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Cheap Trick

Yes, folks, Cheap Trick are alive and well, and coming to a theater near you (the Egg, actually). For those of you who spent the ’70s and most of the ’80s in an oblivious, drug-induced haze—and there are many of us out there—Cheap Trick burst out of the Midwest (theretofore undistinguished Rockford, Ill.) in the mid-’70s with a high-powered brand of pop-rock that was equal parts assaultive and harmonious. Though heavily and unmistakably influenced by the British invasion, Cheap Trick’s music, at its core, nonetheless boasted a big, loud sound that can only be described as quintessentially American.

Driven by the I-am-a-rock-star guitar of Rick Nielsen—plus Robin Zander on vocals/rhythm guitar, Bun E. Carlos on drums and Tom Petersson on bass— Cheap Trick would have none of the dark, existential writhings of certain of their contemporaries. Rock & roll, by God, should be fun, the band preached.

Cheap Trick’s 1977 instant-classic album, Live at Budokan, went triple platinum, with the hit single “I Want You to Want Me” taking its place as a solid (if grossly overplayed) radio anthem. Though the band seemingly have fallen off the radar at times, they’ve been busy. Cheap Trick have created soundtrack songs for myriad movies, including such cultish gems as Spring Break, Encino Man, Say Anything and American Gladiator. They’ve collaborated with Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Slash of Guns N’ Roses and Art Alexakis of Everclear—not to mention recording with no less than John Lennon, back in the day. Their latest release, Silver, was recorded live at a three-day 25th-anniversary bash held in 1999 at Rockford’s Davis Park. The disc contains a live version of at least one song from each of the band’s 17 albums.

Cheap Trick will come to the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) on Tuesday (April 22). The Anniversary will open the show, which starts at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $24. For information or tickets, call 473-1845.

A Letter Without Words

When it comes to Nazi-era Germany, it might seem like we’ve seen it all before. (Entire cable-TV empires have been built on recycled footage of the Nazi rise to power.) The home movies taken by Ella Lewenz in the ’30s confirm the obvious: We haven’t seen it all.

Who was Ella Lewenz? Born in Dresden in 1883 into the German-Jewish aristocracy, she married and moved to Berlin in 1909, where she remained until her family emigrated to New York in 1938. Lewenz was an avid amateur filmmaker. While this wasn’t unusual in the ’20s and ’30s, the quality of her work was. The technical level was far above the usual home movies. She shot, developed, edited, titled and dated her films, capturing—with impressive skill and craftsmanship—images of Germany between the wars.

These films were long forgotten, however, when Lewenz’s granddaughter, Lisa Lewenz—who never knew her grandmother—found them in the attic of the family home three decades after Ella Lewenz’s death. A documentary filmmaker herself, Lisa Lewenz set out to learn as much about Ella as possible, interviewing family members around the world, and returning to Germany to shoot new footage in the same places her grandmother did. She combined the footage to make A Letter Without Words a unique portrait of Germany then and now.

As befits someone who moved in the highest social circles, Ella Lewenz captured celebrities like film star Brigitte Helm (Metropolis) and Albert Einstein, who are shown at happy social occasions. As the Nazis advanced their racist, murderous social agenda, she captured this too—giving A Letter Without Words power and historical significance. Methodically, the rare color footage reveals the depth and breadth of official Nazi anti-Semitism—giving the lie to claims that ordinary Germans didn’t know what was going on.

Lisa Lewenz will present and discuss her film A Letter Without Words in the Weis Cinema of the Bertelsmann Campus Center at Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson) tonight (Thursday, April 17) at 7 PM. Sponsored by Bard’s Jewish-studies program, the event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (845) 758-6822.

Earth Day Celebrations

It’s an unusual come-on for a celebration, we’ll admit right up front: Dumpster diving probably ranks fairly low on your list of staples for a successful spring festival. But that may change. With any luck, EcoLogic—that’s the Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute’s environmental club—will sneak in enough education among the good times that you’ll leave its Earth Day shindig with a whole new respect for the environment, and a whole new criterion for outdoorsy fun.

Over three days, Eco Logic will hold seminars and events with just that aim in mind. Beginning on Wednesday, the club will stage several presentations advocating the more responsible, more efficient consumption of our resources. From the aforementioned tutorial on dumpster diving, which will show you just how much recyclable material is needlessly wasted every day, to a seminar on the deleterious effects of unchecked grazing on public lands, EcoLogic will hip you to the myriad ways in which we’ve been reckless. The next day, participants will be reminded why a more enlightened approach is in everyone’s best interest during a hike to Grafton State Park and a campout on RPI’s campus. (Be honest, after the long winter, you could use a bit of aerobic exercise; a little fresh air probably won’t kill ya.) The whole thing wraps up on April 25 with a benefit concert for Habitat for Humanity, featuring local bands Off White, Sirsy, Tangent and the Wait—and all sorts of good and good-for-you vegan treats.

EcoLogic’s Earth Day celebration begins Wednesday (April 23) with a presentation on dumpster diving at RPI’s Sage Quad at noon, and a 2 PM lecture by Mike Hudak in DCC 330 on public land use. On Thursday (April 24), the group meets at the RPI Student Union horseshoe at 2 PM for a hike through Grafton State Park; that night there will be a campout in front of the library beginning at 7 PM. The festival concludes on Friday (April 25) at the RPI Student Union (Sage Avenue and 15th Street): Food, special events and bands will be featured beginning at 3 PM. For more information and driving directions, visit www.

Scenic Hudson’s annual Great River Sweep takes place Saturday (April 19) and next Sunday (April 27). Thousands of volunteers from up and down the Hudson Valley will remove trash and debris from the area. Call (845) 473-TIDE or e-mail to join an existing crew or to get information on how to start one.

But that’s not all. Other Earth Day fun includes an Earth Day Vegetarian Feast on Tuesday (April 22—the actual Earth Day date) at Brandow’s & Company (340 Warren St., Hudson). In addition to a six-course vegetarian meal prepared by chef Ken Lammer, Global Hunger Alliance’s Pattrice Jones will speak on Food & Bombs: Factory Farming, War and What You Can Do to End Both. The price is $35 for adults and $17 for children under 12. Call 392-8344 for reservations and information.

Siena College (Route 9, Loudonville) hosts its first annual Earth Day Celebration on Tuesday (April 22). The festivities include a Frisbee tournament, live music by Natural Occurrence, games, food and information about environmental awareness. Wear earth tones and get groovy.

Finally, the Spring Eagle Magick Shoppe (123 Jay St., Schenectady) will host an Earth Day Celebration Saturday (April 19) from midnight to midnight, featuring poets, musicians, drummers and more. There will be a continual potluck supper, so bring something tasty and eco-appropriate. For more information, call 631-0556.

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