Bada Bing

Tony’s back but this season of The Sopranos is definitely the curtain call for Jersey’s most-watched mob family. Time to branch out and get a few other takes on the world of organized crime. Start close to home with Donald Westlake’s Watch Your Back. Burglar Dortmunder and his hapless crew of ex-cons take on the mob to save their beloved O.J. Bar & Grill in Manhattan.

Take a step back in time with two other books on cd and see how Tony got that way --and why he’s in therapy. Mark Winegardner picks up the story of the Corleone family in The Godfather Returns as the 1955 ceasefire between mob families nears the breaking point. The mob’s influence in Cuba provides backdrop and trouble for Earl Swagger in Havana by Stephen Hunter.

What do a slapstick comedian and the father of vocalese jazz have in common?

Jerry Lewis has just been awarded the French Legion of Honor. The 80-year-old wore slippers to the ceremony and, when he spoke, apologized for not speaking French, but said that "'even if the French people cannot hear my language, they have always heard my heart..'"

Lewis joins many other distinguished recipients of the Legion of Honor, including jazz great Jon Hendricks, who once told me that "a woman's first child is her husband."

Everybody's a comedian! ;-)

The Play Ground

The Play Ground

Get those big, round sunglasses out. The UM School of Music Opera Theatre is presenting Jackie O from March 22 to 26 at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. Society’s fascination with celebrity and pop culture is the theme of Jackie O, a playful pop opera of facts and fancies about one of America’s most enduring icons, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie attends a 1968 avant-garde New York “happening” with Andy Warhol, meets the seductive Aristotle Onassis for the first time, has a dream duet with Maria Callas, and embraces her fate as a symbol of JFK’s idealism. Jackie O captures the mystery, the tragedy, and the glamour that epitomized this pop icon. Oh Darling, don't miss it.

Former British Army captain tops charts!

James Blunt, a former captain in the British Army, is now topping charts with his debut album Back to Bedlam. His first single “You’re Beautiful” is currently #3 on the Billboard Top 100 Chart. His emotionally charged music may be enjoyed by those who are already fans of Jack Johnson or Damien Rice. The hold list is growing, so add yourself soon!

No green beverages, thank you.

What a week for Celtic music! We have Great Big Sea at the Michigan Theater and Solas at the Ark on Tuesday the 14th ... Liz Carroll and John Doyle at the Ten Pound Fiddle in Lansing on Friday ... the weekly Irish session at Conor O'Neill's on Sunday evenings ... local band Finvarra's Wren playing an amazing 12+ hours at various locations on St. Patrick's Day ... Chulrua -- featuring Irish music's "Weapon of Mass Seduction," Patrick Ourceau -- also plays on St. Patrick's Day ... and if you can hold off until the 22nd, Danú will play the Ark on their farewell tour.

Sex Pistols, Miles Davis, Blondie enter Hall of Fame

To their complete disgust, The Sex Pistols will be among Monday's inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with Miles Davis, Blondie, Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd and, from former A&M records, Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss. To be eligible, artists must have released an album over 25 years ago. Several previous artists have been inducted more than once, either as solo artists or with a band. Can you guess the name of the only artist who has been inducted three times? (Click "Read More" for the answer.)

Listen to Leonardo, Contento, Pietro, and Nunzio

Talk about an engaging book on CD! Replay by Sharon Creech stars 12-year-old Leonardo (Sardino), who feels squashed in his big Italian family between his older sister, Contento, and two younger brothers, Pietro and Nunzio. As Leonardo prepares to act in a school play, he discovers a diary his father wrote at age 13. Gradually, Leo begins to understand how people and families change through time. This book on CD offers three hours and 45 minutes of literate entertainment for listeners age 8 and up.

"Gold Soundz" from the slacker kings

Looking for something that's a little off the beaten path (or at least off the current pop charts)? Take a stroll through the charming little collection of alternative rock selections we've got. There are some beauties from the eighties and ninties, such as Pavement's 1997 Brighten the Corners and the Jesus and Mary Chain's singles. I have a particular soft spot for Pavement, as well as their ex-singer's new solo work, since it has that slacker quality of sounding both lazy and intense.

For some hints on searching for music by genre in the catalog, follow the "read more..."

The Play Ground

Life Science

The Play Ground has attended all Life Science Orchestra concerts since the group's inception and, not coincidentally, is related to one of the players. We are therefore thrilled that members of the orchestra will be performing Downtown at the Library on March 5th at 2pm. There will be several small ensembles and the players will speak briefly about their careers in medicine, science and related fields, and why they make music a part of their lives. The Play Ground has heard that there will be at least one Haydn and one Beethoven piece.

If you like Hip Hop...

...then you might already know what's crackin this weekend. Common will perform at theMichigan Theater this Friday March 3rd at 7:30pm . From classic albums like Resurrection to the more recent success of his Grammy-nominated album Be, Common’s socially conscious lyrics have long been a staple for Hip Hop “heads” across the globe.

If you like Common you might also enjoy these artists and albums:
Mos DefThe New Danger
Little Brother - The Minstrel Show
Talib Kweli - Right About Now
Digable Planets - Beyond the Spectrum
Jean Grae - This Week
The Roots - The Tipping Point

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