Arts

Arts and culture

Chicago's Jazz Record Mart attracts visitors from all over the world. At least, it used to: Last month, owner Bob Koester sold the store, saying he was just too old to run it any more.

Koester began selling used records when he was a teenager in Wichita, Kansas. After moving to Chicago, he opened his own store, as well as his own jazz and blues label, Delmark. But after more than 60 years in business, he decided this spring that it was time to pack it in.

One of the most iconic songs of the civil rights movement is now the subject of a lawsuit.

For Kafka, Even Beer Came With Baggage

Apr 11, 2016

Franz Kafka wrote powerful stories about the powerless — and to make them frightening, he made them funny. Many of his darkest comedies, including the famous one about a salesman metamorphosing into a bug, appear to be rooted in the cowering, but deeply farcical, relationship he had with his domineering father, Hermann.

But if there was a sparkling boyhood memory that Kafka cherished — and recalled as he lay dying of tuberculosis in a sanatarium near Vienna — it was one involving that primal bonding ritual between father and son: sharing a beer.

David Welton / Whidbey Life Magazine

As children, we all have big dreams of what we’ll do with our lives, maybe become a famous painter or an astronaut. But many of us wind up pursuing something more practical, and then it can take a lot of guts to resurrect those childhood dreams later on.

But that's exactly what 82-year-old Larry Shafer has done. After a long legal career as a trial lawyer and municipal court judge, the Whidbey Island resident has spent the past five years reconnecting with his love of music. 

Oh, American Idol. You were too good for this world.

OK, maybe not too good. Maybe too rooted in people voting via telephone calls.

The first teaser trailer for Rogue One -- this year's Star Wars film, slated for release in December — has arrived.

The movie, set between the end of the prequels and the beginning of the original series, is the first stand-alone film in the franchise and centers on the rebel fighters on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.

His career spanned the famous Bakersfield sound, the outlaw era, and 38 No. 1 hits on the country music charts. Now comes word that Merle Haggard has died Wednesday — his 79th birthday.

I first noticed it in a neighborhood of Boston aptly called the "Innovation District." On a crumbling corner of an old brick building, there was a gaping hole created by about 15 missing clay bricks, filled in with about 500 Lego blocks.

I was determined to find out who the artist was.

"I don't know!" I was told by folks working in the building. Their property manager had no clue, nor did the people at Lego. "If you hear, let us know," said brand relations manager Amanda Santoro.

"Ca nous fait swinguer" — love that swing, says an aficionado at the Dakar Goree Jazz Festival as the tempo shifts from Senegalese jazz to salsa and blues. Aissatou Niang says she's enchanted and delighted with the performances.

Other festivalgoers concur, smiling. They're attending the second edition of a burgeoning jazzfest in Dakar last month that brought together musicians from Senegal, the U.S. and beyond.

The festival is the brainchild of Amadou Koly Niang, a Senegalese man who fell in love with jazz in his teens.

Historians hailed U.S. President Obama's visit to Cuba as the beginning of a new relationship between the two countries. But for hundreds of thousands of Cubans, the real thrill this week was the visit of some prominent Brits: The Rolling Stones.

Photo provided

The book that put the plays of William Shakespeare into print for the very first time, nearly 400 years ago, is on display now at the Seattle Public Library. Many historians believe without it, we would not know about half of Shakespeare’s plays. KPLU’s Ed Ronco went to take a look, and he enlisted some help.

Lots of people are fuming about Nina, an upcoming biopic about legendary singer Nina Simone. According to its critics, the filmmakers butcher important parts of Simone's biography (in part, by attributing much of her success to the men in her life), but that their larger sin was casting actress Zoe Saldana, who plays the lead role with the help of skin-darkening makeup and a prosthetic nose.

This week the world's been treated to a commentary on immigration reform from a surprising source: William Shakespeare.

With Beauty And Wonder, 'The Winged Histories' Soars

Mar 16, 2016

In Sofia Samatar's World Fantasy Award-winning debut novel A Stranger in Olondria, she introduced an empire redolent with magic and rife with turmoil. Olondria is one of the richest new fantasy settings in recent memory, and Samatar has returned to it in The Winged Histories. Like the book before it, Histories deals with the way language, books, and romance intersect with class, politics, and religion — and it does so in an ornate, dreamlike atmosphere.

Chances are, if you've seen a Kelly Reichardt film, it would be Wendy and Lucy, a small, languorous, utterly heartbreaking 2008 drama with a big star, Michelle Williams, as a young homeless woman trying to make her way to the Pacific Northwest with her beloved dog. Wendy and Lucy is an art film with a delirious sense of place, but it's also a road movie, and far from Reichardt's first. One way or another, every extreme indie she makes pays sly, ardent homage to genre.

The eccentric middle-aged cat lady has met the vintage-loving hipsters. Hello, My Name Is Doris stars Sally Field as a woman whose attraction to a much younger man leads her on a journey into young-adult circles, where she is celebrated for her "unique style" — at least until someone has the guts to tell her what ironic appreciation means.

I'd already been thinking a lot about George Martin. I've spent the last year writing a book about the songs that changed the lives of musicians, and in the introductory chapter I offer my own selection. "A Day in the Life," by The Beatles, changed the way I think about music. It's a song George Martin, who died on Tuesday at the age of 90, had a clear hand in.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

There’s a lot of angst about Seattle’s growing tech sector these days, with people blaming it for everything from rising rents to congested streets. But comedian Bridget Quigg has found plenty of absurdities in what she calls "Techlandia."

That's the title of her one-woman comedy show, which she's performing at Seattle's Theater Schmeater this week.

Beatles fans around the world are paying tribute to the group's longtime producer, Sir George Martin, who died Tuesday at age 90.

Paul McCartney said in a statement, "The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music." George Martin also left a lasting mark on the art of record production.

Whether horns or harpsichord, so many of the embellishments you hear on the Beatles' songs came from Martin. He wasn't just a good producer, says Grammy-winning producer Nigel Godrich.

"The Native American wizarding community was particularly gifted in animal and plant magic, its potions in particular being of a sophistication beyond much that was known in Europe."

That's what J.K. Rowling writes in the first of a four-part essay series, collectively called History of Magic in North America. "The most glaring difference between magic practised by Native Americans and the wizards of Europe was the absence of a wand."

Perhaps you first heard the name Esperanza Spalding in 2011, when an award that many were calling an easy win for Justin Bieber instead went to an eclectic young bass player, singer and composer.

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