Posted inArts & Culture

Directions in Music

Since I haven’t yet heard Directions in Music–the quintet convened for this tour, and hasn’t recorded–it’s hard for me to imagine any way this show could go wrong. To celebrate what would’ve been the 75th birthdays of Miles Davis and John Coltrane (born four months apart in 1926), pianist Herbie Hancock–arguably their equal in terms […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Life and Debt

Stephanie Black’s eye-opening documentary focuses on how the International Monetary Fund has devastated Jamaica’s agriculture and industry, but it also powerfully illustrates what globalization has been doing to underdeveloped countries around the world. An ideal companion to No Logo, Naomi Klein’s bible of the antiglobalization movement, the film shows in depressing detail how Jamaica’s independence […]

Posted inMusic

Drive-By Truckers

Southern rock has a toehold again nowadays, and as a transplanted southerner, in theory I’m all for it. But I sometimes find myself giving the fish eye when the stars ‘n’ bars show up on a sticker for some garage band from Seattle: what exactly do you mean by that? As a symbol the Confederate […]

Posted inFilm

Good Vibrations

Waking Life **** Directed and written by Richard Linklater. The cinema is an antiuniverse where reality is born out of a sum of unrealities. –Jean Epstein I must have come across this statement by Epstein, a French theorist and filmmaker (1897-1953), in the late 60s or early 70s, but I no longer remember where. I’ve […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Henry Flamethrowa

Henry Flamethrowa, Victory Gardens Theater. John Belluso’s breezy 80-minute drama, about a comatose young woman who may or may not have the power to heal, is about a lot of things: Catholic mysticism, moral relativism, the Internet, dysfunctional families, investigative journalism, and the place of evil in the postmodern world. And that’s a problem. If […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Lovely Little Girls

Gregory Jacobsen, aka Gregory Gush Gush, the ringleader of local act Lovely Little Girls, has been freaking out the few and the proud for some time, showing up to dance on Chic-a-Go-Go wearing a grotesque handmade mask or verbally assaulting listeners of WZRD’s Frump! Strumpet! Strife! comedy and sound-collage show with outbursts about poo. Though […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Terry Evans

As a young man in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Terry Evans sang in a church choir, but his love for secular music like blues and R & B–he secretly listened to the likes of Elmore James and John Lee Hooker–would set the course for the rest of his career. He moved to Los Angeles in 1962, where […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Gauguin–The Musical

Gauguin–The Musical, at the Chopin Theatre. Grant Robbin has written pleasant melodies for this world-premiere musical, but his lyrics are relentlessly pedestrian. Moreover he lacks the dramatic skill to depict Gauguin both honestly and sympathetically. Instead of showing the conflict between family and art, Robbin simply announces it at the beginning and spends the rest […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Mandy Patinkin

When Mandy Patinkin unveiled his new one-man show on Broadway September 10, he closed the evening with what a New York Times critic called a “heavy-handed” medley of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s blistering “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” (“You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late…to hate all the people your relatives hate”) and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady, Drury Lane Oakbrook. “Those dear boys have lost their talent,” declared Mary Martin after hearing the score of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s My Fair Lady. But the show went on to become the greatest Broadway hit of the 1950s. And audiences still delight in Loewe’s lush, playful melodies, Lerner’s witty […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Martyr

The Martyr, Great Beast Theater, at Frankie J’s. After an appearance at the Rhinoceros Theater Festival, Jennifer Biddle LaFleur restages her solo work about a woman hell-bent on achieving spiritual glory. Her quest, inspired by a carpet stain resembling the Blessed Virgin, begins as a regimen of self-sacrifice (eating Grape-Nuts and rubbing her body with […]

Posted inMusic

Gimme Shelter

It would be nice to always be able to present the album or concert review as a completely self-contained unit, a nice symmetrical form independent of what went on outside its frame of reference. For instance: I’m in love with the Japanese psych band Acid Mothers Temple, especially after seeing them play in Chicago twice […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Rumpelstiltskin

Rumpelstiltskin, Emerald City Theatre Company, at the Apollo Theater. The latest Emerald City children’s musical theater offering is clever and fun but lacks the company’s usual polish and vivacity. Alyn Cardarelli’s book adapts the familiar tale of a mischievous troll who will claim the firstborn son of the princess if she can’t guess his name. […]