Posted inNews & Politics

Zine of Record

J-Bird has identified with hip hop since he was a shorty in Waukegan. It shows in everything from his speech to his mannerisms–he sounds like a Bronx teen and gestures with his hands like a laid-back MC. The 24-year-old J-Bird (aka Jason Cook) has just launched a new zine called Caught in the Middle, a […]

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Awake and Sing!

Raven Theatre. Some plays never date; instead the viewer grows up with them, shifting sympathy from one character to another as he or she comes to resemble one more than the other. A drama that sums up many real-life struggles, Clifford Odets’s still-subversive 1934 masterwork Awake and Sing! presents us with a Depression-era family for […]

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The Amen Corner

Stage Actors Ensemble, at Bryn Mawr Theatre. James Baldwin’s play may be read as Sophoclean tragedy, in which the protagonist is punished for excessive pride, or as a woman’s reassessment of the moral path her life has taken. It may be seen as a contemplation on whether one’s first religious duty is to God or […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Unscene Artist

Many thanks for Harold Henderson’s January 6 cover story on artist Bob Guinan. The writing and pictures were worthy of Bob’s estimable, and lamentably underacknowledged, contribution to “the art scene”–a phrase and a concept that would make him wince. Sensitively captured in the story are the blend of warmth and gentle cynicism that make him […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Sunnyland Slim

Sunnyland Slim sometimes struggles a bit under the weight of his 87 years–his legendary voice has become almost as frail as his body, which for so long seemed to defy the laws of nature and time–but he wears the mantle of Chicago blues patriarch with dignity and retains the stylistic individuality that’s distinguished him since […]

Posted inNews & Politics

A Copy, Right?

About two months ago, the benevolent souls at Motorbooty magazine sent several copies of our new issue to the Reader, hoping for critical hosannas or at least a well-aimed missive. Among countless other gut-busting gems, the issue features a parody of Apple’s well-known “What’s on Your PowerBook?” ad. The parody lists a number of hypothetical […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana has cropped up on the sound tracks of at least a dozen movies in the last 20 years, most notably as exhortations to battle in Excalibur and Glory. In writing what he described as “profane songs for singers and chorus, to be sung to the accompaniment of instruments and magical images” […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Bay at Nice

at Turn Around Theatre. Some productions around town are entertaining, but few could be classified as fine art. Veteran Chicago director June Pyskacek’s production of David Hare’s The Bay at Nice, however, comes awfully close: this kind of grace, wit, and intelligence are rare. Watching this all-too-brief meditation on art and artifice is like being […]

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Huun-Huur-Tu

Just over a year ago, on one of last winter’s most bitterly cold nights, Huun-Huur-Tu, the strange folk ensemble from Tuva, a small region in southern Siberia just north of Mongolia, made its Chicago debut with a fascinating exposition of khoomei (throat singing)–a haunting vocal style in which the singers sound as if they’re simultaneously […]

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Jackie Allen With Melvin Rhyne

A renaissance will always lure an audience; but organist/pianist Melvin Rhyne’s spirit and authority would draw a crowd even if he weren’t experiencing an international resurgence. In the last three years Rhyne has recorded several albums for the Dutch label Criss Cross (one of them featuring the young tenor sensation Joshua Redman) and appeared as […]

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Pushin’ Up Roses

Nine months ago it was a promising mess. After a major overhaul, which lopped off nine-tenths of the melodrama, Nomenil’s first piece, Pushin’ Up Roses, delivers on that promise. In this condensed version of their bit of theatrical mischief, writers Allen Conkle and Courtney Evans still refuse to play nice: they create an absurdly fetid, […]

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Before Sunrise

Richard Linklater goes Hollywood–triumphantly and with an overall intelligence, sweetness, and romantic simplicity that reminds me of wartime weepies like The Clock (1945). After meeting on a train out of Budapest, a young American (Ethan Hawke) and a French student (Julie Delpy) casually explore Vienna for 14 hours. What emerges from their impromptu date has […]