Staffpicks for 1-23-08

Jan 22, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Jan. 23-27
‘Leopards Take Manhattan’

    The Louisville Leopards Percussionists boasts some 50 elementary-school-age students playing a variety of jazz standards. If images of dull school recitals come to mind, think again. I saw them perform for the Kentucky Homefront radio show, and they had the place hoppin’.
    The Leopards resurrect a technique popular in the 1970s (see the Langley Schools Music Project CD): break a song down to relatively simple parts and let the students know they can make something truly great only through discipline and cooperation. It takes a talented arranger/teacher and dedicated students. The Leopards have both.
    They make the jump to the national spotlight on Thursday when a documentary on them premieres on HBO. “Music in Me: The Leopards Take Manhattan” shows Thursday on HBO (7:15 p.m.) and Sunday on HBO Family (6:30 p.m.). “Leopards Take Manhattan” will also be shown tonight (7 p.m.) at the Palace Theatre at an invitation-only event. Check the website for more details. —Alan Abbott

Thursday, Jan. 24
Frank X Walker

    The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft is offering a smorgasbord for the senses and the soul, centering on a lecture and signing by Frank X Walker. The nominal reason for the proceedings is Walker’s “When Winter Come: The Ascension of York,” just coming out from University Press of Kentucky. The event also features jazz pianist Harry Pickens, remarks from Louisville sculptor Ed Hamilton and a display of regional African-American quilts. Heine Brothers will bring refreshments. It all sounds a lot cozier than the real-life inspiration for Walker’s new book — the experiences of William Clark’s slave York, a vital member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. —T.E. Lyons
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
715 W. Main St.
$5-$10; 6 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 24
The 2008 Election: Should we be worried?

    The 2008 presidential election is shaping up as one of the most unusual in our nation’s history, and Thursday night at the Filson, Tracy Campbell, a University of Kentucky history professor who specializes in U.S. social and political history, will discuss the varied aspects that make it so. He will also talk about things that should worry voters — developments with voting machines, absentee voting and the Electoral College — and suggest how elections can improve. Just a guess: He’ll probably have a few things to say about Florida 2000. A wine and cheese reception kicks off at 5:15, with the lecture to follow at 6. The event is sponsored by the Greater Louisville UK Alumni Association. —Cary Stemle
Filson Historical Society
1310 S. Third St.
Free (for UK Alumni Assoc./Filson members), $10 non-members); 5:15 p.m.

Tiempo, por la timba!

    Jorge Gomez and the members of Cuban sensation Tiempo Libre are succeeding in making the world of music a little less black and white. Formed in 2001, Tiempo Libre specializes in timba, a fusion of jazz and salsa dating to the early 19th century that, if you’re looking for a reference, is in the vein of Buena Vista Social Club.
    While Tiempo Libre (“free time”) coalesced as a way to kill idle hours, the response to their music has been anything but idle. Tiempo has enraptured audiences in Asia, Europe and the United States, a response that leaves Gomez awestruck. “We never expected anything like this,” he tells LEO.
    “We want to play timba for our whole life,” he says. “The best thing that we can do is teach people about timba, to make you feel it like us.”
    They don’t wait for people to show up at the concert hall, either, stopping at colleges and universities, even kindergartens, during their tours to show the kids what timba’s all about. —Mat Herron
Bomhard Theater, Kentucky Center
$25; 8 p.m.

Soul on Ice

Dee Muldrow, aka D. Mawl, might’ve been born in Cincinnati, but his roots in Kentucky go just as deep. In the ’90s, Mudlrow hooked up with Deep Rooted Productions, which boasted one group of hip-hoppers who would go on to the majors: Nappy Roots. When Deep Rooted folded, Muldrow started his own production company, Soul Linq.
Operating Soul Linq are Muldrow, Carlis Phillips of the R&B group Klientel, gospel artist Adrianne Archie and producer Joel Goodwin. Since then, D. Mawl has made considerable waves, appearing on BET’s “Rap City” and 106th & Park, while Archie continues to tour.
But enough business: Saturday finds Soul Linq taking over the former Oscar Brown’s location to throw a party for their hip hop, R&B and soul extravaganza, “Soul in the City.” The gathering doubles as a reunion for past performers and patrons of the Java House, a Northwestern Parkway arts and music safe haven that hosted blues, jazz, R&B acts and spoken word until it shut down five years ago. “It was our second home,” Phillips says. “That place was the start for me.” —Mat Herron
Ice Breakers
252 E. Market St.
$10; 9 p.m.

Jan. 26-May 26
‘Wreck of the Henrietta Marie’

    The Frazier International History Museum debuts a fascinating traveling exhibit on Saturday titled “A Slave Ship Speaks: The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie.” The artifacts on display were excavated from the British merchant ship Henrietta Marie, which sank in 1700 off the Florida Keys. Archaeologists discovered the wreckage more than 250 years later, and today it remains the only excavated slave ship in North America to have sunk during slaving activities. Included in the more than 90 artifacts are shackles, which visitors can try on, and surgical instruments, cannonballs and various ship parts.
    “For some people, this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience something so emotionally charged, and to catch a glimpse of this difficult period of history,” Dr. Madeleine Burnside, executive director of the Frazier, notes in a press release. “The Henrietta Marie tells a vital and painful story through her artifacts.” The exhibit is on display through May 26. —Sara Havens
Frazier International History Museum
829 W. Main St.

Jan. 30-Feb. 3
‘A Funny Thing’ at U of L

    Before he helped create the TV series “M*A*S*H,” Larry Gelbart teamed with Stephen Sondheim and Burt Shevelove to pen the 1962 smash “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum,” inspired by the farces of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus. After six Tony awards and a movie version, every aspect of this production endures, most importantly the vaudeville/Mel Brooks-style humor and, of course, the songs. It’s a nothing-goes-right, madcap and slightly lewd musical, and everyone oughtta have a go. If you like theme weekends, make Sondheim the subject — see “Forum” and “Sweeney Todd” and then go home in a bawdy bag. This performance is presented by U of L’s Theatre Arts Department —Joey Yates
Thrust Theater
2314 S. Floyd St.
$14; 8 p.m. (3 p.m. matinees Feb. 2-3)

Through Feb. 2
Teresa Waller’s ‘Nature Reborn’

    A friend told me I had to see Teresa Waller’s paintings, and now I know why — Waller has a microscopic eye. She takes you on a journey in a garden, soaring through the plants, then focuses in on one leaf. Details loom larger than before, and you actually SEE. It’s like a Discovery Channel special. She has done the work for us, so you don’t have to squint. Leave your magnifying glass at home.
    Describing her as a landscape painter is a misnomer. The art world always professes that “it’s in the details,” and Waller listened. Actually, she listened to one of her teachers, Mary Ann Currier, the realist painter extraordinaire, and as a result, gives us light and color-saturated details. Welcome to the jungle.
    Kaviar Forge & Gallery will be open late during the Jan. 25 F.A.T. Friday from 6-9 p.m. —Jo Anne Triplett
Kaviar Forge & Gallery
1718 Frankfort Ave.

Through April 15
‘Our Town, Too: Portland’s African Americans’

    Louisville’s history begins with the Ohio River, which includes the settlers of the correctly named Portland. The Portland Museum's job is to remind us of the beginning, present and future of the neighborhood's inhabitants.
    The museum’s current exhibition highlights Portland’s African-American population from slavery to the 20th century, mirroring what was happening in America around the same time. Personal objects, photographs, maps and oral histories bring the people to life again. I’m a big fan of oral histories; you get to hear or read, in a person’s own words, what he or she experienced while achieving things that rarely came easily.
     This show is also important because the work is ongoing. Portland is a Preserve America neighborhood; that’s a White House initiative supported by the First Lady. Because of that designation, museum staff wants the community to bring more personal histories to light, and an African-American heritage trail is planned as well. Portland is our town, too. —Jo Anne Triplett
Portland Museum
2308 Portland Ave.
Free; 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Tue.-Fri.)