Cultural Shorts

Discussions about the artistic impulse and creative drive, these interviews and features bring a local focus on the global art community of artists, authors and musicians.

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Steve Vai launched Generation Axe in 2016. Though Vai and his longtime friend Joe Satriani had performed a variety of G3 tours, which bring together three headlining-level guitar players, each with a solo set, Generation Axe differed in significant ways. For one, it's five players: Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme/Rhianna fame, Zakk Wylde, known for his work with both Black Label Society and Ozzy Osbourne, and Tosin Abasi of Animals As Leaders. Moreover, the players share the stage throughout the night, teaming up in unexpected but exhilarating combinations.


James McMurtry first emerged on the American music scene of the 1980s via the John Mellencamp-produced Too Long In The Wasteland, the first of a handful of recordings he made for Columbia Records. Since then, songs such as "Levelland" and "Out Here In The Middle" have become staples of the Americana scene — with Robert Earl Keen covering both — joining other McMurtry compositions such as "We Can't Make It Here" and "Choctaw Bingo" as essential listening in an age of unrest and hardships.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Dawn of the Dead, George Romero's seminal zombie movie that's regarded as one of the best and most important horror films ever made. The local organization Wichita Big Screen is showing a rare restored 3-D version of the movie tonight and tomorrow night as the culmination of its annual month-long Horrorfest.

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Stand Still is the latest release from Wichita-area band Sunshine Dreamers. Formed more than a decade ago, the group today features Ryan Benton, Clinton McClellan and Anthony Piazza. The friends turned to an all-star cast of local and regional musicians for the recording of this LP, including Caleb Drummond (Spirit of the Stairs, Jenny Wood), Les Easterby (The World Palestine, Wichita Flag), Joey Lemon (Berry), Quinn Lake, Julia Trechak, Jenny Bowen, Markus Stoesz and Mark Foley.

Daniel Cavazos

Austin, Texas-based guitarist and vocalist Jackie Venson performs at The Elbow Room on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Venson, who played piano from her earliest years, took up guitar while a senior at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Since then, she's carved out a unique spot in the musical marketplace, infusing her songs with a blend of blues, R&B and pop.

You spend an awful lot of time touring and performing live and I wonder if you feel like R&B-based or blues music is something that has to be performed live to be fully appreciated.

Ascha Lee/KMUW

After already making waves in Europe, a new film about Wichita musicians Rudy Love & The Love Family is making its American debut at the Tallgrass Film Festival.

This is Love centers around the R&B performers and the ups and down of their careers, from their beginnings in the 60s, through fame with Sly and the Family Stone in the 70s, and the rocky years throughout. 

Kacy Meinecke

Tonight, the Tallgrass Film Festival honors actor Pam Grier with its annual Ad Astra Award for her contributions to film through her trailblazing roles in such movies as "Coffy" and "Foxy Brown," and her body of work in the film and theatre world in the decades since, including in Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown."

Michael Schwartz

Paula Poundstone has been active as a standup comedian for nearly 40 years. She is a panelist on the top-rated NPR show Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me! and host of the podcast Nobody Listens To Paula Poundstone. She is an author, most recently of The Totally Unscientific Study Of The Search For Human Happiness, and will perform at Wichita's Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 13.

When you're thinking about shows, where do you start with material?

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Poor Until Payday is the brand new recording from Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. The trio, which consists of the Reverend J. Peyton on guitar and lead vocals, his wife, Breezy, on the washboard, and drummer Max Senteney, has earned acclaim for its roots-oriented style, which married tradition with innovation.

The album spotlights the trio's ferocity and the Reverend's desire to write an album to lift the spirits. Reverend Peyton's Big Damn performs at Knuckleheads in Kansas City on Friday evening and at Blues, Brews & BBQ in Newton on Saturday.

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Todd Rundgren's current tour, An Unpredictable Evening With Todd Rundgren, arrives at The Cotillion on Friday, Sept. 28. The current run of gigs happens before Rundgren, who has produced albums by everyone from Grand Funk Railroad and Psychedelic Furs while maintaining a prolific solo output, travels to Iceland for two dates in tribute to David Bowie featuring the late musician's former collaborator Adrian Belew as well as Fishbone's Angelo Moore. (The group will have a Los Angeles preview on Oct. 3.)

So, what does An Unpredictable Evening With Todd Rundgren mean?