Dave Frishberg | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Dave Frishberg

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Thirtysomethings met Dave Frishberg while watching Schoolhouse Rock, for which he wrote a clever introduction to the legislative process, "I'm Just a Bill." But their hipper parents and older siblings already knew Frishberg's quirky lyrics from tunes like "Blizzard of Lies" (a hilarious catalog of the outright falsehoods we tell every day), "My Attorney Bernie" (a sharp stick in the eye to legal eagles), and "Peel Me a Grape" (a funny tribute to blase privilege). Sometimes lost in the shuffle, though, are Frishberg's serious songs, which can silence a room: "The Underdog," a lament shot through with pathos; "Dear Bix" and "Matty," his odes to fallen heroes Bix Beiderbecke and Christy Mathewson; and "You Are There," a quietly devastating depiction of loss. Frishberg started his career as a traditional swing-style pianist, and a terrific one at that, backing such giants as Zoot Sims and Ben Webster; his skills prove more than adequate for self-accompaniment. His singing voice, a tuneful croak akin to Mose Allison's, is a wondrous oddity that suits his songs. Frishberg moved some years ago from New York to Portland and, naturally, got a great number out of it ("Do You Miss New York?"). But while the northwest seems to have nurtured his introspection, it hasn't dulled his keen eye for pretension and greed or his ability to wittily skewer them. Thursday, February 13, 7 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 312-744-6630.

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