Home Arts-Entertainment Showcase SCENE & HERD – JAN. 7, 2000

SCENE & HERD – JAN. 7, 2000


Post-Y2K bug: Chicago musician Corky Siegel, who's coming to the islands for a concert on St. Thomas Wednesday, a daytime school presentation and a concert on St. John Thursday and then a club night Friday back on St. Thomas, says he doesn't plan to do much else while he's here "beyond sitting in the sun and drinking water and taking [Vitamin] C."
That's because he's getting over a wintry Chicago-style bout with the flu. But rest assured. He promises to be "in tip-top shape for the performances," and those who've attended his concerts before should have no doubt of what great shape that will be.
The high-energy singer/harmonica and piano player has appeared twice in the territory as leader of Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues, a six-piece ensemble performing a unique hybrid of classical music and the blues, mainly works of Siegel's own composition. This time, audiences are in for something different. Forget chamber music. Just think blues. Chicago blues.
There — youve got it. The Siegel-Schwall Band
This is a group that got its start in Chicago in the 1960s when Siegel and guitarist/singer Jim Schwall were college students there. The band played mainly its own music and won a strong following for its live performances on the West Coast as well as in Chicago. "Both leaders sang, accompanied by Siegel's harmonica and occasional keyboards and Schwall's skipping, stinging guitar, with bassist Rollo Radford and drummer Shelly Plotkin laying down a strong, if not heavy, beat," a Los Angeles Herald Examiner critic wrote. "Most Chicago blues bands steam; like one of their idols, Jimmy Reed, Siegel-Schwall glowed with a quiet fire."
At one of the first gigs, playing in a South Side club called Big John's, the band was approached by a member of the audience who wanted to join in on harmonica. "People said 'let him sit in, it's Little Walter,'" Siegel recalls. They would later play with Howlin' Wolf, the Jefferson Airplane and, in a prelude to the birth of the chamber blues, the San Francisco Symphony.
The band broke up in 1974 and Siegel and Schwall headed off in different directions. But in 1987, three-quarters of the group reunited for a benefit concert for a National Public Radio station in the Windy City. In place of Plotkin on drums was a founding father of the Chicago blues sound, Sam Lay, an original member of Paul Butterfield's hard-core blues band who also played drums on Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited." The quartet clicked, Alligator Records did a live album that caught on, and the four bluesmen have been getting together for occasional tours ever since.
What do critics think? Rolling Stone Magazine says, "They knock everybody flat!" The hometown Chicago Sun-Times says, "Few groups in the world can match them in making an audience feel good through the sheer joy of their music." The Chicago Reader says the band is "a musical force to be joyfully reckoned with, especially with the presence of master drummer Sam Lay."
Look for the program to include favorites from the Siegel-Schwall albums such as "I Think It Was the Wine," Jimmy Reed's classic "Hush, Hush" and Big Bill Broonzy's "While I've Been Drinkin'."
The band will play Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Tillett Gardens on St. Thomas. On St. John, they'll do a presentation for Julius A. Sprauve School students and perform at 8 p.m. a St. John School of the Arts concert — but not at the school, which can accommodate maybe 125 packed-in patrons. In a new partnership this year, three of the Cruz Bay school's concerts — beginning with Siegel-Schwall — are taking place in the Westin Resort ballroom, which can hold twice as many people and more. On Friday, it's back to Tillett Gardens for a "club night" performance starting at 9 p.m. and going until the proverbial until, with cabaret seating and a la carte menu and bar service.
Tickets are $25 for both St. Thomas performances. On St. John, they're $30 with a discount to $25 for students. For the Wednesday program, Polli's restaurant in TIllett Gardens will offer the usual three-course, pre-performance dinner with concert seating for $30 excluding bar service and gratuity. Reservations are required for the dinner and recommended for everything else. On St. Thomas, call 775-1929 or e-mail to [email protected]. On St. John, call 779-4322 or 776-6777.
Farewell performance in pastel: On the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 16, winter St. Thomas resident Bill Gutzwiller will be doing what he has been doing around this time of year for the last nine years: holding an open house at his Cowpet Bay studio/gallery to exhibit his recent pastel works of art. What makes this 10th open house unique is that the artist says it "regrettably will be my last on the island," because he and his wife will be staying fulltime on the mainland after this month.
In his years of snowbirding in the islands far from the freezing climes of his Wisconsin home, the retired Gutzwiller spent much time aboard his sailboat painting images that crossed his bow and his mind. He opted to work in pastel because the medium is more easily managed afloat than acrylic or oil, and his skill netted him a number of awards in the annual Caribbean Colour fine art shows on St. Thomas and St. John. He was also the organizer of a couple year's worth of weekly winter "painters posse" outings for artists of a mind to travel to the same site together and kibitz (with permission) over each other's shoulders while at work.
Gutzwiller's pieces are largely impressionist land- and seascapes of familiar St. Thomas scenes. The open house is from 1 to 4 p.m. The studio is located at 28 Tara Way in the Cowpet Bay East condominium complex, between the Elysian and Ritz-Carlton hotels. For those unable to go by on the 16th, studio visits can also be arranged by appointment. Just call Gutzwiller at 775-1580.
Teen talent to be seen:: The young people who spend afterschool hours three days a week at the School of Visual Arts and Careers in the Fort Christian Museum will exhibit the fruits of their fall efforts in a show opening with a reception at the fort on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 16. Hours are 3 to 5 p.m., so there should be no problem getting to both the Gutzwiller show and this one, if you'd like to do so.
The reception from 3 to 5 p.m. will coincide with the school's annual meeting in the museum courtyard at 3 p.m. It will be "a short business meeting," SVAC director Phebe Schwartz promises, and the reception will also feature live music and other entertainment as well as refreshments.
"This exhibit represents the artwork of students who consistently attended SVAC in 1999," she says. Those students are Malene Allen, Brigitte Berry, Chasda Clendinen, Jared Etsinger, Johnson Francis, Ashton Frett, Alan John, Adrienne Miller, Monique Miller and Shamal Rawlins. Viewers will find "a variety of pieces of art in the exhibit," Schwartz says, "and some big surprises."
Part of the purpose of a SVAC show is to enable the students to exhibit — and, if they wish, seek to sell — their work. Another is to illustrate what they have covered in class. Descriptions accompanying the works on display explain the purpose of each project in terms of the skills and techniques emphasized.
In the after-school and summer program, founded in 1983, artistically talented junior and senior high school students not only receive training in a variety of visual arts mediums; they also gain experience in marketing their work and support in seeking to continue their studies at the college level toward a career in the arts. The show will hang in the museum's temporary gallery space into early February.
Another opening, another show: Wednesday's concert in Tillett Gardens will also be the occasion of the opening of Neb
raska snowbird Sandy Meyer's annual watercolor exhibition in the Tillett Gallery. The show will be open only to concertgoers that night and for the blues club two nights later, but will be on display during regular gallery hours (daily except Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) through the end of the month.
Meyer will also be conducting her third annual watercolor workshops, on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 13 and 14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can be an accomplished painter, a newcomer or at any skill level in between and still be welcome to take part. Each participant works at his or her own level under Meyer's tutelage and everyone will complete a painting at the end of the day. There's a fee of $30 for one day (your choice of which) or $50 for both, excluding materials. Space is limited; to reserve a place, call 775-1929 or fax to 775-9482.
Screen scene:There's nothing like a looming deadline to get you up and running, and that's literally what this weekend's "Cinema Sunday" offering at the Reichhold Center for the Arts is all about. A German film with English subtitles, it's called "Run Lola Run," and it focuses on young woman with punk-hued hair who spends 20 minutes dashing about Berlin trying to come up with a lot of cash to keep her boyfriend from being killed by the tough who's expecting to collect the money from him. She makes the run not once, but three times — each with different encounters and a different ending.
Various reviewers agree that the story line here is secondary to the cinematic effects employed — just about everything a director and camera crew can come up with. There's slow motion, 360-degree panning, monochrome washes and a pulsating techno music track that never tires. Lola even morphs into an animated cartoon. One critic dubbed the film "post-human" and another described it as "an elaborate video game." Another praised it as a "hyperkinetic pop culture firecracker of a film" that is essentially "about the playful inventiveness inherent in the medium."
To read more about it, see the "Movies" section of the Source. To see it for yourself, be seated at the Reichhold Sunday by 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5, the gates open at 7 and you can get popcorn, candy and soft drinks there just like at any other movie theater.
Coming attractions: Two major classical draws are on the boards for the remainder of the month.
On Saturday, Jan. 15, the Birch Forum and the Reichhold Center for the Arts will present a performance of the Oakland Ballet. If you're a dance lover, don't assume that this one won't sell out. Such thinking was a mistake for anyone who planned to get tickets the night of the performance to attend the Puerto Rico Symphony concert, the season's other Birch presentation, last fall. Advertising sells, and the Forum goes all out to spread the word, while also doing serious outreach in the schools. Tickets are $35 in the covered section and $18 and a very affordable $5 in the open air. Call 693-1559 for credit-card purchases or information on outlets.
On Wednesday, Jan. 26, the Classics in the Garden series will present a solo performance by pianist Awadagin Pratt. The next night, Thursday, Jan. 27, he will appear in a St. John School of the Arts presentation at the baby grand piano in Cruz Bay's Nazareth Lutheran Church. This imposing and impressive artist, a Peabody Conservatory graduate, has appeared twice at the Reichhold Center, but never have local audiences had an opportunity to enjoy the kind of close-up performance they will be afforded in Tillett Gardens and the St. John church. Tickets are $25 to each concert. Call 775-1929 on St. Thomas, 779-4322 or 776-6777 on St. John.
And then, to jazz things up a bit, the St. John School of the Arts will present pianist Garry Dial in concert on Monday, Jan. 17, the Martin Luther King Day holiday. It's a "make-up date" for those holding tickets to the Junior Mance Trio jazz performance that didn't happen because, in the absence of ferry service, Junior and company were stuck on St. Thomas in the aftermath of Hurricane Lenny, unable to get to St. John to perform. For those without Mance tickets, admission is $25. The program begins at 8 p.m. For reservations, call 779-4322 or 776-6777.
Rock around the clock: Some gleanings from the national press on the occasion of the start of the year 2000: "Whither rock and roll?" was the question. Dead, said Lyor Cohen, co-president of Island/Def Jam Music Group, as quoted in USA Today's Dec. 31 issue. "What killed rock 'n' roll," he said, "is that a kid doesn't want to fight a parent to see who will get the new Aerosmith record first. The music shifted to rap because the kids found the music that parents hated."
A special Jan. 1 wrap-around section of the Dec. 31 issue of The Wall Street Journal asked five selected sources whether rock will survive "as long as classical music already has." New York Philharmonic conductor Kurt Masur said, "Without question." While noting that "the technology of our times already gives us sounds that we haven't heard before," he was of the opinion that "If Mozart and Beethoven survive, rock will survive also." Leon Botstein, music director of the American Symphony Orchestra, said, "Yes with changes. . . Will people perform the Beatles' music as it was originally performed, with 'period instruments'? Will there be dissertations written about rock? Will there be shrines? Yes."
Lee Abrams, a pioneer in FM rock radio programing and now a top executive of XM Satellite Radio, said, "99 percent of today's rock is fashion-driven pop, corporate-formula pop. It won't last into the next century. It will barely last a year. But that 1 percent is what will be remembered." And "Play" album artist Moby, whose music is a fusion of hit-hop, funk, punk rock, gospel and jazz, said, "Traditional rock, no. Rock in its purest sense — white guys playing guitar, bass and drums — will be on the wane because of the advent of contemporary technology. These days kids are much more interested in making music with their computer than learning how to play guitar." Then there was Casey Kasem, longtime host of the "America's Top 40" syndicated radio show. He said, "I haven't a clue."
To be seen by the herd: Scene & Herd previews arts and entertainment events open to the public on St. Thomas and St. John. To have material considered for inclusion, fax it to 776-4812, e-mail it to [email protected] or telephone 776-4812 and leave a message for a callback.


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