With the Flecktones, banjoist Bla Fleck ingeniously mixes bluegrass and jazz. But that disparate combination seems logical compared to the genres mixed in the Sparrow Quartet. The band which is led by banjoist and singer Abigail Washburn, and features Fleck on banjo as well blends American string music with Chinese lyrics and melodies. The 29-year-old Washburn caught the Asian bug at Colorado College, where she was the schools first East Asian studies major. After several visits to China, she landed in Nashville, and in the all-girl bluegrass group, Uncle Earl. When she began recording her own albums 2005s Song of the Traveling Daughter, and last years Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet what came out was a cross of Appalachian strings and a Mandarin accent. The group rounded out by cellist Ben Sollee and fiddler Casey Driessen makes its Aspen debut Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Wheeler Opera House.
It can seem like the entire world of adventure and nature is right outside our doors in the Roaring Fork Valley. Mountainfilm on Tour reminds us there are plenty of other worlds and stories to take account of. This years version of the annual traveling film festival opens our eyes to conservation efforts on the rivers of Papua New Guinea; skiing in Greenland that redefines the concept of wilderness; 91-year-old athlete and conservationist Martin Litton; a couple taking a treacherous bike ride across Mongolia and Tibet and into India; and loads more. Mountainfilm on Tour, an extension of Tellurides Mountainfilm festival, comes to the Colorado Rocky Mountain School Barn, Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 5-7, with a different program each day.
If the Academy gave out effort awards for acting, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet would both merit consideration for their work in Revolutionary Road. Both give it their all and then some: he, demonstrating the frustration of an ordinary existence and dashed dreams in 1950s suburbia; she, revealing the fragile psyche of a failed actress. And when they go at each other, the temperature of the performances gets raised several degrees. The question is: To what end? In director Sam Mendes adaptation of the Richard Yates novel, the acting is terribly overheated relative to the action. All of DiCaprio and Winslets emoting doesnt disguise the hollowness of the story of Frank and Kate Wheeler, or the tired clichs of 1950s America. Revolutionary Road is up for one major Oscar for supporting actor Michael Shannon, as the mentally disturbed neighbor who (unnecessarily) stirs up the Wheelers pot. The film shows this week in Aspen.
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