Friday, August 13, 2010

Variety vs. Familiarity?

Programming may be the most important aspect of owning a theater. It is really hard to balance new acts as opposed to people we have presented in the past. On one hand, it is creatively interesting to bring in new performers and their energy. The fun of sharing a discovery is a great experience for an audience. On the other hand, it is really hard to get an audience to try someone new. People often request we bring back their favorite shows. Once we have invested in someone new and they connect with an audience, we want to help them build a following. Some acts that have done this include The Guitars of Spain, The Weird Sisters, and Katie Todd. We are bringing back a few performers who were at the Acorn Theater once and we think made a strong enough impression that we invited them back. Matt Alber and Keri Noble come to mind. I’m curious if you have an opinion about this. Do you prefer variety or familiar?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Recipes from Jazz Brunch

For those of you who missed it, Sunday was a brand new day at The Acorn! We threw our first brunch, a Jazz Brunch, and it was a hit on many, many levels. In between listening to Sam Stryke play our Baldwin Grand Piano, and eating amazing delicacies prepared by "Chef Kim," guests were treated to a food and cocktail demo!

Chef Kim showed our guests how to prepare the Fire Roasted Tomato Soup he'd made for brunch, and Jill demonstrated the perfect New Orleans' style Bloody Mary.

Check out the recipes below, and be sure to make reservations for our next brunch, October 17, featuring the beautiful music of Anne Harris!

Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
Blacken two dozen Roma Tomato's using open coals or any direct fire.
Blacken and even number of Sweet onions (after removing the basic outer shell)
Let them cool and remove the outer blackend portion by rubbing them gently with a soft clean rag.

Place the Tomatoes and onions in a good liquifying blender and liquify the contents.
Add chicken stock. Salt to taste.

Serve hot or cold and garnish with fresh basil.

Recipe courtesy of Red Cabbage Cafe, Puerto Vallarta MX found at

Jill's New Orleans' Style Bloody Mary
(For one bloody mary)

In a pint glass, combine:
1 TBSP horseradish
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp Old Bay (Seafood Seasoning)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Louisiana style hot sauce (more or less, depending on desired level of hotness)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Add ice, fill with 1 shot of good quality vodka, and then top with tomato juice.

Garnish with any/all of the following:
Pickled string beans
Pickled okra
Pickled carrot
Celery stalk
Picholine olives
Cocktail onion
Pickled Asparagus

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A (Random) List of David's Favorites: Part 3

I recently listed some of my memorable events in Three Oaks. Here are a few more off the top of my head:

Our community gathered to celebrate the lives of Amelia and Jim Toler. If there is a way honor the spirit of someone we love and lose, these were heartfelt and appropriate send-offs to two people who brought a lot of passion and creativity to our little town.

The community gathered and offered emotional support and love to Tim and Alberto, the owners of Bailey’s restaurant when it sadly burned down. The same support was given to Kim and me who owned the building. It was one of the worst times in our lives and we received so much kindness from our neighbors. If you ever doubt the strength of a community, going through a tragedy like this restores your faith. I hope none of you ever experience the tragedy but that you get to feel the support of your neighbors.

Watching buildings in town get lovingly restored or rebuilt such as the Featherbone

Factory (not just the Acorn portion,) the building near the library and Mike and Sarah rehabbed, Springdale (which will be reincarnated as a new venture to open very soon,) Ipso Facto, B Books, Studio B, Gallery H, and Woodpecker Property next to Ipso Facto. I hope everyone benefits from their efforts.

Wonderful sculptures appearing (and disappearing) such as the winged woman by Dessa Kirk and the three sculptures that now stand in the area between Elm Street and the Acorn Theater.

The holiday season huge animals made out of lights that were displayed across Harbor Country years ago. Putting them up was a riot. I remember a 40 foot sculpture of a goose falling on Chuck when we were trying to raise it. No one was hurt (including the art) and the process was kind of difficult but fun and rewarding. Russ from Pine Garth, Chuck from Sweethaven, James, Kim and myself from the Warren Woods Inn, along with some others, proudly erected them the first year and people had the wonderful surprise of discovering large animals made of lights in all sorts of places around the area. Art Beat Chicago did a nice piece about them on public television.

Three Oaks had a nice article in the New York Times. So did the Acorn Theater. The Acorn was also shown on three different Home and Garden shows and well as on 160 North hosted by our friend Janet Davies, Rick Kogan also featured many people from Three Oaks and the area on his radio show and his Sidewalks page in the Sunday Chicago Tribune. It’s nice when people outside of Three Oaks notice and acknowledge our little community.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A (Random) List of David's Favorites: Part 2

In my last blog post, I mentioned some highlights of my time in Three Oaks. Here are some more memorable events off the top of my head. Do you have any you would like to add to this list?

The Vickers Theatre decided to project “Cinema Paradiso” onto the side of the theater. People sat on lawn chairs, motorcycles, whatever and watched this film outdoors. The weather and sky in Three Oaks mimicked the weather and sky in the film. When the movie showed a scene where they were projecting a film on the side of a building in a small town in Italy, everyone watching at the Vickers suddenly understood why we were watching it outside projected onto the side of a building and broke into wild spontaneous applause.

The first Three Oaks “Inside Out” street fair was so much fun. Downtown shops moved their inventory outside to the street and we created a simple and fun carnival atmosphere up and down Elm Street.

B Books is often the site of creative gatherings. The one that I want to mention followed a program at the Acorn Theater where Rick Kogan and Charles Osgood interviewed people and showed photos from their first Sidewalks book. After the show, we went to B Books and hung out for awhile before moving the party to Nelson’s Saloon until they shut down. Everyone enjoyed the event so much they didn’t want it to stop so they kept it going until every place was shut down.

Music in the Park began with Shakespeare in the park performed to torchlight. It was charming and fun and anything but pretentious. I remember seeing a young couple, probably around 12 years old and on their first date enjoying the show, the boy beaming with pride that he could take this girl to something this cool and fun.

Finally, I used to love hanging out with Kim Pruitt at her Dawning Gallery. People would come and go, checking out her artwork and gift items as we chatted about everything imaginable. These were smaller moments than the other items but there is beauty in intimacy.

Our First Home Brew Competition

As posted on Jill's blog,

Yesterday was another monumental day in my life at the shop. I held my first ever Home Brew Competition, and it went quite well, all things considered. All things being I don’t brew, and thus didn’t think things out perfectly before setting deadlines and announcing the contest itself. However, a good number of brewers came through, and we had enough entries and judges for a particularly fun Sunday.

We opened this event to the public, which was not only fun, but highly entertaining for me. Meandering between the judges and the public was fascinating–it goes without saying the two entities did NOT agree on everything. Out of the 16 entries, I have to say I was really impressed with the quality. Sure, there were one or two that were not stand outs. But mostly, everything was not only drinkable, but rather impressive.

Trophies went to People’s Choice (a Pilsner) and the judges “Best in Show” (A Strong Scotch Ale) with a Mexican Lager and American IPA coming in 2nd and 3rd, respectively. But my favorite part of the tasting/judging? A clear “fight” between a husband and wife, both who brewed an American Pale Ale. The judges loved hers, the rest of the people enjoyed his more…for two hours, all we heard was, “anyone have any more of the wife??”

Again, I’m not a brewer…but if anything was going to inspire me to start, this was it. J and I have tossed around the idea over, and over, and over again. He has a head for math and science, and I…well, clearly, I’m at home in the kitchen. And yesterday has us contemplating what we could do differently, and the fun we’d likely have with new brews cooking in our basement.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

David's Favorites...

As I sit here trying to recover from a busy week of shows, I look forward to the magic acts coming this Thursday and the Guitars of Spain coming on Saturday. Both Chris Carter and
The Guitars of Spain have been performing at the Acorn Theater ever since we were a new performance space. Looking back, here are a few of the highlights of events in Three Oaks that pop into my mind off the top of my head. I think top ten lists are passé so I’m just making a random list of memorable moments.

  • Our first show in Three Oaks was in conjunction with and presented at the Vickers Theatre. It was a variety show with a number of great performers. The performer who really hit it big was David Sedaris who read from his new book, Naked. In the late show, he read one of the funniest and filthiest sections of the book. This show was probably about 14 years ago and people still talk about it.
  • Springdale had some great parties but the one that I want to mention was their first outdoor bash with a great band called “Jump” (formerly Jump Little Children.) It was a great party that brought everyone together for a really fun time.
  • Blue Gallery was once called Out of the Blue. Owner Sean teamed up with present owner Judy and her friend Valerie and put together a show and party that brought great energy to Three Oaks. I think of Abby Heche dancing in the gallery window. People filling the gallery and spilled out onto the street showing that there is a lot of life on the streets of downtown Three Oaks if you throw a good party.
  • Amelia of “Rubbish Designs” was the mastermind and creative spirit who created a fashion show when Elm Street was torn up for reconstruction. It was an inspired evening that showcased the talents of many members of our community including emcee Donna Blue. It was also a great party. I guess I like great parties.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It is Wednesday evening and I’m resting up in anticipation of a busy weekend. We have four consecutive nights of music, each one really different. We are proud of the diversity of performers we present and these weekend highlights that range. Tomorrow, William Fitzsimmons will make his Acorn Theater debut. William is a moody singer/songwriter with melancholy songs. His music is moody and intimate. On Friday, Emile Pandolfi will return with his dramatic piano playing. His arrangements are exciting and flamboyant. He varies his tempos, dynamics, and makes even the best-known songs his own. On Saturday, the popular Other 3 Tenors return to the Acorn. They have sold out their shows in the past and we hope this year will be no exception. They have beautiful voices and you can compare and contrast the styles of these opera singers of varied backgrounds. Like Emile, they are fun and playful as well as musical, combining showmanship with musicality. Finally, the weekend will end with a concert by the charming and intimate folk style of Richie Havens. Though Woodstock may have made him famous, time has not diminished his ability to excite an audience. His stories combined with his music make you feel like you are leaving the theater with a new friend that you met at a great party.