Best Bets: Weekend fare: Hell's Belles and heavenly guitar

Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2002

Juneau Jazz and Classics launches 10 days of concerts and workshops Friday night. As if that wasn't enough, Perseverance Theatre has three productions this weekend and Hell's Belles is back to rock Marlintini's.

Hell's Belles is an all-woman AC/DC tribute band, with a set list of rock anthems spanning AC/DC's fertile career. Hell's Belles played a sold-out show here last fall and delivered driving rock with great chops and style.

In two years the Seattle-based band has gone from playing local bars to opening for Megadeth to touring the West Coast. The five women are experienced musicians and veterans of numerous Seattle bands. Hell's Belles takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Marlintini's Lounge, for one show. Tickets are $15 at the door.

Little Charlie and the Nightcats opens Jazz and Classics with a concert at Marlintini's on Friday night. A stack of good reviews extolling the band's humor and entertaining stage presence, as well its top-notch musicianship, bodes well for the show. The band features Charlie Baty on guitar and Rick Estrin singing and playing harmonica, backed by a stand-up acoustic bass and drums.

Some folks may balk at a concert in a bar, but the slate of performances for the week offers something for just about everyone. Marlintini's can accommodate a good-sized crowd and there's a dance floor.

All the jazz and classics concerts look good. A real range of music will be presented at the concerts Sunday and Monday, with musicians performing classical and new works in a variety of configurations.

Each year the festival devotes an afternoon to a family concert. In the past that's meant a kid-friendly environment and samples of accessible classical music from festival guests. Artistic Director Linda Rosenthal said this year that she wanted to bring a group that speaks to kids.

The Chenille Sisters fit the bill. They are great singers, with tight, jazzy harmonies that go way beyond the rhyhmietimey kids' songs that can drive parents crazy. Much of their music is whimsical and light, accessible for kids but not childish.

The Chenille Sisters will perform a family concert Sunday afternoon and an adult-oriented concert as a brunch cruise midday Sunday.

"They'll do an adult show on the cruise," Rosenthal said. "The cruise is totally different; it's humorous and very entertaining."

Sharon Isbin's classical guitar performance Wednesday night at the high school promises to be a treat. Her playing on recordings is excellent; her repertoire is vast and she's known for delivering quality performances.

Workshops are one of the best things a musician or artist can do to improve. Their beauty is their brevity - for about $20 you get a demonstration from an accomplished artist, a few tips and some coaching in a small group with your peers. It's not a big commitment. If you take one thing home with you that makes you better, even in a small way, or get one bit of creative inspiration, you come out ahead.

Tuesday and Thursday, May 21 and 23, Jazz and Classics is offering six workshops for musicians of all ages and levels. Check out the entertainment calendar on Page 2 of this section for details. The improvisation workshop Thursday, for musicians of all styles and levels, looks particularly interesting.

A whole slew of Jazz and Classics events takes place next weekend as well, but I'll save the highlights on those until next week.

This is the final weekend for "Lost in Kubla Khan" at Perseverance. The theater's Young Shakespeare Training Company is staging "Julius Caesar" over the next couple of weeks at the high school, and it looks promising. This is a streamlined version of Shakespeare's classic - about 90 minutes, and although the language is Shakespeare's, the look is contemporary.

Nine actors, ages 11 to 15, are staging the play, directed by Anita Maynard-Losh. I've been watching some of these kids in plays and musicals for years and this is a talented group. I'm looking forward to seeing them in action.

A collection of Juneau writers has been working with Perseverance Theatre's artist-in-residence, playwright Bridget Carpenter. The group members will present the fruits of their labor Saturday night with a performance of "Feast or Famine," a series of short plays about food. "Feast or Famine" begins at 10 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Perseverance Theatre.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.



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