August 3, 2006
It still boggles the mind to consider what Barry Smith accomplished last spring. The Aspenite (and writer of The Aspen Times column Irrelativity) performed four one-person shows – four separate, new shows – over four weeks at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale. Though the pieces were billed as works-in-progress, the quality of the material, and of Smith’s signature multimedia presentation style, was staggering. Behind Smith’s audacious feat was a desire to develop a successor to “Jesus In Montana,” his award-winning debut as a stage performer. The front-runners appear to be “How I Lost My Accent,” about Smith’s teenage move from Mississippi to Southern California, and “Squatter,” detailing his time as an unpaying tenant in a series of London flats. The former kicks off Theatre Aspen’s Sunday series, at the Theatre Aspen tent Sunday, Aug. 6. Smith follows with “Squatter,” Aug. 20.
Not so long ago, B.B. King had competition for the title of King of the Blues. In fact, two other Kings – Freddie and Albert – of roughly the same vintage matched B.B. in musical talents and popularity for much of their careers. But where Freddie died in 1976, and Albert began to fade before passing in 1992, B.B. took off in his later years. The native of Itta Bena, Miss., roared into the ’90s with the blistering “Live at San Quentin,” and followed with a series of CDs calculated to win attention and expand his audience: “Blues Summit,” featuring duets with Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and others; “Deuces Wild,” with appearances by rapper Heavy D, Willie Nelson and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour; and “Riding with the King,” a collaboration with Eric Clapton. King’s most recent release, “B.B. King & Friends – 80,” a celebration of his 80th birthday with Sheryl Crow, Elton John, Daryl Hall and other unlikely blues artists, earned a Grammy almost by default. But King has backed up the recordings with nonstop touring. His ongoing 80th-birthday tour lands in the uncommonly cozy Belly Up Saturday, Aug. 12.
With reality and the digital world becoming ever more entwined, visual artists are at the leading edge of defining the differences between the two. The issue of what is artificial and what is natural, and the changing boundaries between the two, is confronted by Anderson Ranch Arts Center in its symposium, Artificial Reality. Dan Cameron, curator of the New Museum, will moderate a discussion between 11 artists on the topic, Tuesday through Thursday, Aug. 8-10. The discussion is part of the Ranch’s High Art in the Rockies celebration, which also includes the Recognition Dinner, Thursday, Aug. 10, honoring Michael Govan, the recently appointed director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The celebration concludes Saturday, Aug. 12, with the Annual Art Auction, which includes a community picnic on the Anderson Ranch grounds.