PIPE DREAM Clarinetist Don Byron reconvenes the jazz combo behind his history-making if unlikely ode to klezmer king Mickey Katz.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 11.11.09 through Tue 11.17.09:


concerts Don Byron: The Music of Mickey Katz
When we heard the New York clarinetist Byron was revisiting his 1993 album dedicated to Katz, a kitschy 1950s entertainer, as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, we were curious: Jazz meets klezmer? What’s the deal? We asked someone in the know. "Not too many people would have thought to attempt this type of thing," Chicago jazz writer Mark Loehrke says of Byron’s album. "Katz was definitely better known for his schtick than his music, so this was a concept that had the potential to go off the rails. Not only did it not crash, it surpassed the novelty to become a solid jazz record that ushered a few new players—Katz, plus guys like Uri Caine and Dave Douglas, who weren’t that familiar outside of New York jazz circles—onto the big stage." Well said.
GO: Nov 14 at 7:30 and 9:30. $20. Chicago Humanities Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: More big names hit town as part of CHF, including the composer John Adams on Nov 12, and the scientist and parrot whisperer Irene Pepperberg on Nov 14.


theatre All the Fame of Lofty Deeds
The House Theatre (The Sparrow) meets Jon Langford (Waco Brothers, Mekons) in a supernova of rock ‘n’ roll energy. The script, by Chicago contributor Mark Guarino and inspired by Langford’s songs and art, features talking tumbleweed and singing paintings. What’s next: killer cacti?
GO: Previews Nov 12-14; $15. Run continues through Dec 20; $25-$29. The House Theatre of Chicago at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W Division. thehousetheatre.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: A little musical called The Addams Family begins previews at the Oriental Theatre. Maybe you’ve heard of it?


classical Fulcrum Point New Music Project
FPNMP composer-in-residence Randall Woolf provides the soundtrack for Holding Fast, a short documentary about a Tibetan refugee camp from the director of American Psycho, Mary Harron. Also on the movie-themed bill: bits from Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (aka "Craig’s Dance of Disillusionment and Despair" from Being John Malkovich) and Nico Muhly’s score for The Reader.
GO: Nov 12 at 7:30. $15-$30. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Eighth Blackbird do-si-dos with two different partners at the U of C: first, with fellow Grammy winners Pacifica Quartet on Nov 14; then with the Chicago soprano Dawn Upshaw in Osvaldo Golijov’s Ayre on Nov 17.


parties Robie House After Hours
Think of it as a birthday preparty: Next year the Robie House, that high-karat rock in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School crown, celebrates its centennial. Renovations on the property are still underway, but you can get a peek at the progress at the first in a string of evening soirees. Cocktails and culture? Now that’s so Wright.
GO: Nov 13 at 6. $35. Robie House, 5757 S Woodlawn. gowright.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Speaking of the Prairie School—not to mention cocktails—the afterhours event Unveiled offers a peek at the Art Institute’s new Arts and Crafts exhibition, Apostles of Beauty, on Nov 12.


concerts Meat Puppets
Perhaps the most playful and charming band of America’s first-generation indie rockers made a welcome return to the scene a few years back. Hear brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood once again yield their hallucinogenic mix of speed metal, blues boogie, and southwestern country in a three-night stand.
GO: Nov 12 at 9; Nov 13, 14 at 10. $16-$18 per concert; $36 three-day pass. Schubas, 3159 N Southport. schubas.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: Ray LaMontagne spins his catchy, Sam Cooke-indebted melodies at Auditorium Theatre.


lit/lectures Jay Ryan
The local poster artist, illustrator, and subject of a loyal cult following chats about his new book, Animals and Objects In and Out of Water, alongside the Chicago graphic novelist Paul Hornschemeier. Hear Ryan this week; then look for our profile of him in the December issue of Chicago, on stands Nov 19.
GO: Nov 11 at 7. Quimby’s, 1854 W North. quimbys.com

lit/lectures Jaume Plensa
Meet the man who made spitting cool. The Spanish artist and mastermind behind Millennium Park’s Crown Fountain hosts a public chat on public art.
GO: Nov 11 at 6. Rubloff Auditorium, Art Institute of Chicago, 230 S Columbus. artinstituteofchicago.org

farrago Parade School
See a behind-the-scenes spectacle play out in public: In advance of McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade, onlookers are invited to watch as organizers train 1,300 volunteers in balloon wrangling, with a giant inflatable Bob the Builder as visual aide.
GO: Nov 14 at 9:30. Front lawn, Museum of Science and Industry, 57th west of Lake Shore. 312-235-2217. Parade steps off from State and Congress on Nov 26 at 8.

Photography: Cory Wells Braun