Thursday | 5.15
A three-day tribute to a downtown maverick
If the innovative composer and disco producer Arthur Russell were still alive, he might be amazed by all the attention that his too-short life (he died of AIDS in 1992, at the age of 40) and work have received lately. His songs, which were clearly ahead of their time, have been popping up everywhere from art shows to T-Mobile commercials. And now there's Matt Wolf's new documentary, Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, which will be screened tonight as part of the Kitchen's three-day Russell tribute. (Russell was also the former music director of the Kitchen.) The film includes rare archival footage and commentary from friends, family, and fellow artists, including Allen Ginsberg, Ernie Brooks (Modern Lovers), Philip Glass, and Jens Lekman. On Friday and Saturday, check out live performances of Russell's songs as well as his instrumental works for ensembles. Screening of the film at 7 and 9 tonight, musical performances at 8 Friday and Saturday, the Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, 212-255-5793, thekitchen.org, $10
North meets South at the Garden
That the touring lineup of Lynyrd Skynyrd is a desiccated version of the original doesn't much matter—Skynyrd is the rare band whose songs are far bigger than those who play them. As a bout of collective memory, it will undoubtedly connect, but Kid Rock will provide the link to the present Skynyrd that fans didn't know they wanted. It makes twisted sense that the keeper of that band's flame would be a DJ turned rapper from one of the many wrong sides of the Detroit area, the child of postwar migration patterns northward. In the years since his attempts at proper rapping, he's become a fixture in Nashville, and one of the few upholding the ragged tradition of Southern rock, tirelessly playing to the faithful, as he will tonight, and proving that the sound is bigger than the South, or even rock. At 8, Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street, ticketmaster.com, $41–$101
In 1956, after being turned down by practically every publisher in the city, 27-year-old Jules Feiffer was desperate to see his adult-oriented comic strips in print. "Short of suicide or murder," Feiffer says of those lean years, "I didn't know what to do until the Voice came along." Founded a year earlier with Norman Mailer's cash, the weekly newspaper welcomed Feiffer's unprecedented cartoon dramas about men and women struggling well past punch lines to grapple with the angst of this modern world: conformity or nonconformity, buying in or dropping out, romance or sex, bliss or depression? Fantagraphics has gathered those strips into a brick-size book titled Explainers: The Complete Village Voice Strips 1956–1966, revealing a cartoonist whose acidic dialogue is enhanced by lively pen strokes that nail bohos slouched around café tables or an obfuscating JFK with equal aplomb. Meet the artist tonight at this reading and signing. At 7, the Strand, 828 Broadway, 212-473-1452, free
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