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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008

Aug. 19, 2008

   The tension was there from the beginning. Rowdy and soused, the crowd cheered for a rock show. What they got instead was Eddie Vedder alone on a stool, wearing a leisurely pair of white pants, singing Cat Stevens.   In misguided d...
Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008

(Faber and Faber), by Amanda Petrusich

Many words have lost significance through overuse or misuse, and nowhere is this truer than in music jargon. The meaning of "Americana" is at the heart of a travelogue by music critic Amanda Petrusich. The journey takes her to Memphis and the Mississippi Delta, the Woody Guthrie Archives in New York and the homes of neo-hippie "free folk" musicians in New England. Petrusich is a little iffy on the history, often drawing . . .
Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008

Classical Review

"Any conductor reflects clearly the instrument he played. My sound is what it is because I was a violinist." So explained Budapest-born American conductor Eugene Ormandy (1899-1985). He was one of the last great giants of conducting whose name became inseparable from the ensemble he led-the Philadelphia Orchestra. His association with Philadelphia began in 1936 and ended in 1980. During this lengthy tenure he fashioned what became known as the "Ormandy Sound"-silken strings, precision in details and overall voluptuousness.
Thursday, Aug. 7, 2008

Hitting the brick wall

In a little village in Bangladesh a wedding has been prepared for a couple that has never met. Nazneen's father has arranged her marriage to an older Bengali man living in London. Dressed in bridal finery, Nazneen is placed at the stern of a boat casting off from her birthplace. She looks out from under her veil with forlorn eyes at her unsmiling family watching her recede into the distance. It's a sad parting and the beginning of an uncertain future. Most of Nazneen's story, told in the sterling British production Brick Lane, takes place in a dreary London neighborhood crowded with Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants. Murmurs of English xenophobia against Muslims . . .
Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008

Reaching Swing Voters

It's not hard to imagine: Frank Capra, who directed Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It's a Wonderful Life, would have made Swing Vote had he lived today. He might have made this civics lesson in American politics more concise and a bit sharper, but he would applaud the spirit, the message and the delivery. Swing Vote is a movie dramatizing the hopeful democratic idea that everyone's vote counts. Kevin Costner is no Jimmy Stewart but he's a plausible stand-in for Capra's other favorite actor, Gary Cooper. In Swing Vote, Costner's . . .
Thursday, Aug. 7, 2008

Surviving senior year

Warsaw, Ind., a little almost-all-white town on a flat stretch of Red State nowhere, is one of those fabled meridians of Middle America. The town, and especially its high school, is the setting for a documentary that was the talk of Sundance: American Teen. Directed by Nanette Burstein, whose rsum includes the amusing The Kid Stays in the Picture, American Teen is a polished film with beautiful swatches of cinematography, creative animated segments illustrating the fantasies of the principal actors and a breezy tone and pace. It tells a story of insiders and outsiders in that treacherous. . .
Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008

The Coral Sea (PASK)

In this two-disc album dedicated to the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith (with My Bloody Valentine guitarist Kevin Shields) provides a live rendering of Smith's 1996 book The Coral Sea. The deceased photographer took the cover shot on Smith's remarkable debut album, Horses, and was a source . . .
Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Alice Cooper "traveling musical and theatrical extravaganza" made its way to Milwaukee again last Friday, for the third time in the past three years. The Coop must like Brew Town-his bassist Chuck Garric is a local boy-and the feeling i...
Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In pigtails and a prim frock at the Miramar Theatre last Tuesday night, with her childlike façade pianist and singer-songwriter Vienna Teng belied a lyrical maturity and vast musical range that shifted from chamber pop to soul and jazz, spliced with bits of wit and candor. Channeling the canny ease of a nightclub's resident crooner, she encouraged audience participation, solicited requests and graciously played them all . . .
Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008

Art Reviews

Many people haven't heard the name of Charles Thwaites, a Wisconsin artist who was born in Milwaukee in 1904 and graduated from the city's Layton School of Art during the 1920s. However, they may be familiar with his work: Thwaites was one of America's foremost portrait painters before moving to New Mexico in the '50s. The Museum of Wisconsin Art's exhibition "Charles Thwaites: A Retrospective" displays works from a successful career that spanned half a century, connecting Thwaites, who died in 2002, to his former home . . .