Home Again, Michael Kiwanuka
“It was just something to do to keep my soul warm.” That’s the way British singer/songwriter Michael Kiwanuka describes the impulse behind his music — and there are no better words than “soul warming” to describe the arresting sound of his stunning debut album. John Mayer couldn't believe his ears the night he saw Kiwanuka on Letterman performing "I'm Getting Ready." “I was dumbfounded,” Mayer effused via Tumblr. “Tonight I had a rare ‘pull the car to the side of the road’ moment.” To hear the first two tiny syllables of the song is to understand why. Oh my… It will stop you in your tracks.
Yes, Chef, Marcus Samuelsson
Marcus Samuelsson has never seen a picture of his mother, as he writes in his candid memoir, but he knows how she cooked. He also knows that she gave her life to save his. The young mother walked 75 miles through the Ethiopian desert to a hospital with her daughter by her side and her two-year-old boy on her back. All three were dying of tuberculosis. It just may be the formative experience that gave the renowned restaurateur and Top Chef Master the fortitude to survive and thrive in the cutthroat culinary world, where those with dark skin are usually the ones sent to wash dishes.
Searching for Sugar Man
This is the stuff that myths are made of: a vanished hero, faithful followers, an obsessive quest. The unforgettable documentary that electrified Sundance recounts the fantastical tale of Rodriguez, a Detroit singer whose music went unnoticed here in the early '70s — but, unknown to him, ignited the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. It would be decades before ardent fans in that country tracked down their true American idol, now 70, and resurrected Sugar Man's career.
The Barnes Collection
PBS, August 3 (Check your local PBS station for full broadcast information)
With more Cezannes than all the museums in Paris and the world's largest accumulation of Renoirs, the 3,000 works of art amassed by Albert C. Barnes are regarded as the greatest collection of Post-Impressionist and early modern art in existence. It’s also regarded as the most insanely arranged. This PBS doc interweaves the long-awaited and hotly contested opening of the collection’s new Philadelphia home with the spectacular life story of the chemist-turned-modern-art titan. (Barnes built his fortune concocting a compound of silver and protein used to treat gonorrhea.) The closer we look, the more genius and less mad the man becomes. As art critic Jerry Saltz recently wrote, “Maybe, just maybe, the old kook knew what he was doing.”
WORTH THE TRIP
Maine Lobster Festival
There is no more exquisite way to celebrate the waning days of beach season than by indulging in the most multi-sensory eating experience known to man. The crack of the claw, the vivid crimson, the briny scent, the juice dripping down your fingertips, the succulent flesh — lobster lovers love it all. Being seaside in Maine — where the backdrop features those bawdy, bushy-bearded captains who battle raging storms and haul traps in by hand to procure your feast — only heightens the effect. Almost 20,000 pounds of lobster will be served up at Rockland Harbor Park from August 1-5 at this annual rite of summer. Bring your bib.
Pamela Miller is a freelance writer in Los Angeles