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Mark Mulcahy

Where have all the good times gone? For Mark Mulcahy’s small but devoted fanbase, it seems they’ve just been in hiding for a while. In Pursuit of Your Happiness is the first new record in four years from the ex-Miracle Legion frontman, signaling the return of one of our time’s most enigmatic and expressive male singers. (Thom Yorke of Radiohead once called Mulcahy “the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard.”) Happiness is a sublimely strange and bewilderingly beautiful collection of songs, boasting guest appearances from J Mascis, Joey Santiago of the Pixies, and poet Matthew Zapruder. None of those guys will be on hand for this evening’s performance at Valentine’s; no matter, because Mulcahy and his current band certainly will. If you’re one of the few and the proud who caught his last area appearance, you’ll understand that this is a must-see. For everyone else, trust us just this once.

Mark Mulcahy will perform at Valentine’s tonight (Thursday, June 16) with special guest Walter Salas-Humara (of the Silos). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $7. For more information, call 432-6572 or visit www.valentinesalbany.com.

Anything But Realism

Beginning tonight (Thursday), the Schick Art Gallery presents an exhibition of five artists who all live or work in the Capital Region. In addition to their respective personal or professional attachments to the region, these five artists also share another commonality: All are professors. Does the status of professorial Capital Region habitué have a distinct and discernible impact on the art? Is there a burgeoning school of academic Albanian artists? No idea. Seems unlikely. But the Schick promises that the works of Scott Brodie, David Carbone, JoAnne Carson, Mark Grennwold and Deborah Zlotsky are “highly regarded” and that the viewer “will be fascinated by each artist’s unique expression of his or her artistic vision in this engaging exhibit.”

OK, so it’s not the most informative description (cough, empty p.r. boilerplate, cough), but we’ve had the opportunity to check out some of the aforementioned artists—all of whom have been working seriously and showing for some time—and can attest that the surety of technique evinced by these folks is compelling and the variety of styles and emotional tone is likely to be dramatic.

Anything But Realism opens tonight (Thursday) at Skidmore College’s Schick Art Gallery (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs), and runs through Sept. 22. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 7 PM. For more information, please call 580-5049.

Mad Hot Ballroom

There’s a funny New York City public school sequence in the Warner Bros.’ Depression-era melodrama Three on a Match which demonstrates an eternal educational struggle. A comically obtuse principle leads a bored, rowdy class of ethnically mixed kids in the behavior-modification mantra “look forward and not back, look up and not down . . . and lend a hand.” Not surprisingly, the mantra has minimal effect.

When you’re 11 years old, you think you’re in school for the education—or because your parents hate you. It’s only later that the light of knowledge dawns on you: You’re there to learn how to behave well enough to become a productive, peaceful cog in the great social machine. In this vein, a decade ago the NYC public school system introduced ballroom dancing into 60 schools, and a system-wide ballroom competition. The idea was to teach rowdy, bored 11-year-olds how to be “ladies and gentlemen.”

Funny thing is, the kids turned out to like the program. They like the music, the discipline of the form and, of course, the competition. Mad Hot Ballroom, an exuberant documentary by Marilyn Agrelo and Amy Sewell, follows kids from three public schools—located in the very different Bensonhurst, Washington Heights and Tribeca neighborhoods—through one of these tournaments.

And, by all accounts, it’s a gas. As Ella Taylor wrote in L.A. Weekly, Mad Hot Ballroom is “a frisky charmer” that “turns a sympathetic and mischievous camera” on the kids—much in the ingratiating manner of the spelling-bee documentary Spellbound.

Mad Hot Ballroom opens tomorrow (Friday, June 17) at the Spectrum 8 Theatres (290 Delaware Ave., Albany). For showtimes, call 449-8995.


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