Best Bets: Weekend holds Scottish lore, salsa, surreal film

Bass and bagpipes, crabgrass, salsa and "Waking Life" are in store for the weekend.

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2002

Riley Woodford is the Empire's Arts & Entertainment editor. He can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

Burns Night will be celebrated Saturday at Centennial Hall. A tribute to Scotland and the famed 18th century poet and songwriter Robbie Burns, Burns Night offers performances of music and dance, poetry and song. Folks thrilled by the rousing and resounding spectacle of highland pipes will not be disappointed. In fact, two pipe and drum groups will perform en masse and in various configurations. Singers and Celtic musicians also will perform songs and dance music.

In past years dinner has been the emphasis, but organizer Mike Barnhill said this year entertainment will be at the fore. Haggis will be served, but more for sampling than sustenance. Tickets are $20, $10 for kids.

"On the Razzle" is on stage at Perseverance Theatre. This funny, fast-moving comedy is an excellent bet for an evening's entertainment. Perseverance has drawn on the strengths of some fine comic actors. There is a large cast, but much of the show features comic duets, and the interplay between the different pairs stands out. The clandestine lovers August and Marie (Dan Reaume and Alice Wiley Pickett), the servant and master Melchior and Zangler (Roblin Davis and Rick Bundy), and the two sales clerks out on the town, Weinberl and Christopher (Ibn Bailey and Emily Windover), all connect well. For the budget conscious, next Wednesday, Jan. 23, is the pay-as-you-can night.

Saturday night offers an unusual opportunity to hear the acoustic bass in a stand-out situation. Bassist Patrick Murphy is playing a free concert with pianist Laurell Clough at 7 p.m. at the Douglas Community United Methodist Church.

The bass serves in a supporting role in ensembles. A bassist rarely draws attention to the instrument but makes everyone else sound good. It's really the unsung hero of bluegrass and rock bands, tying everything together and providing the foundation to the dynamic range and the timing.

But the instrument can have a great voice, and a good soloist, bowing and plucking, can coax beautiful melodies from the big box and fat strings. Murphy will perform five pieces composed expressly for the instrument.

To hear the acoustic bass in the milieu of crabgrass music, check out the Panhandle Crabgrass Revival Band this weekend at the Imperial Saloon. Crabgrass plays a blend of bluegrass, country and old-time music, trading back and forth between songs and instrumentals. Its members are an entertaining and talented bunch.

Electric bass, in the milieu of Latin music, will be offered at the Alaskan Bar this weekend. Salsa Borealis plays music from all over Latin America, not just salsa but also meringue, cha cha, son, Colombian, Mexican, Brazilian and AfroCuban styles.

The band has been out of circulation for the past year or so and has undergone some personnel changes. I'm looking forward to hearing the current lineup. Guitarist Russell Sandstrom and bassist Albert McDonnell sing, Mike Fieldhouse and Mark Ramonda cover the percussion on congas and timbales, and Mike Stanley plays saxophone. Curt Terrall plays guitar and sings when he's in town, but he's currently south of the border.

The group recently recorded a CD, "Mambo Jambo" (after a song by Sandstrom), and the recording should be out in a week or so. The band plays a dance benefit next weekend, and this is a chance to check them out for free in advance.

"Waking Life," an independent film by Richard Linklater, is showing five times this weekend at the Gold Town Nickelodeon. "Waking Life" garnered excellent reviews when it was released last year. The story is told in an unusual way, weaving in and out of the conscious and subconscious of the main character, Wiley Wiggins. According to one review, the shaggy Wiggins is bombarded by brainiacs and bums, beautiful women and thug-like theorists, tour guides and tango musicians with musings on evolution, quantum mechanics, collective memory, reality and "the every day nature of God."

The discourse is lightened surrealistically by the overlay of computer animation. The result, visually, is a spacey impressionist cartoon: People's heads morph into gears and balloons; walls and floors shift and quake.

"Waking Life" was made using Rotoscope, a technique that combines live-action filmmaking with animation.

"With Rotoscope you shoot a live-action version of a scene with actors and such. Then you basically project each frame and trace the characters in and color them however you want," Hebert said. "It's an old technique."

Lisle Hebert has been bringing films to the Gold Town Nickelodeon about once a month. The theater seats about 80 and is located in the Emporium Mall downtown. "Waking Life" is rated R for language and is $8; see the movie calendar for times.



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