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The Blues Trail Revisited - Presidio Dance Theatre - Juneteenth Spirituals Workshop - Frameline45: ‘Firebird’ @ The Castro Theatre


This week on Open Air, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area Performing Arts, guest host Angie Coiro talks with filmmaker Ted Reed and his friend Tim Treadway about their documentary The Blues Trail Revisited, screening live at San Francisco’s Historic Balboa Theatre on June 17. Also, conversations with Sherene Melania, director of the Presidio Dance Theatre; with soprano Candace Y. Johnson and Lolly Lewis from the Amateur Music Network, about their collaboration in a Juneteenth Spirituals Workshop. And more about Frameline45 — the world’s largest LGBTQ+ film festival, with Peeter Rebane, director of the film Firebird, showing at the Castro Theatre on June 27.


This week on Open Air, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area Performing Arts, guest host Angie Coiro talks with filmmaker Ted Reed and his friend Tim Treadway about their documentary The Blues Trail Revisited, screening live at San Francisco’s Historic Balboa Theatre on June 17. Also, conversations with Sherene Melania, director of the Presidio Dance Theatre; with soprano Candace Y. Johnson and Lolly Lewis from the Amateur Music Network, about their collaboration in a Juneteenth Spirituals Workshop. And more about Frameline45 — the world’s largest LGBTQ+ film festival, with Peeter Rebane, director of the film Firebird, showing at the Castro Theatre on June 27.

When Grammy- and Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker Ted Reed was moving his office, he uncovered his 16mm black and white film Thinking Out Loud, shot in 1971. Reed and his friend Tim Treadway, then film students at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, drove through the American South to find and record some of the last living blues legends. Their goal was to discover the very roots of American popular music, and the sources of the rock music they had grown up with.

The film was seen at festivals, and then stored away. Fifty years later, Reed returns to Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana in search of the current state of affairs in the birthplace of the Blues. The Blues Trail Revisitedshows new respect for the cultural value of this musical form through revealing interviews with authors, historians and hospitality entrepreneurs, musicians, and others.

We talk with Sherene Melania, director of the Presido Dance Theatre, which just celebrated the 20th anniversary of their popular Children’s Day performances at the War Memorial Opera House. The company’s DanceOut! Program, which uses dance as a form of youth development, has over the years reached about 120,000 Bay Area children. Sherene is working on a full-length production, scheduled for next season, about the Assyrian queen, Shamiram. Herself of Assyrian descent, Sherene wants to portray this strong female leader of the Assyrian empire in a positive light.

We welcome back Lolly Lewis and Oakland-based soprano Candace Johnson to talk about a project that they started because they met on Open Air. For the Amateur Music Network, founded by Lolly, they collaborate in a Juneteenth Spiritual Workshop on June 19, meant for all singers, both choral and solo vocalists, and anyone who wants to explore the performance practice and spirit of this American tradition.

Plus, we talk with director Peeter Rebane about his film Firebird, which gets its North American premiere at the Castro Theatre on June 27, as part of about Frameline45, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ film festival. The festival runs through June 27 in venues around San Francisco, and streams nationally online, starting June 17.

In Firebird, Rebane blends a Cold War thriller with the true story of the secret love between Sergey (Tom Prior), an Estonian private awaiting the end of his term in the Soviet air force in the late 1970s, and the dashing officer Roman (Oleg Zagorodnii), arousing suspicions as they hide their love affair.

Co-written by Prior and Rebane, Firebird is a gripping true story of love and freedom thwarted by an oppressive time and regime, detailing the human costs of living an authentic life. The showing on June 27 (2:30pm) at the newly reopened Castro Theatre will be followed by a live, in-person Q&A with expected guests Tom Prior and Peeter Rebane.

Open Air with guest host Angie Coiro, heard live on Thursday, June 17 at 1pm; to be archived at this location afterwards. Listen now or anytime…

Niels Swinkels is a freelance journalist, musicologist, sound engineer, and radio producer. Born and raised in the Netherlands, he studied English and Musicology at the University of Nijmegen. Before moving to San Francisco, he was the Arts Editor, and Senior Classical Music & Opera critic for Brabants Dagblad, a Dutch daily newspaper. In addition to producing KALW’s Open Air, a weekly radio magazine for the Bay Area Performing Arts, he is also a wine guy at Trader Joe’s Nob Hill in San Francisco...