Sunday, 28 November 2021

Arts & Life

I was going to write about the Quibley Brothers' "Go Weird," one of those great albums you never heard of. But, I'll write about this one instead.


You may have heard of it or, at least, of it's starting point.


Back in 1995, good ol' Atlantic Records released the stateside version of "Starways To Heaven," a product of 12 demented Australians and their groups. It contained versions of Robert Plant's freak out, "Stairways To Heaven," by the Australian Doors Project, the early and the late Beatles (Down Under chapters), the Rock Lobsters, two opera singers, Elvis (Ned Pepper) and la creme de la creme, a shout out by the venerable Rolf Harris and his digereedo or wobbleboard.


"There's an old Australian stockman ... er ... rock band ..."


I got mine at a defunct junk shop on Clear Lake's Lake Shore Drive (no, not that Lake Shore Drive) for a couple of quid and you can get yours, as it is currently out of print, on amazon.com for a measly $18. The original Aussie release, has 22 takes on "the lady who's sure ..."


Overkill? You be the judge. That one runs about $45 but could be worth it, judging from the domestic offering.


Play this at your next party.


Leonard Teale offers up the spoken word version and if you have never actually heard the words what the hell is a "spring clean for the may queen" anyway? well, you should, at least ... once.


These takes all come from the Australian TV show, "The Money Or The Gun," which featured a different reading on the "lady who's sure all that glitters is gold" at the conclusion of each broadcast.


Andrew Denton's liner notes are also not to be missed.


"Some of the rejections make a veritable Who's Who of rock 'n' roll," he writes. "Shane McGowan of the Pogues couldn't remember his name ... Peter Gabriel gave up after almost a year of trying to teach it to the hill tribes of Southern Yemen and Midnight Oil refused to sing 'Stairway' because they felt it represented US interests in the Caribbean."


Oh, and "Bruce Springsteen somehow made it longer."


But, "if you listen very hard, when all is one and one is all."


You get "a rock that doesn't roll."


"And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason" or maybe just to Rolf Harris tying down the May Queen ..."all together now!"


E-mail Gary Peterson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Musician Patty Griffin will perform at Mendocino College on July 22. Courtesy photo.

 


UKIAH – dig! music in association with Mendocino College ComEx proudly presents Patty Griffin on July 22.


The concert begins at 8 p.m. Sunday, July 22, at the Mendocino College Center Theater for a very special, intimate evening with Patty and her band.

 

 

Patty was voted No. 19 of the best living songwriters by Paste magazine. Amped magazine calls Patty “one of the most important singer, songwriters of our time!”

 

 

Since the release of her new album, Children Running Through (ATO) in February, Patty has performed on David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Ellen DeGeneres show.

 

 

Her first visit to Mendocino County is part of a three-date stop in California that includes the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts (Santa Rosa) and the Mountain Winery (Saratoga).

 

 

The new album debuted at No. 34 on the Billboard charts and continues the remarkable, creative evolution that’s quietly established Patty Griffin as a vital and singular musical force. Her seamless songcraft is supported by spare, spacious arrangements and production by Griffin along with Mike McCarthy (Spoon) that emphasize her effortlessly eloquent lyrics, her subtly indelible melodies and her sublimely expressive voice.

 

 

The artful instrumental settings are perfectly suited to the soul glory of “Heavenly Day,” the wistful melancholy of “You’ll Remember,” the haunting intimacy of “Railroad Wings,” the vivid storytelling of “Trapeze” (with Emmylou Harris), the rocking “No Bad News,” the steely determination of “I Don’t Ever Give Up” and the healing gospel of “Up to the Mountain” (recently performed by Kelly Clarkson and recorded by Soloman Burke).

 

 

"I just wanted to write from the heart and let it be," Griffin said of the new album. Some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard is when you catch somebody singing to themselves. I wanted to make music that had that feeling."

 

 

That sort of heartfelt forthrightness has won Griffin a fiercely loyal fan base that's continued to expand. Among her higher-profile admirers are the Dixie Chicks, who recorded much-loved versions of the Griffin compositions "Top of the World," "Truth No. 2" and "Let Him Fly"; and Emmylou Harris, a longtime supporter who's covered several Griffin songs.

 

 

A Maine native, Patty grew up the youngest of seven siblings, listening to her mother sing hymns, country songs and made-up ditties. She began singing during childhood, and wrote poems and songs as a teenager, but was too shy to perform in public.


Later she moved to the Boston area, where she waited tables and worked as a telephone switchboard operator at Harvard University. It wasn't until her guitar teacher coaxed her into joining him on stage in a tiny Cambridge club that Griffin began performing her songs in public.

 

 

On the strength of a set of acoustic demo recordings, Griffin won a deal with A&M Records. The label agreed to release the stripped down original demos and the result was her 1996 debut release, Living With Ghosts, which won wide spread critical acclaim and the beginnings of a passionate and devoted fan following.

 

 

In 2000, after the rocking album, Flaming Red, Griffin found a more hospitable home when fan Dave Matthews signed her to his new artist-friendly ATO Records. With the change in labels, Griffin was determined to scale her music back down to its essence, a direction that was reflected on 2002’s sparse, mostly acoustic 1000 Kisses, which earned a Grammy nomination in the Best Contemporary Folk album category. It was followed in 2003 by the live CD/DVD set A Kiss in Time.

 

 

Impossible Dream, released in 2004, was Griffin’s most ambitious and accomplished effort yet, encompassing a broad range of musical influences while boasting some of her most emotionally complex songwriting to date. It also netted a second Grammy nomination for Griffin.

 

 

As her own releases have continued to win consistent critical attention and a steadily expanding audience, Griffin has simultaneously become a popular source of material for other artists. In addition to the ones mentioned above, Griffin's songwriting has been embraced by a diverse assortment of performers, including Martina McBride, Bette Midler, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Reba McEntire and Maura O'Connell, all of whom have recorded her songs. Also inspired by her work, filmmaker Cameron Crowe personally selected her to appear in his 2005 feature film "Elizabethtown."

 

 

In addition to raising her public profile, having her songs covered by other artists has allowed Griffin the luxury of making music on her own terms.

 

 

Children Running Through was recorded in the artist’s adopted hometown of Austin, Texas, in a makeshift studio set up in a rented house across the street from her home. In addition to Griffin on vocals and guitar, the sessions featured a sterling assortment of Austin, Nashville and New York players, including long-time Griffin collaborator, Doug Lancio on guitar, legendary Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, and a nine-person string section conducted and arranged by multi-instrumentalist John Mark Painter.

 

 

“To see and hear Patty Griffin in Ukiah, at a venue this size, will be a very special evening, say Michael and Denise of dig! music.”

 

 

Opening for Patty Griffin is singer-songwriter Scott Miller, whose music spans rock, Americana, folk rock and country rock.

 

 

Tickets are available in Ukiah at dig! music and Mendocino Book Co., in Willits at Leaves of Grass, in Fort Bragg at Tangents, in Boonville at All That Good Stuff and in Lakeport at Watershed Books. Tickets are $45 general admission.

 

 

For more information and for credit card purchases, call dig! music at (707) 463-8444.


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OCEAN’S THIRTEEN (Rated Pg-13)


The ubiquitous advertising slogan for Las Vegas needs a slight rewrite. What happens in Vegas shouldn’t necessary stay in Vegas, especially if it involves creating an entertaining caper movie about a bunch of fun-to-watch con men pulling a huge job on a casino. By all means, “Ocean’s Thirteen” needs to be shared far and wide, as it deftly returns to the basic set-up of “Ocean’s Eleven,” the successful remake of the old Rat Pack movie.


“Thirteen,” for now a lucky number, makes one forget the more mediocre “Ocean’s Twelve.” At last, contrary to recent film-going experiences, here’s a third installment in a franchise that does not get the Third Place ribbon.


Once again, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) round up their motley crew of con artists and crooks for an exceedingly risky casino heist that needs to be executed almost flawlessly.


The objective this time is not so much money but sweet revenge. Having ignored some good advice from his compatriots, criminal mentor Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) unwisely entered a business partnership with ruthless casino owner Willy Bank (Al Pacino).


Not surprisingly, slick Willy double-crosses Reuben on his investment, sending him straight to the hospital after a near-fatal collapse. Proving honor among thieves, Danny and Rusty decide they must avenge this horrible mistreatment of a dear and valued friend. Of course, there’s only one way to hit a casino owner.


Danny, Rusty and Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) figure that their fast-moving plot to destroy Willy Bank involves bringing down the Bank Casino on the night of its grand opening. Their two-fold strategy requires financial ruin by turning the tables on the notion that the house always wins and destroying Bank’s reputation as the only hotelier to have earned the coveted Five Diamond Award on every single one of his hotels.


The plan is so elaborate and expensive that they are forced to get financing from their old nemesis, casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the guy they swindled in the first movie.


Naturally, making a pact with the devil gets a little messy, especially when Benedict insists on doubling his return and getting Bank’s prized diamond necklace collection that is housed in an impregnable fortress. Assisted by his right-hand woman Abigail Sponder (slinky Ellen Barkin), Willy is such a despicable person that Benedict is offended by his rival’s crassness, to say nothing of the fact that the Bank Casino now shadows Benedict’s hotel pool.


To make the heist work, the operation has to function as a well-oiled machine with all the parts meshing together. To this end, the crew has certain responsibilities, often leading to humorous situations.


The squabbling Malloy brothers, Virgil and Turk (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan, respectively), end up working under sweatshop conditions in a Mexican factory that produces gaming equipment, and they become distracted from their mission to produce loaded dice when they lead a strike for better working conditions. Veteran flimflam artist Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner) impersonates a snooty Brit in order to trick the hotel staff into believing that he’s the incognito hotel reviewer sent to assess the casino’s desire for a five-star rating.


Meanwhile, the real hotel critic (David Paymer) is subjected to the most outrageous misfortune at the hands of Ocean’s 11, only to torpedo the Bank Casino’s fervent wish for the exclusive rating.


The mechanical genius of the group, Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle) is not so busy operating heavy equipment underneath the targeted casino that he can’t pen an endless series of sentimental notes filled with sappy inspirational messages designed to cheer up the recovering Reuben.


The master of sleight of hand, Frank (Bernie Mac) finagles his way on the casino floor for the grand opening by devising a variation of dominoes that Willy can’t resist.


Real-life Chinese acrobat Shaobo Qin, limber enough to squeeze into tiny spaces, expands his role by portraying enigmatic real estate mogul Mr. Weng, who puts up a $10 million dollar stake so that he and his assistant, Linus, can score an exclusive high-roller suite for a base of operations.


One of the funnier scenes has Linus disguised as Lenny Pepperidge, complete with a ridiculous prosthetic nose, using ultra-powerful pheromones to seduce Abigail with some manufactured “chemistry.” Even the Malloy brothers have a bit of wicked fun when evicting a hotel guest.


Most of the glee is in the abundance of give-and-take in the wisecracks and banter between the crew of con men who are exceedingly cool and unflappable.


The virtue of “Ocean’s Thirteen” is that the actors are completely comfortable playing their characters in a truly functional ensemble effort.


While Al Pacino seems not to be used to his full potential for villainy, the focus is rightly on the pleasure derived from the movie’s hip and cool attitude.


Fortunately, “Ocean’s Thirteen” recaptures the breezy spirit of the original film (not the Sinatra version, but the one directed by Steven Soderbergh, who obviously regained his form in his third outing).


Simply stated, “Ocean’s Thirteen” is a sleek vessel of wonderful entertainment, mostly for plenty of amusing dialogue and great con jobs.


Tim Riley reviews films for Lake County News.


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For devotees of true-life crime, there is a non-fiction account of the George Edalji case published by Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie, “Conan Doyle and the Parson’s Son: The George Edalji Case.”


Researched and written by Gordon Weaver, is the only nonfictional account of the George Edalji miscarriage of justice case.


This book goes behind the scenes to explore the complex issues that surround the harassment of the Edalji family and the conviction and trial of George Edalji.


The wealth of Home Office documentation held at the UK’s National Archives provides additional dimensions to what in fact was the case that changed the face of English law.


It's an invaluable read for students of many subjects, for lovers of mystery and for those who believe that fact can be stranger than fiction. For a synopsis visit the www.theplebeian.net.


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II Big will open the Summer Concerts in the Park this Friday. Courtesy photo.

 


LAKEPORT – This Friday the Summer Concerts in the Park 2007 season begins, with a lineup of 10 great concerts planned for the coming months.


Leading off the summer performances is the band II Big with its class rock sound.


II Big has opened for such classic music acts as Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult, Loverboy, Grand Funk Railroad, Ricky Skaggs, Joe Walsh, REO Speedwagon, Ted Nugent, The Jeff Healey Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Styx.


The group has a new CD, Face in the Glass, coming out later this summer. They'll be featured performers at the Boonville Fair's Rodeo Dance on Sept. 15, and have shows planned for Konocti Harbor later in the summer.


Members are Aubrey Hansen, guitar and vocals; Tom Hansen, keyboards/vocals; Vince Knight, rhythm guitar/vocals; Roger Vance, bass; and Ken Ingels on drums.


The Summer Concerts in the Park are held in Lakeport's Library Park every Friday evening. The show begins at 6:30 p.m.


For more information about the Summer Concerts in the Park, call KXBX, 263-6113.


For more about the band, contact Ken Ingels in care of Russian River Records, 468-0280; or visit their Web site, www.riverrox.com/rec_artists/2big/2big.html.


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KNOCKED UP (Rated R)


The good news, finally, is a week without sequels. But some may argue that writer/director Judd Apatow has delivered in the raunchy romantic comedy “Knocked Up” what is essentially, at a minimum, a thematic follow-up to his brilliantly funny “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”


The familiar terrain of ribald humor and oddly endearing crassness, tempered by an underlying sweetness, is Apatow’s winning formula for a comedy that works because of the right mix of sharp dialogue and pratfalls. Even though there is a frequent assault on good taste, the jokes, gags and smart banter reach high enough on the scale of inspired comedy so as to not insult the audience’s intelligence.


Smart as this comedy may be, it does ask of us somewhat incredibly to believe that a lovable slacker like Seth Rogen’s Ben Stone can rise far enough above his station to connect romantically with Katherine Heigl’s pretty and sophisticated Alison Scott. This mixed union is what makes for a lot of fun.


Ben lives in a state of arrested development with four other slacker buddies who spend most of the time hanging out and getting high, while occasionally thinking about launching a Web site that serves the prurient interest of locating the nude scenes of famous celebrities.


Meanwhile, Alison is a smart, ambitious professional being promoted to an on-camera interviewer for the E! Entertainment Channel. Celebrating her promotion at a nightclub, Alison has too many drinks and ends up in a one-night stand with Ben.


Befitting the film’s title, Alison discovers two months later that she is pregnant with none other than Ben’s child. Getting past the awkward stage of informing family and friends, Alison decides to keep the baby and Ben agrees to lend his full support, even though he has only a few dollars to his name.


What follows is an awkward romance that requires the stoner Ben to mature to a heretofore unimaginable level, while poised Alison has to find the redeeming qualities in a less-than-stellar candidate for matrimony and fatherhood.


Helping to move along or even at times to hinder the path to true romance is the involvement of Alison’s older sister Debbie (Leslie Mann), a tart-tongued housewife with two young kids who suspects her ambitious husband Pete (Paul Rudd) is unfaithful.


It turns out that Pete may have more in common with Ben than initially suspected, which proves to be the case in a clandestine fantasy baseball meeting and a raucous road trip to Vegas that includes hallucinogenic drugs. Debbie is in a class by herself, and she has a terrifically funny scene in a showdown with a nightclub doorman who won’t let her in because she’s too old and her sister is too visibly pregnant.


Profane and crass, “Knocked Up” has so many comic gems that uncontrolled bouts of laughter are unavoidable. To be sure, there’s a matter of taste to this film’s humor that may not be to everyone’s liking, but I suspect it will nonetheless prove as popular as its thematic progenitor.


MR. BROOKS (Rated R)


Serial killers are inevitably creepy, despicable and demonic creatures. A murderer is made more fascinating and compelling if that person is conflicted, tortured and has a split personality.


That’s the reasoning behind the gripping suspense thriller “Mr. Brooks,” where the pillar of the community, a successful businessman and generous philanthropist, hides a shocking private life that involves a pathological compulsion to kill. Even more shocking is that Kevin Costner plays the titular role of a notorious serial killer who has baffled the police for years.


As the film opens, Costner’s Earl Brooks is being honored as Portland’s Man of the Year. Upon returning home with his loving, devoted wife Emma (Marg Helgenberger), he turns into Mr. Hyde and slips out for an evening of mayhem.


Though repressed for two years while attending AA meetings, his murderous impulse is inflamed by the omnipresence of his diabolical alter-ego Marshall (William Hurt), the inner voice of malevolence who urges the brutal slaying of a dancing couple.


The reason why these two people are chosen as victims is never revealed or explored, other than the fact that Mr. Brooks, abetted by the entreaties of the evil Marshall, has an insatiable blood lust.


For someone meticulous in the manner in which he kills, Mr. Brooks commits his first mistake. By not closing the curtains, he’s observed by the Peeping Tom photographer Mr. Smith (Dane Cook), who chooses to blackmail him with a bizarre demand.


Realizing that he’s found the notorious Thumbprint Killer, the curious Mr. Smith wants to tag along for the next kill, insisting that it happen real soon. Now Mr. Brooks must contend with a demanding alter ego and an impatient bystander. But his problems start to mount when tenacious Detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore) gets back on the case.


A few subplots are introduced into the mix, all of which have some bearing upon the actions of the killer or the attempts to apprehend him. Detective Atwood contends with her own personal crisis of a pending divorce from a cheating, gold-digging husband. And her personal safety is at serious risk from an escaped convict she put behind bars.


Then, Earl’s daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker) suddenly drops out of college and returns home under very mysterious and troubling circumstances. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith’s reckless eagerness to participate in the next murder has put Earl and Marshall in a tough bind.


Though often preposterous, “Mr. Brooks” is as close to serious adult drama as one is likely to find in the vast landscape of banal and silly summer movies. Watching the interplay between Kevin Costner and William Hurt as they deal with the tortured soul of Mr. Brooks is best reason to enjoy this creepy, suspenseful thriller.


Tim Riley reviews films for Lake County News.


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Upcoming Calendar

29Nov
11.29.2021 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Lake County 29'ers Cribbage Club Meeting
30Nov
11.30.2021 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Board of Supervisors redistricting hearing
30Nov
11.30.2021 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
1Dec
2Dec
12.02.2021 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
4Dec
12.04.2021 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Rodman Preserve Saturday self-guided walks
4Dec
12.04.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele
4Dec
12.04.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele
4Dec
12.04.2021 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Park Study Club Christmas tea
4Dec
12.04.2021 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Festival of Trees

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