Posted inArts & Culture

Andrew W.K.

Selling out implies that an artist has some integrity, and that he’s relinquishing it to move product. But Andrew W.K. never had any such notions of virtue; he’s just a weirdo who perfected a familiar formula–big songs with big guitars, big hooks, and even bigger choruses–and decided to go for the gold. In the mid-90s, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Danni Leigh

On her 1998 debut album, 29 Nights (Decca), Danni Leigh sent a current of rockabilly sass rippling through neotraditionalist honky-tonk and was quickly pegged as “the female Dwight Yoakam.” But that formula, so successful for Yoakam, wasn’t enough to score her radio play; the record stiffed, and she soon parted ways with the label. Early […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Vassar Clements

Fiddler Vassar Clements grew up in Kissimmee, Florida, listening to big-band jazz at local dance halls and to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio. In the mid-40s he was captivated by Chubby Wise, whose mercurial violin provided much of the harmonic complexity and emotional intensity in Bill Monroe’s fabled “high lonesome” bluegrass sound, and […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

COME ONS 3/15, BEAT KITCHEN This trio plays sweet 60s pop ‘n’ soul so period perfect I keep expecting them to turn up on an Austin Powers sound track; instead they’ve released their second album, Hip Check!, on Sympathy for the Record Industry. They’re charter members of Detroit’s incestuous and lively rawk scene: drummer Patrick […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Beginning of August

The Beginning of August, Pendulum Theatre Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Tom Donaghy is best known to Chicago audiences for his quirky Down the Shore, produced at the Goodman almost a decade ago. For all its faults, that play displayed an infectious, almost intoxicating love of language. The Beginning of August is much less daring. […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Dr. Who?

In last week’s review of Who’s That Doctor? I misidentified the actor playing Peter Davison, the fifth doctor; credit for this showstopping turn belongs to the excellent Michael Klug. I apologize for the error and am having my eyes examined. Brian Nemtusak

Posted inArts & Culture

The Waverly Gallery

The Waverly Gallery, Pegasus Players. Sticking his neck way out with this 2001 Pulitzer finalist, playwright Kenneth Lonergan audaciously suggests over the course of two hours that Alzheimer’s is really, really bad. It drives feisty gallery owner Gladys right around the bend and makes her family feel god-awful. It doesn’t, however, lead to moral or […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Stoops, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. Crystal V. Rhodes’s fresh, witty language and rich characters keep her 1983 play from becoming yet another banal celebration of women’s friendships. Sinking into sitcom sweetness at the end, this playful coming-of-age story–first produced at ETA in 1995 and now being given a vibrant new staging by Charles Michael Moore–focuses […]

Posted inFilm

California Trilogy

Experimental films usually attempt to rearrange our reflexes along with our expectations. James Benning’s 270-minute, 16-millimeter “California Trilogy” does that in part by obliging us to rethink the way we interpret “directed by” and “written by.” If “directing” refers to the placement of camera and microphone, then Benning—who works alone, recording image and sound by […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Foolish Forecast

Ted Kleine’s article about the sheer terror that ought to be inspired by our rapidly changing climate [“Hot and Bothered,” March 8] would be welcome if it weren’t such a poor specimen. By arguing that the new climate makes Chicago worse for skiers, ducks, or even farmers, Kleine tacitly legitimates the counterclaim that it’s better […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Buster Williams Quartet

Veteran bassist Buster Williams has a fat but agile pulse and a tone like liquid mahogany, and his unyielding belief in the melodic potential of his accompaniment lines consistently elevates them above mere functionality. If you need an easy reference point, think of Ron Carter, but without the exaggerated attack and fussy detail–indeed, when Carter […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Women in the Director’s Chair International Film & Video Festival

The 21st annual Women in the Director’s Chair International Film & Video Festival, featuring narrative, documentary, animated, and experimental works by women, runs Friday, March 15, through Sunday, March 24. Screenings are at Preston Bradley Center and WIDC Theater, both at 941 W. Lawrence; Chicago Eagle, 5015 N. Clark; Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Global Warming Myth

Dear editor, After reading last week’s cover story by Ted Kleine entitled “Hot and Bothered,” I strongly feel you left out one key and critical expert source. His name is Dr. Chicken Little, director of the Barnyard Institute of Climatology. If you don’t recall, Dr. Little was famous in the recent past when he proved, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chicago Cabaret Convention

“From the 1940s until her death in 1984 Mabel Mercer was regarded by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Leontyne Price as the definitive cafe singer, an artist who struck a deep personal chord in nearly everybody who came to hear her,” writes James Gavin in his chronicle of cabaret, Intimate Nights. The nonprofit Mabel Mercer […]