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Brilliant Mistakes: A Tribute to Elvis Costello

Area singer-songwriter John Brodeur has been hard at work lately in an effort to get a decent Elvis Costello tribute off the ground, and by the looks of things, he has done just that. Brilliant Mistakes: A Tribute to Elvis Costello, taking place Saturday at Valentine’s, involves a mobster’s trunkload of bodies—all in the attempt to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Costello’s debut, come on, say it with us, My Aim Is True.

Brodeur searched far and wide for talent to take part in his vision quest, and he came up with more than 20 artists, bands and otherwise to perform songs by the new-wave quirkmeister. Yep, it was 25 years ago, kiddies, when Londoner Declan McManus—that’s Mr. Costello to you—unleashed My Aim Is True on the world.

Hailed as a punk-rock manifesto of sorts, due to Costello’s coarse cynicism and angry manner, My Aim Is True offered the masses a glance into the artist’s passion via a slew of musical genres, ranging from ’50s pop to reggae to country. Costello began to record the album with American band Clover and producer Nick Lowe, and though the first two singles, “Less Than Zero” and “Alison,” didn’t reach the charts, the longplayer debuted in ’77 to positive reviews. Other songs on that release that you may recall: “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” and “Watching the Detectives,” which became Costello’s first hit.

Costello went on to fame and fortune, following up My Aim Is True with a gazillion other releases, such as This Year’s Model (1978)—his first album with the Attractions—featuring the likes of “Radio, Radio” (can anyone forget his fuck-the-authorities performance of that song on Saturday Night Live way back when we were young?), “Pump It Up” and “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea”; and Armed Forces (1979), with “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” “Oliver’s Army” and “Accidents Will Happen.” You know the rest (hell, you knew all that—we just like walking in the park and reminiscing). Costello’s most recent release, When I Was Cruel, has critics in a froth. It’s just like he used to be, they say, with Rolling Stone claiming the album “is a collection of tough tunes and textures that recalls—but doesn’t recycle—the records that endeared him to his earliest admirers.”

So, at Valentine’s on Saturday, the Costello songs will flow from upstairs and down, and the evening’s finale will see John Brodeur and the Suggestions, with some guest singers, performing My Aim Is True in its entirety. The lineup includes out-of-towners Paula Kelley, the Trouble Dolls, Steve Shiffman, Parallax Project, Julia Brown, Stephen Clair (who used to be a towner), and gosh, many others. Local acts are the Wait, the Day Jobs, Rob Skane, Michael Eck, Mitch Elrod, Jason Martin and, gee, many others.

Some of the acts who schlepped into town will also play the Fuze Box (12 Central Ave., Albany) tomorrow (Friday) and Sunday (tomorrow: Paula Kelley Band, Julia Brown, Trouble Dolls and local guy Carl Smith with his band; Sunday: see Noteworthy, page 45). Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation’s Campaign for a Landmine-Free World, and the show will be recorded for future release.

Brilliant Mistakes: A Tribute to Elvis Costello will take place Saturday (Aug. 10) at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany), on both the upstairs and downstairs stages. Tickets are $10 (and, remember, the money goes to a good cause). Call the club at 432-6572 for information.

Martha @ the Pillow

For those of you who thought drag was reserved strictly for cabaret tributes to pop divas like Judy, Babs or Liza, consider dancer, choreographer and author Richard Move’s unusual performance piece at Jacob’s Pillow this weekend. Martha @ the Pillow is part satire and part homage, starring Move as 20th-century modern-dance giant Martha Graham. With one eye on camp and the other on art, Move will alternate monologues with his own reinterpretations of her epic ballets. This format, which bears an intentional resemblance to a variety show, allows Move to poke fun at Graham’s Grande Dame image while recognizing her legendary accomplishments with seriousness and respect.

Move first staged a version of this show at Town Hall in New York in 1996, to near-universal acclaim. With subsequent editions, Move has kept the show fresh by varying the selection of dances, and changing the roster of guest stars and participating artists. Martha Graham’s former partner Stuart Hodes will be on hand for this production, as well as postmodern dance icon Yvonne Rainer and three other dancers.

Mark Morris, no minor figure himself in the pantheon of contemporary dance, sums it up best: “Richard Move’s a genius. He’s more Martha Graham than Martha Graham was.”

Martha @ the Pillow will be presented at the Doris Duke Studio Theater at Jacob’s Pillow (358 George Carter Road, Becket, Mass.), Thursday, Aug. 8, through Saturday, Aug. 11, at 8:15 PM. There will be matinees at 2:15 PM Saturday and 5 PM Sunday. For more information, call (413) 243-0745, or go to

Love Letters

Be warned: This is not your typical production of Love Letters, A.R. Gurney’s 1989 play detailing the bittersweet, lifelong friendship between a man and a woman as told (and implied) through a series of letters. No, the performance Monday at Lenox Memorial High School in Lenox, Mass., doubles as a campaign fund-raiser for former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, one of four Democratic candidates facing off in a Sept. 17 primary for Massachusetts governor—and Reich is starring in the play, along with his wife, Clare Dalton.

According to his campaign office, Reich is considered a party outsider in this race, and deliberately has sought creative ways to engage potential voters in his candidacy. But lest you think this is a mere political stunt by an amateur thespian, you should know that both Reich and Dalton have theater backgrounds—in fact, they met at Oxford University in England back in 1968 when he (then doing graduate work as a Rhodes scholar) cast her (studying as an undergraduate) as the lead in a play he was directing. And while this is the only such production currently scheduled during the gubernatorial campaign, it will not be the first time Reich and Dalton have performed Love Letters together.

Love Letters will be staged at 8 PM on Monday, Aug. 12, in the Lenox Memorial High School auditorium, 197 East St., Lenox, Mass. Tickets are $25 general admision; sponsorships at $50, $100, $250 or $500. For more information or to reserve tickets, call (413) 585-1256 or (413) 243-1111, or e-mail

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