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PERFORMING ARTS

-- Mike Joyce

Jerry Lee Lewis

At 70, Jerry Lee Lewis is the last surviving member of Sun Records' seminal mid-1950s "Million Dollar Quartet" -- Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins have all passed on -- but Friday night at the magnificent Strathmore concert hall, the Killer killed.

Dressed in a dark suit and tie and white shoes, Lewis played the grand piano with age-defying effortlessness -- it seemed harder for him to walk to the piano bench than to play "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Chantilly Lace" with the ease and enthusiasm of a teenager pounding them out for the first time. It's amazing that any popular artist can still find inspiration after more than 50 years of playing the same, but Lewis did, knocking out hit after hit for nearly an hour, accompanied by a four-piece band of two guitars, bass and drums.

Any number of pianists could play the same songs -- "Sweet Little Sixteen," "You Win Again" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" -- but there is something about the way Lewis bangs on the high notes while keeping the left-hand rhythm roiling that is utterly distinct. And he didn't sing like anybody's grandfather. He sounded just like himself, with a slightly lower voice.

The finale was "Great Balls of Fire," no surprise there, and for the first time in the evening rock-and-roll's first wild man, the one who used to play with his feet and jump on top of the piano, stood up to play, kicking out the bench from under him with an intentionally overly dramatic display of effort. It was a comical, but hardly necessary, reminder of who he was.

For an encore he came back across the stage to collect his cigar.

-- Buzz McClain

'Mozart's Leading Ladies'

Carla Hubner and her "In" Series have been celebrating Mozart's birthday with innovative concerts for 17 years now, but they've got a big birthday this year, the 250th. So among other Mozart offerings in repertoire at the Tivoli Theater this week is their homegrown show, "Mozart's Leading Ladies."


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