In America today, the most common banjo is the five-string variety. But at least several decades ago, emigrants returning to Ireland from the United States brought with them the four-string variety, and it stuck in traditional Irish music. The Irish band We Banjo 3--with, ironically, four members--features three players of the tenor banjo, and multiple other plucked instruments, in a vibrant mix of Irish, bluegrass and American old-time music. They'll play in Urbana Tuesday night, and I'll talk with leader Enda Scahill on the Tuesday edition of "Live and Local."
Live and Local
Charleston Alley Theatre was founded to produce plays that weren’t being done in other local venues, including classics and original works by local playwrights. Their current production is Paul Zindel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds—which apparently hasn’t been seen in our area for 40 years. We’ll have a live preview on the Monday edition of “Live and Local.”
The musical Monty Python’s Spamalot won three Tony awards—including Best Musical—and had fourteen nominations. If you enjoy irreverent musical parody of medieval legends, you’ll likely enjoy this show, and it’s playing in Sullivan. We’ll have a live preview on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.” And we’ll sample the forthcoming CD from the wonderful Chicago bluegrass band Henhouse Prowlers, who play in Monticello Friday night.
The 28th annual Decatur Celebration street festival will run Thursday through Sunday, with the music acts to include multi-platinum-selling bands, Grammy award winners and an American Idol finalist. Among the lesser-known performers will be Decatur-based singer-songwriter Kristen Nelson, who released her first recorded collection last year. She’ll sing and play for us live on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.”
Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music—involving the dalliances and intertwining of several couples—takes its name from music by Mozart and inspiration from a film by Ingmar Bergman. It’s the current show at Prairie Fire Theatre in Bloomington, and we’ll have a live preview on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local.” Also live, we’ll hear several musicians from the student-run St. Patrick’s Youth Orchestra, who will play Thursday in Urbana.
It’s difficult to imagine now that the original critical reviews of Les Misérables, the musical, were negative. And yet the show has run continuously in London since its opening in 1985, and of course on Broadway, and now at a community theater near you—specifically, for the purpose of the Tuesday edition of “Live and Local,” in a production by the Champaign-Urbana Theater Company. We’ll have a live preview by some of their lead actors. Please join me.
Carlisle Floyd may not be a household name to the average music lover, but to opera buffs he’s one of America’s foremost composers and librettists. His opera Cold Sassy Tree has romance, scandal, vivid characters and beautiful music, and it’s this year’s production at Watseka’s Sugar Creek Symphony & Song. We’ll hear a live preview, and a conversation with the composer, on the Monday edition of “Live and Local.”
An elephant gun is large-caliber, originally designed—as the name suggests—for hunting very large game. Elephant Gun is also the name of a nine-piece band out of Chicago, whose sound has been described as “metal-influenced folk pop” and “Americana-baked ballroom swagger.” In short, they have too many influences to name. Elephant Gun will play in Champaign Friday night, and I’ll visit with four of their members on the Friday edition of “Live and Local.”
Imagine auditioning for a musical at 9 a.m., seeing the cast list at 11, starting to rehearse fifteen minutes later, and in three days you’ve got a show. That schedule is routine for Missoula Children’s Theatre, whose tour from their Montana base has brought them to Bloomington for The Secret Garden this week. We’ll hear more on the Thursday edition of “Live and Local.” And tune in to learn about Tri-County Players' current student production in Paxton--Sympathy Jones: The New Secret Agent Musical.
The Toronto-based Sultans of String are, like so many world-music-inspired groups these days, stylistically rather hard to pin down. Spanish flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms and French Gypsy-jazz all show up in their music. It’s no wonder they’ve been called “Canada’s ambassadors of musical diversity.” This multi-award-winning band will play in Urbana Wednesday night, and they’ll play for us live on the Wednesday edition of “Live and Local.”