A daily bulletin of news & opinion

31 July 2015

MUSIC: Watkins Family Hour by Watkins Family Hour

“This is a supremely talented group of musicians and friends, who are doing songs that they love – and I just think it’s wonderful”

Baylen Leonard, country-music expert

Sara and Sean Watkins were two thirds of successful country trio Nickel Creek along with Chris Thile, who has recently found mainstream recognition as the new host of popular US radio show Prarie Home Companion. But his former bandmates have been very busy, too, with regular country performances at LA’s Largo venue and their debut album is a collection of well-played and very well-loved covers that are as genuine as they are familiar. A classic case of old favourites improving with age.

EXHIBITION: The Jam: About the Young Idea, London

“People always say you don’t know them unless you’ve seen them live – I never did – and people who did hear them live say they were utterly wonderful”

Peter York, cultural commentator and writer

About the Young Idea borrows its title from the classic song by Woking, UK, teenage upstarts The Jam – the lead singer of which, Paul Weller, has since found ongoing success. The exhibition at London’s Somerset House includes memorabilia, clothing, stage sets and fan contributions from an era for the band back when connecting with its young audience was just as important as finding fame or stardom. All three members have collaborated to make About the Young Idea happen but superfans might still not be satisfied – there’s no reunion plans as yet.

THEATRE: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, London

“It’s of its time and it’s about an earlier time. I really enjoyed the show – it’s fun – and if you detach yourself from the 2015 perspective, why not enjoy it?”

Donald Hutera, theatre critic for ‘The Times’

The 1954 musical film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers told a quite frankly troubling tale – from a modern perspective – of said group of brothers in 19th-century Oregon, who kidnapped a group of women in order to make them their wives. Back then the film’s classic songwriting and gung-ho sense of ridiculous fun saw it succeed. This latest production in London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre uses that same suspense of disbelief combined with some impressive choreography to charge through a far-fetched and goodhearted tale of love set on the American frontier.

FILM: Iris

“This documentary is just terrific because she’s eccentric, and she’s got so much personality that it’s like spending time with a wonderful old granny who has lots of great stories”

Anna Smith, film critic

Iris Apfel is a New York style icon and recently passed-away director Albert Maysles’ documentary Iris is a lovingly told and riotously fun distillation of a life lived at the forefront of fashion and design. Apfel is now in her 90s but the documentary’s protagonist is still startlingly quick with her wits and bitingly amusing when offering observations on the fashion world – the embodiment of someone blessed with a timeless sense of style.

BOOK: The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

“We as readers empathise with people who are going through these struggles on a daily basis”

Sharmaine Lovegrove, book scout and co-founder of Dialogue Berlin

In a special episode analysing the announcement of the longlist for the Man Booker Prize, literary talent scout Sharmaine Lovegrove picked out British novelist Sunjeev Sahota (pictured above)’s tale of a group of Indian labourers in Sheffield, The Year of the Runaways, as a title to watch. The book tells separate stories that begin to entwine as the narrative progresses and paints a realistic picture of how starting a new life in a new country can be as challenging as the one you’ve left behind.


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