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Mark Olson and Gary Louris

Some of you are jumping up and down now that you’ve read the names Mark Olson and Gary Louris—especially as they’re in such close proximity to each other without being separated by a “vs.” You’re the folks who know the backstory and will need only this: The guitarists-vocalists whose harmonies defined the early work of the wonderfully Gram Parsons-beholden Jayhawks have buried the hatchet and are again performing together, and on Saturday they’ll stop in at the Egg. You knowledgeable folks feel free to now skip right to the end here to get the details. The rest of you, for whom even the clue “the Jayhawks” didn’t ring a bell, might want to stick around a moment.

After releasing their self-titled debut in 1986, the Jayhawks made a slow but steady climb over a decade into the higher ranks of the alt-country/No Depression genre, winning critical acclaim and an increasing audience. By 1995 it seemed the band were ready to break into the mainstream with their album Tomorrow the Green Grass, even managing to land a video in MTV’s regular rotation. Unfortunately, the presssure of the music biz had dampened Olson’s enthusiasm and, despite possibility of a breakthrough, he decided to walk away from the band. Olson’s departure was popularly regarded as the end of the band; and the remaining members, at first, worked with the same assumption. But after consideration, Louris and co. decided to soldier on under the Jayhawks moniker, redefining their sound and carving out a new and well-respected place for themselves—and really pissing off Olson.

But, as they say, time heals all wounds: Eventually, the pleasure of working together as a musical duo pushed Olson and Louris toward a reconciliation. It’s early yet to say whether this tour heralds a full-scale reunion (’Hawks Marc Perlman and Tim O’Reagan are sitting this one out), but the chance to hear Olson and Louris sing together again should forestall any gift-horse inspection.

Marc Olson and Gary Louris will play the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) on Saturday (Feb. 26). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $24. For more information, call 473-1845.

A Streetcar Named Desire

When the curtain dropped on the 1947 debut production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, the room—legend has it—was absolutely silent. After a long moment, the stunned audience regained their senses and burst into an ovation that continued for a solid half-hour.

Granted, the lead in that performance was Marlon Brando, who some would contend was at that point the most powerful actor likely ever to exist; but the play, which established its author as the leading American playwright of the century and racked up a New York Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer, was—and remains—a masterpiece in its own right. Albany Civic Theatre’s production of Streetcar, which opens tomorrow (Friday), features Robert Gottschall as Stanley and Susan Preiss as Blanche.

In previous decades, plays that featured blue-collar workers in significant roles often tended toward the didactic, incorporating activist, and not infrequently straight-up socialist, themes. Williams skipped the poli-sci and depicted rough-and-tumble proles as three-dimensional people, with passions, appetites and complex psychologies. Doing so won him not only enormous celebrity but the enmity of some of America’s self-appointed moral protectors—such as the Catholic Legion of Decency, who found Williams’ characters a little too appetitive. In the right hands, the play’s raw ending (no spoilers here, we promise) still retains the power to take the wind right out of an audience.

Begining tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 25) and running through March 13, Albany Civic Theatre (235 Second Ave., Albany) will present Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. Tickets for the performances are $12. For more information, call 462-1297.

Purple Noon

Filmmakers love Patricia Highsmith’s character Tom Ripley. In the last few years, the glamorous sociopath has been portrayed by Matt Damon, Barry Pepper and John Malkovich; go back to 1977, and even Dennis Hopper had a crack at the character (in Wim Wenders’ The American Friend). Go back even further, and you’ll discover what many believe to be the definitive film depiction of Ripley.

Long before Anthony Minghella got his fussy fingers on Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, French director René Clément made the stylish 1960 adaptation Purple Noon. This taut thriller made Alain Delon an international star, and earned Clément comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock. Long unavailable, Purple Noon was restored and rereleased in the late 1990s under the auspices of Martin Scorsese. It’s one of these restored prints that’s being shown at Page Hall Friday night.

The New York State Writers Institute will host a screening of Purple Noon tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 25) at 7:30 PM at UAlbany’s Page Hall (135 Western Ave., Albany). Admission is free. For more information, call 442-5620.

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