One has to wonder: Was Barry Smith intentionally seeking odd adventures as fodder for his later one-man stage comedies? Several years ago, the Aspenite (and Aspen Times columnist) turned his summer living in a Christian doomsday cult into “Jesus In Montana,” which has won raves from New York to Fresno. Now comes “American Squatter,” which examines Smith’s time living in abandoned London flats and ties it in with the rearing he got from his cleanliness-obsessed Mississippi father. As with the previous show, “American Squatter” is accompanied by an extensive visual record – proof that Smith knew all along he would need evidence of his far-fetched tales? “American Squatter” has its world premiere Saturday and Sunday, May 5-6, at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale, where Smith has developed the piece.
The story Clifford Irving came up with in 1970 – that he had done a series of interviews with reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes – was, in the end, too good to be true. The conversations were totally faked. But the equally audacious back story – that Irving, now an Aspen resident, and cohort Dick Suskind came within inches of convincing publishing giant McGraw-Hill the Hughes autobiography was legit – is fact. With a stranger-than-fiction combination of chutzpah and luck, and a staggering gullibility on the part of the publishers, Irving almost pulled off the scam of the century. Director Lasse Hallström’s “The Hoax,” based on Irving’s memoirs and starring Richard Gere as Irving, focuses on the gall and the improbable near-success, rather than delving into the minds of the pranksters. It makes for an entertaining, rather than insightful, film, with Gere in top form. “The Hoax” shows Friday through Tuesday, May 4-8, at the Wheeler Opera House.
“Taos to Tennessee,” the 1987 debut by singer Tish Hinojosa, revealed more Nashville than New Mexico, with its country-folk flavor. But there is more than a hint of Hinojosa’s native West Texas in the album (which has twice been re-released), and the San Antonio-born Hinojosa has fully embraced her Latin roots. In 1991, she released “Aquella Noche,” which drew on the Spanish-language ballads Hinojosa was raised on, and “Memorabilia Navidena,” an album of Christmas songs in Spanish. Since then, she has swung comfortably between two languages (last year’s career-spanning “Retrospective” was split evenly between songs in English and Spanish), making her a hero in two communities. Hinojosa performs Wednesday, May 3, at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale – a nice warm-up for el Cinco de Mayo.
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City of Aspen officials are trying to figure out what the downtown core looks like this winter as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the state and in some parts of the country.