September 4, 2009
Before becoming a ’70s FM hit machine, the Doobie Brothers were a biker band, stirring up a following among Hell’s Angels around Santa Cruz. Keep that in mind, and the lineup on Sunday, Sept. 6 at Jazz Aspen’s Labor Day Festival makes perfect sense. The day opens with the Drive By Truckers, whose rowdy, PBR-drinking, trucker hat-wearing fans could well be envisioned arriving by motorcycle caravan from Grand Junction. The Alabama-bred Truckers play a gritty, literate version of rock ‘n’ roll that has only a little in common with the boogie-blues of the day’s headliner, the Allman Brothers Band – but the two share a Southern-ness that is essential to their personae. Even if you don’t buy the connection, the Allmans and the Drive By Truckers stand on their own merits as must-see live acts. (The jury is out on the Doobies, who haven’t played Aspen in years.) Sunday’s lineup is more of a stylistic piece than Saturday’s, which featured prog-rock jammers Umphrey’s McGee; Elvis Costello, who has evolved from New Wave punk into a genre-jumping master; and the hip-pop group Black Eyed Peas.
The canned phrases that leave the mouths of presidents and senators can be maddening in their blandness and meaninglessness. The British satire “In the Loop” goes down a couple notches in the hierarchy, to the mid-level ministers and their aides, to find political-speak in all its bluster, threats and F-bombs. Here, everyone says exactly what they mean. Director Armando Ianucci starts at the run-up to the Iraq War, with pro- and anti- factions on both sides of the Atlantic maneuvering for the upper hand. It’s not a chess match; it’s a checkers game, played by bloated egos and hapless policy wonks, but with careers, reputations – and, yeah, the invasion of another country – on the line. Nearly mockumentary in style, “In the Loop” has a corrosive take on its characters that makes “Best in Show” seem adoring. But it scores points for relevance and insight the overall pace and tone take on a frantic giddiness, and the dialogue is hilarious. Featuring James Gandolfini as an anti-war general and British actor Peter Capaldi as the exemplar of the foul-mouthed, bullying bureaucrat, the film shows Sunday through Tuesday, Sept. 6-8, at the Wheeler Opera House.