker for the festival.

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Word of Mouth
10:43 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Apollo 13 Comes Safely To New Hampshire

Todd Bookman

“Houston, we have a problem!”

Tom Hanks’ famous line as astronaut and Apollo 13 Flight Commander Jim Lovell has become an emblem of a dramatic slice of American history.  Now, a youth theater in Wilton is bringing Apollo’s big drama to a much smaller stage.

Actors age 8 to 18 will be taking on deep-space, mission-control and an iffy re-entry in Apollo 13, an original musical opening tomorrow night at Andy’s Summer Playhouse. NHPR’s Todd Bookman sat in on rehearsals, and produced this audio postcard.

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Word of Mouth
9:41 am
Thu August 8, 2013

The City Dark

(Photo by Dave Dehetre via Flickr)

PBS is hosting an encore broadcast of the documentary The City Dark. The film, part of the POV series, will be airing on August 12. Last year we spoke with director Ian Cheney about light pollution and the development of the film. Here is our conversation with him after the debut of the documentary last summer.

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Word of Mouth
9:26 am
Thu August 8, 2013

West Coast Conductor Donato Cabrera Makes Music In New Hampshire

Donato Cabrera is the music director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, music director of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, and most recently, the director of music for the New Hampshire Music Festival.  The six-week celebration of classical and chamber music performed each summer at the Silver Center at Plymouth State University is coming to a close on Aug. 16.  Back in June, Virginia Prescott spoke with Donato Cabrera about his work and the then upcoming festival.

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Word of Mouth
3:52 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Playing Pac Man In The Library

Credit medium.com

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, younger patrons don’t use libraries only as a place to study, they also go there to “hang out” in place that feels calm. It’s a little less serene at the Chattanooga Public Library.  Justin Hoenke is the teen librarian there...we were a little stunned to find an article Justin wrote called “Why I bought an original 1981 Ms. Pac Man Arcade machine for my library”

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Word of Mouth
11:56 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Of Dice And Men: Dungeons & Dragons And The People Who Play It

Credit via ofdiceandmen.com

Recounting his relationship with Dungeons and Dragons, David Ewalt writes, “I don’t know if I played D&D because other kids my age thought I was a nerd, or if they thought I was a nerd because I played D&D.”  The progenitor of many of today’s role-playing games has gained a reputation for attracting social outcasts and misfits and as a gateway for teenage boys to consider Satan and suicide. Like millions of kids who played twenty-side die in basements and game rooms across the country, Ewalt grew up…and had less time for a game that could suck up the idle hours of youth. He’s among those picking up the old dice bag for a D&D revival. David Ewalt is now an editor for Forbes, and author of the new book Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons and Dragons and the People Who Play It. It hits stores August 20th.

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Word of Mouth
11:11 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Drugs, Murder, And Music: The Narco-Corrido

Chris Valdes and Ted Griswold
Credit Chris Valdes and Ted Griswold via Kickstarter

Los Tigres del Norte’s 1972 breakthrough hit, “Contrabando y Traicion” – is a song which, despite its cheery tone and instrumentation, tells the dark tale of two lovers trafficking marijuana in the tires of their car…a story that ends in betrayal and murder.   The song is what is called a “narco-corrido”, or drug ballad.  After returning from a two-year stint teaching grade-school in one of the most dangerous parts of Honduras, Ted Griswold and Chris Valdes find themselves wanting to return… they’re raising funds on Kickstarter for a documentary film about Honduras’ most famous underground drug-ballad band, Los Plebes de Olancho.

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Word of Mouth
8:54 am
Thu August 1, 2013

A Plot Twist We All Saw Coming: Writers Like Alcohol

Credit tout_moi via Flickr Creative Commons

The notion that the creative muse can be found in booze is as old as the ancient Greek myths. Literary genius, unlocked by alcohol, is part of the legend of Tennessee Williams, F Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Dylan Thomas and countless other sodden successes. Many of whom we imagine at the typewriter in a sepia-toned, romantic haze, rather than embarrassing themselves, sloppy, or shaking with DTs. 'Why do writers drink?'  wondered Blake Morrison  -- himself a poet – author and professor of creative and life writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. He’s also a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, who wrote about why …and how…writers drink for The Guardian.

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Word of Mouth
8:53 am
Thu August 1, 2013

The Lack Of Diversity In Children's Books

Credit rbrucemontgomery via Flickr Creative Commons

Children’s books are delightful, colorful, and whimsical ways to introduce children to reading. Although parents may find it a wee bit annoying to repeat the same stories night after night, reading to kids is crucial to healthy childhood development and helps form their vision of a world outside of their own. A study released last year found that children’s books are woefully under-representative of cultural diversityJason Boog is editor of the publishing website GalleyCat – he’s working on a book about reading to kids, and has been keeping an eye on content for kids.

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