Posted inArts & Culture

Yo La Tengo

The Hoboken trio Yo La Tengo has been in a reflective mood lately, which befits a band that’s turning 21 this year. They’ve just released a two-disc best-of, Prisoners of Love (Matador), as well as a limited-edition version of the record that includes a third disc of outtakes and rarities culled from their massive array […]

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John Butcher

English soprano and tenor saxophonist John Butcher drew from a pair of 2002 concerts in Japan to make his splendid new album, Cavern With Nightlife (the first on his new label, Weight of Wax), which shows his skillful responsiveness to different surroundings. He had never played with no-input mixing board player Toshimaru Nakamura until their […]

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Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl made her name as a restaurant critic, but in her two best-selling memoirs, Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me With Apples, she proved herself a compelling storyteller as well. The latest (and allegedly final) installment in the trilogy, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise (Penguin), not only […]

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Bassprov

Like Garrison Keillor’s “News From Lake Woebegon,” this series of improvised one-acts delivers episode after episode in an ongoing comic soap opera poking fun at a beloved gaggle of provincials. One of the show’s strengths is that Mark Sutton and Joe Bill, who started Bassprov, have played small-town Hoosiers Donny Weaver and Earl Hinkle off […]

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Ronald K. Brown/Evidence

Ronald K. Brown’s Come Ye is a celebratory work on a sorrowful subject: slavery. Inspired by artist-activists, his suite of dances is set to music by Nina Simone and Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti; it ends with a video montage of American civil rights demonstrations and early figureheads of the movement, including Martin Luther King […]

Posted inMusic

Andrew Bird

When violinist Andrew Bird emerged in the late 90s with his first band, the Bowl of Fire, it was clear that he was a talented musician. Too often, though, his songs sounded like student exercises–he’d tackle one style after another from song to song, as if laboring to impress a professor. By the time he […]

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Dead Wrong

Darby Tillis begins his 50-minute autobiographical monologue by admitting he’s not an actor. Instead he’s onstage because of his powerful experiences: he was the first death row prisoner in Illinois to be exonerated, after he spent nine years in jail, framed for a murder he didn’t commit. The impact of those traumatic years is unmistakable […]

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Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali

Qawwali, the soulful Sufi devotional music of Pakistan and India, no longer enjoys the mainstream attention it did before its greatest practitioner, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, died in 1997. There are still loads of fine qawwali artists working today, but none has been able to match Nusrat’s outsize talent and personality; he almost single-handedly popularized […]

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Cayetano’s Circus

Too many plotlines surge through this 110-minute two-act for New Town Writers by Chicago poet and teacher Robert Klein Engler. The backstory is that the protagonist, a gay college teacher, was fired for a fling with a student, while the principal plot, inflected by a ghost’s testimony, concerns the teacher’s current affair with the gay […]

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Sir Richard Bishop

Since the early 80s, Arizona’s Sun City Girls have done darn near whatever they wanted, exploring whatever musical traditions have captured their interest. That they pull off so many disparate ideas is a credit to their collective technical skills, though the unpolished quality of their records can make it hard to discern just how deep […]

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Nature Girls

For more than a decade Ann Wiens has been making hotly colored animal paintings that radiate an almost dangerous sensuality. In her six new panel paintings at Byron Roche, various nonmammalian creatures are depicted in front of brightly patterned backgrounds that set off their lush colors. Eight-Spotted Forester (Alypia Octomaculata) juxtaposes a red-and-white caterpillar with […]