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Big Pop Bar-B-Q

The press release for the Big Pop Bar-B-Q points out that, while barbeque is a staple of Labor Day weekend, it’s less frequently associated with the live rock & roll show. Now, we’re not going to quibble with that; it seems pretty right on. However, we will point out that the very icon of the intersection of raw, rhythmic “race” music and the hooky, more melodic popular tunes of the time was a man who knew a thing or two about good barbecue. Rock, pop and barbecue (not to mention peanut butter, bananas and a deep fryer, but that’s another story) met pretty successfully in the form of Elvis Presley. Of course, he’s not getting around so much as he used to. So, the Big Pop Bar-B-Q at Valentine’s tomorrow (Friday) may just have a corner on the market.

And the mini-festival has got a lot to commend itself, even beyond the promise of good grub: nine acts ranging the rock and pop-rock spectrum, from Mike Viola (pictured) of the Candy Butchers (yup, the guy who provided the recorded lead vocals for the band in That Thing You Do), to the arena-pop sparkle of As Fast As (formerly known as Rocktopus), to the very exciting promise of a reunion set by the Staziaks, whose frontman, onetime Albany resident and full-time pop-soul-rock god John Powhida, now helms Boston’s Rudds.

You’ll also get sets by Tryst (being hyped as the “American Belle and Sebastian”), the Brilliant Mistakes (“Squeeze meets Wilco”), Five Alpha Beatdown (Magnus Sternbostersson meets Georg Jorvic-Englarsson), the Inevitable Breakups (boy meets girl, loses girl—we’d guess), and regional faves the Mathematicians, Brian Bassett and the Day Jobs. Fine barbecue will open. No word yet on the peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches.

The Big Pop Bar-B-Q will be held at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 3). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $10. For more information, call 432-6572.

Shock & Awe: Some American Art

We don’t care what they say. The Republican National Convention was moved to its late date to be as close to the anniversary of Sept. 11 as was decently and legally possible. If this seems as much a form of exploitation as tribute, well, it is. We shall not contemplate the implications of this act, however, and instead store it away in some dark corner of the mind—to be retrieved only on Election Day, as the curtain closes.

A very different way of commemorating Sept. 11 will be taking place all week at Lark Street’s Firlefanz Gallery. Shock & Awe: Some American Art is a weeklong exhibition punctuated with nightly performances of all stripes. The idea is to reflect—every day through Sept. 11—on the tragedy of Sept. 11, the Iraq war and the current political climate through art, poetry, drama and music.

The artists and photographers in the exhibition include Barbara Kaiser, Richard Callner, Connie Frisbee Houde, Marie Triller, Martin Benjamin, Tom Lail (Cut Gray #17, pictured), Harry Orlyk, Sara Ayers, Pam Barrett-Fender, Charlene Shortsleeve and David Brickman. The performers—musicians, writers, poets, puppeteers and such—will include Bryan Thomas, Timothy Cahill, Rosanne Raneri, Steve Nover, Tom Nattell, Gene Mirabelli, Judith Hand and Issak Zunk.

And believe me, we left a lot of good people off this short list.

Here’s how it will work: Every day, including today (Thursday, Sept. 2), through Sept. 10, the gallery will be open from 5 PM to 9 PM. From 7 to 8:30 PM there will be a performance. On Saturday, Sept. 11, there will be a closing reception from 5 to 9 PM, and no performance.

Shock & Awe: Some American Art will be presented at Firlefanz Gallery (292 Lark St., Albany) through Sept. 11. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, call 465-5035.

Camp de Thiaroye

Spencertown Academy continues its monthly film series on the timely subject of war with Ousmane Sembene’s 1987 historical drama Camp de Thiaroye.

Sembene’s film, made in collaboration with Thierno Faty Sow, recounts the events at a Senegalese transit camp for soldiers repatriated from the battlefields of Europe and German POW camps in 1944. Senegal was a French colony; Sembene, a Senegalese and director of such pictures as Black Girl, Xala and Ceddo, is the widely-acknowledged “father” of African film. Film historian James Leahy has described Camp de Thiaroye as “powerful and moving.”

Camp de Thiaroye will be screened Saturday (Sept. 4) at 8 PM at the Spencertown Academy (Route 203, Spencertown). Tickets are $5 general admission, $4 members. The film is not recommended for children. For more information, call 392-3693, or visit

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