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Black Filmmaker Films in the Inland Empire

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By Mark Taylor –

Hisonni Johnson became interested in film at the age of 13 when he was asked to star in a college student’s film project. He remembered the feeling of being in sync with the film and loved the idea that an individual could control images and events with a camera. He is no stranger to the film world and has been acting since the age of five. His talents have increased sales for several businesses such as Walgreens and Boeing.

Johnson has been seen on shows and films such as: Glee, Greek, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and Cloverfield.

He attended a private film high school where he practiced with various camera techniques and equipment. Years later he worked as an apprent ice for David VanderVeen Productions where he learned photography, terminology, camera function, and lighting.

He draws inspiration from the work of Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, and Peter Berg.

Johnson grew up in a bad neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He describes his neighborhood as a place that seems inescapable. His parents were both involved with drugs and his mother had no choice but to get his school clothes from the dumpster. Johnson had a reputation as a junkie but later turned to film as a method to change his lifestyle. He also had a desire to get his mother out of his childhood neighborhood but she passed before he had a chance to do so.

This tragedy disappoints him because he was unable to provide his mother with a better lifestyle before her passing. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about his mother and the wisdom she gave to him. He hopes that through his work he will one day inspire his troubled sister to make a change in her life as well.

Johnson’s upcoming film “The Other Side” tells the story of Damien, a cop who goes undercover in a drug ring to arrest a criminal.

During the course of his investigation Damien becomes addicted to cocaine and unintentionally kills an innocent woman.

While in rehab Damien begins to see hallucinations of the woman he murdered. In order to protect his reputation he attempts to close a case that could save his career.

Johnson is shooting the film in various locations across Riverside. He praises the city for its art-friendly nature and is honored to be filming here. He is also serious about helping his friends and other struggling artists find success in the business. He hopes to enter his film in the Riverside International, Beverly Hills, and the South by Southwest Film Festivals.

Johnson is interested in creating characters that do the right thing by practicing immoral behaviors. This is what he considers to be the main theme in his movie. He conveys this point by providing examples of his mother and Damien, the main character in his film. He explained that although his mother was involved with drugs she still instilled within him the wisdom he has today. He also explains how Damien goes undercover and does drugs so that he can arrest a suspect in a drug case. He wants the individuals in the audience to place themselves in Damien’s shoes.

Johnson is heavily involved in the creation of music videos, commercials, and demo reels. His music video, “Lately Illuminating” gave an aspiring rap artist the opportunity to meet with several record companies. Johnson has a part time job and he volunteers in the community in his spare time. He has been given a starring role in an upcoming motion picture with Rhea Pearlman and Michael Clark Duncan. The film is entitled “The Riot”.

Johnson’s career has made him realize that film making is his passion and that it has empowered him and given him the ability to bend his own will. He feels that the art of film has given him the ability to control destiny through a sequence of events. He is becoming more and more obsessed with this business and takes every opportunity he can to learn about the latest equipment and techniques.

RAIN in Review

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By Mark Taylor –

On Friday September 24th at 8p.m. three generations of fans gathered at Fox Theater to see RAIN-A Tribute To The Beatles. The band, consisting of members Steve Landes (vocals, rhythm guitar, piano, harmonica), Joey Curatolo (vocals, bass, piano, guitar), Joe Bithorn (vocals, lead guitar), Ralph Castelli (Drums, percussion, vocals), and Mark Lewis (Keyboards, percussion) provided the audience with an exciting experience. It was a night of fun in which many were united by their love and memories of The Beatles.

When the lights dimmed the audience became quiet as the Beatles documentary played on screens located on either side of the stage. Soon the curtain rose and the audience began cheering while RAIN opened the show with the hit song “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. The band performed with a joy and enthusiasm that would soon spread through the performance hall. The audience quickly accepted the invitation to dance and sing along with the band. One lady in particular found it difficult to contain herself. Her hair was adorned with flowers and she danced and swayed to the music and bent down to kiss her husband every few minutes. It was as if the music had made her young again.

RAIN’s amazing performance was further enhanced through elements of video, animation, and wardrobe.

Stephen Gotshel and Joel Weiss created a light display that was vibrant and colorful. Laser beams illuminated the bands flashy costumes as they performed “Hello Goodbye”. Lighting techniques were used in such a way to further incorporate the audience into RAIN’s performance. During the song “I am the Walrus” the audience was enshrouded in an orange light and they screamed and aided the band in singing the lyrics.

Throughout the performance videos played past footage of The Beatles on three video screens.

One of the videos depicted the events that took place during The Beatles visit to Shea Stadium on August 15th 1965. The girls in the stadium were short of breath while others fainted in the presence of the band. The audience members found this video footage to be humorous.

The members of RAIN stay true to the memory of The Beatles by imitating the personas of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The band has spent years perfecting the sounds and identity of The Beatles and has succeeded in delivering authent ic performances.

Such dedication has allowed RAIN to develop a sound that is virtually undistinguishable from that of the original Beatles group. The members of RAIN replicate the hairstyles, personalities, and wardrobe of the iconic band to give the audience feelings of nostalgia. With such talent it is not surprising that RAIN has landed a spot in New York City’s Broadway scene.

Al Green Takes To The San Manuel Stage

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Inland Empire Receives Musical Gift with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Performance

Thursday, October 21, 2010, San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino welcomes unquestionably one of the top male soul singers ever to the San Manuel stage, Al Green. Tickets are on sale today and available at Ticketmaster.com and the San Manuel Box Office for $30, $40, and $50.

Destined from childhood, Al Green proved his musical talents when, at the age of nine , he formed a gospel quartet, the Green Brothers. It was when his focus grew towards R&B, that Green formed the group, Al Green & the Creations with several high school friends, two of whom founded a record label, Hot Line Music Journal, which backed the group. The group released a single, “Back Up Train” in 1967 (under the new name Al Green and the Soul Mates) that went to #5 on the national R&B chart. In 1969, Green ventured out solo, and signed with Hi Records to release his debut album, Green is Blue.

With moderate success from his first album, Green released “Al Green Gets Next to You” in 1970, which included the hit remake of the Temptations classis, “I Can’t Get Next to You”, and more significantly, Green’s first of seven consecutive gold singles, “Tired of Being Alone”.

Al Green’s biggest hit “Let’s Stay Together” as well as the ever-popular “I’m Still in Love with You” were among his gold singles.

Green’s most recent album “Lay It Down” features the R&B voices of John Legend, Anthony Hamilton and Corinne Bailey Rae and hosts high-spirited, funky, and often lushly romantic songs.

Among his many accomplishments, Green’s resume reads of high caliber including his number 65 place in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Artist of All Time in 2004, as well as his recent 2009 induction into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.

Every Thursday night with headliner entertainment, San Manuel gives away $1,000 just for seeing the show. To be eligible to win, guests only need a ticket to the show, a Club Serrano card and to be 21 or older. Guests can enter beginning at noon on such days. Three drawings will be held on those nights: $250 at 7:20 p.m., $250 at 10:00 p.m. and $500 at 11:00 p.m. Winners must be present.

Fun And Music Await 'Alice in Wonderland: A Rock Opera' Takes the Stage Oct. 30

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An unforgettable rock ‘n roll musical journey awaits theatergoers who follow Alice down the rabbit hole in “Alice in Wonderland: A Rock Opera,” 2 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Sturges Center, 780 N. E St.

Meet Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, Humpty Dumpty, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb, and other colorful characters in a whole new way with memorable tunes, from rock to soul.

Presented in the style of The Who’s “Tommy,” “Alice in Wonderland: A Rock Opera” introduces Alice and all of Lewis Carroll’s colorful characters through this colorful, high energy, family show that is sure to delight all ages.

Join Alice and all the Wonderland characters as they sing and dance in their rocking fantasy world of fun and laughter. It’s a rockin’ adventure that’s a Wonderland of possibilities.

Written in by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was published in 1865. It is the story of a young girl named Alice who follows the White Rabbit into a fantasy world called Wonderland.

There she meets many s trange and wondrous creatures.

Dodgson based his novel on a story he told the three daughters of a good friend in July 1862. One of the girls was named Alice, and she asked him to write it down for her. He did and two years later gave her a copy. He later expanded the story and had it published.

The novel quickly became a publishing hit, loved by children and adults alike. It has never been out of print. It has been adapted for theater and film many times. There also is a sequel to the novel called “Through the Looking Glass, and, What Alice Found There.”

WHEN: 2 p.m. Oct. 23
WHERE: Sturges Center for the Fine Arts, 780 N. E St., San Bernardino.
TICKETS: $19-$45, www.ticketmaster or theater box office
ON THE WEB: www.sturgescenter.org

Frankie Avalon: The Man and his Music

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By Cheryl Brown –

Frankie Avalon, the singer who many now senior citizens, grew up with performed in San Bernardino on his 70th Birthday at the California Theater last weekend before an enthusiastic audience.

For the past 50 years, he has delighted audiences with his showmanship. Black Voice News spoke with him preceding his performance and asked about his life as a youngster, a family man, now a grandfather and touching on his good friend Mickey Mouse Club’s Annette Funicello.

Avalon said even though he was turning 70, he feels 45-50 years old. What keeps him young is his “work” and the “hope” he has and his “faith”.

He is a practicing Catholic. As a young child, he started in music playing the trumpet. He still has his original trumpet, and as he thought about the question remarked “I should get back to it, but it takes so much practice” he said. That made him reflect on the conditions of today’s schools. “Our schools don’t have music programs anymore.

We had music appreciation of all kinds of music, schools should get back to this,” he said.

As the conversation moved on I asked how long he had been a resident of San Bernardino County - the answer was 23 years. He loves the mountains it is his home away from home.

The question that everyone who remembers is how is Annette Funicello from the Mickey Mouse Club. Avalon said he lives by a mantra that she gave him while battling MS.

That is “whatever happens we should know that God’s delay is not God’s denial.” With that he said, “she has always been the sweetest most giving gal I worked with in my life. She was a friend, a mother and always pleasant to people. She never recognized the fact that people loved her so dearly.”

Unfortunately, he has one regret that he has no communication with her any longer and that has left a void in his life.

Reports are that the Frankie Avalon show was wonderful. He is personable, comes into the audience, and still sings the songs so many of us grew up on.

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BVN National News Wire