Steppenwolf Theatre Company presents its second annual Traffic Jam, which hosts dozens of eclectic artists and personalities on the Steppenwolf stage for a three-week festival dedicated to celebrating the unique intersection of music, language and performance.
The following is the confirmed and complete roster of acts. Acts and performers are subject to change. Selected performances will have post-show book and CD signings in the Steppenwolf lobby.
Kahil El Zabar and Friends - Thurs. Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m
Steppenwolf Theatre Company kicks off the Traffic Jam by welcoming back its original curator, Kahil El Zabar. An internationally renowned percussionist and composer, Kahil El Zabar is considered one of the most prolific jazz innovators of his time; he'll be welcoming audiences with a night of music that flows from ancient Africa to the modern world. Tickets $30
Immediately following the performance, Landmark Grill & Lounge (1633 N. Halsted) will host an Amstel Light reception celebrating the Traffic Jam.
The John Pizzarelli Quartet: Dear Mr. Sinatra - Fri. Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m.
With a multi-faceted career as a jazz guitarist, vocalist, band leader, and radio personality, John Pizzarelli is among the prime contemporary interpreters of the great American songbook. Featuring selections from his new album Dear Mr. Sinatra, this charismatic performer brings his signature, improvisational style to the Steppenwolf stage for an evening of standards, late night ballads and cool jazz. Tickets $35
An Evening with Dar Williams - Sat. Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m.
An ambitious and idiosyncratic singer/songwriter, Dar Williams honed her warm and melodic sound in New England coffee shops before recording her debut in 1993. Six full-length albums and a variety of musical and humanitarian projects later, Williams has emerged quite possibly the "best female singer/songwriter in America today" (Stereo-type). This intimate solo performance will feature songs acclaimed for their poetic images and deep emotional core. Tickets $38
Music & Memories: Conversations with Koko Taylor, Timuel Black, Tom Burrell, Michael Warr, and Laura Washington - Sun. Feb. 25, 3:00 p.m.
Sylvia Ewing, award-winning journalist and co-host of last year's hit Blues/Hip-Hop Intersection, returns to Steppenwolf as director and host of this multigenerational, multicultural program. Five history-making Chicagoans share their insight and memories in a genre-bending showcase of unique song, poetry and storytelling. The Lucy Smith Quintet accompanies a host of talented performers and personalities including six-time Grammy-nominated "Queen of the Blues" Koko Taylor, legendary Chicago historian Timuel Black, pioneering journalist Laura Washington, hip-hop vocalist Sense, acclaimed poet Michael Warr, groundbreaking communications leader Tom Burrell, spoken word artists Avery R Young and Kevin Coval and many others. Tickets $22
Stories on Stage: Tilting at Windmills, directed by Cheryl Lynn Bruce - Mon. Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Stories on Stage, Chicago's only dramatic short story reading series, makes its Steppenwolf debut. The theme of the 2007 season is "The Stuff of Dreams." This program focuses on The Dreamer - that high-flyer with fire in the belly, that visionary with unbendable will, that castle-builder who's best on a quest. A longtime member of the Stories on Stage artistic team, Cheryl Lynn Bruce directs a trio of tales that chart the contests and conquests of three seekers. Tickets $20
Bill Frisell, featuring Greg Leisz & Jenny Scheinman - Thurs. Mar. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Bill Frisell - jazz guitarist, composer and recording artist - has "for over ten years quietly been the most brilliant and unique voice to come along in jazz guitar since Wes Montgomery" (Stereophile). A seasoned musician with an impressively diverse array of credits to his name, including collaborations with Petra Haden and Elvis Costello, original scores for two Gus Van Sant films, a 2005 Grammy award for Unspeakable, and several "Guitarist of the Year" awards. Appearing here in a trio that includes guitarist Greg Leisz and violinist Jenny Scheinman, Bill Frisell presents his characteristically inimitable and modern take on bluegrass, jazz and country blues. Tickets $35
Howard Fishman: Bob Dylan & The Band's Basement Tapes - Fri. Mar. 2, 7:30 p.m.
Returning to the Steppenwolf stage, the singer-guitarist presents his tribute to what was once the ultimate rock bootleg - The Basement Tapes. Howard Fishman's hyper-quirky, genre-confounding performances are renowned for an experimental and improvisational style. Straight from Fishman's regular gigs with his quartet at Joe's Pub in New York City, these are underground recordings performed in the hands of one of today's most agile interpreters. Tickets $30
Sandra Bernhard is PLAN B FROM OUTER SPACE -- TWO SHOWS: Sat. Mar. 3, 7:00 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
Actress, comedienne, author, singer and provocateur, Sandra Bernhard's performances are the stuff of legend. The outrageous and outspoken star brings her band The Rebellious Jezebels for an unforgettable night of music, wit and social commentary. "An angst driven, foul-mouthed, poison-laced joy ride through the worlds of fashion, celebrity, rock, and religion... Bernhard is a living, breathing bonfire" (The New York Times). Tickets $50
An Evening with The Ditty Bops - Wed. Mar. 7, 7:30 p.m.
Hailing from California, The Ditty Bops are comprised of musical duo Abby deWald (vocals and acoustic guitar) and Amanda Barrett (vocals, mandolin and dulcimer). With six of their songs featured on the hit show Grey's Anatomy, the quirky duo are establishing themselves as genuine innovators, playing a blend of folk, bluegrass, jazz, western swing, ragtime and musical theater. Having just completed a six month, cross-country concert tour - by bicycle - the highly theatrical Ditty Bops alight in Chicago to demonstrate their beguiling talents. Tickets $25
Maude Maggart: Good Girl/Bad Girl - Thurs. Mar. 8, 7:30 p.m.
Maude Maggart at last makes her Chicago debut in this "must-see new show" (The New York Times). Straight from the hallowed Oak Room of New York's Algonquin Hotel, Good Girl/Bad Girl is a seductively enchanting musical narrative igniting the cabaret scene. The sultry chanteuse and protégé of legends Andrea Marcovicci and Michael Feinstein creates a "richly textured slate of potent songs that pursue the glory and pangs of the heart" (Variety). In that delicate terrain between naughty and nice, Maggart's deeply sensual voice finds new perspectives on womanhood. With Lanny Meyers and Yair Evnine. Tickets $35
Jon Brion - Tonight!, in association with the Intonation Music Festival - Fri. Mar. 9, 7:30 p.m.
Here is a true musician's musician - multi-instrumentalist, record producer, singer, song-writer and composer - Brion is renowned for his weekly gigs at Los Angeles club Largo. In addition to producing records for Kanye West (Late Registration), Fiona Apple (the famously leaked first version of Extraordinary Machine), Aimee Mann, Marianne Faithfull and Rufus Wainwright, he garnered Grammy nominations for his original soundtrack compositions for Magnolia and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Currently working on British pop singer Dido's latest album, Jon Brion brings his remarkably eclectic sensibility and inventive artistry to the Steppenwolf stage. Tickets $25
An Evening with Oleta Adams - Sat. Mar. 10, 7:30
After a brief stint in the 80s with English pop outfit Tears for Fears, Adams embarked on a solo career, releasing six critically acclaimed albums including the hit singles "Woman in Chains" and "Get Here," demonstrating a richly resonating sound that has earned her recognition as the next Anita Baker. Lauded for an exquisite voice that combines "traces of jazz, soul and gospel into a smart and sophisticated form of co-ntemporary pop" (Los Angeles Times), Adams' glorious vocals are hailed by fans of pop and gospel alike. Tickets $38
Stories on Stage: I Had a Dream, directed by Michael Edgar Myers - Mon. Mar. 12, 7:30 p.m.
Stories on Stage, in association with Chicago Public Radio, returns to the Steppenwolf stage to close the Traffic Jam. Continuing the 2007 theme of "The Stuff of Dreams," this program features stories about people whose view of reality is open to interpretation. The evening is directed by Michael Edgar Myers, a founding member of the Stories on Stage artistic team as well as a freelance director, actor, and playwriting instructor. Tickets $20