The Posies are four sweet fellows from Seattle, seemingly unaffected, who make innocent-sounding music reminiscent of the Hollies -- partly because of Ken Stringfellow's Graham Nash-like tenor -- and early Beatles.
That's on the first listen.
Play their album "Dear 23" (Geffen) again. Concentrate on what they're saying. Maybe it isn't happy pop after all.
The lines across your face are drawn with hate
Cause I'm drawn to someone else
Looks like you could use a little sleep
I had some I didn't mention
"Sure, we draw from predecessors," says Stringfellow. "Everyone does. It's like there's bread, milk and eggs. That's the three different of types of music. They try and categorize you."
"Yeah," says baritone and guitarist Jon Auer, "and we're like tabbouleh with a little pud thai!"
"They say we sound like we're young, exuberant, refreshing," says Stringfellow. "That's because we aren't brooding."
And maybe, just maybe, because they are young. All of them -- including drummer Mike Musburger and bassist Rick Roberts -- are 21 or 22. But they've known each other for years. "Went to school together in our respective suburbs," says Auer. He and Stringfellow met in eighth grade. Sang in the school choir together. All four knew each other from local suburban bands. Then, about 2 1/2 years ago, they all met and, says Stringfellow, "formed the band almost simultaneously."
Now they're making a virgin tour of the country and charming the press. Still, these guys seem so normal.
"We are literally four guys from Seattle who love playing music," says Stringfellow.
The Posies are playing with Red Kross tomorrow night at the 9:30 club. Tickets are $5 and available at Ticketron. For information, call 202-638-2008.
Joanne Shenandoah is not some hokey stage name. Joanne Shenandoah is a direct descendent of Chief Shenandoah, the legendary Iroquois who saved the Continental Army from starvation during the brutal winter at Valley Forge some 200 years ago. And her show of Indian musical traditions is far from an act.
"I come from a long line of medicine men, chiefs and clan mothers," she says. "And in the Indian way of life, the religion and politics are all in one. We don't have a church we go to on the weekends. It's a daily thing -- living in harmony with the Earth instead of controlling it."
She hasn't always been a performer, however. For years, Shenandoah fiddled with computers here in Washington. But she decided that wasn't what it's about. "Something was missing," she says. "I wanted to explore my history."
She moved up to upstate New York, to the "Oneida territory," home of her family's tribe, part of the Six Nations Iroquois. She did some exploring, and began to write songs about what she discovered.
"I talk about my grandfather and our children," she says. "About how they will survive in the future. And how we learn from our elders ... the messages are warm and accepting."
The music, a soothing combination of chants, flutes and drums, reflects this philosophy. Some who hear it categorize it as new age, others say it's jazz fusion. And there are, naturally, touches of American folk. Shenandoah sings in "English and Indian," so many audiences can appreciate what she is saying. Indian songs are filled with stories, a true oral history of a culture.
"There is an Indian saying," she explains. "Treat your children well, because they will remember when they grow up."
Joanne Shenandoah will perform Friday night at 7:30 at the National Museum of Natural History's Baird Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for Resident Associate Program members, $13 for non-members. For information, call 202-357-3030.
AN O'KEEFFE PORTRAIT
Georgia O'Keeffe once said, "I want my next exhibition to be so magnificently vulgar that all the people I like would stop speaking to me.
"If I could do that," she said, "I would be a great success to myself."
These words are also said by Jenny Aldrich, an actress who brings great women of the 20th century back to life -- if only for a few hours.
Her first stage production was of expatriate impressionist Mary Cassatt. Aldrich submerged herself in the painter's life and debuted the work 10 years ago in the magnificent Cassatt mansion on the Philadelphia Main Line.
Once Aldrich felt that "A Visit With Mary Cassatt" had run its course, she chose her next subject, O'Keeffe.
"Her approach to life was simple and direct," Aldrich says. "She knew what she wanted and she did it."
So did Aldrich. The actress read everything she could find written on the artist, stalked exhibitions and retrospectives, and absorbed her 1977 autobiography. She wanted to become Georgia O'Keeffe.
Instead, she created "Georgia O'Keeffe: A Dramatic Portrait," a one-woman show that traces the artist's life from childhood to death, exploring her ideologies, inspirations and frustrations.
"She decided at 11, and she wasn't sure why, that she wanted to be an artist," says Aldrich. "She loved music. And some of her frustrations were when she attempted to take music and put it on canvas."
Although O'Keeffe almost always dressed simply in black, Aldrich says, "she loved colors. She loved them so much that, she said, it would take too long to chose which ones to wear."
She also said: "Color has more meaning than words."
"Georgia O'Keeffe: A Dramatic Portrait" will be performed Friday night at 6:30 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Tickets are $18 for Corcoran members. $20 for non-members. For information, call 202-638-3211.
By day, he's your friendly neighborhood mailman. By night, he's one of the world's finest jazz saxophonists.
Buck Hill never sold out.
He could have gone to New York in his youth to seek fame and fortune. But stardom wasn't what the Washingtonian wanted. He wanted to play music in his hometown. So after he was discharged from the Army in the mid-'40s, he stayed in the nation's capital, began delivering letters and playing the club circuit.
Here it is 1990, and Buck Hill is still doing the same routine. And he doesn't regret a moment.
It all began about 50 years ago.
"I didn't know I wanted to do this till I got the horn," says Hill, his voice warm and a little gruff, like your favorite grandfather. "My oldest brother gave it to me when I was 12. He played piano and I played the horn."
Hill now has a quartet -- with pianist Jon Ozment, bassist Cheyney Thomas and drummer Warren Shadd -- a bunch of young fellows who, he says, "got their own ideas on how it's supposed to go."
The difference is, Hill knows how it's supposed to go.
The Buck Hill Quartet performs Saturday night at 8 at Dumbarton Church. Tickets are $18 ($12 for students and senior citizens). For information, call 202-965-2000.
If there's one thing you can say about Washington choreographer Sharon Wyrrick, it's that she's unconventional. Take the two pieces her troupe, Full Circle Dance Company, is presenting this week. Both "Storyboard for an Anxious Journey: Where's the Milk?" and "Cantiones Profanae," she says in separate descriptions, are "unusual."
"Storyboard" is what she calls "a performance monologue." It's a series of stories, some personal, some factual. "They have an ongoing spoken text," says Wyrrick, "but they incorporate visuals in movement as well." She juxtaposes them in a way, she says, that "at first you don't feel a connection, but then you feel the weaving." It's all set to a score by Carl Orff of British children speaking in a "melodic and musical way."
"Cantiones," which she's premiering here, is far more complicated and historical. Also set to the music of Orff, it is a compilation of songs and poems written in the late 1200s by traveling scholars, poets, monks and clerics who had left the church. Someone collected more than 200 of these works and stashed them in a monastery in Benediktbeuren, Germany.
"At the time they were considered fairly raunchy," says Wyrrick. "Now, when we read the translation of the lyrics, they seem very tame."
The papers were rediscovered in 1803. Orff came across them in 1930s. He liked the text and the rhythmic qualities of the language -- mostly written in Latin -- so he set them to music. Wyrrick has five dancers performing the work, which, she says, is also unusual. "It is very large orchestral music. Very powerful," she says. "Usually, as a rule, it's done with a cast of thousands."
Sharon Wyrrick/Full Circle Dance Company is performing at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater Thursday and Friday night at 7:30. Tickets are $18. For information, call 202-467-4600.