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Nancy Sinatra

Nancy Sinatra is comfortable with dichotomy—and good thing, too. She is, of course, the daughter of one of the most famous performing artists of the 20th century, but she speaks of her own career with clear-eyed and hard-won practicality, and she casually dismisses any attempt to link it to her dad’s legacy: “I always used to say, ‘Nancy Sinatra will never be the man her father is.’ The whole issue is absurd.” She first achieved fame in the ’60s, and yet today she performs her act—with a backing band comprising former members of Blondie and Guns N’ Roses—in rock clubs catering to the post-MTV generation. She is the mother of two, and a woman of, shall we say, a certain age; yet it was only eight years ago that she posed for Playboy. She has been an ardent supporter of the men and women of the American armed forces for decades, and yet in 1999 was selected by the U.S. Postal Service to unveil their Peace Symbol stamp. Her biggest hit, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ”, was a sort of proto-feminist anthem, inspiring the likes of later tough girls such as Chrissie Hynde and Kim Gordon; yet those very boots—and the accompanying miniskirt—earned her the No. 12 spot on Blender magazine’s 50 Sexiest Artists of All Time list.

“It’s a Gemini trait, Gemini being the twins,” Sinatra explains. “I’m very—no, not very but partially—controlled by the planets. I really believe in the force of the universe, and in the universal mind.”

And, currently, the force seems to be strong with Sinatra. Touring with her rock band, she has had the opportunity to reinvent her music, and—unlike many traveling nostalgia acts—she has found that her audiences appreciate the effort.

“When people come now to see me,” she says, “they see pretty much a garage-band rock show, and I don’t think they’re disappointed. The response has been really good to all the shows. . . . We still do some of the hits, but we can’t do them all because—believe it or not—there are 22 of them and that would be well over an hour.”

Committed as she is to her rock & roll road life, Sinatra, in true Gemini style, has several other irons in the fire. She’s just completed an album with the songwriter-svengali who first defined her image, Lee Hazlewood, and their original arranger, Billy Strange. And she’s working with her daughter putting together an album of songs written for her by young fans, Morrissey and Steve Van Zandt among them.

Sinatra is fully aware of the her status as icon, she’s come to accept it; yet she still speaks of her career like a working musician. For all the praise, she says, her ambition is to bring her music to as large an audience as is receptive, because—frankly—it’s necessary.

“It’s fun and loose,” she says. “It’s something we need in our lives right now, just to go to a club and just hang out and forget about what’s going on in the world. It’s nice to give people a change of pace.”

Nancy Sinatra will perform at Revolution Hall (421-425 River St., Troy) on Wednesday (May 14). Tickets for the 8:30 PM show are $20 advance, $22 door. For more information, call 273-2337.

—John Rodat

Big Pun: Still Not a Player

The late Christopher Rios, better known as the multimillion-selling hiphop artist Big Punisher, is the subject of the “raw, painful and occasionally beautiful” documentary Big Pun: Still Not a Player, to be shown tonight (Thursday) at the Albany Public Library. Director Marcos Antonio Miranda mixes footage of Big Pun in concert, interviews with his peers and peeps—including Fat Joe, Cuban Link, Ice T and Da Sick One—and his family, who reveal his struggles with obesity and domestic violence. Big Punisher was at the top when a heart attack cut him down at the age of 28.

Big Pun: Still Not a Player is being presented tonight (Thursday, May 8) at 6:30 PM at the Albany Public Library (161 Washington Ave., Albany). Miranda will be present to answer questions after the screening, which is being presented by the Albany Independent Film Forum and the library. The film is not appropriate for children. For more information, call 427-4300.

Break Fest 2003

The curious image of Barbra Striesand announcing that Eminem had won an Oscar for Best Song in a motion picture two months ago may seem emblematic of the complete mainstreaming—and co-opting by the profitmaking powers that be—of rap. But, as aficionados will tell you, there is a thriving underground culture of rappers, DJs and artists still pushing boundaries and taking risks, operating outside the mainstream but well within the adventurous spirit of the pioneers of the form. This weekend, Albany’s Altar Records presents a three-day festival to illustrate just that continuity: Break Fest 2003 brings together some of the legendary architects of the urban music and dance community, and hosts competitions to see who is best carrying the B-Boy/B-Girl torch.

The whole affair kicks off today (Thursday) at noon and runs through Saturday night. Grand Master Caz (the famously unattributed lyricist for much of the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” and former Cold Crush Brother) and DJ Power will be on hand, as will DJs Odi and Chris Cool, of local radio station Jamz (96.3 FM). Also appearing over the course of the festival will be Afrika Bambaataa (pictured), DJ Kool Herc and Grand Wizard DJ Theodore—men without whose work we’d all still be listening to Seals and Crofts.

There’ll be break-dancing competitions, DJ and MC battles, graffiti art exhibitions, a vintage-fashion show and demos of mad skills by the heavy hitters. And all of it will be preserved on film, as two separate crews will be recording the proceedings for use in future feature-length movies.

Break Fest 2003 starts up at Altar Records (1040 Madison Ave., Albany) today (Thursday, May 8) at noon, with sign-ups for the B-Boy and Girl, DJ and MC battles and a break-dance demo. The festivities continue tonight at Club Matrix (942 Broadway, Albany). On Friday, the competitions begin at Altar Records at noon, and enter the semifinal stage Friday night at ABC Sports & Fitness (3 Johnson Road, Latham). Break Fest culminates at ABC Sports on Saturday night, when the final competitions will recognize the finest in B-Boyishness and girlishness, and heap great honors on victorious MCs and DJs—who will then be ego-checked by performances by Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Wizard Theodore and the father of hiphop, DJ Kool Herc.

Day tickets for Break Fest are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. All-access, three-day passes are $30. For more information, contact Altar Records, 690-2816.

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