Fall Arts Preview

By Inlander Staff & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & aranac Art Projects and the Magic Lantern. The renovation of the Fox Theater. The Metamorphosis into the Bing. The prospect of a Mobius Science Center. New places to watch art being danced, sung, thrown, painted, emoted, played.

Art is a form of adult play, after all.

So Spokane has gained a few new play stations for adults. In itself, that suggests how the Inland Northwest's arts and culture opportunities are being sought out by more and more people. And it's why we're highlighting venues in the Fall Arts Preview that you're holding.

The single biggest arts story around here this fall? The November re-opening of the Fox.

But indie-film opportunities around here just doubled, too. New art galleries are opening. Coffeehouses are scheduling more poetry slams and plays and musical acts.

So don't complain about our lack of culture. Come join us in some of the artistic playpens around here.




& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t's been seven years since Symphony bigwigs purchased the Fox, and they will have spent $31 million renovating it. You might think the auditorium's dimensions or the "sunburst" chandelier would highlight the results.

But no, the biggest surprise involved the drawings on the men's room wall. "We knew the murals were there" in the anteroom of the men's lounge, says Elizabeth Thompson, who coordinates marketing and P.R. for the Symphony. "But in the case of the women's lounge, we only had black and white photos to work from, so we didn't know the colors. And for the men's, we didn't have photos at all. But there was an article from the [1931] opening that described a 'sports scene.' Well, when the painters scraped off the paint, they found all these amazing mauve colors -- and all these little figures. There's a boxer, a golfer, a javelin thrower, a diver, a man on horseback."

Meanwhile, after the analysis of paint chips to match original colors, all the women's lounge anteroom walls get is "a kind of nature scene with vines on a blue background." Both murals will be visible from the Fox's spacious lobby -- to which, after the removal of 15 rows of seats downstairs, will be added a kind of inner lobby for meetings and receptions.

One of the most striking features of the serious-music experience at the reconfigured Fox will involve the proximity of the 800 remaining downstairs seats to the musicians onstage. Sitting on the Fox's orchestra level, you'll be as close to the performers as you would be in an intimate setting like the Bing.

From the 1930s through the early '70s, names like Frank Sinatra, Marian Anderson, Nelson Eddy and (of course) Bing Crosby played the Fox. Now -- at the Nov. 17-20 opening gala -- they'll be joined by Frederica von Stade and Tony Bennett.

With the passing years, there are fewer folks who recall the pre-Expo days (1968-74) when the Symphony last played regularly at the Fox. "Those who only remember the run-down budget movie theater [which closed in 2000] obviously have different memories. But honestly, they have just as much excitement," says Thompson. "Because I think anyone who walked in here -- even when it was all dirty and covered in red paint -- they get it. They see the potential that this building has. They realize how special it is. And when they walk in here, they're going to be speechless."



MadamE Butterfly, Sept. 29-30,

NIC's SChuler Auditorium

North Idaho's Opera Plus! brings one production to life each year, and this one's a doozy -- Puccini's tale of love between a Japanese geisha and a U.S. Navy officer.

CdA Symphony's Autumn Classic, Oct. 13,

NIC's Schuler Auditorium

David Demand conducts a program with Rimsky-Korsakov's "Procession of the Nobles," Haydn's "Clock" Symphony and Brahms' Double Concerto for Violin and Cello.

Spokane String Quartet, the Bing, Oct. 21

New concertmaster Mateus Wolski debuts with quartets by Beethoven ("Rasumovsky 3"), Schubert ("Rosamunde") and Dvorak ("American" -- written in Iowa!).

First Concert at the Fox, Dec. 1-2

A fitting Symphony debut: Love triumphs in The Magic Flute overture, lyricism permeates Chopin's second piano concerto, and the pounding chords of The Rite of Spring announce newfound energy.

Thomas Hampson, the Fox, Dec. 29

Don Giovanni and Eugene Onegin grew up in Spokane. Now they sing Strauss lieder in the person of an esteemed baritone who started out at Holy Names Music Center.


Dear Classical Goddess

Years ago, I was a regular subscriber to the Spokane Symphony, but the programming became so predictable after conductor Bruce Ferden left that, fearing for my mental health, I cancelled my Symphony subscription. The upcoming SSO season looks somewhat less conservative than usual. Is there reason for hope?

- -- Dubious in Spokane Valley

Dear Dubious

This is not a happy subject for those of us who believe that symphony orchestras can express now occasionally. Last season, in its 10 Classics concerts, the SSO programmed four pieces by living composers. Alas, these recent pieces must have been chosen from the "least likely to offend standard symphony listeners" category. Music in this category rarely provokes outrage or inspires rapture -- two responses that let us know for sure we're alive. Flooding your system with new sounds, after all, can be like the rush of endorphins after exercise. Hell, give me another Beethoven symphony rather than a timid stab at programming new music! Talk about depressing!

To Musical Director Eckart Preu's credit, the 2007-08 SSO season shows a glimmer of hope. Three living composers are included in both the Classics Series and the Casual Classics series. Sure, that's only three, but two of those composers, Tan Dun and Christopher Rouse, can create some degree of healthy alarm in flabby ears, so that's encouraging. From the Moldenhauer Archives, Preu has also chosen one 19th-century work and several 20th-century works, including Arthur Honegger's Pacific 231. This 1923 work pays homage to a steam locomotive and reflects the interest composers had in the 1920s in creating music that reflected 20th-century stimuli.

It was the Italian Futurists, with their manifestos for radical change, who first called for the inclusion of contemporary sounds, even noise, in music as a reflection of the 20th-century human condition. Hey, Dubious -- maybe you and I can form the Spokane Futurists (minus the fascism). That might be fun and just what Spokane needs. I like a good radical manifesto -- oooh, and placards and a futurist regatta on the Spokane River! But as usual, I digress...

Back to reality. The rest of the Classics series and Casual Classics features major concertos for piano, violin, and cello, the Verdi Requiem, and standard orchestral fare, including that once-alarming work, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

Maybe you aren't aware of the Symphony on the Edge concerts (pictured here), which the SSO presents twice a year at the Big Easy. Check these out! The Oct. 5 Edge concert will be led by Associate Conductor Morihiko Nakahara, who will oversee some unusual and provocative music from the 20th and 21st centuries. Rumor has it that Nakahara has asked two local composers to write works for that concert. Because orchestras usually subscribe to a "not in my back yard" approach to hiring composers or soloists, this new SSO trend of hiring regional soloists and composers makes the Symphony eligible for one of CG's rare Zippy Idea Awards.

Classical Goddess is aware of the difficulty of presenting new music with limited rehearsal time. But the more an ensemble plays new music, the more it becomes part of its musical and technical language, rather than something impenetrable and daunting. Orchestras need to flex and exercise; they need to stay limber and avoid atrophy. Maybe thinking of new music as a Nautilus machine is helpful, honing the body in ways that traditional sit-ups and push-ups don't do. Focusing on one set of muscles one day and another the next creates fitness! Orchestral fitness! Ear fitness! Fitness that drives blood through sluggish bodies and minds.

So, my dear Dubious, do look into the SOE concerts. (An aside: Each time I try to write the Symphony on the Edge acronym SOE, I have to rewrite it because I keep writing SOS instead. Must mean that these concerts are a kind of distress signal to the prevailing classical music culture -- emphasizing that change is positive, necessary, fun, enlightening, entertaining and allows us to breathe new air.)

In this spirit, CG would like to offer a few suggestions for programming a dynamic Symphony season. For the Classics Concerts: Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs (ideally with mezzo-soprano Barbara Rerick), music by H.K. Gruber and Esa-Pekka Salonen; music by Silvestre Revueltas, including his Homage to Federico Garcia Lorca, which could be on a program of Music and Poets or maybe a Day of the Dead program. For the Casual Classics Series: Astor Piazzolla's The Four Seasons and any number of Stravinsky works, such as Dumbarton Oaks, Danses Concertantes, or Symphony in Three Movements. For the Symphony on the Edge Series: music by Stephen Mackey, the strange and arresting music of Helmut Oehring, and silent films with live music.

Dear Classical Goddess

My mom was sent some sort of announcement for a group called Unrivaled Experiences. This sounds like maybe it's a Gorge-type thing or something with a lot of special effects. Is this worth sneaking out for?

-- Tyler in Spokane

Dear Tyler

"Unrivaled Experiences" is actually the name of the 2007-2008 Spokane Symphony concert season. Wait, wait! Don't hang up! I understand the confusion. "Unrivaled Experiences" implies... well, experiences with no rival, like alien landings or swimming the English Channel or hearing people talk quietly on their cell phones in public. So, understandably, you expect a lot. Choose an SSO concert that is at the Fox and see the theater in its new incarnation. That should be a special effect to last a long time.

Classical Goddess accepts witty and intellectually provocative inquiries at ClassicalGoddess@gmail.com.


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & P & lt;/span & resident Preu, meet General Wolski. In the world of the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, if Eckart Preu is the chief executive, then concertmaster Mateus Wolski is his military advisor. Conductors sometimes come up with great but impractical ideas for performance, says Wolski, 32, who arrives here after serving as concertmaster for the Annapolis Symphony.

"The tempi might be too fast, even if you had an orchestra full of Heifetzes," he says. "Most conductors come from a piano background -- they are not violinists. I have to translate [their ideas] into 'Bow down' or 'Bow up.'

"For the conductor, the orchestra is like one big instrument," Wolski continues, "like an organ with those big pipes. And I'm like a technician who comes in, and the conductor asks, 'Is there a way to make the pipe in the upper left corner sound different?' And I come back and say, 'I don't think it's going to get much better than that' or 'Oh, sure, we can do that.'"

You can tell Wolski must be a good communicator, because he uses analogies habitually. Gradually introducing audiences to contemporary music is like taking a chance on Chinese food instead of the same old meat and potatoes that he grew up on in Poland. The difference between tonal and atonal music is like the contrast between Hollywood movies' happy resolutions and indie films' unresolved endings. Really engaging with contemporary music is like going to the zoo and reading the explanatory placards instead of just staring at the animals.

The habit continues in how Wolski describes communicating with the musicians in his string section. "Some need to have everything explained [verbally]," he says. "With some people, impressions work best: 'I want you to think that the color of your sound is red.' Some need everything demonstrated for them. And some are all mathematical: 'OK, I want 15 percent less bow, 5 percent less weight, and relax your shoulder.'"

Wolski is passionate about making music like this, in part, because his country was formerly part of the Soviet Bloc. "Oppressed societies tend to turn to God and culture for freedom that is not otherwise available," he says. "For two hours in a concert, you are not in the world but in the music."

Wolski and his wife have also sought refuge in a Browne's Addition apartment, "because it was very important for me to be able to walk to work, to keep my carbon footprint as little as possible." Even during the winters, which are similar to those of his Polish homeland: "When you compare the temperatures," he says, "we are landing pretty much in ballpark."

Wolski's mentor, the New York Phil's renowned concertmaster Glenn Dicterow, showed his prot & eacute;g & eacute; that "things impossible to be done on the instrument can be possible." If Wolski can share that same can-do attitude with his fellow musicians here, expectations for the Spokane Symphony's success will also be landing pretty much in ballpark. -- MICHAEL BOWEN


VENUE WATCH the Magic lantern

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & can't imagine that Spokane film fans have been this happy since the late '90s. God knows I haven't (except for those couple years I didn't live in Spokane). Granted, we've been getting a lot of good indie cinema through AMC's Select program, there's no disputing that. (To whichever St. Louis-based corporate bean counter brought Once these last couple weeks: Thank you, you changed my life.)

But now the Magic Lantern is back, and everyone in the arts community is giddy. We've already written it up once, and 7's giving it their cover this week. Reopening the Lantern is indie cinema on a completely different level -- Kathryn Graham and the patronage of Jim Sheehan have brought locally focused independent cinema back to Spokane. The first sense I had that the new Lantern would truly be as community-focused as Graham and company promised was when I interviewed her last month. "What [films] are you starting with?" I asked.

"We're not sure yet," Graham replied. "What do you want to see?"

Plus the Lantern's a nonprofit, so irksome things like making money aren't as big of a concern. Hopefully, this means the theater will stick around for a while. The principals aren't counting to make a wad of cash right out of the gate. Their model for a nonprofit community theater, the Tacoma Grand, took more than two years to get stable.

That's all good news but old news. We're now a week away from opening. It's brass tacks time. What films are they going to be showing? Graham says the team still isn't completely sure, and the film industry is such that you can't plan more than a week or two out. Tentatively, though, it looks like this: On Friday, Sept. 15, Out There and the Village Bicycle Project will show a single engagement of Ayamye, a social justice film about bike ownership in Ghana. The Lantern's grand opening -- concurrent with the unveiling of the rest of the Saranac Hotel -- will be Sept. 21. Graham plans to have Leonardo DiCaprio's climate-change project The 11th Hour playing on the main screen and, possibly, foreign Oscar contender La Vie en Rose in the secondary space.

Beyond that, things get murky. For November, they're hoping for I'm Not There, a meditation on the icon of Bob Dylan.

Modifying earlier reports, Graham now says she plans to have the Lantern open Friday through Tuesday, with Wednesdays and Thursdays available for community functions and nonprofit presentations. -- LUKE BAUMGARTEN


Across the Universe, Rated PG-13, Sept. 21

Adept at making war (among other things) trippy, Julie Taymor returns to make the anti-Vietnam War movement trippy. Surrealism, activism and Beatles songs. Tight.

December Boys, Rated PG-13, Sept. or early Oct.

For those who missed Equus in London, see Harry Potter get his debauchery on! Daniel Radcliffe stars in this naughty little coming-of-age drama.

Lakedance Film Festival, THORUGH Sept. 16

Sandpoint's second-year fest winds down with films about silent era actress Nell Shipman, a series of filmmaker workshops, and all the requisite film-fest-in-a-resort-town finery.

The Golden Door, Most of the Fall

Sad you missed Samuel L. Jackson and 50 Cent on location around Spokane last year? Make up for it by gawking at Rachael Leigh Cook and Snoop Dogg, who'll be filming The Golden Door with NxNW Productions in locations around downtown and Gonzaga.

Sweeney Todd, not yet rated, late Dec.early Jan.

Murderous Sondheim musical gets the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp/Helena Bonham Carter treatment: 70 percent singing and at least that much gore.


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t's been a long time since the first proper war film, and nearly as long for the first anti-war film (92 years since The Birth of a Nation, say, and 86 since The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse). And yet, what's really changed? Technology, sure. Talkies were a pretty great innovation. Perspective. We don't really glamorize the Ku Klux Klan anymore, as Birth did.

For all intents and purposes, though, a war film's a war film. There have been love affairs with technique -- psychotropic cinema (Apocalypse Now), shaky cam (every war film since Saving Private Ryan) -- but 90 years have brought very little change in form or theme. Despite raucous upheaval and unending change, war flicks still charge at the same emotional flashpoints -- patriotism or sentimentalism or grisly verit & eacute;. Remember how 9/11 was supposed to leave this country forever different? If it did, that change hasn't reflected itself in film.

Indeed, the only thing about war that hasn't changed is the way we portray it onscreen. That goes for the indie realm as much as for studio flicks.

If 9/11 was the Pearl Harbor of this generation -- or, at least, of this current, inchoate war on terror -- then the last few years have given us our Tora! Tora! Tora! (confusion leading to and heroism during an attack on U.S. soil: World Trade Center) and our La Bataille du Rail (civilians rising up to fight a foreign enemy: Flight 93). Now, it seems, America is ready -- or Hollywood is finally convinced that America is ready -- for some anti-war fare.

It's coming in droves, and touching on topics as far-flung as cultural blindness, war crimes and paranoia about the draft. Less overtly critical but still harrowing, at least one film (starring John Cusack no less) examines the cost of war in terms of loss and hardship on the home front.

Grace Is Gone | October

In a surprisingly subtle role for the usually mouthy, exuberant actor, John Cusack plays a father who has no idea how to tell his two young daughters that their mother has been killed while serving overseas. Rated PG-13

Rendition | Oct. 11

An American woman's Egyptian husband is abducted by the CIA -- a process called "extraordinary rendition," and allegedly pretty common post-9/11 -- and transported out of country where he can be interrogated (tortured) without breaking U.S. laws. Reese Witherspoon stars. Not yet rated.

In the Valley of Elah | September

Paul Haggis' first turn behind the camera since he snagged a couple Oscars for Crash. See page 44 for details.

Lions for Lambs | Nov. 9

Fitting that the most Hanoi Jane of the war film lot would come from Robert Redford (he of the 1960s counter culture generation). Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise and Redford himself star in a Traffic-like weaving of a war saga as seen through the eyes of soldiers on the ground and policy-makers (and a socialist professor or two for good measure). Not yet rated.

Day Zero | Late Fall

Upon being drafted in a fictional near-future, three friends -- a writer, a meathead and their mediator-buddy -- contemplate their fate. It proves, or at least argues, that the same worries smart young people had about the Vietnam War still exist today. Starring Elijah Wood. Not yet rated.

Charlie Wilson's War | Dec. 25

While Kite Runner (see page 44) uses an interpersonal lens, Charlie Wilson's War takes a geopolitical approach to the events that led from the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-89) to the American invasion in 2001. Starring Tom Hanks as Wilson. Mike Nichols directs the Aaron Sorkin screenplay. Not yet rated.

The Kingdom (pictured above) | Sept. 28

The most intriguing (and insidious) of the current anti-war films is perhaps the least expected. Taking a spoonful-of-sugar approach with viewers in the heartland, director Peter Berg has couched a cultural and political critique in an FBI-chases-terrorists-in-Arabland thriller. Rated R.

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & B & lt;/span & ut really -- it's not as if other genres are experiencing any great renaissance of innovation or novelty. Fall also finds a half-dozen directors tinkering with those tried-and-true popcorn-pushers, the gangster film and the Western.

In addition to the Oscar buzzfest 3:10 to Yuma (which dropped last week), a remake of a 50-year-old original played straight, we've got the Brad Pitt vehicle The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Sept. 21) exploring celebrity through the lens of an anti-hero murderer (Bonnie and Clyde, anyone?) and No Country for Old Men (Nov. 21) from the Cohen Brothers. The duo make frequent forays into genre work lately, but this'll be their first proper Western. Expect James to be more poetic and No Country to be more postmodern.

The mobster flick is probably the least changed of all. Cases in point: You've got American Gangster (with Denzel Washington, Nov. 2) about black mobsters and Eastern Promises (directed by David Cronenberg, late September) about Russian mobsters. The ethnicities change; the themes (family, honor, community, ruthlessness) don't.

Straddling both worlds, P.T. Anderson's There Will Be Blood (late December) explores the birth of Big Oil, showcasing the similarities between organized industry and organized crime in the dusty lawlessness of the West. Starring Daniel Day Lewis and loosely based on Upton Sinclair's Oil!, this is my bet for the season's most effective genre-buster. -- LUKE BAUMGARTEN


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & pokane's becoming a pretty good film town. For its size, of course. We'll never be L.A. or New York or even Seattle, but with the independent-aimed "AMC Select" program at the River Park 20 and the rebirth (finally, thankfully) of the Magic Lantern, we'll have anywhere from three to five screens a week showing art house flicks.

That said, here are the limited release films we're hoping (begging) for this fall:

In the Valley of Elah

Despite the financial and critical success of Paul Haggis lately (and the fact that he won, like, three Oscars in two years), this film is getting the same small-release treatment that his last serendipitous success, Crash, did. That's probably because studios are still a little squeamish about post-9/11 critique films like Elah, which begins with the search for a missing G.I. recently returned home and becomes an examination of the case for war. Starring Charlize Theron, Tommy Lee Jones, James Franco and Josh Brolin. Rated R

The Kite Runner

A man who escaped Soviet Afghanistan (to America via Pakistan) as a kid comes back to help the son of a friend, finding a much different place under Taliban rule than he remembers. Starring Khalid Abdalla. Rated PG-13

Love in the Time of Cholera

It isn't Gabriel Garcia Marquez's best book, but it's certainly his most read (thanks, Oprah) and probably the most easily adaptable. (Casting One Hundred Years of Solitude, with its dozens of dudes named either Aureliano or Arcadio, would be a nightmare.) Mike Newell, who has made turns toward the romantic, the sardonic and the gritty (though never at once), seems like a good choice to direct a film about empty lust, unrequited love and the mundane details of telegraph operation. Starring Javier Bardem, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Liev Schreiber and John Leguizamo. Rated R

Margot at the Wedding

Noah Baumbach, the guy who demystified male preteen masturbation, making it simultaneously endearing and heartbreaking (in The Squid and the Whale), now tackles sisterhood. Starring Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Black and John Turturro. Rated R


Moderately forbidden British love, a young girl's misinterpretation and the killing fields of World War II shape this tale of longing, misconception and, you know, remorse. Starring Keira Knightly, James McAvoy, Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave. Rated R -- LUKE BAUMGARTEN


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he Flicker Festivals -- held in places like Bordeaux, Chapel Hill, L.A. and now entering its fifth year in Spokane -- have always been film-friendly events. Built around the idea that movies are better on celluloid, most Flickers restrict entries to shorts filmed on 8-mm, 16-mm and 35-mm film stocks. Spokane narrows this further, allowing only Super 8 and 16-mm. With the popularization of digital video and its ease of delivery (youtube.com and its myriad imitators), film needs all the help it can get.

That's perhaps why curators of the Spokane event have gone on the offensive. For example, "50 Feet That Shook the World" is a five-minute, tongue-in-cheek piece of anti-video propaganda. Taking the form of a silent film about the totalitarian evil of VHS, it plays off fascism (concentration-looking camps) and communism (the title cards are in Russian) to tell the story of downtrodden Super 8 and 16-mm cameras who throw off the shackles of video oppression ("___" reads one card), in order to form an artistic utopia where all film is treated equally. It's daffy and wishful and totally in keeping with the festival's roots.

Also notable are "The Touch," a three-minute meditation on the Anne Sexton poem of the same name, and "Foxy Lady in Winterland," in which a bohemian Berliner offers tips on how to stay sane through an unending winter. (Hint: run around without panties.)

This year's festival, happening on Oct. 14 at 7 pm, is using a real theater -- the Garland -- for the first time in its history, though organizer Derrick King promises the return of previous years' amenities (namely, beer and pizza). -- LUKE BAUMGARTEN


VENUE WATCH the arena

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & K & lt;/span & evin Twohig stops in the middle of a sentence to kick at what looks like a piece of gum stuck to the floor of the main concourse at the Spokane Arena. Nothing, just a scuff. As the executive director of the Spokane Public Facilities District, he's in charge of the Arena, the Convention Center and the INB Performing Arts Center.

The attention to detail shows. On a recent tour, he showed us every spare corner of the 12,000-seat facility, from the hockey dashers on the main floor to the plush, 140-seat Kalispel Club on the second level. He beamed as he explained in detail how the huge access doors on the west end of the building make it a breeze for traveling shows -- concerts, sports tournaments, giant dinosaurs -- to get in and out quickly and efficiently. And about the giant digital marquee that will wrap around the perimeter of the upper deck. The speed at which they can turn a basketball court into an ice rink, or a football field.

The Arena is a unique venue in Spokane, offering 12,000 seats for huge stadium-filling acts like Nickelback. The next largest music facility in town -- the INB Performing Arts Center -- seats a mere 2,700 people. The only place bigger -- Joe Albi Stadium -- holds almost 29,000 people and has seen few musical acts in the last decade. That makes the Arena the only place in town to see high-caliber, super-pop musical acts.

Or even medium-caliber ones. The Arena's other gem is the Star Theatre, the name the venue takes on for smaller (though still big) acts like Alison Krauss and Keith Urban. For these shows, they shrink the capacity down to about 6,000, dropping a floor-to-ceiling curtain at about center court, dangling stars from the ceiling and providing an intimate-yet-still-big performance environment.

"Ultimately, it's [still] an arena," Twohig says, noting that sports and musical performance are at odds with each other, acoustically speaking. But he says the Star gives the facility a lot of flexibility.

"The trend we've been noticing lately is towards more, smaller shows," he says. "There are a lot more acts that need five to six thousand [seats] than need 12,000." Twohig says he doesn't know why there are so few superstars left who can fill entire buildings, but he and the Arena are ready for them when they return. Until then, they'll always have the Star.



MINUS THE BEAR, SUBTLE, Sept. 23, the Service Station

Part Two of The Inlander's "Freshman Orientation" -- introducing students to the local music scene -- brings Seattle experimental rockers Minus the Bear and Oakland-born indie/hip-hop sextet Subtle.


Sept. 29, the Bing

The SJO teams with gold-record-winning Motown singer Freda Payne for a tribute to one of jazz's greatest vocalists.

GEORGE JONES, Oct. 5, INB Center

George Jones is still alive, apparently. And still belting out country ballads so full of heartache and woe that you can smell the bourbon seeping out of his pores.

NEIL YOUNG, Oct. 20, INB Center

Neil Young in Spokane? We're as surprised as you. Word that the Godfather of Grunge would be bringing his reedy voice and lefty Canadian politics to town reached us just before press time.


Seattle belter Brandi Carlile played to a mostly empty room at Fat Tuesday's not too long ago. Having gained momentum locally ever since, she'll share some of it with fellow Seattlite Alison Sudol, aka A Fine Frenzy.


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & pokane hasn't had a happening jazz scene in -- well, maybe ever. Thus, our surprise when one suddenly blew up in the last year. Even more surprising is its vintage. It's not post-war bebop for the Kerouac generation, nor even horn-blaring big band jazz for the so-called "greatest generation." The music of bands like the Hot Club of Spokane and Six Foot Swing hails from even before the Glenn Miller days, to the small-ensemble "hot" jazz and swing of the '20s and '30s, to Django Reinhardt's "gypsy jazz" -- frenetic, highly danceable jitterbug stuff.

The trend can more or less be traced to last year's Think Swing! event at CenterStage, which brought to Spokane for one weekend a handful of New Orleans bands that would never otherwise make it to this shoulder of the country.

This year, on Nov. 8-10, the second annual event celebrates not New Orleans but the jazz scene that has grown up in the Northwest. All the bands hail from Seattle, Spokane or Portland. The Rose City offers a trio of Boswell Sisters-style vocalists in the Stolen Sweets, a ukulele-fronted sextet in the Midnight Serenaders and the busker blues of the Sassparilla Jug Band. Seattle will give up for the weekend Casey MacGill's Blue 4 Trio -- bass, drums and MacGill (pictured here) on stride piano, cornet, ukulele and old-timey mustache. Spokane's Hot Club, Six Foot Swing (featuring Inlander ad rep Heather O'Brien) and the Sharecroppers will round out the bill.

Who knew there was a swing scene in Spokane? More and more people. Be one of them. -- JOEL SMITH


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t was huge news this summer when Empyrean announced that it had nabbed Seattle singer/songwriter Damien Jurado. Though it's been a mainstay in Spokane's local music scene for two years, Empyrean had never netted a big name in indie music. And former owners Alex and Shae Caruso had been angling for Jurado for a while. Plus, the lack of big names wasn't exactly drawing people who'd never visited to the other side of the railroad tracks on Madison Street.

But the Jurado show was packed.

Even bigger news now might be the word that they've landed David Bazan (Dec. 2). A musical cohort of Jurado's, Bazan owes much of his fame to Pedro the Lion, the Seattle-based indie rock band he fronted from 1995 to 2005. The band helped pave the way for the Seattle indie sound: cloudy minor keys, driving 1-2-3-4 guitar lines weaving in and out of smashing drums. Perhaps more importantly, Pedro was at the forefront of the raft of Christo-indie musicians who have become secular mainstays today -- acts like Sufjan Stevens, the Danielson Famile and Half-Handed Cloud.

Bazan isn't singing "Our God is an awesome God," though. His religious musings are about as chipper and proselytizing as Flannery O'Connor's. In "Cold Beer and Cigarettes," he sings in mournful tones, "Our car's on fire in the parking lot / And nobody wants it to rain / But God isn't listening / So all the windshields glisten / The water and oil mix / Causing the fire to spread / To five or six innocent automobiles / Waiting in their nearby spots / What a cruel God we've got."

Hardly uplifting, but it could help put Empyrean on the map. -- JOEL SMITH


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & L & lt;/span & ast time we saw the Trucks in Spokane, they temporarily blew the sound system at Mootsy's. We suspect they blew a few minds, too.

Both facts, of course, are telling. The P.A. system at Spokane's punk bastion isn't exactly unaccustomed to loud noises. Neither is the club's clientele unused to outrageous musical performances. Still, the Trucks took it up a notch.

The Bellingham-born, all-girl quartet is known for a few things in particular. Especially their appearance. The four lovely young ladies rummage through their collective closet before each show to forge the most absurd, fantastical -- and occasionally grotesque -- costumes they can. They evince a fondness for wearing underwear on the outside, for horizontal stripes and leggings, for hair done up in bizarre swirls. Tonight, you might see Marissa Moore in a Superman costume. Tomorrow, you could catch Kristin Allen-Zito -- her missing front tooth making her look like a deranged bumpkin -- dressed as Frida Kahlo's fictional sister, Frito (unibrow and all).

Then the music begins to animate them. Propulsive and punkish -- played on keyboards, drums, bass, glockenspiel, whatever -- it's heavy-handed and chunky and supremely groove-able. And it turns these already strange beings into anarchic marionettes -- particularly Allen-Zito, who writhes and gyrates, gesticulates and rocks with utter abandon.

This may already be enough to turn off more sensitive souls. If not, the lyrics will drive them out of the room. The Trucks' self-titled debut last year featured songs about sex, masturbation and riding bikes with big Afros, with lyrics like, "What makes you think we can f*** just because you put your tongue in my mouth and you twisted my titties, baby?" In an interview with The Inlander last year, they called their style "sassy, potty-mouthed girl pop with a murderous edge." Sounds about right.

You wouldn't have guessed that by talking to them, though. In that same interview, the band members came across as undeniably girly, gigglingly feminine and sweet. Even their outrageous live show manages to blend raunch with a soft, sincere, personable side. It's endearing, in a weird way.

Still, Caterina Winery might want to pack up the glassware for the night on Oct. 5. This show could get messy. -- JOEL SMITH


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & Y & lt;/span & ou'd be forgiven if you were born after, say, 1968 and you watch videos of the Chad Mitchell Trio in the early '60s, and you think they kinda look like a bunch of choirboys. Go ahead. Look them up on YouTube, performing on The Bell Telephone Hour in their pressed suits and tight haircuts. Singing "Donna, Donna" before a carefully stylized set -- not a hint of the worldiness or grit that folk music took on post-Dylan and post-Beatles.

But the vocal trio -- which formed at Gonzaga in the late 1950s -- was, if not revolutionary, then at least subversive for their time. While other folk groups sang about happiness and butterflies, the Chad Mitchell Trio took on the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, Barry Goldwater and World War II. (One parody song has them singing "On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me / Rudolph Hess's blessing and a partridge in a pear tree.")

By the time Pennsylvanian Joe Frazier replaced original member Mike Pugh (who chose to finish his studies at Gonzaga), he'd "been converted to progressive, working-class politics and the free-thinking Christianity of the Episcopal Church," according to the group's Website, and had already spent time in a military stockade for his beliefs while serving for his G.I. Bill. "Apparently, reading the 'wrong books,' listening to Pete Seeger, and talking about it were frowned upon," he writes.

The group's politics were a crucial element in setting them apart from the dense bunch of folk groups (especially the Kingston Trio) competing for attention in the mid-'60s. But when they had the chance to really set themselves apart with a hit song -- Bob Dylan's Blowin' in the Wind -- their record label balked and the song instead made nearly instant stars of Peter, Paul and Mary.

Luck turned their way when two of their songs appeared on Simon and Garfunkel's debut record, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. But as the winds of change began to blow in the folk scene, the band came apart. Mitchell left the group in 1965, replaced by a young John Denver. Frazier left in '67. Mike Kobluk was the last original member to leave, moving in 1968 back to Spokane, where he organized performances at Expo '74 and worked for another 20 years managing the Opera House, the Coliseum and other facilities.

The Mitchell/Frazier/Kobluk trio reunited in 1987, with John Denver, and again with Tom Paxton in 2005. This fall, they're back with Paxton, who wrote some of their most popular songs, including "The Marvelous Toy" and "We Didn't Know." They play the INB Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Oct. 6.



& lt;span class= "dropcap " & G & lt;/span & reg Brown is one of those songwriters like Townes Van Zandt or Leonard Cohen -- a songwriter's songwriter. The kind of writer other writers point to as informing their work. The kind others like to cover. People like Joan Baez, Willie Nelson, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Ani DiFranco.

For all this, you'd think Greg Brown was some unapproachable mystic living in a cave somewhere and tuning his mind to the frequencies of the stars, an erudite recluse. You'd be part-right -- he's living in Iowa.

He grew up there and has, over the course of 28 records and several appearances on A Prairie Home Companion, become in some ways the voice of the Midwest folk scene. He's what Texas roots band the Gourds might call "unwashed and well-read," tucked away in his Iowa farmhouse, appearing onstage in a tank top and a floppy fishing hat or a stocking cap. (He comes to the Bing on Oct. 11.) On his live albums, he speaks with utter reverence about fishing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or in Idaho. He's a good old boy.

But a razor-sharp one. Brown's storytelling rivals that of Garrison Keillor's. His low, cutting voice has a meandering cadence that throws surprises in its path, a bone-dry sense of humor, and one of songwriting's keenest eyes. When Brown sings about people, you can see their wrinkles and smell their cologne.

Perhaps the most magical recording he's ever done is a 10-minute-long version of "Canned Goods" on 1995's The Live One. It describes the simple act of his grandmother canning fruit at harvest time and storing it in her root cellar, but it's achingly tender. "Maybe you're weary and you don't give a damn," he sings. "But I bet you never tasted her blackberry jam." From here, he veers off into spoken reminiscence, describing trips to the Iowa countryside, where he was smothered in the bosoms of his "big, buxom, southern Iowa" aunts before spinning off out of the yard in a cloud of perfume and into the woods to play with his young cousins. Here's a reference to William Carlos Williams. There's an observation on "adult dark," the false perception of darkness outside by bored adults sitting inside by lamplight talking about their ulcers.

By the time he comes back to the chorus -- "peaches on the shelf, potatoes in the bin / everybody come on in / and taste a little of the summer / my grandma put it all in jars" -- you'll feel like you've been there, too.



& lt;span class= "dropcap " & B & lt;/span & ack in 1915, mining magnate August Paulsen decided that the booming city of Spokane should have a state-of-the-art theater for that burgeoning entertainment phenomenon, moving pictures. He funded a new building, designed by architect E.W. Houghton, that was operated by -- and named for -- former dentist Howard Clemmer. Ten years later, a local kid named Bing Crosby got his big break there when he and musical partner Al Rinker got hired to entertain the crowds for 20 minutes before each movie.

Now, several name changes and owners later, the 750-seat Bing Crosby Theater honors the city's famous native son while providing an elegant stage for groups both local and national. Crosby biographer Gary Giddins thinks the theater is a gem that Spokane should be trumpeting and promoting to the rest of the world.

"The theater should be a major destination for tourists in the Northwest," he said last fall, just before the rededication. "It's like stepping into a time capsule from the '20s. I got chills the first time I walked in there. The theater is something that Spokane should be proud of."

The theater's acoustical features -- including its domed ceiling and intimately enfolding hall -- that were so well suited to Crosby's conversational singing style make the Bing a perfect venue for spoken-word events and public forums like Spokane Public Radio's election forum on Oct. 9 at 6:30 pm. That evening, a panel of local journalists -- John Vlahovich of Spokane Public Radio, Jim Camden of the Spokesman-Review, and The Inlander's Doug Nadvornick -- will pose questions to candidates in the races for Spokane mayor and city council. Audience members will have a chance to query the candidates directly, and it's free.

For several years now, the Bing has been the site for major events in the Get Lit! literary festival each spring, and writers from David Sedaris to Kurt Vonnegut to Alexander McCall Smith have held forth from its stage. Local writers who've gained national attention -- people like Sherman Alexie, Tim Egan and Jess Walter --have shared their words under the Bing's spotlight. The theater is at its best during those kinds of moments, when its relatively cozy interior becomes the community's living room. The Bing faces new competition with the reopening of the Fox this fall, but we believe it will continue to change and evolve while remaining one of the city's landmark jewels.



The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam, released Sept. 25

Sadly, this will be Halberstam's last book -- he died in a car crash earlier this year. The man who made his reputation dissecting the country's Vietnam experience does the same for the Korean War.

Sherman Alexie, Auntie's Bookstore, Oct. 16

Any reading by Alexie is always great fun. He'll be presenting his newest book -- and first young adult novel -- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Almost Moon by Alice Sebold, released Oct. 16

In her first novel since The Lovely Bones, Sebold continues to explore the dark side of life and death. This one's not about someone who was murdered; it's about a murderer -- a woman who kills her mother.

Henry Rollins, Big Easy, Oct. 27

The punk rocker-turned-spoken word performer returns to Spokane as part of his "Provoked" tour.

Glenn Mason, Auntie's Bookstore, Nov. 2

Mason, who was for many years executive director of the Cheney Cowles Museum -- now the MAC -- will narrate a slide presentation from his book, The Arts and Crafts Movement of the Pacific Northwest.


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hether or not you like it, Chuck Palahniuk wants you to know that someone is plotting against you.

Dreaming of your demise.

Thinking about all of the things they hate about you.

That all the happy people around you are wishing that their homes would explode into flames so they can get on with the life that they've always wanted.

Better yet -- that your house would explode into flames.

The sick, twisted thoughts that everyone thinks but no one ever says aloud -- that's what has made Chuck Palahniuk an icon of the literary counterculture. He visits Auntie's on Oct. 13 at 7:30 pm.

With a hand-sewn, unconventional writing style that he perfected while tinkering with diesel engines at a Portland, Ore., truck manufacturer, Palahniuk was, in a way, the real-life version of one of his own characters.

That everyman-with-a-lot-on-his-mind quality that Palahniuk personified seeped into his writing. He showed that anyone could write. That everyone -- even an auto mechanic -- was thinking. And that appealed to a lot of people.

After years of disturbing and out-disturbing publishers with his manuscripts, Palahniuk scored with Fight Club. Suddenly Brad Pitt was the Tyler Durden character that Palahniuk had been playing for so long. He developed a cult-like following online for his offbeat tales. Palahniuk was the new champion of the young thinker. The pissed-off youth. The punk rocker. The high school dropout with a brain. He became to writing what Black Sabbath was to the Groovy '60s: out of place, but arriving right on time.

Ten years and 10 books under his belt (and another on the way), you've got to admit that what Palahniuk writes is something unique, special... even alluring. That is, if you're the kind of person who can admit that sadism, bestiality and religious death cults are alluring.

Like all things Palahniuk-ian, extremes almost seem to be for initial shock value -- the plane crashes and exploded road kill that you can't ignore. Because lying beneath each of these extremes is something much more universally resonant. Things that a lot of people do want to read about. Maybe not a deep message or value, but the revelation that people like these characters -- like Tyler Durden and Buster Casey and Tender Branson -- are walking the Earth. They are unremarkable. They connect your calls. They cook your meals.

They might be working on the engine of your truck.



& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t's an incongruous phrase, two seemingly incompatible words paired hazily together. "Poetry": literary verse, often expressing delicate beauty or great profundity. "Slam": a loud noise or a harsh criticism.

"Slam started with Marc Smith, a construction worker, and it was his way of revamping poetry so it didn't sound like a bunch of lame white guys in a coffeehouse," explains Daniel Harrington, the slam master (i.e., chief phone caller and paperwork shuffler) of the Spokane Poetry Slam, hosted on the second Thursday of each month at Empyrean. "Slam brings a competitive nature to [poetry], but maybe you bring out the best in people."

"Slam" may be a violent word, a harsh word, but what Harrington is really all about is the spoken word, the word of the people, hissed or uttered or spit out in staccato in front of a crowd to communicate something vital, something essential.

"Slam to me is cool," he says, "but I just like the concept of community voice, talking, sharing, utilizing creativity, saying all the stuff we have an innate need to express."

The rules of slam are relatively simple: All poems must be original -- no reading somebody else's work. No props, no costumes, no instruments -- it's poetry, not musical theater. And you have 3 minutes to show your stuff -- you can do less, but if you go longer than 3:10, you get penalized.

When Harrington talks about slam, he fires the words out like he's got a 3-minute timer ticking in his head.

"I'm a content-oriented person," he says. "That's why I'm in the arts. It's about spreading the message. But some people have an amazing way of bringing a piece to life."

Here's how it works. There's usually a feature poet, someone traveling through the Northwest -- the big-name draw, if you will. Local poets perform as well. Harrington selects five people from the audience to be the judges. The judges score the performers from 0 to 10, based half on content, half on presentation. The highest and lowest scores are tossed out, so a perfect score is 30. After two rounds, the poet with the top cumulative score wins $40 cash; second- and third-place poets receive non-cash prizes.

For those who don't want to risk the anarchic potential of slam -- or who want to develop their chops in a less judgmental environment -- you'll find weekly poetry readings at the Empyrean every Wednesday evening.



& lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t's funny how a little thing like a National Book Award nomination will make people sit up and take notice. Spokane author Jess Walter was a finalist in the fiction category last spring for The Zero -- his 9/11 novel that doesn't mention 9/11 -- and ever since then, he's been in great demand for readings, interviews and appearances across the Northwest and in New York.

Here in Spokane this fall, Walter will get more attention, but not for The Zero: His previous novel, Citizen Vince, was chosen as this year's "Spokane Is Reading" book. He will read from and talk about the book twice on Oct. 18: at the North Spokane Library at 1 pm and then at the Masonic Temple at 7 pm. Both events are free.

Citizen Vince garnered an Edgar Award for Walter and brought him plenty of accolades. Unlike The Zero -- and unlike any previous Spokane Is Reading book -- Citizen Vince is set primarily right here in Spokane.

The time is 1980, in the days leading up to the presidential election. Vince Camden is a petty crook who makes donuts in his day job while running a credit-card scam, selling a little pot and playing poker on the side. One day, he wakes up and starts counting how many dead people he knows ("kid used to carry money in his mouth while he ran errands for Coletti in the neighborhood. Choked on a half-dollar. Thirty-five.") Vince gets his new voter registration card in the mail. Watches one of the presidential debates on TV. Talks politics with the hookers, card sharks and con men at his after-hours hangout.

See, Vince Camden has never voted for president in his life, even though he's 36. Voting is something that jailed felons and those on probation can't do. But this time, Vince can vote. He can make his voice heard. He can choose to live for the future and reconcile the past -- assuming, that is, he lives long enough.

Citizen Vince is full of Walter's darkly sardonic humor and sly social commentary, along with a clear-eyed view of criminals and cops. And plenty of local landmarks to pique local readers' interest and pride. For Vince loves Spokane: "a 1950s city where there were always two parents and houses had picket fences, where policemen smiled and tipped their hats. And now ... here he is, Spokane, Washington."



& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & hanks to a grant from Humanities Washington, Gonzaga University is expanding its Visiting Writers Series this year and will host six nationally acclaimed writers during the 2007-08 school year. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass and two others will visit in the spring semester, while this fall will see visits by three poets.

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, poet Herman Asarnow will present his work in the Teleconference Room of Foley Library. A professor of English at the University of Portland, Asarnow is the author of a collection of poems called Glass-Bottom Boat, and he was a poet in residence at the Ragdale Foundation. He has also translated the work of Spanish and Argentinean poet Noni Benegas.

Poet Donald Revell reads selections from his work on Oct. 9 in the Globe Room of Cataldo Hall. He has written eight books of poetry and serves as professor of English and director of creative writing at the University of Utah. His work is spare and honest, with no superfluous words. "In my workshops, we work simply to cut out any lines or phrases that are not literally true," Revell told Poets & amp; Writers magazine in 2002. "We ask the poem to stand by its words. We ask each other to stand by our words. We urge one another to be good, trusting the poems to follow suit."

November brings Native American poet and musician Joy Harjo (pictured, right) to campus for a presentation in the Cataldo's Globe Room on Nov. 14. Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation in Oklahoma, and she teaches at the University of New Mexico. She writes poetry, sings songs and plays the saxophone, all to express the creative process.

"I realized, as I became more and more involved with my tribal culture and ceremonies, that poetry for our people doesn't come in by itself, but it comes in with dancing, it comes in with music," she told Jim Lehrer of The NewsHour on PBS recently. Of the saxophone, she said, "It became my singing voice, and it sounds so human. The saxophone could carry the words past the border of words."

Harjo's poetry is grounded in the natural world but filled with relationships and the interactions of people living a particular life on a particular piece of earth. And yet her awareness of the wider world -- war, avarice, despoiling the environment -- is woven throughout her work.

"Like everyone else," she said on NewsHour, "I'm looking for answers of some sort or the other."




& lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & s a theatrical venue, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. has long been the address for big musicals. Yet while Expo '74 attracted a hundred performers to the Opera House, about the only specifically theatrical ones were Marcel Marceau (the mime) and a touring group from the Royal Shakespeare Company (with Michael Redgrave, father of Vanessa and Lynn).

In 1987, WestCoast Entertainment brought to the Opera House the first of its Best of Broadway touring shows, Cats -- which has purred its way back here five more times so far.

The mid-'90s saw a run of celebrities flaunting their names above musicals' titles: Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly; Marie Osmond in The Sound of Music; Jerry Lewis in Damn Yankees. Early 2000 presented a blockbuster lineup, with Miss Saigon running for two weeks and Phantom of the Opera for four -- only to be outdone by a different kind cat, The Lion King, which roared for six weeks in late 2005.

The Best of Broadway series remains the biggest tenant at what is now the refurbished and renamed Inland Northwest Bank Performing Arts Center. That's because while the Spokane Symphony will still have an INB presence with its Super Pops series (featuring Bernadette Peters on Oct. 13 and Poncho Sanchez on Nov. 10), its Classics series will say farewell to the INB Center on Oct. 19 with Verdi's Requiem.

Johnna Boxley, general manager of the Spokane PFD, acknowledges that revenues will surely decline with the loss of 10 Classics concerts. But she also sees a silver lining, noting that each of those dates necessitated three days of Symphony rehearsals. That's 40 dates opening up on the INB calendar -- and, says Boxley, "We plan to increase our on-the-road, one-night concerts. If we have three or four good nights, we'll make up that revenue loss."

A good thing, since upkeep on the trademark slope-roof building by the river runs high. A $5 million restoration project over the past two summers has brought 2,700 new seats, carpet and paint -- and a 27-foot-tall drive-through marquee with flashing lights. Those are only the most visible improvements ready to welcome this fall's touring productions: Movin' Out (Sept. 25-30), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Oct. 30-Nov. 4), The Wedding Singer (Nov. 27-Dec. 2) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Dec. 18-19).

The INB Center continues to be a place for big musicals. And remember -- INB holds the naming rights only for the next nine years, so start saving up.



Long Day's Journey Into Night, Actors Rep, Sept. 21-Oct. 7

No David Ogden Stiers, but director Michael Weaver's solid cast will take us on a whiskey- and morphine-fueled nightmare of non-communication and self-destruction. That Eugene O'Neill, he's a real laugh riot.

The Will of Fortune, CenterStage, Oct. 18-Nov. 3

An interactive dinner-theater murder-mystery comedy filled with groaner puns, embarrassed audience "volunteers" and themed buffet choices.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, INB Center, Oct. 30-Nov. 4

Like The Producers, but on the French Riviera: Two con men, debonair and boorish, cheat wealthy American women while singing David Yazbek's goofy lyrics.

This Is Our Youth, Empyrean, Nov. 1-10

If college kids won't come to theater, then bring theater to the coffeehouse. Director