Arts Desk

Arts Roundup: City Lights Drama! Edition

We assume that's a cigarette, not crack.

Hey all, here's a peak at the goings on at the Washington City Paper headquarters around 5 p.m. last night:

So, it was announced yesterday that Gil Scott-Heron canceled his scheduled appearances at Blues Alley, set to take place tonight through Sunday. "Health problems," the performer claimed. It put us in a real bind, because he was our City Lights pick, and we didn't find out until right around the time we put the paper to bed. Fortunately, my colleague Jonathan L. Fischer rocked out another pick in record time. But in case you're wondering how Steve Kiviat's original pick looked, here it is:

Between 1970 and 1982, Gil Scott-Heron released nine albums’ worth of deep-voiced poetry and singing over jazz and R&B rhythms, earning him the label as a godfather of rap. On innovative early tracks like “The Revolution Will Not be Televised,” he combined Langston Hughes-inspired wordplay with left-wing politics. Since 1982, the onetime D.C. resident has struggled with a crack problem, done prison time, been sampled by Kanye West, and released a mere two albums—1994’s Spirit and this year’s fine I’m New Here. On Here, producer Richard Russell layers Scott-Heron’s now-raspier vocals over minimalistic trip-hop beats. The soulful bard abandons politics, favoring instead original ruminations on life (“New York Is Killing Me,” “On Coming from a Broken Home”)mixed with a few covers of Robert Johnson, Brook Benton, and Bill Callahan that eerily reflect Scott-Heron’s own values and vices.

Fischer ended up selecting local band Alma Tropicalia, which covers tropicalia favorites by Os Mustantes and others. But he initially wanted to write about Liz Phair's show Friday at the 9:30 Club; it just didn't work out with our lineup. Phair spoke to WaPo about instructing people how to like Funstyle, her controversial latest release, as well as losing her management over the disc. Bad career move, anyone?

PopEater's got a nice interview with Michelle Williams, who just scored a Golden Globe nom for the upcoming film Blue Valentine. In it she talks about the obvious (the indie darling's heart was never in Dawson's Creek–big surprise) and well as the not-so-obvious (substitute words to use when you're trying not to swear around your children).

Photo: popsdineswithportman.blogspot.com

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