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Current Events

Stewart Oksenhorn/Aspen Times WeeklyGuitarist Jimmy Herring leads his jazz-fusion band to Belly Up.
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No huge names. No black-clad, credentials-bearing production assistants scurrying about town. No industry big-wigs. No, the Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival isn’t the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. But the new event, in its first incarnation last year, delivered big where it counts – in the laughter department. The event, a collaboration between the Wheeler Opera House and San Francisco-based Rooftop Comedy, returns with even more comedians, and such emerging stars as the political humorist Will Durst, “Reno 911” star Ted Alexandro, and last year’s audience favorite, Matt Braunger. The festival’s three days, Thursday through Saturday, June 11-13, are divided into eight programs, including the finals of the National College Comedy Competition, to be webcast live.

Widespread Panic fans, rejoice! Guitarist Jimmy Herring, who has given Panic new zip since joining up in 2006, makes an appearance at Belly Up, on Tuesday, June 9. But rejoice cautiously, you devotees of Southern rock – Herring’s group is an instrumental outfit that specializes in jazz fusion, with its knotty tempo changes and high-wire soloing. To get a taste of what’s to come, check out “Lifeboat,” the 2008 release that is the first under Herring’s own name. Ultimately, the show should be satisfying, regardless of one’s musical tastes. Herring is a top guitarist and a person who radiates warmth, and the band features powerhouses like drummer Jeff (Apt. Q-258) Sipe and saxophonist Greg Osby.

The Japanese film “Tokyo Sonata” has more than a touch of Scandinavian cinema to it. The title references Ingmar Bergman’s “Autumn Sonata,” and while it doesn’t borrow plot elements from that 1978 classic, there is plenty of resonance in the somber mood and the subject of families heading downward. In Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s eloquent film, an award-winner at Cannes, the father of a Tokyo family loses his job as a mid-level manager. Unemployment, however, isn’t necessarily the problem; it merely exposes the cracks that were hidden by the family’s former financial stability. In Bergmanesque fashion, Kurosawa observes the characters from a cool remove; even the quasi-triumphant ending is portrayed as a muted event. “Tokyo Sonata” is at the Wheeler Opera House Tuesday and Wednesday, June 9-10.


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