Top Picks: 'The Writers' Room' on the Sundance Channel, the YouVersion Bible app, and more

Massachusetts teenager Zev creates images where he inhabits a tiny world, Guy Clark's new acoustic album showcases his still-strong voice, and more top picks.

PBS
Gloria Estefan: The Standards on PBS
Sundance Channel
The Writers’ Room on the Sundance Channel
Violin Lullabies by Rachel Barton Pine

Glorified standards

It’s hard for any kind of singer to resist those big, glorious standards from the heyday of the American songbook. Think Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Saul Chaplin. Now it’s Grammy winner Gloria Estefan, whose concert performance promoting her new CD, both titled Gloria Estefan: The Standards, airs on PBS throughout August. Check local listings for dates and times. The CD comes out in September.

Hush, little baby

Summertime fairly begs for the lullaby, so what could be more lovely than an entire album called Violin Lullabies? Pick up Rachel Barton Pine’s latest chart-topping CD featuring 25 of her favorite songs – played on a violin handpicked by Brahms for one of his students. The music includes composers such as Ravel, Schubert, Gershwin, and Brahms.

Rugged beauty

You can excuse country singer/songwriter Guy Clark if he seems a bit sentimental these days. He lost Susanna, his wife of 40 years, last June. But Clark’s latest release, My Favorite Picture of You – his first album in four years – is no maudlin memorial. The veteran songwriter, who has written for Johnny Cash, Jerry Jeff Walker, Brad Paisley, and Alan Jackson, among others, and has been a mentor for a younger generation of crusty songwriters such as Steve Earle, has lost none of his wit, grit, and wry observations on human failings and unexpected strengths. The instrumentation is purely acoustic, and Clark’s voice is no less beautiful for the years, the raspiness suggesting a depth of emotion, laughter, and loss.

Portraits of whimsy

Zev, a 14-year-old Natick, Mass., native (also known as fiddle oak on Flickr), has been working a camera and Photoshop since he was 8. He’s gotten pretty good. His “miniature world” self-portrait series captures the whimsy, excitement, and magic of a daydream. He appears elfin as he flies a paper airplane, sets sail in a leaf boat, and sits in an acorn. Check out his photos at flickr.com/fiddleoak.

Sharing the word

The YouVersion Bible app hit a milestone this month with 100 million downloads. YouVersion (find it titled simply “Bible,” created by LifeChurch.tv, in iTunes) offers some 500 versions in more than 300 languages. Over the past three years, Apple has continued to list it as one of its Top 100 free apps. And the top three Bible verses users have shared with one another? Isaiah 53:5, Hebrews 4:15 and Matthew 7:7.

Script writers

Ever wonder where those hilarious (or dumb) lines come from on your favorite TV show? Tune in to The Writers’ Room on Monday, July 29, when this new series launches on Sundance Channel, to find out. Each week, the series will focus on a different show, the first one being “Breaking Bad.” Hosted by “Community” star Jim Rash, the series will take viewers into the table-pounding, head-banging and occasionally heated – and R-rated – process of making that sausage known as prime-time TV.

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