August 14, 2009
So what lies beyond the trio of Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas, who made their string magic together this past week at the Benedict Music Tent? Answer: Punch Brothers, the string quintet led by 28-year-old Chris Thile. The mandolinist, who made his Aspen Music Festival debut last summer in a duo with bassist Meyer, has moved on from his last group, the prominent acoustic trio Nickel Creek. Punch Brothers – rounded out by Chris Eldridge, Paul Kowert, Noam Pikelny and Gabe Witcher – uses the classic bluegrass instrumentation, but ranges well outside bluegrass to explore composed music. The group’s debut album, 2008’s “Punch,” features “The Blind Leading the Blind,” Thile’s four-movement suite that combines composed and improvised segments. Punch Brothers make their Aspen debut Monday, Aug. 17 at Harris Hall.
Among the hits of this summer season has been Theatre Aspen’s Sunday Series, which has featured concerts, Aspenite Barry Smith’s one-man shows, and last week’s hit storytelling event, What’s Your Story? Next up is Beth Malone, a part-time Snowmass Villager and a cast member of Theatre Aspen’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” The talented Malone presents her show, “Local Girl Makes Good,” which features her brother Brian, a crack band, and songs from her 2008 CD, “The Lunch Shift.” If there are any doubts about Malone’s ability to cross from musical theater to straight-up music performance, a Youtube clip of her singing Steve Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” should erase them. It’s worth checking out even if you have no such doubts. Malone’s hour-long show is set for Sunday, Aug. 16 at the Theatre Aspen tent.
Woody Allen often expressed fears about getting old, though his concerns usually regarded his health. The sad fact is that Allen’s late-life slide has been up on the screen in public view. The best thing about his last few movies has been the casting of women who may not have great material to work with, but at least look spectacular. Thank god for Scarlett Johansson. In “Whatever Works,” Allen tries a different casting trick, with Larry David in the role of Boris, a cranky New Yorker who gives up his set ways when a young runaway woman (Evan Rachel Wood) makes her way into his apartment. The themes and setting look familiar; let’s hope that using David shakes Allen out of his funk.