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Talk of the Towns: 4.20.21

chesterfield | Are you ready for “Weird Al” Yankovic? He must not think so, because his show Aug. 28 at Chesterfield Amphitheater is titled ‘The Unfortunate Return of the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour.’ Opening the show will be Weird Al’s long-time friend, comedian Emo Philips. The 133-date tour will culminate in New York on Oct. 29 with Weird Al’s first-ever concert at Carnegie Hall. Although he’ll draw from his 14 studio albums, the long-haired accordion maestro has promised to deliver a different set list every night. And rather than focus on the goofy parody hits from his career, like “Eat It” and “Smells Like Nirvana,” Weird Al will perform non-parody material—pastiches, hysterical polkas you can dance to and original songs that have largely avoided pop-culture radar. (My favorite: “One More Minute,” a doo-wop song with creepy lyrics, such as “I’d rather dive into a swimming pool filled with double-edged razor blades / Than spend one more minute with you.”) He’ll leave behind the high-octane theatrics—costumes, props, video screens—for just his band of almost 40 years. The biggest-selling comedy recording artist of all time and a five-time Grammy winner, Weird Al is one of only five artists to have had Top 40 singles in each of the last four decades—the other four being Michael Jackson, Madonna, U2 and Kenny G. Enjoy fine acoustics underneath the stars; reserved and lawn seating are both available. Visit chesterfieldamphitheater.com for tickets, which also will be available at the box office an hour before the 7:45 p.m. show.


downtown
You might be able to check out a copy of James Dickey’s bestselling novel Deliverance at St. Louis Public Library’s central branch downtown. But then that would actually involve reading a book, right? Well, instead, you could have checked out the film adaptation at the library April 16, as part of the Golden Anniversary Series from Cinema St. Louis. The event involves a pre-show discussion of a select 1972 movie with a film connoisseur, followed by the movie itself. I’ll admit to not having seen the film starring Burt Reynolds, but was spellbound by the book. It was a nail-biting experience I’d rather not repeat … and certainly not on screen. The quirky instrumental “Dueling Banjos,” a lively bluegrass ditty that became a Top 40 hit on the radio 50 years ago, gave no inkling of the horrors that awaited canoeing buddies Reynolds et al. in the woods. But mind-bending suspense of a different sort awaits the audience in next month’s installment of the anniversary series, Bob Fosse’s Cabaret, which won eight Academy Awards, including Best Director for Fosse, Best Actress for Liza Minnelli and Best Supporting Actor for Michael York. Theater and dance critic Calvin Wilson will lead the pre-show presentation and discussion. The 1:30 p.m. screening and parking are free. Set in early-1930s Berlin, the story follows star-crossed lovers Minnelli and York, against the terrifying rise of Nazism as a backdrop. Cabaret lost the Oscar for Best Picture in 1972 to The Godfather, the blockbuster mafia movie that is up for discussion and viewing in September. It also will be screened at the library; several other features and discussions will be virtual. Whether the event is held online or in person, film critics, film academics, filmmakers and writers will offer introductory remarks and participate in discussions about the films. At cinemastlouis.org, you will find the Golden Anniversaries Series under Events.


america’s center
Anyone who’s ever seen The Big Bang Theory knows that Dr. Sheldon Cooper was the nerdiest dweeb among the group of high-functioning dorks—but they all loved Comic-Con. Which brings us to the closest thing to it here in St. Louis, the inaugural FANEXPO St. Louis next month at America’s Center. True fans will be eager to rub elbows with the real Capt. James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, otherwise known as William Shatner. The 90-something actor played Kirk on the legendary sci-fi TV series Star Trek, which first aired in the 1960s. There’ll be plenty of other appearances, of course. Kevin Smith, writer and director of the cult movie Clerks, will be joined by four cast members at the convention, which from 2013 to 2019 was known as Wizard World. It will run Friday through Sunday, May 13 to 15, and will feature stars of productions ranging from reality to anime. Many of the real people behind the voices on popular animated series, e.g. Futurama and SpongeBob SquarePants, are slated to appear. Visit fanexpohq.com/fanexpostlouis for details on all the real and imaginary fun.


notable neighbors
webster groves
This sound man hears just fine, thank you, despite a career wearing headphones, arranging and rearranging dozens of wires and plugs, sliding controls and twiddling knobs for musicians ranging from hair metal bands like Extreme to pop crooners like Tony Bennett. Plus, he’s an industrial artist with quite an affinity for motorcycles, although he’d prefer the rumble and roar of a Harley to the finely tuned purr of a Ducati. Randy Noldge is grateful to be back working the board as full-time audio engineer at The Pageant, after having been idled by COVID-19 with the rest of the live-music community. Noldge custom-built a beautiful metal staircase railing/enclosure and a couple wall sconces during his down time at home in Webster Groves. “I had to get the creative energy out somehow,” he says. Noldge grew up riding dirt bikes in and around Dubuque, Iowa, where he went to high school, and was doing sound design for bands all over the Gateway City when a server at the now-defunct Boomer’s on Laclede’s Landing brought him a couple of pretty stiff drinks. The server, his future wife, turned him down at first. But he and Deda have been married 25 years now. Any of Noldge’s creative energy ‘still in the tank’ after a concert is released into building his own bikes—he has several at various stages of completion in the garage. “I don’t own a single article of clothing that doesn’t have grease on it,” he admits. After getting his sound footing in the Lou, Noldge lived a sort of rock ’n’ roll dream for a few years, traveling with artists including Little River Band in the U.S. and Australia for a spell, but often looking longingly from the window when bikers rolled past the bus. Meanwhile, he muses, maybe the riders wished they were with the band. Along the way, Noldge’s ears perked up when he heard through the grapevine that Pat Hagin and Joe Edwards were planning a brand-new midsize concert hall in the Delmar Loop. He’d been friends with Hagin since he did sound work for Mississippi Nights, which Hagin managed. The Pageant opened more than 20 years ago, and Noldge has been there for the whole ride, involved in tweaking its sound system as well as engineering the system for the smaller venue that later opened a little farther west along the boulevard, Delmar Hall. Having been in the industry for decades, he remembers artists and road crews, as soon as they piled off the bus, would ask him where they could get some ‘rocket fuel.’ They still do. But usually they don’t mean speed, ‘pep pills’ or other illicit drugs, says Noldge with a chuckle. “They just want to know where to get a good, strong cup of coffee.” Check out the video at cycleshowcasestl.com for a three-second peek (0:35-0:38) at one of his custom two-wheelers, whose name cannot be printed in a family magazine, as well as other prime examples of ‘scooter’ design by and for today’s bikers exhibited at one of his annual Cycle Showcase St. Louis events.

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