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Witching Hour Q&A: Janelle James on developing her comedy style

Janelle James, one of the featured comedians for the 2018 Witching Hour festival, performs at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Englert Theatre (tickets $15-55), opening for fellow Illinois-to-New York transplant Liza Treygar. […]

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‘BlacKkKlansman’ collapses past and present into a powerful statement of black reality

When I went to see ‘Sorry to Bother You,’ directed by Boots Riley, last month, I had thought it was one of the best pieces of absurdist cultural commentary I had seen, even considering Childish Gambino’s “This is America.” Including Spike Lee’s newest, ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ we now have three pieces of art that provide a stark exposition of the racist nature of American power. […]

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Festival whiteness: Hinterland was a success — but for whom?

By almost every metric, the 2018 Hinterland Music Festival was an incredible success. It drew in 9,300 people for Friday and 11,500 for Saturday. As a reference, in 2010, Madison County (home of St. Charles, Iowa, where the festival is held) had a total population of 15,753. Even if the total for Saturday included event staff, volunteers, roadies, band members, etc., the gathering at Hinterland would still constitute a population larger than 35 of the counties in Iowa. […]

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Compassion drives Bo Burnham’s ‘Eighth Grade’

I had never heard of Bo Burnham, who wrote and directed ‘Eighth Grade’ (currently screening at both FilmScene and Marcus Cinemas in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids), but found it fitting that my child — who just completed that educational milestone — was quite familiar with his work. […]

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Interview: Esmé Patterson goes sci-fi

Trumpet Blossom Café will host a formidable tripleheader on July 22, 2018. Headliner Esmé Patterson is making her first appearance in Iowa City since Mission Creek 2016, bringing a shift in song style from angry protest rock to a more energizing dance vibe. She’ll be joined by two talented local artists: Brooks Strause and Elizabeth Moen. Tickets are $10-12; doors open at 9 p.m. Patterson took a few moments from her studio time to talk to me on the phone on a hot day in mid-July. […]

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‘Hearts Beat Loud’ intertwines musical and human connections

The newest movie from Brett Haley (I’ll See You In My Dreams, The Hero) offers audiences an opportunity to explore the complications of modern life, especially through the lens of family dynamics, and ways that art — music in particular — can provide balms of consolation without needing to fix or solve situations. […]

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Five questions with: Rennie Sparks of the Handsome Family

The Handsome Family will be returning to Iowa City, performing at the Mill on July 19 at 8 p.m. (tickets $20). The band, a longtime favorite of artists and musicians, catapulted to the awareness of the American public through the inclusion of their song “Far From Any Road” as the opening credits for the HBO show True Detective. […]

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