Among the best local debuts of this past year was by the Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers. Jason Isbell was not part of that May show at Belly Up; Isbell, one of three frontmen in the Truckers, had parted ways with the band a month earlier. But he doesn’t seem to be adrift at all. “Sirens of the Ditch,” the 28-year-old Isbell’s solo debut, was released in July, and it’s easy to see the space between the solo material and the Truckers songs. “Sirens of the Ditch” is more refined, with more pronounced pop and country elements than the Truckers’ raw Southern rock. Still, Isbell seems to be on jamming terms with his former mates; appearing on the CD are the Truckers’ Patterson Hood, who also co-produced the album, Sonna Tucker and Brad Morgan. Isbell makes his own Aspen debut, with his band, the 400 Unit, Tuesday, Nov. 20, at Belly Up, with the Williams Brothers Duo opening.
You can’t help but be impressed with the level of talent on display in the Roaring Fork Open. The Aspen Art Museum’s biannual show is open to any local who cares to spread some paint on a canvas, but instead of getting amateur-hour at the museum, we get a rich, diverse exhibition in which the effort behind the art is evident. Perhaps most noteworthy is how many of the contributors are working on the cutting-edge of media, themes and emotions. The Roaring Fork Open, with some 100 works, runs through Sunday, Nov. 25 in the downstairs gallery. Upstairs, the exhibit To the Wall, with installations by Dutch artist Lily von Stokker, and David Shrigley, an English native who lives in Glasgow, runs through Dec. 2.
Among Stephen King’s best works is “The Mist,” a novella that appeared in the 1980 story collection, “Skeleton Crew.” It is, no surprise, heavy on horror, as a fog envelops a small town in Maine, stranding a crew of residents in the local supermarket. There is an element of the supernatural, as strange creatures lurk in the haze. But like most of King’s strongest stories, this one emphasizes characters and local legends, adding texture and a dose of reality. The film adaptation has several things going for it. The director and screenwriter is Frank Darabont, who has turned previous King books, “The Green Mile” and “The Shawshank Redemption,” into cinematic gold. And like those two, as well as “Misery,” “The Mist” has King sticking close to life as we know it. The film, starring Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden and Marcia Gay Harden, shows this week in El Jebel.
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