Legends (and other happenings) of the fall
September 19, 2008
ASPEN The bad news: The highlight concert of this falls offseason has already been canceled. A tribute to the late James Brown, headed by former Brown (and P-Funk) bassist Bootsy Collins, scheduled for Oct. 4 at Belly Up, isnt happening (making it the second time the date has been nixed). To compound the bad news, you cant even drive elsewhere to see the show; the whole tour was canceled. Finally, yes, the show probably would have been awesome.The sort-of good news: Theres so much going on this autumn, you might not notice the absence of Bootsy and his band of crazies. The Belly Ups fall schedule is arguably better than this past summers calendar. The lineup of quality movies gets backloaded more than ever into the years final quarter. The Red Brick Center for the Arts is having its first biennial, and the Aspen Art Museum and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center are teaming up to present an event that should generate major interest.And Novembers elections are sure to keep us all amused and entertained, even without a trip to the theater, club or gallery.Which is all good news for those who need their cultural antennae constantly attuned. And not so great for those who want to seal off the (local) borders and snooze the offseason away.And away we go …
Tell No One is full of unexpected plot twists no surprise, considering the source material is the 2001 book by Harlan Coben, master of the page-turning thriller. But the biggest twist in this adaptation is that, instead of an American thriller, the film is a French production, the action transferred overseas. That surprise move has a big pay-off; Tell No One, which shows Sunday and Monday, Sept. 21-22 at the Wheeler, earned Csar Awards for actor Franois Cluzet and director Guillaume Canet.Sept. 29-Oct. 1, the Wheeler brings back Bottle Shock, about the so-called Judgment of Paris wine tasting. Here, the story is pitched as a David-vs.-Goliath fairy tale, with Paris in the role of the giant, and California as the upstart grape region. Also coming in October: Transsiberian, a crime thriller starring Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer, and set on a train traveling from China to Russia.Other films to keep an eye out for, at the Wheeler or elsewhere: Towelhead (currently in limited release), about a Lebanese girl sent to live in Houston with her strict father, and directed by Alan Ball (American Beauty); Frozen River (in limited release), an indie about two women struggling to get by in upstate New York; Blindness (opening Sept. 26), a thriller directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God) and adapted from the acclaimed novel about a town afflicted by communal loss of vision; and W. (opening Oct. 17), Oliver Stones latest exercise in controversy, this one about the current president.
Belly Up cant be accused of playing it safe in the offseason. They bring in new acts, little-known artists, a spoken-word performance, a handful of sure things and they tried to bring in a big show. (The tribute to James Brown would have featured a fleet of players, all, no doubt, appropriately costumed.) Focusing on the new things, the club brings in Juno Reactor (Sunday, Sept. 21), a multimedia artist best known for creating the soundtrack to The Matrix; the smart and ambitious rock band, the Dandy Warhols (Sept. 28), who released Earth to the Dandy Warhols last month; Israeli-born, Paris-based, art-folk singer Yael Naim (Oct. 19); the neo-psychedelic Austin group, the Black Angels (Oct. 23); and punk icon Henry Rollins (Nov. 9), who comes not as leader of the iconic California punk band Black Flag, but on his spoken-word Recountdown Tour. Other highlights include Texas roots rockers the Gourds (Oct. 8); modern string band Hot Buttered Rum (Oct. 9); American reggae band John Browns Body (Oct. 11); young singer-songwriter Sonya Kitchell, who tours behind the spanking-new CD This Storm with multifaceted trio the Slip as her backing band (Oct. 17); and the Still High Tour, featuring high-octane rappers Redman and Method Man (Oct. 30).
Has John Oates become a jam-band guy? A Nashville cat? Because 1000 Miles of Life, the Woody Creek musicians second and most ambitious solo CD, is very much an artistic break from his regular gig, as half of the hitmakers Hall & Oates. The CD features John Popper of Blues Traveler, mandolinist Sam Bush and dobroist Jerry Douglas all of whom Oates shared stages with this summer plus Bla Fleck and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Musically, its not a radical change, but Oates greatly expands the possibilities for soul-pop with such tracks as the New Orleans-inspired Ghost Town.Look for Oates in the winter as well, when he headlines and co-produces a singer-songwriter series at the Wheeler Opera House.
Now that Bootsy Collins isnt coming, Aspen Filmfest is the best reason to stay put in the quiet months. Since the mid-70s, Filmfest has been a perfect complement to the fall offseason, remaining small, audience- (rather than industry-) driven, and locals-friendly. The event is so low-key, you probably wouldnt know its the 30th anniversary festival.Filmfest still manages to satisfy the intrepid moviegoer. This years program includes three high-profile titles: Flash of Genius, starring the increasingly excellent Greg Kinnear; the drama Ive Loved You So Long, a hit in its native France; and Religulous, a commentary by Bill Maher, directed by Larry Charles (Borat). Smaller films worth checking out: the documentaries Life. Support. Music. and Stranded: Ive Come from a Plane that Crashed in the Mountains; the American indie Ballast; and a pair of movies from the burgeoning film capital of Israel: Waltz with Bashir and The Lemon Tree.
A musical about the courage of this nations pioneer women hardly sounds like Broadway fare. And Quilters, by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, did not fare well on the Great White Way, closing two weeks after its opening, in 1984 (though it did earn six Tony Award nominations).But tastes outside of midtown Manhattan are a different thing, and Quilters has had a robust existence in schools and community theater groups across the U.S. Thunder Rivers production is directed by Sue Lavin, with the live, three-piece chamber group directed by Terry Lee. Adding depth to the experience, Carbondalian Emma Danciger, who created the quilt used onstage, has coordinated a quilt exhibit to be displayed in the lobby.
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Little by little, Carbondales little listening room attracts bigger and bigger artists.The room is basically built for singer-songwriters, so the show of the fall might be the Oct. 2 double bill of Richard Shindell and Antje Duvekot. The New Jersey-born, Argentinean-based Shindells most recent CD, last years South of Delia, covered songwriters old (the Carter Family), new (Josh Ritter) and in between (Dylan, Springsteen). A more serious threat to his occupation as singer-songwriter than making a covers album was slicing off the tip of a finger in an ax episode. But after canceling a few weeks worth of gigs, Shindell is back in action.German-born, Boston-based Antje Duvekot, earned reviews that were nothing short of spectacular with her 2006 album Big Boulevard Dreams. She may still be best known, though, for her association with Irish-American band Solas, who have recorded five of Duvekots songs.Highlights outside the singer-songwriter realm: jazz combo the Frank Vignola Trio (Thursday, Sept. 25), headed by the current guitarist of the David Grisman Quintet; Austin groove band Topaz & Mudphonic (Oct. 3); and Matt Flinner (Nov. 7), a top banjoist/mandolinist from the newgrass realm.
The ski-film world athletes, filmmakers, sponsors and snow-porn addicts gather for the fourth year in The Meeting. Events include screenings and hip-hop shows. Highlights include Uniquely, an all-female film featuring local snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler; Claim, a Matchstick Productions film with a segment from Snowmass; and Double Dawg, a 20th anniversary production from Mack Dawg.And if thats not enough, theres more snow-on-celluloid from Warren Miller Entertainment, whose Children of Winter the companys 59th feature in 59 years shows Oct. 24-25 at the Wheeler.
Loren Wilder knows light, having put in 10 years as lighting designer for the Wheeler Opera House, and extending her career around the state. But with her new project, she casts her light on a much broader creative field. The Language of Light is a multimedia show, probably heavier on dance with 57 dancers featured than it is on light design.Thematically, the show is spiritually inclined; Wilder says it focuses on chakra centers, and describes it as a meditation. I want people to come out feeling inspired, felling good about their spirits, she said. She cautions, however, that this is not a silent meditation: The visual energy she compares to Cirque de Soleil, and the soundtrack features a live performance of John Lennons Instant Karma and recordings of songs by Peter Gabriel, U2 and Todd Rundgren. Its like placing a rock n roll template on a dance concert, she said.
The big-name special guests of the past are absent this year which shouldnt keep the John Denver faithful from making their annual trek to the late singers adopted hometown. Denvers spirit and songs will be resurrected by the usual gang of former bandmates and co-writers, including music director Chris Nole, local fiddler John Sommers, Pete Huttlinger, Jim Salestrom and others. Also featured this year are Steve Gillette, writer of Darcy Farrow, and former Aspenite Ellen Stapenhorst.
The Glenwood-based Symphony in the Valley introduces its new director, Carlos Elias, with From Germany with Love, a program featuring masterworks like Schuberts Unfinished Symphony; and Beethovens Emperor Piano Concerto.
Outstanding exhibits featuring local artists is almost beginning to feel routine these days. So maybe the idea behind Big n Bold is to announce, loudly, that the valleys fine art scene is exceptional. Among the artists featured in the group show are a pair of distinctive painters, Jennine Hough and Matt Neuman, and Jennifer Ghormley, who contributes body-part prints and also curated the show. Big n Bold runs through Nov. 16.
It wasnt even four years ago that Dean Sobel left his position as executive director of the Aspen Art Museum. But in taking the reins as juror of the inaugural Red Brick Biennial, Sobel feels as if his Aspen days were long ago and far away. I thought I had a handle on the artist scene there, said Sobel, now the director of the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver. But I was surprised by how many artists I didnt know. It seems to a be another crop of artists who have moved to the valley.Sobel said the Red Brick had received some 80-90 submissions, and that he opted to present a relatively small number of artists approximately 25 with each artist getting to exhibit two or three works.
The upper valleys two prominent visual arts institutions have different missions, constituencies and tastes, so it should be especially interesting to see how they come together in this landmark exhibit. Three notable outsiders Dan Cameron of the Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans; Laura Hoptman, of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York; and Lauri Firstenberg, of Californias LA ART teamed to jury and curate the exhibit, featuring 27 artists with ties to Anderson Ranch.The Art Museum extends itself out into the community with its other autumn event. Artist Lisa Anne Auerbach has created a series of knit sweaters with political, but non-partisan slogans, which will be exhibited not only at the museum, but also in local shop windows, and on the backs of Roaring Fork Valley residents.
Last year, Aspen Community Theatre was forced, due to construction, from its home at the Aspen District Theatre to the tighter confines of the Wheeler Opera House. The long-running theater group consequently scaled down with the small-cast, tightly staged, little-known She Loves Me.Back at the District Theatre this fall, ACT lets loose. Its production of Chicago has a featured cast of 15, plus another 10 performers in the ensemble. The shows satirical take on celebrity crimes is big and splashy, and so are the characters. And while the musical was only a modest hit when it opened on Broadway in 1975 much of the thunder was stolen by A Chorus Line, which had opened two weeks earlier a 1996 revival of Chicago set sales records, and the 2002 film adaptation took six Academy Awards, including for Best Picture.The local production stars Natalie Dulaney as vaudeville actor Velma Kelly, Jennica Lundin as chorus girl Roxie Hart, and Franz Alderfer as Billy Flynn, the attorney who represents them both. Marisa Post directs and firstname.lastname@example.org