Tag Archive | "whbpac"

Lewis Black Brings His Pissed Off Optimism to Westhampton Beach

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Lewis Black

Lewis Black

By Dawn Watson

Acerbic, opinionated and frequently profane, Lewis Black might not be for fence sitters or the faint of heart. But for the people who love to laugh at the absurdities of life, he’s the comedic king of blistering social and political commentary.

Addressing hot topics such as mental health care, the NRA, activism, social media and fiscal entitlement, the two-time Grammy Award-winner and creator of the “Back in Black” commentary segment on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” will not shy away from what he sees as the problems facing the world today during his “The Rant is Due Part Deux” stand-up routine at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 27. There, he’ll share his opinions, and hear those of East Enders, via a new, live interactive portion of the performance at the end of the night.

“It’ll be upbeat, happy, optimistic, joyous, almost Christian-like,” he joked during a telephone interview last week.

Since his tour schedule includes approximately 200 gigs a year, the comedian’s set list is fairly fluid, he said. It also promises to be peppered with tales of his experiences on the road, he reported during a brief stay between shows at his Manhattan home. And of course, since the performance will be here in the Hamptons, he’ll be sure to share his opinions about the 1 percent.

“They know what the score is,” the prolific and successful comic, actor, playwright and best-selling author said of high earners. “I know what the score is. I know that we have an advantage. It’s as simple as that.”

When it comes to philanthropy, the Yale Drama School graduate puts his money where his mouth is. A staunch believer in giving back, he supports a slate of charitable organizations, including the 52nd Street Project, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Autism Speaks, Wounded Warriors, the USO and The Brady Center. He is also heavily involved in the Ron Black Memorial Scholarship Fund, created for his late brother, the Rusty Magee Clinic for Families and Health and a slew of other education and arts programs. Additionally, he’s lending his name and the weight of his support to Flushing-based Vassilaros & Sons coffee company, which he says is “a miracle in a cup.”

The comedian is helping his friend John Vassilaros to put out a signature coffee line, the proceeds of which will benefit veterans, Black reported. After the point was made that it might seem ironic that he of the exaggeratedly tightly wound persona is the voice for a coffee company, he laughed.

“Works for me,” he said.

Paradoxically, the passionately outraged performer, who calls himself more “pissed-off optimist than mean-spirited curmudgeon” is also quite popular in animated television shows and films. He’s voiced characters on the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated” and “The Penguins of Madagascar,” among others. His latest role is that of the emotion Anger in the upcoming Pixar film “Inside Out,” which also stars the voice talents of Diane Lane, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling. Working with Pixar, he said, “was one of the greatest experiences of my life.” Black’s next voice role is in Pixar’s animated “Rock Dog” with Luke Wilson, J.K. Simmons and Eddie Izzard.

Splitting his downtime between homes in Manhattan and North Carolina—where he earned his undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina—the comic relishes his days off the road, he said. Traveling half the year via tour bus for work is one thing, he added, but making the nearly 100-mile schlep out to the Hamptons regularly is an entirely different undertaking.

“It’s just too far. How do people do it?,” he griped.

Trekking out to the Hamptons every weekend is definitely not for Black. Instead of participating in the hours-long traffic nightmare, he’s come up with his own solution that makes a lot more sense for New Yorkers who miss the ocean.

“They should just take sand and spread it around on Park Avenue and the Upper East Side and the let people sit out on their beach chairs so they don’t have to drive around for 2 hours,” he said, adding that he sympathizes with year-round East Enders, who should put up blockades to keep the seasonal crowds out. “I really don’t know how you guys allow it,” he said of the massive summer influx.

And though he did admit to enjoying a visit to Sag Harbor every once in a while, the comedian said he plans to stay put in New York City. If not for his peace of mind, then for his career.

“Sag Harbor is beautiful and serene,” he said. “I couldn’t live there though. I wouldn’t get anything done.”

Lewis Black will bring “The Rant is Due Part Deux” to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 27 at 8 p.m.  Tickets are $95, $125 and $150 and are available online at www.whbpac.org. 

Scars on 45 Returns to WHBPAC

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So45 - Press Photo 2

As a part of the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) Breakout Artist Series, and in partnership with WEHM 96.9, British indie rock quartet, Scars on 45, will return to the center this Friday at 8 p.m.

Scars on 45 brings an alt-rock, melodic pop sound, combining the big guitar rock of Oasis with the melodic, country-influenced sound of Fleetwood Mac. Formed in Bradford, Yorkshire around 2007, Scars on 45 began as a duo after former football-mates, singer/songwriter Danny Bemrose and bassist Stuart Nichols, started writing songs together. Eventually the band expanded to include keyboardist David Nowakowski, vocalist Aimee Driver, and drummer Chris Durling. While the group developed a local following, it wasn’t until their song “Beauty’s Running Wild” was used in a 2009 episode of the CBS television drama “CSI: New York” that Scars on 45 caught the attention of the wider music industry. In 2011, buoyed by that success and a record deal with the Chop Shop label, Scars on 45 released two EPs, including “Give Me Something” and “Heart on Fire,” the latter’s title cut appeared on the “Grey’s Anatomy, Vol. 4 soundtrack”. A year later, the band released their self-titled debut album featuring the single “Heart on Fire.” In 2014, Scars on 45 returned with their sophomore full-length album, “Safety in Numbers,” featuring the single, “Crazy for You.”

Scars on 45 will perform at the WHBPAC, 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach, on Friday, February 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available at whbpac.org.


Coming Home to the Wallflowers

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web Wallflowers

By Emily J Weitz

Jakob Dylan was born to write songs, and he has just whipped up his first new batch in seven years. The Wallflowers are on their way to Westhampton Beach fresh out of the studio, having just completed their new album. After the independent journeys each of them has taken since their last collaboration, Dylan says coming back together feels a lot like coming home.

“We needed time off,” says Dylan, “and everyone picked up a lot of knowledge along the way. It [playing together] gets better and better.”

When the Wallflowers first got together, they were in their early 20s. They were ambitious, and they saw their high aspirations come to fruition in the mid-90s with some hit songs like “One Headlight” and “6th Avenue Heartache”.

“But ambition can’t do it alone,” says Dylan. “When you’re new to it, things are simpler. Things get complicated along the way and that’s important and you pick up information; but then you realize things were right at the beginning. We had it right the first time around.”

The fluctuation between the members’ solo careers and their collaborations is essential to their success, Dylan says.

“I have these two roles,” he says, “and I’m lucky to do both. I always hoped I could do both. There’s something I can do with the Wallflowers that I can’t do on my own.”

Whether he’s on his own, or frontman for the Wallflowers, Dylan is writing songs. Sometimes it’s a lyric that starts the process, and other times it’s the melody.

“You find a hook,” says Dylan, “and then, it’s a free-for-all. You don’t always know. I suppose a lot of ideas get right past you. But sometimes something hits you on the head. There’s an undefined quality that songwriters are always looking for. When something is rich and special, it’ll knock you on the head, and you’ll know.”

Dylan says that his songwriting is not a kind of catharsis, nor is his playing. But his music does come from a place that’s genuine.

“I take real life situations and turn them into straight fiction,” he says. “I don’t think cathartic materials make great songs, but you can’t write songs from a meaningless place. I don’t tend to work my issues out through music… I am a fan of completely nonsensical songwriting and stuff that’s poignant. I think there’s room for all of it.”

Whether he’s writing for his solo career or for his group collaborations helps to define the sound of the song.

“There are personalities in a group,” he says, “and you work within the parameters of what you do best. It’s different doing a solo record than doing a band record. I’m glad to be back with the band because everyone is able to contribute so much. It’s teamwork, where solo records bring a lot of solitude.”

As the Wallflowers emerge from the studio, don’t expect their sound to be packaged or tidy. According to Dylan, live performance is completely unrelated to the kind of music that comes out of the studio.

“Going to the studio is what gives you the material to go out to do what musicians are really meant to do. Live shows are where you live and breathe. That’s why, with the availability of music today, live shows are not in trouble. You can’t reproduce a show. And in this business, it’s not about producing records. It’s about playing shows.”

At his concerts, Dylan has seen the spectrum of fans, from those sitting quietly, intently listening to the lyrics, to those up and dancing their faces off.

“Any which way they come is good for me,” he says. “There isn’t a fan that’s more important than the other.”

Their upcoming performance at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (whbpac.org) is towards the beginning of the Wallflowers’ first tour in years, and they’ll be playing brand new songs off their upcoming album (which will be released in the fall).

“The band is feeling stronger than it ever has,” says Dylan, “and we’re anxious. It’s been a while since we’ve had a new record and we’re excited to get out there and start playing… I’m grateful we can come back together and do this thing only we can do.”