The name of the tour – the Yellow Umbrella Tour – can sound unsettling. But the music should be anything but. Headlining the Yellow Umbrella Tour (which benefits the fight against cervical cancer) is guitarist Kaki King. The 20-something Georgian is one of the few female members of a club that includes Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges and the like – virtuoso, instrumental-oriented guitarists. But King brings something else to the club besides blistering technical abilities. On her new CD, “… until we felt red,” King goes more for an atmospheric, generally soothing but also moody sound. She also goes for something more expansive than her past efforts, with drums, horns, strings and even some sparse vocals added to her guitar. This is not the typical noise of the fast-shooting guitar-slinger. Opening for King is singer-songwriter Christine Baze, a cancer survivor whose 2002 benefit concert event, Pop Smear, led to the Yellow Umbrella Tour.
There are two good reasons to check out any film directed by Stephen Frears. The first is that a Frears film is always a surprise; the 65-year-old Englishman has made costume dramas and Westerns, romantic comedies and gritty dramas. His films have focused on young love and old; been set in London and the American West, in the 1940s and 2000s. The second reason is that, for the breadth of his aims, he usually hits the target, and has scored an impressive number of bull’s-eyes. The highlights of Frears’ career include the insightful immigrant story, “Dirty Pretty Things”; the wicked period piece “Dangerous Liaisons”; the smart romantic comedy “High Fidelity”; and last year’s entertaining “Mrs. Henderson Presents.” Frears’ latest, “The Queen,” shows Sunday, Oct. 1 as the closing film in Aspen Filmfest 2006. Helen Mirren stars as Queen Elizabeth II in the days following the death of Princess Diana, as the queen struggles to balance private and public demands. Mirren has already been mentioned as an Oscar candidate, which would come as little surprise. Five actresses – including Glenn Close, Angelica Huston and Judi Dench – have been Oscar-nominated for a Frears film.Also showing in Filmfest’s final day is the Venezuelan film “Family Law,” about a man who struggles to find his own identity after the death of his well-known father. Carbondale screenings on Oct. 1 are “After the Wedding,” a drama of family issues by the Danish team of director Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen, and “The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” a documentary of the late Beatle’s antiwar activism. In Glenwood Springs, local filmmaker Mark Harvey’s environmental documentary “A Land Out of Time” shows at the Springs Theatre.
For those afraid of Shakespeare, there was “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),” which offered the Bard in bite-sized, fast-paced snippets. Those with a similar aversion to history should welcome “The Complete History of America (abridged),” whose trio of writers includes Adam Long, a co-writer of the Shakespeare spoof. The comedy presents alternative takes on everything from the discovery of America to the creation of the Constitution to the continuing puzzle that was the Richard Nixon presidency. Thunder River Theatre’s production opens Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6-7, at the company’s theater in downtown Carbondale, with additional performances Oct. 13-15 and 20-21. Sue Furze Lavin is the guest director.