Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements returns for 2012

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Van Dyke Parks
  • Van Dyke Parks
On Tuesday at noon tickets go on sale for the second installment of Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements, a peculiar arts festival launched last year by Pitchfork Music Festival organizer Mike Reed. This year's event will run September 21-23 at the Riverfront Theater, a tent at 650 W. Chicago (on the east bank of the Chicago River). The theater opened last year with a 16-week run of Peter Pan, and has a full slate of productions scheduled for this year—its season began May 30 with the Twelve Tenors.

This time around most of the entertainment at Brilliant Corners will be in just one tent. Last year four different circuses shared one tent, and the music was in a second one; for 2012, the only circus will be Chicago's El Circo Cheapo, performing both Saturday and Sunday at 5 PM. All three nights will feature two musical acts (down from four last year), but in a new addition, free comedy performances will begin each evening at 10 PM. The music is diverse, mixing old-school legends with quirky younger artists. On Fri 9/21 electro-goth singer Zola Jesus opens for art-rock veteran John Cale, and on Sat 9/22 69-year-old pop genius Van Dyke Parks opening for annoying 32-year-old Conor Oberst. I find the Sun 9/23 program the most exciting: the stylistically wide-ranging Helado Negro opens for soul giant Bobby Womack, giving his first Chicago performance since the release of his impressive new album, The Bravest Man in the Universe (XL). Tickets are available from Ticketweb. Below you can watch the video for "Whatever Happened to the Times" from Womack's new album.

Today's playlist:

Uri Caine Trio, Siren (Winter & Winter)
Black Eagle Child, Lobelia (Preservation)
The Claudia Quintet +1 featuring Kurt Elling and Theo Bleckmann, What Is the Beautiful? (Cuneiform)
Orrin Evans, Freedom (Posi-Tone)
Stephan Crump and Steve Lehman, Kaleidoscope and Collage (Intakt)

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