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Franklin Bruno

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Threepenny Broadway

“Can we have some bread?” “You children don’t have anyone in the world, do you?” “No . . . 1-2-3-4!” The dialogue comes from Charles Laughton’s sole directorial credit, 1954’s James Agee–penned Night of the Hunter. (You know, the one with Robert Mitchum’s knuckles.) But it also shows up in......
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Get on It or Else

THE FIERY FURNACES at the Silverlake Lounge, February 2 Packed despite the season’s heaviest rain, the Fiery Furnaces’ local debut had something of the get-on-the-train-now feel of the White Stripes’ first shows here. Singer Eleanor Friedberger is already gaining a rep for “withering intensity” — that’s wrong, though she did......
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Guilt by Association

RANDY NEWMAN at Royce Hall, UCLA, January 23 SHOCK AND AWE: THE SONGS OF RANDY NEWMAN at Royce Hall, UCLA, January 24 No one can call an Oscar, Emmy and multiple-Grammy winner anything but a show-biz insider, but like Groucho Marx, Randy Newman is still working through his club-membership issues......
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The Piano Lesson

Photos by Pamela Springsteen(left) and James Minchen It’s not as though aggressive rock & roll can’t be squeezed out of a piano, from the boogie-woogie panic of Jerry Lee Lewis (who set his ax on fire long before Hendrix) to the treated hammering of John Cale. In spite of this......
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Brecht in the USA

Saying there was no love lost between Bertolt Brecht and Los Angeles is putting it mildly. Other exiles from Hitler’s Germany, from Arnold Schoenberg to logician Rudolf Carnap, found niches here, but the archleftist dramatist found everything about the city venal and enervating — even its beauty. “In his letters......
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Poppy Seconds

“A lot less time for a lot more care.” So sang the Undertones on 1979’s More Songs About Chocolate and Girls, facing the age-old second-album problem: You’ve had years — your whole lives, in a way — to compose that initial public offering, but if it makes a splash, you......
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Buckets of Rain

VIC CHESNUTT, M. WARD at the Troubadour, May 2 Vic Chesnutt is no more interested in being a cult artist than in being treated as “the wheelchair-bound singer-songwriter.” But his fans have a cult artist’s reverence; during a lengthy technical delay, their collective silence bordered on the unnerving. Their patience......
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Three-Ring Chaos

“Who’s doing a multimedia theater festival?” David Thomas, ringmaster-cum-custodian of Disastodrome!, sounds surprised at the idea. No, he says, “This is a mess. We call it a controlled mess, so people won’t worry.” Encompassing three nights that find Thomas — best known as the voice of Ohio “avant-garagists” Pere Ubu......
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All Gates Open

Photos by Gregory Bojorquez UPSILON ACRUX, CURTAINS, SACCHARINE TRUST, OPEN CITY at Mr. T's Bowl, December 14 Tonight was the birthday of 60-ish, seen-it-all proprietor Mr. T; how better to celebrate than with a jukebox sing-along, layer cake on napkins, and four bands for whom hype and, well, pop are......
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Return to the Burning Planet

My college friend Robert loved Savage Republic. The path-breaking Los Angeles band’s farewell performance -- until this month -- was a cathartic two hours of massed guitars, pounded scrap-metal percussion, and incendiary devices, held in an outdoor amphitheater at Claremont‘s Pomona College in February 1989. (A semilegendary video also reveals......