Concert Review: Julien Baker and Tancred

“Julien Baker Spring Tour 2018”

Julien Baker, Tancred
Friday, April 13th, 2018
Hangar Theater, Ithaca, NY

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Singer/Songwriter Julien Baker made a stop in the bustling college town of Ithaca, NY on April 13th for a sold out performance at the intimate Hangar Theater. This would be her first time performing in Ithaca as a headlining act having only previously played the area as an opener for The Decembrists. Baker proved she was up to the task and had the capacity crowd wanting even more by the end of the evening.

Opening up the night was former Now, Now guitarist Jess Abbott and her group Tancred. The group quickly worked through a brief, upbeat set which included songs from the bands four album catalog including songs from their latest release “Nightstand”. The packed house was appreciative of the set and thanked the musicians with a wave of applause as they left the stage. After a brief intermission Julien Baker took the stage opening the night with the song “Over” from her album 2017 release “Turn Out the Lights”. The somber instrumental quickly gave way to songs like “Appointments”, “Funeral Pyre” and “Sprained Ankle” which received a large applause from the crowd. Baker captivated the crowd with her soft spoken demeanor and breathy delivery which acted as the foundation for songs such as “Happy To Be Here” a number which almost brought the singer to tears. Later on in the set Baker was accompanied by violinist Camille Faulkner on a hand full of songs including “Even” “Vessels” and, “Sour Breath” before closing out the night with the sounds of “Something” from Julien’s debut album “Sprained Ankle.

To find a musician that can write captivating lyrics and instrumentation is a rarity unto itself however, when you find an artist who is then able to transfer that power and emotion into a live setting with just a guitar, piano and their voice that for me puts the artist on a completely different level. Julien Baker is one of those musicians. From the moment she took the stage to the time she left Julien’s performance took listeners to another place. Equally as powerful as her recordings Baker did what is sometimes unattainable for lesser performers. On this night in Ithaca, NY concert goes got not only a break from the often bitter early spring weather but a chance sit back and enjoy a really great evening of music. For those of you in areas where Julien may be performing I highly encourage you to attend as you surely will not be disappointed.

Set List:
1.) Over
2.) Appointments
3.) Turn Out the Lights
4.) Funeral Pyre
5.) Rejoice
6.) Sprained Ankle
7.) Happy To Be Here
8.) Red Door
9.) Blacktop
10.) Everybody’s Does
11.) Even
12.) Vessels
13.) Sour Breath
14.) Televangelist
15.) Hurt Less
16.) Something

Troy Baker talks about video games, voice acting and “Mythos” concert

Troy Baker is one of most well known voice actors in the business. He is known for his roles as Booker DeWitt in “BioShock Infinite”, Joel in “The Last of Us”, Kanji Tatsumi in “Persona 4”, Pain in “Naruto Shippuden”, Hawkeye & Loki in “Avengers Assemble” and The Joker in “Batman: Arkham Origins” and “Batman: Assault on Arkham”. In conjunction with New York Comic Con 2014 and the first annual New York Super Week Festival, Tina Guo will be performing as a guest artist in MYTHOS! A thrilling and unique concert experience, MYTHOS, showcases great music from across the spectrum of modern orchestral genres – inclusive of music from the concert stage, television and film, and video games – featuring the all-star orchestra The Third Estate, conducted by Grammy Award nominee, Austin Wintory, composer of Journey, as well as vocalists from Choral Chameleon.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your involvement with “Mythos” video game concert?
Troy Baker: This counts as a win in my book for social media and for the community of gamers. I was a fan of Journey and especially the music. I reached out to Austin Wintory to compliment him not only on his amazing score but also his subsequent success. That began a long Twitter conversation back and forth about games and how we should collaborate on something musically. Also, competitive cat pictures might have been involved. This happened over at least a year and has culminated into this amazing event.

MG: What do you think that video game music is so important to its fans?
TB: The entire soundscape of a game plays such an integral part in the overall interactive experience. The same is true with movies. Dramatic moments are supported by a musical movement. Games are no different. Everyone can hum the underground tune from Mario Bros, some of us can hum selected themes from Final Fantasy of Metal Gear. What we’ve seen recently is how these thematic musical elements play such a crucial element, almost a character in these games. The main theme and even all the music from The Last of Us is a perfect example of this. Look how much of a role the music in Bioshock Infinite played in the overall experience!

MG: You have voiced many great video games including “Persona 4”, “Diablo III” and upcoming “Batman: Arkham Knight”; what do you enjoy most about video games?
TB: First and foremost I love being a part of making something that I’m going to geek out over later. As a gamer, I get to experience these games on two completely different levels and both are equally magical, first as an actor, then as a player. There’s not too many jobs that can boast that kind of benefit. I love that in the gamespace some no name kid from Texas can be a “leading man” in a huge franchise and maintain some anonymity that allows me to hide behind the character. I always want the role I am playing to take center stage, not me.

MG: Ranging from anime to video games; which is more challenging to work in?
TB: Both have their intrinsic challenges and each job requires a certain skill set. I view myself as a carpenter. I come into every job with my toolbox and I pull out the necessary tool for the job. At it’s root, however, everything I do has a foundation in just being an actor. Sometimes you’ll only use your voice and allow the animators to interpret your performance, others the onus is on you to present that character soup to nuts in your performance.

MG: How was it taking on the role of such an iconic character as The Joker in “Batman: Assault on Arkham”?
TB: In a single word: “humbling”. I grew up on Batman. It was my first comic I ever purchased. I’ve seen everyone from Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and, of course, Mark Hamill portray that role. To in any way be counted among those people, to have stepped into those shoes in any way, is an honor. I would rush home from school to make sure I caught Batman: The Animated Series on TV. Which to me, changed mover animation and how we tell a story in that medium. That show is unparalleled. To be directed by Andrea Romano was nothing short of a dream come true.

MG: What was the best part of getting to voice both Hawkeye and Loki in “Avengers Assemble”?
TB: The fact that they let me! I was cast as Loki first and really thought I would be recast as soon as I was cast in Avengers Assemble as Hawkeye. I’ve always loved Hawkeye, especially after The Ultimates series, because you got to see him as just a guy. Not a superhero with crazy powers, but just someone who is really REALLY good at what they do and can fight shoulder to shoulder along side a god, a gamma freak and a billionaire in an iron suit.

MG: Tell us about your first solo album “Sitting in the Fire”?
TB: It’s been such a labor of love. Some of these songs have been gestating for almost 10 years, waiting for the right time, right place. We finally found both. Our producer, Johnny What, our engineer and mixer Rob King and I, along with our musicians went up into the mountains of Big Bear, California with almost a half a million dollars in gear and tracked this record in an amazing cabin. It was a truly remarkable experience. Death bed moment for me. I’m proud and excited that the album is finally coming out. It’ll be available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and all digital retailers as well as an actual “digital LP” physical copy in select stores October 14th.

Charles Baker talks about playing Skinny Pete in AMC’s “Breaking Bad”

Charles Baker plays the role of Skinny Pete in the popular AMC series “Breaking Bad”. The show is now in its 5th and final season and Charles took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Media Mikes about his experiences working on the show and how he turned a background character in to a recurring role on one of televisions hottest shows.

Adam Lawton: What was it that first drew you to the role of “Skinny Pete”?
Charles Baker: “Skinny Pete” wasn’t even a role when I first started on the show. He was originally just called “Skinny Stoner” and I was hired for only one episode during season 1. It was supposed to be just a day player role and what drew me to it was I was going to get to work on television. (Laughs) It was a job and people really didn’t know a lot about the show or anything like that. I had heard some things about the show but didn’t know how phenomenal it was going to be or that I was going to be a part of it.

AL: Being the role was written originally for a one time appearance were you allowed to provide any creative input or direction?
CB: Because of how things happened so consciously in season 1 they just told me they were going to bring me back for another episode and would see how things went. My first scene was very small so I came in with how I thought the role should be played and the director who worked on that episode had his own ideas about the role so what we created for that bit part kind of dictated my role for the rest of the series. A lot of times before each scene I would have to repeat one of my lines from that first episode as a way to get myself back into character. I would always have to repeat “Yo my pops is a contractor” in order for me to fall back into that speech pattern. Each time I was on the show I was working with a different director who would have their own idea for what they thought Skinny Pete was. A couple directors thought of him as a hardcore, mean, scary guy while a few others saw him has this lovable, goofy guy. However they saw the character was how they directed us. We would have to find a balance in their in order to keep consistency while still getting what they were asking for. That is how the many layers of Skinny Pete happened.

AL: Was it hard working with different directors all of the time?
CB: It was a challenge but I think it was a great learning experience. I love things like that where I have to find it in myself to make things like that work. It was better for me in the long run I think because I didn’t get stuck in a rut. I was able to give Skinny Pete more levels and layers to play with. For me it was a lot of fun and similar to an improve exercise.

AL: What do you think has been the roles biggest progression?
CB: He has kind of grown a little bit. Pete has started to follow in Jesse’s footsteps without having to learn all the harsh lessons Jesse had to learn. I think he has seen Jesse become more responsible up until the point where we see him start to be affected by the actions of his crew. You see Jesse start to become more of a business man than a thug. At the start of season 5 you see Pete acting similar in a scene between him and Badger at a music store. That’s a new step for Skinny Pete I think. He is actually taking something serious instead of just playing around.

AL: What do you think is in store for Skinny Pete as the show concludes?
CB: I wish I could tell you. I don’t even know what’s going on. That’s all part of the brilliance in how the show is shot and how tight security is. In the past If I had a scene where I don’t speak and I am just in the background I got to see that script so I knew what’s going on. With this last season they have been using a stand-in for scenes that I may or may not be in. They just didn’t tell me anything. (Laughs) If I had dialogue then it was just me. I am not even sure of what scenes I am in or not. I am ok with that because I am a huge fan of the show and I want to be surprised just like everyone else. I know Vince and the people who work on that show will never let me down. They don’t have to tell me what I am doing. They can put a blind fold on me, tell me what lines to say and I know it will be brilliant. I will trust them on that.

AL: What was it like for you working with Brian Cranston both as an actor and director?
CB: Brian is a wonderful person. Since the beginning he has been the leader and father figure of the show. Vince keeps a very tight hand on everything that happens but he is not always around during filming so Brian is the foundation and keeps everyone together. Having him direct was very natural since he has been such a guide through everything.

AL: What do you think you will miss most about playing the character?
CB: I am going to miss a lot of things. Every episode was a new adventure for me. They opened up a lot of things for Skinny Pete and gave him a lot of responsibility. To be able to sink your teeth in to a character for as long as all of have on “Breaking Bad” is great. This was a first for me as I had never played a recurring role on a series before. It was like creating an alter ego who becomes like a friend. I will certainly miss that and having a job. (Laughs)

AL: Can you tell us about some of your other upcoming/current projects?
CB: I currently have a small recurring role on the show “The Black List” with James Spader. I play a character by the name of “Grey”. He was originally called “The man in the grey flannel suit”. Luckily they shortened that down. I like to compare the role to if James Spader was Batman I would be his Alfred. I am his go to guy. It’s definitely a switch from that of Skinny Pete. Grey combs his hair and wears a suit. (Laughs) They say he drives a Bentley but I haven’t been able to do that yet. I also shot a pilot for NBC called “Murder in the First”. We are just waiting to hear if that’s going to go through. I really think it will because it’s a great show and cast. I worked on an independent film in Texas titled “Flutter” that I just saw a rough cut of the other day. It stars Lindsay Pulsipher from “Hatfields and McCoys”. From what I have seen of the film it is beautiful. I don’t know when it is coming out but I hope it is soon as I think people will really enjoy it. Lastly “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” which stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara is out now and I have a role in that as well.

Interview with Betsy Baker

Betsy Baker is best known for her role of Linda in “The Evil Dead”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Betsy about looking part on the cult classic film and also what she has been up to since.

Mike Gencarelli: What was your greatest memory working on the set of “The Evil Dead”
Betsy Baker: I think my memories all sort of meld into a few…. Even though there were many. I still clearly remember the awfully cold and frigid nights we shot. We only shot during the day on the river, while driving the car and at the bridge…the rest of the film was shot at night. It was cheaper, because then they didn’t have to spend money covering all the windows with black cloth. I remember driving down that long dirt road night…after night…knowing we’d be cold, tired, and probably come home with karo syrup sticky blood all over us (which we did!!). I also remember running into our cast and crew house and trying to get into the shower first every morning around 5:30 am, so I could get all the gunk off of me. It was always a race as to who got the most hot water.

MG: How do you feel that the movie has been so successful and become a cult classic since it release almost 30 years ago?
BB: It still amazes me to this day, what a cult classic this movie is. Of course, had it not been for video stores, this would have probably never happened with the great intensity that it did. But it’s still hard to believe.

MG: How was it revisiting “Evil Dead” for the “Ladies of the Evil Dead” documentary?
BB: It’s actually been a lot of fun… Not only to meet a lot of our fans at conventions around the US and around the world including Germany and London.  But just to sit together and laugh, and catch up from old times, and compare notes, and at the same time learn something new about the movie or the cast or crew.

MG: Shortly after “Evil Dead”, you took a break from acting, what was the reason? What made you return?
BB: I worked steadily for about 5-6 years after “Evil Dead”. I did a film with the great Karl Malden and John Malkovich, did plenty of commercials, some equity stage acting and I had 2 children! The greatest thing that ever happened to me! I wanted to devote time and energy to their upbringing as a family, and i didn’t think i could do that properly if i was rushing off to a play every night from 6 pm until midnight, or off on a film somewhere. No regrets… Just glad to be back acting again… and very, very proud of the great adults our children turned out to be!!

MG: Will there be any more seasons of the webseries “Dangerous Women” with Ellen Sandweiss and Theresa Tilly?
BB: We’d love to have a second season.. and a third… and a… well, you get the idea. Webseries, though, is a very difficult medium to forge ahead and continue to produce and make, if there isn’t a studio house or a production company behind it. We’ll have to just guess what happens to those three broads, since they had just begun to figure out that something really creepy and weird was going in their lives.

MG: How did you end up appearing in the TV show “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”? Was it fun?
BB: I auditioned for a tiny, tiny part and it took less than 1/2 a day to shoot. But I thought it was such a bizarre title, a bizarre show, and a bizarre premise.. I couldn’t turn it down.

MG: How was it reuniting with Ellen Sandweiss and Theresa Tilly in the horror comedy, “Brutal Masacre: A Comedy”?
BB: “Brutal Massacre” was a fun movie.  It’s great to say that we were all in it together, although.. as is often the case with a lot of TV or film work…we never worked on the set at the same time. I was flying back to Los Angeles the day Theresa arrived, and I barely saw Ellen…even at the hotel!

MG: What else do you have planned for the coming future?
BB: I just starred in a psychological thriller called “2084′”, which should be available now. Think “The entire world is threatened by a virus and forced to stay inside”.  Pretty cool stuff.