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The Bing Bamboo Room

It’s the return of the prodigal. After three years as a mixologist in swinging Prague, impresario Jim Romano returns to the Capital Region scene with the Bing Bamboo Room at Valentine’s on Monday.

The Bing Bamboo Room is promised to be a “sassy retro variety show” with burlesque, comedic juggling and a classic parlor act from magician Jeffrey Jene (pictured), a two-time winner of the Houdini Award. Burlesque routines will be in the style of Betty Page and Gypsy Rose Lee, and performed by what Romano says will be local, homegrown talent. (See your favorite waitress take it almost all off.) The parlor magic will involve the classic elements, including doves, candles and sleight of hand set to music. And, as a barker would say, that’s not all: There will be a belly dancer and what is being characterized as a “never before seen performance artiste.” Since the said “artiste” is alleged to be associated with the RPI performance crowd, it seems unlikely we’ve never seen ’em before.

The Bing Bamboo Room will be presented on Monday (Sept. 27) at 8 PM at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany). Admission is $5. For more information, call 432-6572.



Ralph Lee: Masks and Puppets

This exhibition celebrates the nearly 30-year work of master puppetmaker Ralph Lee with the Salem-based Mettawee River Theatre Company. Before Mettawee, Vermont-native Lee acted on- and off-Broadway, and created masks and puppets for everyone from Shari Lewis to the New York Shakespeare Festival to Saturday Night Live (remember the Land Shark?). As implied by that varied list of collaborators, Lee creates works that appeal to both children and adults. Since he became artistic director of the Mettawee in 1976, Lee has created numerous inventive works that combine giant figures, masks and puppets with music, movement and text to create fascinating (and entertaining) performances.

The exhibit will contain more than 50 puppets and masks, and will include special sections devoted to specific shows including The Journey to the West, Aristophanes’ Peace and Communications From a Cockroach, a show based on early-20th century newspaper columnist Don Marquis’ beguiling characters Archy the philosophical cockroach and Mehitabel the alley cat.

Ralph Lee: Masks and Puppets opens at the Lower Adirondacks Regional Arts Council’s Lapham Gallery (7 Lapham Place, Glens Falls) on Sunday (Sept. 26) with an artist’s reception from 5 to 7 PM. The exhibit continues through Nov. 5, when Lee will lead a gallery talk at 7 PM. For gallery hours and more information, call 798-1144 or visit

Kamikaze Hearts Radio Show

On Saturday, the Kamikaze Hearts will perform a two-hour show at the WAMC Performing Arts Studio, to be recorded and rebroadcast at a later date. This is exciting for a number of reasons: 1) Given the Hearts’—shall we say—“deliberate” pace turning out their own recorded product, anything that pads their catalog is a good thing; 2) the very-special-guests who will add their musical talents to the Hearts’ own woodsy racket include Mitch Elrod, Brent Gorton and D.J. Miller, and 3) the possibility—however remote—that one of the band members, in a fit of public-radio-inspired creativity, might enliven the evening with a long, soft-spoken monologue about the quirky salt-of-the-earth types who congregate in the diners and the hardware stores of their Midwestern (but somehow so recognizable) hometown, is just too attractive to turn down.

But if, for some reason, they chose to skip the Gaven Noir sketches or the Old Man Pohl’s Worcestershire Sauce League parodies, the other reasons are pretty compelling. The Kamikaze Hearts’ “porch music” continues to gain popularity and fans, and their guests for the evening—whom the Hearts will back—are no slouches either. Elrod has earned consistent praise for his wild meld of white gospel music, swampy blues and stray threads of jazz and Eastern musical traditions; Gorton has wowed critics and audiences both with his sharp pop and his energetic stage presence; and it wouldn’t be saying too much to remark that Miller is locally revered as the
guitarist-singer for the powerful riff-heavy “destructo-rock” band Small Axe.

The Kamikaze Hearts will perform at the WAMC Performing Arts Studio (339 Central Ave., Albany) on Saturday (Sept. 25). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $10. For reservations, call 465-5233 ext. 4.

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