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Singer-songwriter Steve Poltz performs March 18 at Belly Up Aspen. (Frank Lee Drennen)
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Singer-songwriter Steve Poltz reveals all the necessary autobiographical details in A Brief History of My Life, from his engaging new CD, Traveling: the family relocation from Canada to California, his allergies, his memories of the constant baseball games on the radio. The rest of the CD does a splendid job of filling in the blanks: He has an irreverent sense of humor with which he jabs U.S. military policy, Elvis (for once giving Poltzs sister an inappropriately long hug), and himself. Poltz, who has co-written songs with Jewel and released an album, Answering Machine, consisting of short ditties he composed as his outgoing messages, embellishes his folk-rock sensibility with unexpected rhythmic outbursts and dense production that recalls, from an older era, the Beach Boys, and the contemporary act Iron and Wine. Poltz plays an early show, Tuesday, March 18, at Belly Up Aspen.

A full-time comedy club in Aspen just doesnt seem like its ever going to fly, so the Wheeler Opera House has stepped in admirably with the Whats So Funny? series (and more comedy events to come, the Wheeler promises). And since a venue devoted to belly dancing is the most far-fetched idea short of a full-time mime club, the Wheeler is filling the communitys appetite for the art form. The Bellydance Superstars, a Los Angeles troupe specializing in an American take on belly dancing that includes comedy and electronica, makes its Western Slope debut Sunday, March 16, at the Wheeler. The company was formed by record exec Miles Copeland, brother of Police drummer Stewart Copeland and manager of the Police.

Though he would continue to successfully write lyrics, Ira Gershwin never fully recovered from the death of his younger brother and musical partner, George. (After George died in 1937 at the age of 38 from a brain tumor, Ira went three years without working.) But in the early 50s, Ira was sufficiently healed to consider the idea of using the Gershwin/Gershwin catalog in a film. Over a game of pool, producer and lyricist Arthur Freed floated the outline of a musical an expat American paints, falls in love and dances in Paris to a score of great Gershwin numbers. The two signed up director Vincente Minnelli, star and choreographer Gene Kelly, and Leslie Caron, a young dancer whom Kelly had found in a Paris ballet school. (Maurice Chevalier was approached to co-star, but was dropped amidst whispers of past collaboration with the Nazis.) The result was 1951s An American in Paris, ranked by the American Film Institute as the greatest American film musical. It shows Saturday, March 22, at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the Wheeler Opera House, with local film historian Bob Klineman engaging in a Q-and-A session afterward.

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