When FringeArts pops the top on its new 240-seat theater and first year-round season — with Geoff Sobelle’s Elephant Room, Oct. 10 — it won’t be a bells-and-whistles kinda deal. “We’re having a soft opening because our venue is not complete,” says FringeArts CEO Nick Stuccio via email, from a plane to San Diego to see the Swiss/German act Rimini Protokol for possible inclusion in the 2014 fest. “FringeArts’ Phase 1 is done and it’s gorgeous — theater, offices, studio and all base-building systems. Phase 2 is our bar, restaurant and planned outdoor dining room and garden/lounge, [on] which we hope to break ground in January, then open the whole venue in June with a big-ass party.” Cool. Till then, FringeArts’ autumn offerings include fest faves like Thaddeus Phillips’ 17 Border Crossings and Pig Iron’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will. Last Friday, Stuccio and co. tested the new space’s stage with choreographer and 2014 fest participant Lucinda Childs, several Philly-based dancers and a bunch of FringeArts donors. “After the show we had a reception, opened the huge wall between theater and future bar/restaurant, and it was amazing. There were people eating, drinking and having fun — just like we pictured it.”
Philadelphia bassist and poetess Aja Beech seems to be devoting more of her time to activism than rhythm and prose lately. On Oct. 10, she’ll curate an Art & Incarceration panel at Painted Bride, a discussion on the transformative effects of art on at-risk and incarcerated populations with state Sen. Daylin Leach, Mural Arts mama Jane Golden and moderator Tayyib Smith from Little Giant Creative.
On Sat., Oct. 6, bassist Steven Demarest — a crown jewel of the Philly musician scene — passed away from complications of an aortic dissection in-between John Train sets at Fergie’s. John “Train” Houlon wrote: “Steve’s exit was fast, painless and peaceful. The last thing he did was the thing he enjoyed most: playing music.” Houlon is but one of the songwriters that the much-loved Demarest performed with. Kenn Kweder, Dave White’s Hens, Louis Gribaudo’s Leisure Kings, Rodney Anonymous’ Burn Witch Burn and Mike Brenner’s Slo-Mo were but a few who’ll miss playing with him. “Steve was a soulful and tasteful player with as warm a tone as any I’ve heard,” says Houlon. A memorial/celebration of Demarest’s life will occur on Oct. 18 at Fergie’s. “Steve supported me and my songs for 18 years,” he says. “That is a gift and an honor that I will never forget.” None of us will.
More Icepack at citypaper.net/nakedcity.