Earth Club Live! | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Earth Club Live! 

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It's often music, more than verbal political commentary, that enables Americans to make truly intuitive connections to other cultures, which in turn adds dimension to our impressions of international political events. Given this, WBEZ's recent dismissal of Stuart Rosenberg--who in his programs "The Earth Club" and "Radio Gumbo" generally ignored nationalism, elitism, and even the very notion of hipness in pursuing a willful, idiosyncratic eclecticism seems particularly myopic. Fiddler-mandolinist Rosenberg has now assembled what appears to be the first in a series of live shows geared to the same principles that informed his radio programs, juxtaposing musics in a way that invites listeners to compare and contrast the unlikeliest idioms. Eastern European and Incan folk music are covered by the Willie Schwarz/Miriam Sturm duo and Raices del Ande respectively. Jazz is represented by the prodigious cabaret violinist Johnny Frigo and the technically stupefying multiinstrumentalist Howard Levy; Maestro Subgum and the Whole and operatic soprano Patrice Michaels Bedi are also on hand. The presence of Jim Post, Art Thieme, Michael Smith, Kathleen Keane, and Jamie O'Reilly does possibly threaten a bit much of an Anglo-Irish folkie tilt, but it must be acknowledged that they're all among the most popular and highly accomplished artists on the regional folk-music circuit. Moreover, the West African highlife bond Ghanatta Internationale and the percussion duo of Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang should generate enough funky sweat to counter any tendencies toward excessive primness. That all these acts are based in the Chicago area makes an additional point about this town's oft-underappreciated musical diversity; only the absence of blues on the program seems odd. Saturday, 2-5 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 509-8036.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paul Ellidge.

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