“I’m not a real political kind of guy, but it was a wonderful time–whether you liked Harold Washington or not, people were engaged politically,” says musician Edward Wilkerson Jr. “People knew the issues and talked about what the City Council was voting on each week. Nowadays nobody really knows what goes on in City Council. Things get passed, but it’s a rubber stamp kind of situation. People don’t talk about politics with as much passion.” Tonight Wilkerson, leader of the jazz ensemble 8 Bold Souls, will unveil a few scenes from his jazz opera in progress, Harold in the City. He says he talked about the project for ten years before enlisting his sister Elizabeth, a lawyer and writer, to tackle the libretto. “Getting her involved has given me a much broader vision of it,” he says. “And having a collaborator forces you to follow through.” The performance–part of HotHouse’s Innovative Com-posers Project commissioning new works–takes place at 9 at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo in Chicago. Tickets are $15, $12 for students and seniors (312-362-9707 or www.hothouse.net). See the Critic’s Choice in Music for more.
Camille Saint-Saens’ Samson et Dalila was banned in Britain and took 16 years to get produced in his native France–but when it was, it was an instant hit. The production opening tonight at Lyric Opera of Chicago is spectacularly staged, starring hunky Argentine tenor Jose Cura as the strong man. Lyric’s corps of lecturers will be at many suburban libraries this week as part of the company’s community lecture series. You can catch them at 2 PM today at the Evanston Public Library (1703 Orrington, 847-866-0300) and tomorrow, December 14, at 2:30 at the Elm-hurst Public Library (125 S. Prospect, 630-279-8696) and at 3 at the Arling-ton Heights Memorial Library (500 N. Dunton, 847-506-2611). Later in the week, lecturers will speak in River Forest, Lincolnshire, Elmwood, and Prospect Heights. All events are free; call the libraries for more information.
William S. Burroughs and Anthony Balch’s cut-up film Towers Open Fire, Carl Dreyer’s motor safety industrial short They Caught the Ferry, and Buster Keaton’s The High Sign are among the picks on a program called “Jim Jar-musch’s Favorite Short Films,” which screens tonight at 8 as part of this week-end’s Movieside Film Festival. After-ward the independent filmmaker will be interviewed by Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum; it’s Jarmusch’s first such talk in Chicago, and it took some two years to set up, according to festival organizer Rusty Nails. The evening starts at 6 with a performance by the band Joan of Arc and a showing of the rarely seen Jarmusch short Int. Trailer. Night, followed by his 1986 film Down by Law. It all takes place at the Bio-graph, 2433 N. Lincoln in Chicago. Tickets are $9 in advance, $10 at the door (773-856-5220). The festival runs through tomorrow night; for a complete schedule see the sidebar in Movies or go to www.movieside.com.
Heather McAdams and husband Chris Ligon–who now live in Delaware–are back in town tonight hosting their Country Calendar Show, in which local bands cover work by artists featured in McAdams’s 2004 illustrated calendar. The lineup includes Kelly Kessler & the Wichita Shut-Ins (covering Bill Monroe), Neko Case (Loretta Lynn), Sally Timms and Jon Langford (Buck Owens), and Kent Kessler (Ernest Tubb). McAdams and Ligon will also screen films featuring the calendar’s country legends. It starts at 9 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt in Berwyn. Tickets are $15; call 708-788-2118. For more on the calendar, e-mail Filmjamboree@yahoo.com.
Exelon owns 13 of the state’s 14 nuclear reactors, and if the legislature hadn’t stonewalled the company’s recent bids to raise rates and purchase Illinois Power, it’d also control the remaining site, in downstate Clinton. “They wanted the legislature to mandate higher rates so they could purchase the company and its reactor site and proceed with building a [second] reactor in Clinton,” says antinuke activist Dave Kraft, director of the Evanston-based Nuclear Energy Information Service. He’ll discuss the links between the proposed Clinton reactor, the pronuclear provisions in the Bush administration’s energy bill, and the international nuclear weapons scene at a talk today called Nuclear Relapse, or Why “Know Nukes” Should Lead to “No Nukes.” It’s from 3 to 5 at the Unitarian Church of Evanston (1330 Ridge in Evanston; 847-864-1318). It’s free, although donations to NEIS are requested. Kraft will give a “warm-up presentation” Saturday night at 8 at the College of Complexes at the Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln in Chicago. It’s $3, and purchase of food or drink is required (312-353-0446 or www.collegeofcomplexes.org). For more on nukes see www.neis.org.
Tribune columnist and WGN radio host Rick Kogan was Ann Landers’s editor during the last five years of her life as well as a close friend. His new book, America’s Mom: The Life, Lessons, and Legacy of Ann Landers, tackles both professional and personal aspects of the advice columnist’s rise after landing the prized gig at the Sun-Times in 1955, covering her feud with her twin sister (Dear Abby), her divorce, and allegations that she recycled letters. Kogan will give a free reading tonight at 6 at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State in Chicago (312-747-4080).
‘Tis the season of Harold Washington, it seems. The folks behind Barbershop are looking to make a movie about the Council Wars, and tonight is the world premiere of Nwenna Kai Gates and David Akinde’s video documentary Harold Washington: The Movement, the Moment, the Man.The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and Washington’s former press secretary, Alton Miller–who’s working on a novel about his old boss. It runs from 6 to 9 at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark in Chicago. Admission is free, but reservations are required; call 312-642-4600.
The Apollo Chorus will present its Baroque version of Handel’s Messiah–which it’s been performing annually since 1879–tonight at 7:30 at Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan in Chicago. (They’ll also do it Sunday, December 21, at 3 at the new Harris Music and Dance Theater in Chicago’s Millennium Park.) The soloists are Ellen Hargis, Angela Horn, Thomas Barrett, and Calland Metts. Tickets range from $15 to $60; call 312-294-3000 or see www.apollochorus.org for more.
The Detholz!, Chicago’s “self-appointed herald of the last days,” will change their tune at the WLUW Holiday Sing-Along. Also playing the third annual fund-raiser: the M’s, ex-Coctails John Upchurch and Mark Greenberg, Steve Frisbie and Liam Davis of Frisbie, and Charles Kim & Grand Lunar, all performing new and classic holiday music. Local chanteuse and sometime WLUW DJ Elizabeth Conant leads the caroling between sets. It’s tonight at 8:30 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport in Chicago. Tickets are $10, and you must be 18. Call 773-525-2508; for more info on the radio station log on to www.wluw.org.
“In the late 1960s or early 1970s there was a transformation of the American Indian on film from noble savage–or ignoble savage–to countercultural icon,” says John Low, a lawyer, university instructor, and member of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi. “Movies reflect the politics and spirit of the times. [In the Vietnam era] Indians were used to take jabs at the dominant society in a safe, commercially viable way.” Low will discuss and show clips from A Man Called Horse, Little Big Man, and Billy Jack in tonight’s edition of his four-part lecture series, Indians in the Movies. It runs from 7 to 9 at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian at Kendall College, 2600 Central Park in Evanston. It’s free with a $5 suggested donation for admission to the museum ($10 per family). Call 847-475-1030 for more.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Susan Anderson.