Americana music cuts a wide swath these days, encompassing just about anything that involves songwriting and singing by, well, an American. But its heart, which is so central to the genre, began pumping long ago from a wellspring fed by the likes of Bill Monroe and the Carter Family. Later it ran down a darker, alcohol-laced, honky-tonkin' tributary called Hank Williams. Borne by both these pure and impure waters, true Americana's been reflecting the convergence ever since, from Johnny Cash's burning "Ring of Fire" to the rough anthems of Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle.
No wonder an odd couple like freelance writer and photographer Brian Atkinson, who covers music for a raft of indie magazines, and local lowbrow artist Sean Tracey, whose work tends more toward portrayals of naked women with tattoos and guns, managed to find themselves seeing eye to eye on the subject. The two met and became friends when Atkinson interviewed Casey for a magazine profile, and they've teamed up to present For the Sake of the Song: The Outlaws of Americana, a show that combines Atkinson's concert photographs of everyone from Ryan Adams to Townes Van Zandt with Casey's graphic paintings of country-music desperadoes such as Cash and Waylon Jennings.
For the Sake of the Song opens tonight at 7 p.m. at Bender's 13th Avenue Tavern, 314 East 13th Avenue, with a reception featuring live music by Buckskin Stallion, drink specials and a generally good atmosphere; the exhibit stays up through the end of June. Call 303-861-7070 or visit www.benderstavern.com. -- Susan Froyd
See the Sound
SonicVision opens eyes and minds.
Who hasn't dreamed of having a 38-minute psychedelic experience without all the negative side effects of LSD (such as misplacing your clothes and getting lost in the woods)? Well, a futuristic fantasy has finally emerged at Gates Planetarium, and it's called SonicVision. For $10 ($8 for museum members), spectators can hear colors through the twenty-speaker sound system and see music via eleven digital light-processing projectors on the planetarium's 56-foot-wide dome. Best of all, sensory thrill-seekers won't have to explain to parents or roommates why they were talking to the sofa.
SonicVision is the brainchild of electronica guru Moby, MTV2 and the American Museum of Natural History. The technology is an orchestral melding of modern music coordinated with flowing images. Naturally, Moby's music features prominently, but you'll also hear artists as diverse as Radiohead, Audioslave, U2, White Zombie, David Bowie and Coldplay. The sound ranges from smooth and mellow to frantic and insistent, and it's all balanced by dreamlike images. Set sail with SonicVision at 7, 8 or 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through December. For information, visit www.dmns.org or call 303-322-7009. -- Amber Taufen
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