Backstage at the Egyptian: Kerry Devine of Rockstar Roadshow

Interview with Kerry Devine from Rockstar Roadshow

Conducted by Michaela Alcantar

Michaela: What got you on the path of music as a career?

Kerry: I’ve sang in bands as a fun thing to do since I was 16 and I just kept getting more involved as the years went by. I guess the simple answer to how I got started is my discovery of my older brother’s record collection when I was eight years old.

Michaela: What was the progress to get Rockstar Roadshow to where it is today?

Kerry: It became apparent that I was mimicking the singers of these cover songs I was singing. Then I was asked to sing for Kashmir the Led Zeppelin tribute band which required me to wear the Robert Plant costume. I just expanded the idea from there to include other legends of rock that I was already mimicking.

Michaela: What is it like bringing multiple Rock stars into one show?

Kerry: I enjoy the variety it offers me, performing several different personalities in one show. It feels a little dangerous to be making quick costume changes, hoping I get my costume changed in time for the next performance. To me that’s a lot of fun.

Michaela: What is your favorite part of performing in front of an audience?

Kerry: Much of what we do in Rockstar Roadshow performance-wise is organic, the movements of the players on stage. I love it when the rest of the band is into the performance as much as I am, I really feed off that energy and it’s great.

Michaela: Is there anything else you would like to say to those that will be attending the show and to those that haven’t decided yet?

Kerry: Many people think that these personas are being portrayed by multiple people, but really it’s me portraying all the singers and Lenny portraying all the guitar players. And sure, we wear the costumes and we play the songs as best as possible, but what we are really after with Rockstar Roadshow is making the audience feel like they’re at a live show back in the day. It’s that feeling that’s most important. We are playing the songs and recreating the imagery to the degree that we can take you back to a time in your life when this music became a part of your life, for one great night out with your friends!

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Dino-mite Discovery!

Exciting news in the Egyptian Theatre expansion!

During preliminary excavation efforts for the expanded concessions and bathrooms an amazing discovery was made! Fossils!

As rocks were being removed, an eagle-eyed employee noticed some interesting formations on these stones. Upon further investigation it was determined that these formations were actually fossilized dinosaur remains.

The particular dinosaur is believed to be the Quetzalcoatlus, one of the largest species of flying dinosaurs. Two juvenile Quetzalcoatlus are pictured on the marquee to show their scale.

We are very excited to share this discovery of the fossilized Quetzalcoatlus or as their Latin name refers to them, Aprilus Foolus.

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Check out the view from our balcony!

Friday, April 19 at 8 PM

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Backstage at the Egyptian: Willie Armstrong of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers

Interview with Willie Armstrong from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers

Conducted by Michaela Alcantar

Michaela: What got you into music and playing with the Red Hot Chilli Pipers?

Willie: My grandfather played the pipes in the army during the war. He was ferociously proud of his nationality and played them constantly. Apparently the Germans never shot the Pipers as they quite liked the music and they thought (for fairly obvious reasons) that the Pipers were mad. When I was wee, I just fell in love with his music, I often wondered how sometimes it would make me feel melancholy and sometimes I’d be up and dancing around with him even at a very young age. I realize that not everyone will get the sound the bagpipes make and I believe they have to be played really well and tuned really well or it will sound like a cat getting strangled. It’s a very fine line between having your ears murdered and being truly entertained. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers is an extension of the entertainment because I make sure every single band member is a virtuoso musician in their field, on our stage there is absolutely nowhere to hide. 

Michaela: How much work goes into covering a song so that the sounds of bagpipes, tin whistles, bodhrán, and the other instruments work with the original structure of the song?

Willie: You’d be surprised. Again there’s a fine line. You can’t cheapen it by throwing any tune in. That’s basically karaoke bagpipes and that’s far from difficult. You also need to stay true to the tradition so we make it 50/50. Half will be cleverly played recognizable rock tunes and half will be traditional reels, horn pipes and jigs. The set list is constructed in such a way that the audience will be on the edge of their seats from start to finish. 

Michaela: Being well acclaimed worldwide, you’ve had many opportunities to meet a variety of people from everywhere; is there a story of a meeting that still stands out to this day?

Willie: Yes, we were playing a big charity gig in London and all the A-list celebs were there. I was standing with the band but was on my phone to my wife Anna. Because I had my back turned I never realized that Sir Paul McCartney was walking over. Obviously he loves the pipes after Mull of Kintyre and his time spent in Campbeltown. He said to me, who’s that on the phone and I told him, it’s my wife, so he asked to speak to her. Now you really have to put yourself in her shoes because she’s standing doing the ironing in Glasgow and the next minute she’s on the phone to Paul McCartney. He said that he liked her name and that Anna was a Beatles song. She still dines out on that story to this day. 

Michaela: Alongside your charity album, ‘343 The Fallen’, have you taken part of any other charitable events or activates?

Willie: Yes. A lot actually. For my 50th birthday and just before I retired from being a fireman we played a charity concert in Glasgow at a wonderful venue in the city (which ironically burned down); we raised £50,000 and gave it to fire service related charities. I think it’s important to help out where we can. It keeps everyone grounded and humble. 

Michaela: What would you like to say to those that will be attending the show and to those that are still deciding to go or not?

Willie: It’s more than just bagpipes. We have a brilliant lighting technician with us and that adds to the visual aspect. When the bagpipes are being played, they are being played by world class pipers. We always take the audience very seriously and it’s all about them. We never let anyone down; try and catch the show before we’re really massive and the tickets price goes way up.

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Arts Sector Contributed $763.6 Billion to U.S. Economy—More Than Agriculture or Transportation, New Data Shows

The arts and cultural sector contributed over $763.6 billion to the American economy in 2015—more than the agriculture, transportation, or warehousing sectors, according to new U.S. government data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

The arts generated 4.2% of the overall U.S. GDP, with roughly 4.9 million Americans working in the sector in 2015, the latest year for which data is available. Collectively, those employed in the sector earned over $370 billion, according to the findings.

The sector expanded by an average of 2.6% annually between 2012 and 2015, just outpacing the 2.4% growth of the economy overall, according to the report. Between 2014 and 2015, the sector grew at a rate of 4.9% after adjusting for inflation.

“The data confirm that the arts play a meaningful role in our daily lives, including through the jobs we have, the products we purchase, and the experiences we share,” said NEA chairman Jane Chu in a statement.

The economic impact analysis comes as the NEA is facing severe cuts under U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, and one year after the agency staved off the threat of total elimination by his administration.

For industry advocates, the findings underscore the key role of the arts in the American economy. “The U.S. [BEA’s] research makes clear that, if you care about jobs and the economy and infrastructure, you need to care about the arts,” said Robert L. Lynch, the CEO and president of Americans for the Arts, in an emailed statement. “Strategic investment in our arts and cultural organizations is not an extra, it’s a path to prosperity.”

“What’s great about this government report is formal recognition of arts and culture as an industry by the economists of the U.S. government. So in the same way that ‘travel and tourism’ is treated like a real industry, so are the arts,” said Margy Waller, a senior fellow at the research group Topos Partnership, in an email.

The report “clearly demonstrates that the cultural sector is as vital as ever,” said Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner for New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), in an emailed statement.

“The economic impact of culture is one key piece of the argument in support of arts funding, alongside the benefits it brings to individuals and to our communities,” he noted. New York City’s creative sector employed 295,755 people—accounting for 7% of all jobs in the city—in 2013, according to the Center for an Urban Future’s “Creative New York” report.

The new national analysis showed that the arts ran a trade surplus of $21 billion in 2015, meaning that the U.S. exported more cultural products and services than it imported. The film and television industry generated the bulk of that figure, with $17.9 billion in exports. The overall finding is striking given the White House’s stated concern about the U.S. trade deficit, with President Trump ordering new and controversial tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on Thursday.

The 2015 data included detailed state-by-state breakdowns for the first time. New York and California, unsurprisingly, saw the greatest economic impact from the arts, with the sector adding $114.1 billion and $174.6 billion to the two states’ economies, respectively. But the economic impact of the arts is widespread across the country: In Utah, arts and cultural employment grew 5% between 2014 and 2015, outpacing California’s 4.2% and New York’s meager 0.4% growth over the same period. Georgia saw the largest employment bump in the sector, at 5.5% between 2014 and 2015.

Other surprising findings of the state-by-state breakdown include Indiana’s vibrant musical instrument manufacturing industry, the importance of the film industry to Louisiana’s economy, and that in Colorado, arts and culture contributed more to the state’s GDP than mining and transportation, generating $13.7 billion in 2015.

But the largest economic impact nationwide came from the usual suspects: broadcasting, which generated $127 billion in economic activity; followed by the motion-picture industry, which accounted for $99 billion; and non-digital publishing, with $77 billion of economic activity. The “arts-related retail trade”—which includes everything from art galleries to book stores—generated $51 million in 2015. But the arts-related retail trade employed 767,000 people to “provide arts and cultural goods and services,” making it the second-highest-employing industry in the arts and culture sector.

Independent artists, writers, and performers collectively added $22 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015, a figure that saw a 2.8% average annual growth between 2012 and 2015. The industry employed 144,000 people in 2015. Museums generated $5.3 billion in economic activity, with an average growth of 0.8%.

The government (federal, state, and local) also provided a major $101.5 billion boost to the sector, mainly in visual and performing arts education funding, according to the data. “The government’s greatest contribution to arts and cultural production is in educational services, a commodity that describes visual and performing arts education at public primary and secondary schools and at public colleges and universities,” noted the report. The finding highlights that the government funding for the arts extends well beyond the current $149 million budget of the NEA.

While the data will no doubt provide an important talking point as arts advocates again defend the NEA from cuts, there is evidence that the public itself doesn’t respond to the economic analysis the same way. A 2010 study conducted by Topos, the research organization, found that the public is often skeptical of claims regarding art’s economic impact, which they may not see directly themselves.

“While economic data about the arts can be useful when meeting privately with elected decision makers, there’s no evidence that it is persuasive to the general public,” said Waller. Instead of viewing the arts and cultural sector as  an economic commodity, she has argued, it should be thought of and advocated for as a public good benefiting everyone through a ripple effect—extending beyond those who go to cultural events or directly depend on the sector for a job.

Article courtesy of Artsy.net

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