Posted inArts & Culture

Birth of a Sun

BIRTH OF A SUN, hOstage tHeater cOmpany, at Voltaire. Playwright S. Lamar Jordan doesn’t believe in following a formula. His last play, Wallfly, made for a sprawling, loquacious, quasi-surreal slice-of-life evening. It couldn’t be more different from this stripped-down, 20-minute Beckettian one-act. Two characters, Black and White (played on different nights by different actors drawn […]

Posted inMusic

Mars Williams

MARS WILLIAMS You won’t find a busier saxophonist in Chicago than Mars Williams, thanks to the array of projects he leads apart from his main gig. But while the world at large knows him primarily through the successful Liquid Soul, his “acid jazz” (read: 60s soul funk) band, Williams’s heart lies among the shifting structures […]

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Hip-Hopping All Over the Map

Various Artists Return of the DJ Volume II (Bomb Hip-hop Records) By Jon Dolan In the 70s rap pioneer Afrika Bambaataa used to ask Bronx party people, “Would you ever dance to the Beatles?” When they shook their sweaty heads smugly he’d smile back, just as smug: “Well,” he’d say, “you did tonight.” He’d go […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

This week we got contest prizes. Recently I hid a quote from a classic Hollywood film in my column and challenged my cinema-savvy readers to identify the quote and send in a letter telling me who said it, in what film, and why it is the greatest movie ever made. Well, hundreds of answers poured […]

Posted inMusic

Chrome Cranks

CHROME CRANKS New York City’s Chrome Cranks deliver a dark, dirty hybrid of garage, punk, and blues that could bring out the Bukowski in anyone. You know–hit the bar in broad daylight, pick up the person on the next stool, etc, etc, and then come back for more. Front man Peter Aaron has a stage […]

Posted inMusic

Buddy and Julie Miller

BUDDY AND JULIE MILLER Country music has had its fair share of husband-and-wife teams over the years–Hank and Audrey, George and Tammy, Merle and Bonnie, and Waylon and Jessi, to name a few–but it’s hard to think of one whose talents are as balanced as Buddy and Julie Miller’s. The vast range of their singing […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson Laurie Anderson was digital before Wired coined the term digerati, a cybernaut before William Gibson discovered cyberspace, a composer of electronic music before electronica became the newest niche in the musical marketplace. But with the electronic revolution in art, we can see Anderson for what she always was: a gender-bending visionary. Years before […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

DIANOGAH 10/3, EMPTY BOTTLE Two basses and drums are the perfect instrumentation for those of us who came of age listening to a lot of screechy, trebly 80s metal and now worry about hearing loss in the higher registers. As Mike Watt and Kira already proved years ago with their groundbreaking bass duo Dos (and […]

Posted inArts & Culture


CLEAN, Factory Theater. Michael Meredith’s last Factory outlet was Being at Choice, a dead-on parody of a support group coming unstuck. But that ballsy comedy is a far cry from the schizoid curiosities of Clean, a strangely shifty play that purports to spoof TV shows like Cops. Resembling scuzzy outtakes from true-crime series, early scenes […]

Posted inMusic

Susana Baca

SUSANA BACA In order to keep most non-English-language music neatly marketable, labels usually pigeonhole it; most Latin and South American music gets forced into some quaint folkloric tradition or a salsa-related nook. That’s not the case with the striking self-titled domestic debut from Peruvian singer Susana Baca, who first made a stateside splash last year […]

Posted inMusic

Paul Weller

Paul Weller When the Jam released its first LP 20 years ago, Paul Weller was denounced by his punk peers as a 60s revivalist, shamelessly copping riffs from the Who, the Kinks, and Motown. Now, enshrined in a five-CD box set, the Jam is lauded by third-generation Brit poppers Blur and Oasis. Meanwhile Weller has […]

Posted inFilm

Creosote and More: Videos by Eric Saks

Creosote and More: Videos by Eric Saks Eight years have passed since Eric Saks released his remarkable first feature, the pseudodocumentary Forevermore: Biography of a Leach Lord, but judging from this eye-opening collection of videos, which he’ll present in person, he hasn’t been idle. Touch Tone (1995), reportedly also available in a graphic novel version, […]

Posted inArts & Culture


BAGLADY, Nova Productions, at Voltaire. This one-woman show by Irish playwright Frank McGuinness forestalls any empathy with its protagonist, a mentally ill vagrant who over the course of an hour holds court with a dog, her father, and a passerby. To the viewer, who sees nothing but one woman prowling a stark stage, these appear […]