Posted inArts & Culture

Little Milton

Bluesman Little Milton began his recording career at Sun Records in the 50s, but until he arrived at Chess Records in the early 60s his output mainly consisted of well-crafted but undistinguished pastiches of ideas from established artists. Working with producer Billy Davis and saxophonist-arranger Gene “Daddy G” Barge at Chess, Milton forged his signature […]

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EKG

As soloists, double reedist Kyle Bruckmann and trumpeter Ernst Karel are versatile and fluent, but as the electroacoustic duo EKG their sound world is scrupulously bounded. Using analog electronics, they generate Geiger-counter blips, shortwave crackles, and lonesome feedback whistles. Their horns, typically routed through effects or amplified so that an intake of breath sounds like […]

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The Nose

Last season director Julieanne Ehre transformed Ibsen’s messy The Lady From the Sea into tidy theater. Now she’s adapted Nikolay Gogol’s tidy short story “The Nose” into a tortured mess. This 1836 tale of a self-important civil servant humiliated when his nose disappears, then reappears as a high-ranking official, is a masterpiece of narrative efficiency […]

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Architecture Days

Architectural Digest sponsors this three-city program of tours “celebrating leading voices in the fields of architecture and design” (the others are being held in LA and New York City). Tickets are available at www.architecturedays.com; advance purchase is required. Proceeds benefit the Chicago Architecture Foundation and the Wright Preservation Trust. Details on where to meet, appropriate […]

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God’s Country

Steven Dietz’s 1988 docudrama about the racist Christian terrorist sect the Order, which was responsible for the 1984 slaying of Denver radio host Alan Berg, feels mighty stodgy compared to more hard-hitting documentary plays like Emily Mann’s Greensboro: A Requiem and Moises Kaufman’s The Laramie Project. Dietz dutifully provides the documentary portion through a barrage […]

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At Last: A Tribute to Etta James

Near the end of this musical retrospective the audience joins in when a character proclaims once again, “I just love me some Etta James.” Writer-director Jackie Taylor may offer too many self-help affirmations in this production–she’d rather analyze the singer’s emotional state than give actual details about her life–but she knows how to entertain her […]

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Palindromes

No comic filmmaker in America works as hard as Todd Solondz to ride the knife’s edge between humor and pathos: his characters are lonely, unhappy, and helplessly cruel to one another, but intimate encounters between them often crash past the barriers of misery into hilarity. This is his first movie since Storytelling tanked at the […]

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The Straight Dope

Although I realize you don’t have firsthand knowledge of women’s monthly cycles, I feel confident that you will be able to answer my query, o wise one! Does alcohol affect you differently depending on which week of your cycle you’re in? A girlfriend of mine told me that you will get drunk easier closer to […]

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True West

I’ve seen this play so many times I can practically repeat the lines with the actors. Sam Shepard’s 1980 drama about the reunion of two brothers, one a weak, respectable suburbanite and the other an untamed animal, is frequently revived, usually by recent college graduates. Seldom has it been done by anyone, however, as well […]

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Accidental Death of an Anarchist

A few months after anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli “accidentally” fell from a fourth-story window while being interrogated by the Milan police for a bombing he didn’t commit, playwright provocateur Dario Fo wrote and toured this caustic satire of the sordid affair, indicting the police a year before the lead investigator was actually charged with manslaughter in […]

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Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky

As a monologuist David Cale can create a dozen nuanced characters in a single evening. But playing a single part in a chamber musical he wrote himself–alcoholic former country-western star Floyd Duffner–Cale replaces nuance with vacant stares, expressionless singing, and a cartoonish dumb-hick drawl. As his semi love interest, aspiring young singing sensation Clea, neophyte […]

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Ponys

Plenty of current rock bands borrow sounds from the glory days of CBGB or from the slightly gothier British scene of the years that followed, but few seem like they’re investing themselves wholeheartedly–which is completely wrongheaded, because if there’s anything inspiring to take away from the tragic stories of Johnny Thunders and Ian Curtis, it’s […]