Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Cityscape Presents - 9 May line-up confirmed...

According to Brad B Wood (still love that name!) there is an international flavour to the next Cityscape Presents event here at the Octagon. The night features Denver / Manchester band Blind Atlas and Belgian singer songwriter Maxwell Watts.

Blind Atlas came together through a shared love of drinking , melancholia (probably caused by the shared love of drinking!) and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Comprising Ross Thompson (lead vocals and guitar), Adam Jones (vocals and guitar), Cameron Baxter (vocals and bass) and Christian Jacobs (vocals and drums), Blind Atlas have become familiar faces on the Manchester circuit, notching up headline slots at some of the most iconic venues in the city, as well as supporting the likes of Liam Frost and Detroit's Deadstring Brothers.

One point fans of the band will attest to is their ability to expertly combine the traditional melancholy of the classic Northern sound with the boozy soul of American alternative country. As they themselves put it:

"If we had to describe the type of music we play it would be our own version of alternative country with more of a 21st Century vibe"

And Cameron recently described the sound to one journalist as being "quite a unique conflict of British and American music styles". Hailing from Colorado, front man Ross was quick to inject his own roots into their music, making it more akin to Neil Young than Morrissey. "It's like a melancholic overload! There's this battle of Americana versus Britannia - and it's producing some really amazing music". You can hear what this battle sounds like here.

Support comes from the multi-talented Maxwell Watts and his quartet. Maxwell Watts was born and raised in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. His background is in classical music. His older sister a Mezzo-Soprano Opera singer, his younger sister a cellist and his mother a music and history of art teacher. He moved to Manchester (see there's the local connection!) in the late nineties to study a sound engineering course at Salford University and lived with a group of other musicians and art students from all parts of the globe: Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Nigeria and the US. "the house became a real creative platform with open music jams. Musicians from Salford University would come in and out to join in with the grooves" says Maxwell. From this he went on to form a band, Oddness, and now has a quartet who perform Americana, folk, and jazzy acoustic sounds.

The line-up is completed by Ben McGarvey, a rising talent on the Manchester acoustic circuit whose last album. Too Busy Framing prompted the Manchester Evening News to say: "McGarvey has locked himself away in his bedroom and crafted songs of true otherworldly magic and splendour. Bursting with beautiful acoustic melodies and hooks..."

The night will be compered by comedienne Katie Mulgrew. You can listen to samples of all the acts music or get a free download here.

Brad B Wood, founder of Cityscape Records, said:

"These nights are proving to be a real success with the past three events selling out. This is another quality line-up featuring three acts I'm really happy to have found. I'm sure they'll all go down well with our regular audience."

Thanks to the Arts Council Free Theatre Tickets scheme, there are a limited number of free tickets available, for this event, to those under 26. Contact our Ticket Office (01204 520661) for more details and to book.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Bolton Town Centre events

Although this blog is meant to be about all that is happening at the Octagon I thought I would expand it out a bit and include some of the goings on around the theatre. This weekend the following events will be taking place:

Sat 25 April The Sneakers – comedy musical trio
A blend of foot-stomping rocking renditions with perfectly timed music. A fast-paced show with rock and roll, ballads and 60s and 70s classics that will have you singing, laughing and generally joining in. From 12 noon in Victoria Square

Sun 26 April Local Produce Market
10am – 2pm in Victoria Square

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Oleanna Update

Next up is David Mamet’s Oleanna directed by Iqbal Khan; a play that shocked and divided its audiences at its premiere in the United States in 1992 and later in London. So much so that, apparently, fights broke out in the audiences.

What's it about?
John is a university professor seeking a long-term contract, and Carol his student who, having struggled to get her place is desperate to convince him to change her failing grade. Their relationship unfolds in blistering dialogue and dramatic shifts and leads to Carol accusing John of sexual harassment, which puts his whole academic future and life under threat. What is the truth of these allegations? Who do we believe and who is guilty?

A bit of background...

The British premiere of Oleanna was directed by Harold Pinter and starred David Suchet and Lia Williams at the Royal Court Theatre, 1993. Iqbal Khan worked closely with Pinter in his most recent productions at the National Theatre - Landscape and A Slight Ache. He was also the National Theatre tour director for Rafta Rafta. Oleanna marks his debut at the Octagon; the perfect setting for this gladiatorial contest.

Who is in it?

American actor Colin Stinton plays the role of John. Colin has worked extensively at the Royal National Theatre and has a wealth of television, film and stage acting behind him including his role as the eponymous Edmond in the European Premiere of Mamet’s play, at the Royal Court and Newcastle Playhouse, directed by Sir Richard Eyre. His film credits include Tomorrow Never Dies, The Winslow Boy and The Bourne Ultimatum. You can read an interview with Colin here.

Kosha Engler is Carol. In July, Kosha will appear in Moon Shot, a feature-length TV drama about the Apollo 11 moon landing, directed by Richard Dale for ITV.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Ladies that Lunch

A little while back our very own Head of activ8 Caroline 'Caz' Brader featured on BBC Radio Lancashire's Ladies at Lunch.

She talks about her work with activ8 amongst other things. You can read a bit more about it all here (you have to scroll down to the 4th August) and have a listen too. It sums up nicely what activ8 is all about and Caz always has something interesting and/or amusing to say. Thanks Caz!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Looking for Buddy - film noir!

If you want a sneak preview of what to expect from Looking for Buddy then look no further. As Phil the architect might say 'it's worth investigatin....'

Looking for Buddy - stop press....

It was press night for Looking for Buddy on Friday. If you are feeling a bit gloomy then this show will lift your spirits with some great gags that are beautifully delivered and uplifting songs that are brilliantly comic. Here's what the press are saying:

Mark Babych's slick production comes with a devastatingly downbeat central performance from Tim Healy, while Alan Barnes's brooding score proves that you don't need to be a legendary, LA-based private investigator to be a noir hero. THE GUARDIAN. Read more here...

This latest offering from the Octagon is short and very funny with some great live music and a superb lead performance, which all adds up to a fun night at the theatre that is to be recommended. BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE. Read more here...

The Octagon should be applauded for taking a risk on a brand new musical – something not often seen in regional theatres – and when it’s this much fun, this stands every chance of becoming the next Blood Brothers. WHAT'S ON STAGE. Read more here...

If you are looking for a night out that will make you laugh and a show that will make you tap your feet and clap along then get yourself a ticket for Looking for Buddy as soon as possible. THE PUBLIC REVIEWS. Read more here...

Director Mark Babych has come up with yet another production which is a credit to the Octagon – it’s fantastic that a whole new audience on the other side of the country will have the opportunity to experience it too. UK THEATRE. Read more here...

The laughs come thick and fast in this slick co-production dominated by moody video imagery. A delight from start to knee-kicking finish. THE STAGE. Read more here...

The production and direction are up to the Octagon’s usually high standards. MANCHESTER MUSIC. Read more here...

Friday, 3 April 2009

Looking at photos for Looking for Buddy

Looking for Buddy previewed last night and seems to have gone down a storm. Front of House staff have reported some very positive audience comments and have said there was a definite fizz in the air so it bodes well for press night tonight.

I haven't seen any of this show really since the read through right at the beginning of rehearsals. I have been saving it for tonight so I can also see it for the first time like the audience. Anyway, the production photos from Ian were in my inbox this morning and this has only added to my sense of excitement. It looks great. So if you want a sneaky peek have a look at the photos below..

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Cityscape Presents - 18 April line up confirmed

Breaking news jsut in. I have had confirmation of the line up for the next Cityscape Presents night and it looks pretty sweet. Here are a few reasons why...

Reason 1: Jon Gomm
(hear him here)

There are more than a million reasons why you should catch cult singer-songwriter Jon Gomm on Saturday 18 April. Such is the buzz around his amazing talent with an acoustic guitar that his online videos have been watched by more than a million people and he has won a big European following, playing festivals in cities such as Athens and Rome. The good news for Bolton gig-goers is that they can see what all the fuss is about as he headlines the latest Cityscape Presents showcase night in the intimate surroundings of our Bill Naughton Studio.

Gomm has been playing guitar since the age of two – actually, it was a ukele as his parents couldn’t find a guitar small enough – and it shows. His ability to wrench all sorts of sounds out ofan acoustic guitar – from snare drum, bass drum and bongo sounds to synthesiser-style effects – has had fellow musicians salivating. Blues Matters went as far as to describe him as “the future of acoustic guitar playing” and Acoustic magazine said he was simply “one of the world’smost gifted and inspirational guitar players.” Not bad for a lad from Blackpool. Allied with sparkling melodies and influences from Robert Johnson to Radiohead, it’s no surprise Gomm’s debut album Hypertension has sold thousands of copies by word of mouth alone.

Reason 2: Viva Superlux
(hear them here)

Support comes from upbeat pop act Viva Superlux. Founder members and lifelong buddies John A Stewart and Jim Smith have a history gigging together stretching back two decades, playing on the Manchester scene with bands such as Schmod and Frantik. Their latest band Viva Superlux show that their musical chemistry remains. With the addition of talented drummerMatt Maher, the three-piece produce quirky pop which has been compared to everyone from The Lightning Seeds, Dodgy and the Housemartins to The Beatles and The Foo Fighters. Both Stewart and Maher form the backline of Merchandise, another Cityscape band, and whose latest single Listen Up! has recently earned airplay on Radio One.

Reason 3: Emily Cooke
(hear her here)

The line-up is completed by Emily Cooke, a rising talent on the Bolton acoustic circuit whose songwriting has drawn comparisons with Joni Mitchell.

Reason 4: Lou Conran

Cityscape Presents favourite comedienne Lou Conran is back by popular demand to perform compere duties for the third time.

Brad B Wood, founder of Cityscape Records, said:

“The response to previous Cityscape Presents nights has shown that there’s a real appetite in Bolton and beyond for top quality live music. These evenings offer a chance to see some of the north’s brightest talents in intimate surroundings. The last event sold out quickly so if you like the sound of it, I’d advise you to get your tickets before it’s too late.”

Thanks to an Arts Council fiunded scheme, there are a limited number of free tickets available to under 26s - contact the Octagon Ticket Office for details. Or click here for more information.

Future Cityscape Presents nights will take place on 9th May and 20th June.