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Artown 2008 is a feast for the senses
by Janine Kearney
Apr 30, 2008 | 1360 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Courtesy photo/Artown Americana and bluegrass music, such as that performed by Laurie Lewis and The Right Hands, will be one of many styles featured at the 2008 Artown festivities.
Introducing the lineup of Artown 2008 events to local residents is like waving a tasty bowl of jambalaya in front of a hungry Creole. Like the famous New Orleans dish, this rich, artistic

festival features spicy variety, interesting venues and hearty reprisals of past favorites.

With a buffet of cultures and an elixir of artistic talent, the annual festival will satisfy people of all ages and personal tastes. Throughout July, more than 350,000 people will be drawn to the area’s epicenter of culture to experience more than 350 events featuring dance, visual art, theater, music, acrobatics, children’s events and more.

New this year are a slew of famed performers and quirky newcomers, as well as new venues and cultures to celebrate, such as the Native American festival.

Some of the Artown offerings include the Harlem Gospel Choir as part of Gospelfest; Americana and bluegrass music; Russian music; Basque festival; Aloha festival; aerialist performers; ballroom dancers; San Jose Taiko drummers; world music; Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez mariacchi band; stilt walkers; March Forth Marching Band; children’s theater with local child actors; Ebony & Ivory music duo; and many others.

Artown After Dark, four concerts held at the third floor showroom at Fitzgerald’s, will entice the younger crowd. And an expanded Monday night music series will be held at Bartley Ranch Regional Park.

Internationally famed artists will perform, including the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on July 5 at the Grand Sierra Resort’s Grand Theatre; Tony and Emmy award winning actor and singer Mandy Patinkin of TV show “Crim-inal Minds” fame on July 15 at Pioneer Center; and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird on July 16 at GSR’s Grand Theatre.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra pays tribute to American music, bringing together 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players, led by renowned musician and composer Wynton Marsalis on trumpet. The orchestra performs American jazz selections, including historic compositions and big-band arrangements from Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, Benny Goodman and others.

Patinkin may be best known for his various roles in TV shows and films, including Dr. Jeffrey Geiger on “Chicago Hope” and vengeful swordsman Indigo Montonya in the movie “The Princess Bride,” but Patinkin’s true love is music. Patinkin’s versatile tenor voice is the highlight of his stage show, which combines equal parts cabaret, humor and sophistication.

Bird’s style of music blends gypsy, folk, rock and elements of swing, German leider and New Orleans jazz. Bird intertwines his violin playing with his whistling skills, down-to-earth but distinctive voice and mellow lyrics, producing a complex and colorful sound.

The caliber of local and international talent often surprises even the artists themselves — as Artown’s national reputation continues to build.

“The lineup of headliner artists and performances that Artown brings to Reno this year is truly fantastic and diverse,” Macmillan said. “Audiences of all ages will be surprised to recognize some faces, including Andrew Bird, who has performed at Lollapalooza and the South by Southwest music festival.”

Events have ranged over the years from free performances to world-class entertainment by such famed performers as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Herbie Hancock and American Ballet Theater.

“Artown’s growth over the last few years has allowed local and regional artists to showcase their work alongside internationally recognized performers providing a truly incredible variety for our attendees,” said Beth Macmillan, executive director of Artown.

A number of past favorites — many of them free — will be brought back to Reno, including Dancing in the Park, “Food for the Soul” World Music Series, Movies in the Park, the Rollin’ on the River music series, the American Songbook Series and the Discover the Arts children’s series. An ongoing Monday event encourages family outings with fun-filled and kid-friendly performances, ranging from music to marionettes, in Wingfield Park.

Some other highlights of this year’s festival include:

• Sara Juli’s “The Money Conversation” invites audiences to sit in July 22-26 at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Redfield Studio Theatre as dancer and artist Sara Juli confronts her own troubled relationship with money in this hour-long performance.

• Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performing July 26 at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts.

• The two-person “multi-media” performance “The Nigerian Spam Scam” plays at the Nelson Building Laxalt Theater July 29, starring creator Dean Cameron.

For the first time in the festival’s history, registered Friends of Artown can purchase several season ticket options in advance at discounted prices through the month of May.

Starting today, a complete events listing can be viewed online at: www.RenoIsArtown.org. To request a free Little Book of Artown, visit the Web site or call 322-1538.

“Artown creates a vibrant community that celebrates new experiences and cultural diversity, while attracting new residents and business owners to the Truckee Meadows,” said Reno City Councilman and Artown board chairman David Aiazzi.

“Artown continues to change the way the rest of the world sees Reno, through arts and culture,” Macmillan said. “It’s grown steadily every year.”

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