Month: December 2018

Review: Bettman and Halpin – Christmas is a Funny Thing

headerBy Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin have a well-earned reputation for delivering a quality show.  During the Bettman and Halpin Christmas is a Funny Thing holiday concert, the duo kept the audience riveted with songs, storytelling and fantastic fiddle playing.  The duo appeared to be having a great time performing and this enthusiasm affected the audience.   They both have an easy, mellow way about them.  They created a relaxed, homey feeling in the audience.

Christmas is a Funny Thing was a combination of well known, traditional Christmas tunes performed by Bettman and Halpin and original music written by Bettman and Halpin.  Some of the traditional songs performed included Drummer Boy,” “Blue Christmas,” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”  Some of the original songs written by Bettman and Halpin included “Fruitcake for All Seasons” and “We’ll Miss You Mama.”  Ms. Bettman told the story of how she was inspired for each song she wrote.

The duo also performed some songs from their soon to be released CD.  Ms. Bettman wrote and sang a song titled “White Rose.”  The inspiration of this song is based on the Cherokee Nation’s Trail of Tears.  I believe most of the audience felt the sorrow in this song.  As I said before, Ms. Bettman tells great stories through her songs.  I can’t wait for the CD to come out!

Stephanie Bettman is an all-around entertainer.  Not only can she sing with a clear, smooth voice but she writes her own songs and plays the fiddle like no one I have ever heard.  She comes across as a regular person with the keen ability of telling stories through songs.

Luke Halpin is the jokester of the group.  He wore reindeer antlers when the show opened then changed into a “naughty” Santa hat later.  He made funny faces, comments, and gestures.  He is a gifted mandolin player.  During this performance he played several different instruments, including the mandolin, and played each instrument expertly.  The audience kept their eyes on this funny man, not knowing what was coming next.

The stage was decorated in festive Christmas decorations.  The atmosphere was relaxed, fun and a great way to prepare for the holiday season.   Bettman and Halpin included the audience in many of their Christmas songs.  These sing a-longs created a warmer holiday feeling in the audience.

The rest of the quartet for this program were local performers.  Bettman and Halpin, the bass player, and drummer only met for the first time the day before the program.  No one would have known this group had not been playing together for years.

The bass player Alex Goldberg is a graduate from University of Colorado Denver with a B.S. in Bass Performance.  He has several years of experience performing in many different venues.  He is currently performing with the local band Chris Daniels and the Kings.

Ryan Elwood is also a local performer.  He has performed with several different bands, including Adrienne O and the Austin Young Band.  He has played at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Gothic Theater.  He also teaches private lessons.

Bettman and Halpin: Christmas is a Funny Thing was a very entertaining show.  I recommend that you try to see this group the next time they come to town.  At the very least pick up their CD.  You won’t be disappointed.

Preview: Home for the Holidays

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THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

For many people in the Greater Denver area, the Christmas season doesn’t begin until the Lone Tree Art’s Center’s annual Home for the Holidays, with performances beginning Wednesday, December 19 and continuing until Sunday, December 23, 2018. Tickets are on sale now for both matinee and evening performances.

Home for the Holidays is an original production in collaboration with Chris Starkey of Imprint Group that brings together local performers for a spectacular show featuring traditional and modern holiday songs, stunning dance numbers, comedy skits, and good old-fashioned, family-friendly fun. Nearly 50 beautifully costumed performers will create a visually impressive extravaganza of holiday cheer for audiences of all ages.

Whether you are a long-time attendee or creating a new tradition with your family, Home for the Holidays is sure to delight and surprise you with a fresh new show this year. You may even catch a glimpse of the jolly old man himself! It’s the perfect time to remind yourself that there truly is no place like home.

Tickets for Home for the Holidays are on sale now from $36 to $63 and can be purchased online, in person, or over the phone at 720-509-1000. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

 

Click here to watch a preview video of the show!

Preview: Bettman & Halpin: Christmas is a Funny Thing

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By Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin are singers, song writers and all around entertainers. They are known for their original Folk/Americana performances. Their concerts consist of high- energy, up beat bluegrass/roots songs and beautiful ballads most of which they have written themselves. They have become known for their story telling through music and playful banter. They describe their music as “rootsy” springing from the traditions of American blues, jazz and folk music. Bettman and Halpin started touring in 2008 and incorporated a trio and quartet in 2013.

Stephanie Bettman is an accomplished song writer, singer and also an outstanding fiddle player. She has been compared to Joan Baez and Emmylou Harris. Her fiddle playing has been inspired by Stephane Grappelli, Byron Berline and Johnny Gimble. Ms. Bettman is a former actress and trapeze artist. She is classically trained in opera, violin, and voice. She studied at the Oberlin Conservatory.

Luke Halpin is a multi-talented performer with the ability to play several instruments. These instruments include guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo and almost any other instrument he decides to play. He is also a vocalist and is able to blend perfect harmonies with Ms. Bettman. Luke has a long history is show business. He once shared the stage with Merle Haggard, Lone Star, and The Steve Miller Band. His quirky sense of humor rounds out his talents as an entertainer. Halpin grew up in South Pasadena, and is self-taught.

Bettman and Halpin have earned several awards and competitions including: Grand Prize Winners in the So Cal Live Acoustic Music Competition and the winners in Southern California’s Topanga Banjo/Fiddle Contest. They have twice been a featured act at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS along with Byron Berline, Michael Martin Murphy, Pat Flynn, and Tommy Emmanuel.

Phil Norman is another member of the group. Phil is cello player described as “playing the cello with a modern flare” (Marquee Magazine, January 2013). He is classically trained with a degree from the University of Colorado. He has created his own sound with alternative styles of playing the cello. Phil has been playing with Bettman and Halpin since 2013. He has performed concerts in the United States, Italy, and Australia, and has appeared on stage with composer and pianist Carter Pann, guitarist Grant Gordy, and Bonnie Carol, and was a featured artist for TEDxBoulder.

Carl Sorensen is one of Denver’s own. He joined Bettman and Halpin in 2013. He has played all over the country including Red Rocks Amphitheater. He has been compared to Ringo Starr and Levon Helm. Carl has played in more than 65 bands at the same time! He is very energetic and will bring this energy to the show.

Bettman & Halpin will perform a holiday show for the entire family titled “Christmas is a Funny Thing.” The duo will sing traditional holiday classics, several of their own originals, and share stories and songs about the ups and downs and sideways events of this holiday season.

Save the date: December 9, 2018 at the Lone Tree Arts Center at 7:00 pm

Tickets Available Here

Review: The Doo Wop Project Christmas

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By Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

If you did not attend The Doo Wop Project Christmas at the Lone Tree Arts Center, you missed an outstanding performance by a very talented group. The Doo Wop Project Christmas consists of five Broadway Stars that love Doo Wop and want to share the sounds of yesterday with the new sounds of today. They reimagined traditional Christmas songs with the sounds of Doo Wop as well as performing “oldies but goodies” that we all recognize still today.

The show opened with some of the members of The Doo Wop Project coming out from the back of the audience to approach the stage. Other members of the group came from behind the stage and the side doors. The group appeared in classy red satin jackets. The audience, young and old, instantly responded to the group. These five talented stars connected with the audience from their first musical notes and kept the audience engaged until the final curtain.

The opening number was a lively, fast, paced Christmas song with Dominic Scaglione taking the lead. Dominic is well known for his role as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. Several “older” women in the audience were whistling and hollering like school girls at a concert when he sang. They obviously loved what they were hearing.

The show also included Doo Wop-inspired songs such as Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” Many traditional Christmas songs were included. Songs like “White Christmas,” “This Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and even “Dominic the Donkey.” The group performed a very special song called “Doo Wop Christmas” which was originally performed by Kenny Vance and the Planotones.

The Doo Wop Project is supported by a very talented five-piece band. Each band member performed a solo which included a sax player, drums, bass and lead guitars and the piano. This group may be in the background but they made the whole experience very special.

The Doo Wop Project members have some deep roots in Doo Wop. During the program each member was introduced to the audience and they told their stories on how they got to be The Doo Wop Project. Many members of the group have relatives that were involved in the early stages of Doo Wop. The Doo Wop Project brings these experiences and talents as well as knowledge from experiences from their childhood to the stage today to perform Doo Wop inspired songs for audiences everywhere.

The music supervisor is Sonny Paladino (piano player). He has an impressive portfolio of credits. Sonny was the music supervisor for the Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, and he is the music director for the upcoming Broadway show Smokey Joe’s Café. During the show, he interacted with The Doo Wop Project group and everyone could tell he was enjoying what he does.

Dwayne Cooper is said to be the modern day Sammy Davis Jr. His voice is a very unique deep bass which the audience just loved. He brings dancing, singing and pure entertainment to the stage. He is very funny and full of energy. He went out into the crowd and had every one on their feet singing and dancing.

Charl Brown whose credits include portraying Smokey Robinson in Motown: The Musical, captivated the audience with his rich voice and natural charisma. Charl brought us back in time when he sang. He has several credits to his name including a Tony Award for the Best Featured Actor in a Musical on Broadway.

Dominic Nolfi, is also a member of the original cast of Motown: The Musical. Dominic is handsome, charming and has a very rich smooth voice. Dominic is one of the founding members of The Doo Wop Project.

Russell Fischer has a wide range singing voice. He is able to sing from tenor to falsetto. He is best known for his part in Jersey Boys as Joe Pesci. He has been the understudy for the role of Frankie Valli for over 6 years. He is very fun to watch and listen to. Frankie Valli seems to be on stage when Russell is singing.

The Doo Wop Project attempts to bridge the generation gap. Most of us grew up dancing to the radio with our parents and grandparents to Doo Wop. The sounds of Doo Wop will really never grow old. Together these talented people have what it takes to entertain young and old alike. If you get the chance to see and hear The Doo Wop Project, I recommend it. You will be glad you did.