Roots of 'Affrilachia'
Esteemed author/editor FRANK X WALKER knows there is much more to Appalachia beyond the stereotypes. He's the author of three exceptional books of poetry -- Affrilachia, Buffalo Dance and Black Box -- all of which are intensely personal and autobiographical treatments of "how a body's identity is tied to place," specifically an African-American Appalachia. He refers to this region as "Affrilachia," a term Walker coined to describe poets of color who were born in the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.
To showcase this special place, invisible to most of white America, Walker and writer/editor/poet Kathy Y. Wilson host an event called NAPPY ROOTS: AN AFFRILACHIAN ARTS SAMPLER at InkTank (1311 Main St., Over-the-Rhine) at 7 p.m. Friday.
The event will feature readings by Walker, Wilson and other writers, including Mitchell Douglas, Crystal Wilkinson, Jude McPherson, Bianca Floyd-Spriggs and Ricardo Colon.
Nappy Roots will also celebrate the launch of Walker's new PLUCK! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture as well as America! What's My Name? The "Other" Poets Unfurl the Flag as a means "to add some diversity to the already vibrant Cincinnati art scene."
Accompanying the rich literary showcase will be a visual arts display by several accomplished regional artists including Terrence Hammonds, Ed Hamilton, Bing Davis, Kyle and Kelly Phelps and Anissa Lewis.
Why blend literary readings, visual art, politics, music and the launch of an arts journal? "It may seem crazy to others," Walker admits, "but it makes perfect sense to me, especially when the most recognizable common denominator is artistic excellence."
What concerns Walker and his artistic colleagues is that "most people still embrace the false idea of an all-white Appalachia, rural or urban, which leaves little room for people of color from the region to be visible." Cincinnati has one of the largest urban Appalachian communities in the country. Walker's intent is to let Cincinnatians see that "misplaced Affrilachians live here, too."
Admission to Nappy Roots is $5; free to InkTank members. Refreshments will be available. 513-542-0195. (Check out details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- KARI CAPEK
WEDNESDAY 10/24 - SUNDAY 10/28
This might be the busiest moment of the 2007-08 theater season. There are more than a dozen choices for theatergoers -- multiple choices for anyone who's ever moaned about nothing to do in Cincinnati. If you're in a Halloween mood, check out Giles Davies' one-man rendition of FRANKENSTEIN at Cincinnati Shakespeare; that same company is also offering Shakespeare's seldom-seen CYMBELINE, an odd tale full of thrills and chills (reviewed here). Another production in the blood-run-cold category is Know Theatre's THE PILLOWMAN (reviewed here), and DARKSIDE at Northern Kentucky University is a scary tale about astronauts trapped on the moon. Prefer to laugh? How about MORE FUN THAN BOWLING at Ensemble Theatre (reviewed here)? If you're want some serious drama, choose between a classic like Falcon Theater's THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (reviewed here) and plays with the ink still drying such as ANON(YMOUS) at CCM (see the pick below and a blog post on it here), NEVER SWIM ALONE by the Satori Group at The Carnegie or THE INTELLIGENT DESIGN OF JENNY SHOW by Queen City Off Broadway. Are musicals your thing? Choose among four, including a classic -- a touring production of ANNIE at the Aronoff Center -- and some recent hits: ALTAR BOYZ at the Cincinnati Playhouse (reviewed here) and Tony Award-winning CAROLINE, OR CHANGE at New Stage Collective. For the younger set, there's HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL by Children's Theatre of Cincinnati. Box offices await your calls! -- RICK PENDER
In this world of unnecessarily long CDs (just 'cause it fits doesn't mean you have to put 20 eight-minute-long songs on a disc), I always love to hear things like Epic Fits, the latest album by Britain's No Wave up-and-comers PRE that clocks in at about 26 minutes.
And they still fit in 15 songs. PRE are the sound of pure, spontaneous musical explosions, Punk Rock in its untamed scatter and "artsy" in the slanted arrangements and artful use of noise. It's super high-energy but less "playful sugar-fit" and more "methamphetamine-induced rampage." The group has drawn high praise from the often-fickle music press of England -- NME said the band is "well on their way to superstardom." But unlike, say, the albums by Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (with whom the band seems to be compared a lot), there are absolutely no commercial concessions on Epic Fits. So unless breakneck-paced Punk Rock completely devoid of melody (engaging singer Akiko Matsuura screeches, squeals, howls and shrieks, but rarely does she "sing") and prone to random outbursts of lacerating guitar sparks becomes Top 20 fodder all of a sudden, don't be looking for PRE in the "superstar" section of the record store just yet. But do look for them Thursday at the new Art Damage Lodge in Northside, where the band puts on one of their jaw-droppingly maniacal live shows with guests Pantz Party and Realicide. www.myspace.com/artdamagelodge. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- MIKE BREEN
THURSDAY 10/25 - SATURDAY 10/27
Richard Hess has picked up an armload of Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for his imaginative stage productions in recent seasons. His next outing (at UC's College-Conservatory of Music, where he heads the drama program) is ANON(YMOUS), a cutting-edge retelling of Homer's The Odyssey that Hess discovered in the February 2007 issue of American Theatre magazine. But don't think it's dry as dust because of its classic roots. Award-winning contemporary playwright Naomi Iizuka's script (premiered in 2006) recharges the story of wandering Ulysses, turning it into the tale of a young Southeast Asian refugee on a journey to a new life in America. Hess has ramped up Iizuka's script with a musical score: CCM senior Christy Altomare, a musical theater major who has been writing her own music for several years, has composed songs with an ethnic sound using Iizuka's text as her lyrics. Hess gained Iizuka's permission for the change, and the result will make this new, inventive work all the more new and inventive. Hess says, "The question of immigration is one of the most singularly polarizing topics in America today. It's a topic about which most Americans have strong opinions." This production will be a fascinating way to explore those opinions. 513-556-4183. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- RICK PENDER
THURSDAY 10/25 - SUNDAY 10/28
DOV (pronounced "Dove," like the bird) DAVIDOFF is a man of many talents. While he's currently touring the country with his stand-up comedy set, he has also found fairly steady work as an actor in the past few years. He starred with Mark Wahlberg in the film Invincible and was a series regular on the short-lived cop drama Raines last spring. A solid actor, Davidoff is even more accomplished at making people laugh. His street-wise demeanor gives way to bewilderment, particularly when it comes to things in life that should be simple but end up being the opposite. "I walked into a Starbucks and the guy got my order wrong, which is fine," he says, "but he had this attitude. I'm like, 'That's the wrong drink.' He said, 'Sorry, dude, I'm tired.' Well, then have a coffee. That's why I'm here." Davidoff performs at Funny Bone on the Levee. $15. 859-957-2000. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- P.F. WILSON
FRIDAY 10/26 - SATURDAY 10/27
The CINCINNATI CYCLONES host the Trenton Devils in the team's 2007-08 home openers at US Bank Arena downtown. The Cyclones are the East Coast Hockey League affiliate for two NHL teams, the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators, meaning these players are two steps away from playing in the big leagues. For the $12 ticket price you can generally sit anywhere (although seats range from $12 to $22.50), eat nachos, drink beer and cause as much ruckus as you want since the huge arena is hardly ever at full capacity. The 'Clones will play a fast-paced brand of hockey and will probably fight a couple times each game. www.cycloneshockey.com (Buy tickets and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- DANNY CROSS
Part costume contest, part athletic event, part fund-raiser, RUN LIKE HELL is the area's most unusual Halloween party -- and might be the most fun. Now in its 16th year raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the "run" is structured around a 5K course that starts on Dana Avenue across from the Xavier University campus and loops through Walnut Hills Cemetery via Victory Parkway. Most participants come dressed in their Halloween finest and compete in a costume contest back at the start/finish area for group and individual prizes. (Note: Cappel's is offering a 10 percent discount on costumes for race registrants.) The run begins at 7:30 p.m., and the party -- with free food, games, drinks and live music -- starts after the runners take off. You can register Friday at the start/finish area at Dana and Woodburn avenues ($35) or attend the party only for $15. www.cincyrunlikehell.com. -- JOHN FOX
The Final Friday Gallery Walk is upon us again. Several goodies will be open late for your visual delight, starting with the NICHOLAS GALLERY. The exhibition opening Friday is not your run-of-the-mill gallery show; rather, owner Nicholas Paddock invited STEVE BAKER to trade and sell wares from his bartering in the Amazon. What to expect, according to Paddock, is a range of things from blow-guns to Shaman's seats to woven baskets and ceremonial fetishes. PUBLICO also opens Friday with another Philadelphia artist, ANDREW SUGGS, and his exhibition Resound. Suggs's work is a multi-channel video, featuring young people singing out-of-generation pop songs. The simultaneous awkwardness and beauty "illustrates complex relationships to persistent cultural artifacts," according to Paul Coors. I always believe him. Other places not to miss include BASE GALLERY's exhibition of work by AARON KENT, whose uncomfortable work plays with politics in a way that our president wouldn't like. 1305 GALLERY opens with Man Made, new work by MICHAEL STILLION. The exhibition is made of paper and paintings that seem to fall away and come back together, existing in some sublime space. CLAY STREET PRESS presents Dig It Al!, a stunning showcase of digital photography. See the CityBeat A&E blog for more information on each exhibition. -- LAURA JAMES
Well, finally: The opening of COUNTRY CLUB, the much-anticipated joint venture of ex-CAC curator Matt Distel and his partner Christian Strike, is poised to shake up October's Final Friday. The inaugural exhibition, I will be alright, features work by some of the artists Country Club has taken on. A few of the names will be familiar to CAC regulars: Joo Paulo Feliciano, John Pilson and SIMPARCH, for example. Others are a bit more elusive: Kamrooz Aram, Kambi Olujimi and Jacob Dyrenforth, to name a few. The gallery is coming out with guns blazing, thank the gods. Artist Harmony Korine flips off conservative culture by juxtaposing (or drawing a parallel between) Osama bin Laden and precious E.T. in his prints. Olujimi capitalizes on a fear-based culture, transforming the vaporous images of clouds into wanted posters. "Who the fuck are we running from?" seems to be the message here. While the exhibition will include almost all media, the message is a direct one, according to Distel and Strike: "I will be alright explores utopic/dystopic themes with a sense of cautious and/or conflicted optimism. The exhibition title itself suggests a hopeful look into the future while simultaneously implying that some type of troubling event or impending trauma must first be overcome." Opening 6-9 p.m. Friday. 424 Findlay St., West End. 513-792-9744. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- LAURA JAMES
If Cinderella were dead, she'd be at the ENCHANTED BALL too. Blending Victorian elegance with the spooky and supernatural, the event will surely be a wonder to behold. Conjured by former members of the team that brought the Witches Ball to Cincinnati, this Ball delivers ballroom dancing, live music, fire eating, modern dance and contortionist performances that make it a masquerade party as intricate and enticing as 19th century lace. Haunted tours of Music Hall and its spectral denizens add to the fun. Music by Mayan Ruins, Michael Georgiton, Kompression and DJ Styx; Gourmet finger food, desserts and spirits from the cash bar keep the party charged. Psychics are on hand to help you decide who gets that last dance and the goodnight kiss. $30 in advance; $35 door; $50 couples. 8:30 p.m. Oct. 27. Music Hall, 1243 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-744-3344. (Buy tickets and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) -- STEPHEN CARTER-NOVOTNI