Posted inArts & Culture

Chris Gaffney

Southern California roots rocker Chris Gaffney has been bumming around country music and its fringes for decades, backing up people like Ferlin Huskey and Webb Pierce and pursuing his own ragtag solo career. But on his last few records, especially the superb new Loser’s Paradise (Hightone), he’s truly come into his own. The perfect candidate […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Opera Factory

To celebrate its tenth anniversary the Opera Factory is venturing out of its well-respected niche of reviving the zarzuela, Spain’s national folk-operetta genre, and offering a welcome Manuel de Falla double bill. Arguably the most inventive Spanish composer of this century, Falla did dabble in the zarzuela in his youth, but it was the 1905 […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Reader to Reader

We’re in the first inning of a little league play-off game, near the end of a long, hot, humid season. Nerves on edge, no one’s happy. One side says the other side has batted out of order, and though it’s just a minor error an argument grows to include several parents. The coaches are yelling. […]

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North Park Chamber Players

The season opener for North Park College’s chamber music series is a thoughtful tribute to Schubert, featuring some of the composer’s miniature gems and a memorial by John Harbison. The sublime, forlorn scena The Shepherd on the Rock–performed by soprano Sunny Joy Langton, clarinetist Dileep Gangolli, and pianist Elizabeth Buccheri–is a chestnut, but how often […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

BOOGIE SHOES 9/8, DOUBLE DOOR With their debut album, Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 (NoVo), the release of which this gig celebrates, Boogie Shoes demonstrate that they lack both humor (cf the CD’s lame title) and depth. A five-piece band frequently appended by a blustery horn section, these locals combine tediously familiar funk grooves, specks of […]

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Right Time, Wrong Place

Chicago Jazz Festival Grant Park, September 2 The lineup for the second night of the jazz festival looked promising. Opening the evening would be the Chicago-based George Freeman Quartet, a bop-rooted group featuring the leader’s biting and lyrical electrical guitar sounds and his better-known brother Von, a towering tenor saxophonist, on piano. They’d be followed […]

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The mysterious British band Pram is obviously preoccupied with the sea. Their forthcoming album Sargasso Sea (Too Pure/American) has songs called “Eels” and “Sea Swells and Distant Squalls,” and artwork for previous releases has included plenty of underwater photography. The band’s slippery and at times hallucinogenic music even sounds muted by water. Centered on the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Tempest

Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, at the Theatre Building. Touring here for a second season, this earnest ensemble at any rate brings efficiency to the Bard, briskly delivering each drama at under two hours in rapid-fire but seldom singsong speeches (the rotating repertory also includes Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead). Doubling […]

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The Santa Anas and All Judy’s Men Leave

Chicago TheatreWorks, at the Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, South Hall. Some playwrights seem to have difficulty remembering that they’re writing for the live stage, not for the television studio. John L. Wood’s two new full-length plays, both being produced by Chicago TheatreWorks, are full of the manufactured improbabilities and facile plot devices that network producers […]