November 20, 2009
John Popper has a huge appetite for musical expression. Even when Blues Traveler was in its hard-touring days, Popper and his harmonica sat in with remarkable frequency with David Letterman’s band. Popper was the force behind the Further Festival, and would make guest appearances with the bands on that traveling hippie-fest. In 2006, he finally put together a semi-regular side band, the John Popper Project, which gave him an opportunity to collaborate with DJ Logic, the jam world’s designated turntablist. The Project also features Blues Traveler bassist Tad Kinchla and drummer Marcus Bleecker. The group released a promising CD in 2006 and has done some touring since, with stops in Aspen. They return for a free show on Saturday, Nov. 28 at the base of Aspen Mountain, part of the Aspen Winternational World Cup celebration.
Often, the best way to see a place is through the eyes of an outsider. The film “Paris” is by writer-director Cedric Klapisch – a Frenchman – and despite the title, it fails to provide any grand perspective on the city. Paris isn’t portrayed as beautiful or romantic or historic; it is the setting where his characters happen to live. But the world these people inhabit is a caring place – not the snobby Paris so often depicted – and this seems to be Klapisch’s point. At the center of the film is Pierre, a professional dancer whose life is threatened by an ailing heart. From his apartment window, he watches life unfold: an old professor with a crush on a young student; an immigrant who gets a job at a local bakery. And inside his apartment, Pierre gets reacquainted with his sister Elise, a divorced woman with three children and tentative hopes for further romance. Juliette Binoche, as Elise, is the best reason to watch “Paris.” Without her, the film would be disjointed and pointless. It shows Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 24-25, at Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House. For a better film about Paris, try “Paris, Je T’aime,” the 2006 collection of short stories by a variety of directors. For a better film with Paris in the title, go for Wim Wenders’ “Paris, Texas,” – an American classic told by a German.